Differences between Reformed and Continental Views of the Sabbath

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by CalvinandHodges, Apr 4, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    The Sabbatarian principles of the WCF and the Heidelburg Catachism are different in argument, but the same in practice.

    One of my professors at Seminary seems to think that the Continental view of the Sabbath is different in practice as well, "As long as you are at peace in your conscience there is no problem with watching a football game on Sunday after church."

    When I confronted him with the idea that in doing so you would be requiring one to work on Sunday wherein he/she should be going to Church. He responded that turing on an electric light requires people to work in order for the electricity to flow.

    It seems to me, though, that electricity is a necessity in today's society while football is not.

    The question for the board is: Does the Continental View of the Sabbath allow a believer's conscience to overwrite the Law of God?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    They taught the same thing, the Puritans however delineated it to the tiniest degree whilst the Reformed gave general guidance.
  3. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    More and more I am coming to the conclusion that the so-called Continental view of the Sabbath has been greatly exaggerated. a'Brakel, clearly a Continental is equally clearly on the same page as the Puritans when it comes to this commandment (see A Christian's Reasonable Service, vol 3, pp. 139-183). Of course, not all Continental theologians followed this. But it is simplistic even to speak of a "Puritan" versus a "Continental" tradition.
  4. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior

    I was wondering something this morning.

    Allistaire, is doing a Sabbath series, and, my buddies are talking through the issue, so I was thinking about it again.

    It seems to me, only Two stances make sense:

    1. Jesus is our Rest...our Sabbath...so that fulfills all Sabbath Laws. So in principle, it's good to take a day off from work, it's good for you, it's a great thing, we should do it...but it's not a sin, to work, or have others work on Sunday, because, that Sabbath, is fulfilled. I can relate to that, even if I don't know if I believe it.

    2. Jesus is our Rest...our Sabbath. But, it is also, a Moral Law, to not work, on the Sabbath--now being Sunday--and to do so is a sin. If this is the case, then, the no work, no eating out, no watching football, etc. makes perfect sense, even if I don't know if I believe it...yet.

    What I don't get, is how people, who hold to position number 2, still go out to eat, watch football, etc. And, from my experience, many, in the Continental, view, do that. They say, that, HC (continental), view, is same as Westmin...if both views are the same, then I find the above behaviors contradictory to their standards.

    I think, If you hold 1, fine. If you hold 2, fine. But it seems, some who hold 2 are inconsistent?

    Anybody else see this. Are there other options (I know they could be worded better) than my two?
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2008
  5. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    :agree: One instance is that of William Ames who whilst English fled to Holland in 1610 and was a strict sabbatarian.

    As an aside, the Heidelberg Catechism:

    Question 103. What does God require in the fourth commandment?
    First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained and that, especially on the day of rest, I diligently attend the church of God to hear God's Word, to use the sacraments, to call publicly upon the LORD, and to give Christian offerings for the poor. Second, that all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, let the LORD work in me through His Holy Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal sabbath.
  6. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    The number one is precisely what R.C. Sproul, Sr. believes (though I think an argument can be made that he fits the last paragraph)...
  7. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior

    Love it...

    I love the HC...thanks for posting that.:)

    Can someone hold to that, and still make others work by going to lunch, watching football?

    Honestly, that's where I'm at...I try to make the day, unto the Lord, more so than others, but I try to do that every day. I attend church, do activities with the family, rest, but don't have a problem watching some NASCAR as a way to help me "rest".

    And besides, all those NASCAR drivers are Christian, and so, being out there on the track together, basically, that's church.:eek::lol: jk
  8. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    Actually (to avoid misconceptions), the Synod of Dordt 1618-19 ruled that works of immediate necessity were permittable on the Lord's day.

    So, they would have allowed lighting lamps (electricity), cooking meals, etc.

    They would not allow football games, etc, that doing man's pleasure on the sabbath, and spoke strongly against it.

    That is also (one of the) reasons why they ruled that there had to be a second worship service, in which the catechism was preached on.
  9. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I think you have a wrong conception of what rest means. Try Proper Sabbath Observance.

    SermonAudio.com - The Work of the Sabbath

    Isaiah 58:13, 14 "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
  10. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    The great Synod of Dordt (1618-19) adopted six points regarding the Sabbath which, translated almost verbatim, read as follows:

    1. In the fourth commandment of God’s Law there is a ceremonial and a moral element.

    2. The rest on the seventh day after the creation, and the strict observance of this day with which the Jewish people were charged particularly, was ceremonial.

    3. That a definite and appointed day has been set aside to the service of God, and that for this purpose as much rest is required as is necessary for the service of God and for hallowed contemplation, this element is moral.

    4. The Sabbath of the Jews having been set aside, Christians are in duty bound to hallow the Day of the Lord solemnly.

    5. This day has always been kept in the early Church since the time of the Apostles.

    6. This day must be so consecrated unto the service of God that upon it men rest from all servile labours, except those required by charity and present necessities, and likewise from all such recreations as prevent the service of God.

    The Synod of Dordt on the Lord's Day
  11. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior


    AV, yeah, you are probably right...I'm still studying...thanks.
  12. tdowns

    tdowns Puritan Board Junior


    Do you feel, like I do, that if you hold 2, you should not be resting the way I do?

    If you hold 1., then, resting the way I do, relax, have fun, etc...is ok, Jesus is my "true rest" ALL THE TIME.

    I'm not arguing the issue, right now. I'm just arguing, the two positions I stated, and holding to one or the other consistently. If one holds the 1...understandable to watch NASCAR.

    If one holds the 2, and holds to the Dordt quote, I don't get eating out and watching NASCAR? Seems inconsistent to me?

    Maybe there is a middle ground, that I'm not getting?

    Bottom line, those who hold to Continental view, and eat out...do you have a response?

    Not challenging, just learning.:think:
  13. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    Well put. I do not hold to the continental view, but the Puritan view (which is the same in practice I think).

    The Sabbath is the most difficult of all of the commands for one to follow consistently. We can excuse our petty hates and lusts (murder and adultery) for they are not "visible" to others. However, disobeying the Sabbath command is a visible sin that others can see (family, friends, etc).

    I think in #2 you have to look at a pattern or habit on the Sabbath. That is, does one who subscribes to the Continental or Puritan views of Sabbatarianism habitually eat out on Sundays or habitually watch the Super Bowl in detriment to Sabbath worship? Then I think the idea of hypocrisy is applicable.

    Sin still wrecks its havoc in the soul. And, sometimes, it can erupt in us in a way that can seem hypocritical to others. Yet, grace provides relief from sin and help in our time of trouble.

    Can a believer knowingly sin against God and man, and remain a believer? Yes, I believe he/she can.

    Grace and Peace,

  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Just to follow up on this with the Larger Catechism's answer for why the fourth command says "Remember" (text is my critical text):
  15. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    I know this discussion has been had in other threads before, but I still believe this is a point in which the Puritans refined the continental view. The 10 commandments are moral and do not contain ceremonies. The fourth commandment is purely moral. This difference is seen in that the later Puritans (mostly) did not see the fourth commandment as prescribing Saturday but only the 1 in 7 principle. Attempting to separate moral from (perceived) ceremonial elements in the decalogue can be tricky and arbitary.
  16. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    We must remember there are a variety of continental Sabbath views. Firstly, the continental movement called the "second / further reformation" (Nadere Reformartie) basically had a Puritan view of the Sabbath; indeed this movement was very similar if not identical to English Puritanism. The great theologian of the Nadere Reformatie was Gijsbertus Voetius.

    But then secondly there was the movement of Coccejus, who believed that the 4th commandment was fulfilled completely in Christ (and hence the OT Sabbath was only ceremonial not a moral law). The later 17th century saw a massive tension between the Voetians and the Coccejans. (It is believed that Witsius was the one who helped relieve this tension).

    Thirdly we have another view (particularly represented by Ursinus--at least according to my reading of him, and some would say Calvin) which believed the Sabbath remained after Christ but wasn't tied to a particular day. (The 4th commandment tied it to the 7th day, so there was a part of this commandment that was ceremonial according to this view).

    Every blessing.
  17. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    Interesting. I went online and looked up some things concerning Cocceius, and I found this informative article:


    Some quotes from it:

    Speaking about Cocceius' theology:

    and, finally:

    I think his argument concerning the Sabbath is questionable - it being based on a Dispensationalist type of reasoning.


  18. javajedi

    javajedi Puritan Board Freshman

    Couple of things...

    FYI, My brother is Lutheran, Missouri Synod and he described #1 almost exactly as above as their view.

    As to NASCAR, etc on Sunday. I wish they ran on Sat., oh well. When my son was really into NASCAR (did not miss a race for many seasons) we video-taped it and watched it later. Seems like a easy solution. Same would go for any ball games you want to see.
  19. javajedi

    javajedi Puritan Board Freshman

    Question - traveling

    What about when you are traveling over a Sunday? How to you view that. Recently we have only been gone over a Sunday when visiting relatives and staying with them. But we a planning a trip where we will be gone over 2 Sundays and no where near family/friends. We'll need to stay a hotel and eat out which will require others to work on Sunday. Given our 'traveling' I see those as necessity/mercy (on us).

    How do others here see this and deal with it?
  20. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    Many hotels allow you to indicate that you do not require staff to clean your room (with a do not distrub sign or something). Also, it is possible to go to a local supermarket on Saturday night and stock up on things you could eat on the sabbath. It certainly won't be gourmet, but it is possible. I find that difficulties like this can be overcome by those who sincerely do not want to violate the sabbath but are of necessity in such circumstances.

    Another question you could ask yourself is, "if I cannot find a way around sabbath violation with this vacation/trip, is it really something I need to do and God would be pleased with me planning". Many people unneccessaily put themselves in situations where it is awkward on the sabbath and then claim the circumstances as necessary. I always find this unconvincing.
  21. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    Electricity is not a necessity, but a convenience; for it has only been around for the past several hundred years or so. I don't think that those who hold to a "fulfilled view" of the sabbath view themselves as overwriting the Law of God. For, from what I've read, they view themselves as, through their faith in the work of Christ, as having entering into a ceassation from their own works, in that they now abide in the work that Christ has done in their behalf, which, to them, was a fulfillment of what the sabbath represented. So, to them, it is not an "overwriting of the law of God", but a fulfilling of it.

  22. javajedi

    javajedi Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for the ideas. You are right, especially for a regular sabbath, that many objections or difficulties people see can easily be resolved by thinking and planning ahead of time and re-ordering what you do and when.

    Other than never take a family vacation outside of Texas, I was wondering how others have dealt with this.
  23. CovenantalBaptist

    CovenantalBaptist Puritan Board Freshman

    As one of my professors, Morton Smith, frequently says: "I struggle to keep the fourth commandment as much as I do the seventh."
  24. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    Just one more brief thought...Many churches that hold stricter sabbatarian views are more than happy to make accomodations for people vacationing in their area on the sabbath day (for meals etc) if you call ahead. Some of the sweetest sabbaths I have known have been while I was visiting churches and away from home. I like to encourage congregations to be very intentional about this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page