Using Public Transportation on Lord's Day

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Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
the fact remains that there is always an option

Okay, then it would be helpful to give our dear brother who is asking this question some options. The only options I could come up with would be 1) walk 2) get a ride 3) obtain your own vehicle. It's not a stretch by any means to see how these three might not be viable options. So then what?

All right then, but just watch as people offer reasons why these won't work.

1. I would take into account transportation needs and distance to church before moving to a certain house/apartment;
2. Travel by public transport on Saturday, stay over with someone who lives near the church, and leave early Monday morning;
3. I suspect that some of the folks in Seoul will have cars. There is an enormous opportunity to minister to temporal needs here;
4. A church plant should be considered.

Tim, no offense here, but the reason that you already know that they most likely won't work is because they most likely won't work. Go with your instincts on this one. And you'll notice the split in this discussion is between people who have actually lived in these situations and people who haven't. It is all rather silly when Americans with all their first-world resources and individualistic culture start dictating to other societies what they are and are not able to do.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I have occasionally got a taxi to church when there was no other way, although I would rather not.

In a Christianised society there might have to be a skeleton public transport system on the Sabbath for works of necessity and mercy.

Alan
Murray hinself would not take public transportation on the Lord's Day, but he did not think that it was a clear enough matter to make a disciplinable offense. His original denomination did, as Richard noted, and disqualified him as a ministerial student.

That was the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Texan Rose's denomination, and my former denomination.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
It is all rather silly when Americans with all their first-world resources and individualistic culture start dictating to other societies what they are and are not able to do.

The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has missions in Kenya and Zimbabwe. They are a denomination that holds a position against Sabbath public transport.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
All right then, but just watch as people offer reasons why these won't work.

If they offer good reasons doesn't that tell us something? If we had a really efficient robotic infrastructure then issues would be simple; but if wishes were horses, beggars would use their tricorders to summon a podcar to their doorstep which would whisk them on sleek monorails to the location of their choice.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One other aspect to consider here, it has been touched on, but perhaps not enough.

Violating the sabbath in a situation like described above has the potential to cause to sin not only the person himself, not only the employee who would work convenience for them and thereby be hindered from keeping the sabbath themselves, but think of the testimony and witness to others of seeing obedience in difficult places (situations).

We need to consider all of this, not just ourselves, but love of neighbor, and the honor and glory of the Lord of the sabbath as witnessed to those who may not even believe.

The Christian life is not one of self-interested ease or convenience. It involves discipline and denial as the prophets, apostles and our Lord so often exemplified. And has God so often commands.

That's where we're growing in Christ, seeking to Love God and neighbor, and considering that first, even in situations where we might be at liberty, where we might suffer a bit, etc.

coram deo
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
One of Tim's idea was good in that he could try and find a family to stay with on Saturday and leave early Monday. If that's not possible, then I think we should all consider "works of necessity" here. It's wrong to place too heavy of a burden on our brothers and sisters.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One of Tim's idea was good in that he could try and find a family to stay with on Saturday and leave early Monday. If that's not possible, then I think we should all consider "works of necessity" here. It's wrong to place too heavy of a burden on our brothers and sisters.

Yes, after we have considered and prepared, and applied by faith as best we can, we still might have a situation where it is practically impossible to avoid. An extraordinary, emergency or destitute circumstance, or even one where we really do not have control over the circumstance.

Then, and only then, after we have tried in good faith (and are praying even for future remedy), we can indeed, with a clear conscience, avail of the mercy and necessity that are established in the Command.

And thank our God for that!
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
I've known Calvinists who believe that it is better to forsake public worship than use public transportation on the Lord's Day. That being said, if I can have a ride, I'll take it, but I live in a poorer area of the city and I a few private Bible studies with mentally ill and older people not near where my Church is. It is about 25-30 minutes by bus, but I'm the only member in the area.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Let us remember that the original post focused on young believers in South Korea, not elderly or disabled folks in a third world country. We are so quick to offer extreme circumstances, which are then used to relax the care that is required in less challenging situations.

The exact same thing happened in this thread that discussed the Sabbath and restaurants.

My main point is that there is usually an option. One post above related how one congregation in Singapore (a city that is as congested and expensive as Seoul) provides a way for members to attend without using public transportation. I am personally aware that this is would also the case should the need arise in a certain congregation in London (also congested and expensive). These two examples should demonstrate that when a body of believers is committed to this matter of the 4th Commandment, much can be accomplished.

I would still like to see how the FP Church does it in Kenya and Zimbabwe. I would think that their example in Africa would demonstrate how well we can take care of our own, even in the most challenged socio-economic circumstances.
 

Jaewon

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you everyone for good discussion. It was helpful and interesting to read through the thread. Just as a footnote, I do use my family car right now and pick up one of the church members who lives in my neighborhood (and I make sure that I have enough gas before Lord's Day ;)). It only takes about 30 minutes driving, which is not too bad.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
I chose not to mention Professor Murray's affiliation--the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland--simply because many are unfamiliar with its 1893 breakaway from the Free Church of Scotland and I didn't want to complicate things too much. But you are quite right, of course, Richard: this is one of the distinctives of the Wee Wee Frees (Free Presbyterians) over against the Wee Frees (Free Church).

I repeat: it is a position to respect not ridicule. It is also not to be expected to be given much deference as it has been held by comparatively few, with most who are quite committedly confessional finding it not something worth breaking fellowship over, a matter of adiaphora about which we might respectfully differ.

Peace,
Alan
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Thank you everyone for good discussion. It was helpful and interesting to read through the thread. Just as a footnote, I do use my family car right now and pick up one of the church members who lives in my neighborhood (and I make sure that I have enough gas before Lord's Day ;)). It only takes about 30 minutes driving, which is not too bad.

It is wonderful to hear of your service to the brethren, and the preparation you make before each Lord's Day.

Jaewon, are you in South Korea or Michigan right now? You should come by our way sometime. We would love to meet you!
 

Dordts5

Puritan Board Freshman
One other aspect to consider here, it has been touched on, but perhaps not enough.

Violating the sabbath in a situation like described above has the potential to cause to sin not only the person himself, not only the employee who would work convenience for them and thereby be hindered from keeping the sabbath themselves, but think of the testimony and witness to others of seeing obedience in difficult places (situations).



coram deo

Why can this specific example not be looked upon as public transportation being an act of mercy to the general public? Certainly, a police officer or a doctor, holding a "higher" societal position we have no problems speaking of their work on the Sabbath as being a work of mercy. A bus driver, and/or the transportation authority that he works for is providing the same act of kindness and work of mercy, just on a different level and scale. Would it be different if the transportation authority didn't charge money for their service? The argument becomes overwhelmingly stupefying if it goes there. The OP's heart is the matter here, not whether he does or doesn't ride in public transportation on Lord's Day. If his conscience tells him that he's exhausted the means by which he may use to enjoy corporate worship, that public transportation is the specific means by which he must use, then he should use it and count it a blessing that he is even able to worship the Lord corporately.

That's my .02.
 

Jaewon

Puritan Board Freshman
Jaewon, are you in South Korea or Michigan right now? You should come by our way sometime. We would love to meet you!

Mr. Lindsay, I am currently in South Korea for Summer break but am flying back to Michigan on 29th of August. I would love to meet you guys as well! Once I worshiped with First RP congregation in Grand Rapids, and I loved psalm-singing. It's great to sing from God's songbook.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Please, do call me Tim. I haven't yet been to Grand Rapids, but I hope to visit sometime soon - I know several of the folks at the RP congregation there.
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
The FP congregations in Africa also provide transport to and from their services if needed. Several of the congregations there have buses. I would assume that the buses were purchased with donated funds.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
the fact remains that there is always an option

Okay, then it would be helpful to give our dear brother who is asking this question some options. The only options I could come up with would be 1) walk 2) get a ride 3) obtain your own vehicle. It's not a stretch by any means to see how these three might not be viable options. So then what?

All right then, but just watch as people offer reasons why these won't work.

1. I would take into account transportation needs and distance to church before moving to a certain house/apartment;
2. Travel by public transport on Saturday, stay over with someone who lives near the church, and leave early Monday morning;
3. I suspect that some of the folks in Seoul will have cars. There is an enormous opportunity to minister to temporal needs here;
4. A church plant should be considered.

Tim, thank you for sharing these other options. I had not considered any of them previously, but I think they are all excellent options. Yes, we acknowlege that there is a possibility that they may not work for our brother in Korea, but I do appreciate you giving him something to consider. I will have to side with Tim at this point in that it seems too many people will not even consider these other options. Let us remember the WCF 21.8 teaches:

8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

We are to called to make due preparations beforehand, so let us be careful not to dismiss an option simply because it may require a bit of planning and work on our part.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I do use my family car right now and pick up one of the church members who lives in my neighborhood (and I make sure that I have enough gas before Lord's Day ). It only takes about 30 minutes driving, which is not too bad.

Bless you brother. You are to be commended for your efforts to honor the Lord's Day.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
comment below

One other aspect to consider here, it has been touched on, but perhaps not enough.

Violating the sabbath in a situation like described above has the potential to cause to sin not only the person himself, not only the employee who would work convenience for them and thereby be hindered from keeping the sabbath themselves, but think of the testimony and witness to others of seeing obedience in difficult places (situations).



coram deo

Why can this specific example not be looked upon as public transportation being an act of mercy to the general public?

Way too general a justification. Almost all riding are engaging in commerce and amusements. Beyond a "skeletal" schedule most of the work is not "mercy" nor "necessity" in the fourth command sense. Also, another difficulty is that God still demands people worship Him one day in seven, including corporately. This becomes a huge problem for a Christian who must work Lord's Day- when do they corporately worship? Let alone family worship?

It's a lifestyle problem if a believer goes through life earning his living on the sabbath, missing corporate worship, the sacraments, church discipline, tithing etc. and then being left with Tuesday and Wednesdays off. (Yes, there can be some attributes of worship on Wednesday night services, but you see the problem.

One of the way God gets glory is when His people all worship Him, throughout the world even, the same one day in seven, a holy one, set aside from common use.



Certainly, a police officer or a doctor, holding a "higher" societal position we have no problems speaking of their work on the Sabbath as being a work of mercy.

If a doctor must operate today or a patient will die, it clearly is an act of mercy and/or necessity per the fourth commandment. The Lord illustrated that explicitly and implicitly in healing the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:4).

But, the truth is, much medical work is not at all necessary to be done on the sabbath. Many hospitals do not routinely schedule elective medical procedures because doctors and nurses want weekends off. How much more routine tasks, lab tests, many exams- the work itself need not be done on the sabbath.


A bus driver, and/or the transportation authority that he works for is providing the same act of kindness and work of mercy,

That same logic could be used to justify almost anything, and render the fourth commandment of none effect. It's merciful for the bottled water salesman to sell on the sabbath because people need water that day, etc.

just on a different level and scale. Would it be different if the transportation authority didn't charge money for their service?

I don't think charging money (or earning a living) is the issue. A genuine mercy or necessity by the fourth command would allow a doctor to legitimately be paid in line with the command.



The argument becomes overwhelmingly stupefying if it goes there.

Our Lord seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Those who deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Those who are in the world but not of it (Romans 12:2).

The "world" (world system) is against the ways of its Creator.



The OP's heart is the matter here, not whether he does or doesn't ride in public transportation on Lord's Day. If his conscience tells him that he's exhausted the means by which he may use to enjoy corporate worship, that public transportation is the specific means by which he must use, then he should use it and count it a blessing that he is even able to worship the Lord corporately.

Yes, it's possible it could be used.

But, much more needs to be considered. There is no easy blanket exemption.

What about the transit worker who must always work the sabbath to support almost entirely convenience based transport? How do they keep the sabbath, ever? What about the world seeing a difference between the way Christians and non-Christians live, in Korea? Does that disappear?

You know what? It's conceivable that in this situation someone in an emergency situation ride public transport to get to church. But, knowing God's promises, if we pray and seek and work, I'll bet God provides a general alternative.

By faith.

And THAT is how we are to live as believers.

Not by trying to devises rationalizations and "loopholes" to exploit in God's commands. That's not the tone here, it is genuine but we must acknowledge this is what sinners, like all of us, do constantly. E.g. the Pharisees saying they could not help their parents in need because of the tithe, etc.

And it offends our holy God.

We ought be trying with all our might, and asking by faith to,

Remember the sabbath, and keep it holy.





That's my .02.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
The FP congregations in Africa also provide transport to and from their services if needed. Several of the congregations there have buses. I would assume that the buses were purchased with donated funds.

Thank-you, Sharon for providing this information. The practice of the missions in Africa go a long way to demonstrate what can be done if a body is committed to remembering the Sabbath in this way.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Let us remember that the original post focused on young believers in South Korea, not elderly or disabled folks in a third world country. We are so quick to offer extreme circumstances, which are then used to relax the care that is required in less challenging situations.

Tim and Jaewon, I'm sorry if I was one of those who took the thread off track.

I mentioned particulars of a situation where options are not there, because I think that we ought to always realise in these matters that some things are more necessary in some situations than others, and we from outside the situation are not always able to make that call. If a denomination that holds to this position will provide for its poorer churches to have transit service that is truly wonderful and commendable. When people who hold to this position begin to speak in terms of how brothers and sisters in other denominations or churches ought to be put under discipline for getting to church by public transit, at that point I do begin either to laugh or cry. That would effectively destroy many poor third world churches, 'rich in faith'. Gratefully, no one has spoken so here. As I first had any encounter with such statements in Mexico, while part of a body of believers who are the most gentle, meek, joyful, faith filled brothers and sisters I have ever known, it is hard for me to always keep things separate in my mind. Tim, I mean no offense (I admire you for defending your position here) in trying to clarify that I am not sure that 'ridiculous' is not a much milder charge than 'so sinful one should be excommunicated from the table of Lord', which is perhaps what others have also associated with this position -- I do not think the conscientious position of not taking public transit on the Sabbath ridiculous. I can't say that I think such a charge against a poor brother or sister in Christ should not be considered so. But again, no such charges were made here and I do not think the puritanboard has ever been a very great medium for them: most of the participants here hold and defend their views too carefully and charitably -- as you, Sharon, and others do. :) I pray God will bless you and bless your Lord's day tomorrow.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Heidi, I don't think you took the thread off tract, but instead, added to it. We should always remember our brothers and sisters who are poor and who are suffering for Christ's name. We should remember that God has placed each person in their own particular situation, and those of us whom he has blessed with larger amounts of money should reach out to these brethren and give to missionary work so they can buy things like transportation.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Heidi, no, you were not off track. It's fine.

Regarding discipline, I don't know the particulars about how discipline is practiced in said denomination, but we also need to remember that discipline is not only excommunication from the Table. That is the final and extreme result of disobedience, not the initial response. Discipline is something we are all under as members of Christ's church. It involves gentle and sensitive teaching about the precepts of God. It would also involve the mandate to provide transportation to those who don't have it.

I remember being invited for lunch on the Sabbath by a young man. I was pleased to accept, but quickly learned that he was planning to order a pizza for our meal. Should he have immediately been barred from the Lord's Table? After all, he was a member of that confessional church. No, the proper response was to explain to him the substance of that commandment, with reference to the confession, and to then exhort him to search the scriptures to see if what I was saying was correct. He clearly hadn't thought about it before. That was "discipline" - it was informal (I was not an elder), and it was mild.

The point is that we must exercise discipline that is commensurate with where the individual is in their Christian walk, and do whatever it takes to make it very possible to abide by the doctrinal position of the church, and, ultimately, scripture.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I have heard of a Christian who skipped church because his gas tank was empty and he wouldn't purchase gasoline on a Sunday...

Wow! He'd rather not buy gas on a Sunday than be able to go to church? Talk about backwards thinking...

Wonder if that means that he was too lazy to get it on Saturday. Either way the way I see it: sin to avoid "sinning" truly is backward thinking.

I doubt it meant he was too lazy, since it meant so much to him that he skipped church over it, but that he probably made a completely accidental mistake. That does happen.

I also know of a certain young man who used to ride his bike to the evening service in the rain, at night, in Cape Town, South Africa before he was eventually able to get a car.
That sounds like way more work to me than any of the options we've been discussing.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
I also know of a certain young man who used to ride his bike to the evening service in the rain, at night, in Cape Town, South Africa before he was eventually able to get a car.
That sounds like way more work to me than any of the options we've been discussing.

It wasn't easy...I mean...the young man told me that it wasn't easy, but he did what it took to get to church. :)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I chose not to mention Professor Murray's affiliation--the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland--simply because many are unfamiliar with its 1893 breakaway from the Free Church of Scotland and I didn't want to complicate things too much. But you are quite right, of course, Richard: this is one of the distinctives of the Wee Wee Frees (Free Presbyterians) over against the Wee Frees (Free Church).

I repeat: it is a position to respect not ridicule. It is also not to be expected to be given much deference as it has been held by comparatively few, with most who are quite committedly confessional finding it not something worth breaking fellowship over, a matter of adiaphora about which we might respectfully differ.

Peace,
Alan

There are many Free Kirk people that will eschew all public transport in every circumstance on the Lord's Day too. It just hasn't been promulgated as something that must be followed by communicant members, but has been left to the individual conscience in the light of Scripture.

the Wee Wee Frees (Free Presbyterians) over against the Wee Frees (Free Church).

As far as I'm aware these expressions were promulgated, if not invented, by journalists. After the majority of the Old Free Kirk formed the theologically compromised United Free Church with the United Presbyterian Church in 1900, the minority who remained uncompromising on the WCF were called the Wee Frees. The FP Church is sometimes called the Wee Wee Frees because it happens to be presently smaller than the Free Church. We tolerate these expressions, usually without demur, although they are often used in a snide manner.

The position of not taking public transport, even if it is the only way of getting to church, has the advantage that you do not feel you may be inadvertently giving succour to the present world system.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
There are many Free Kirk people that will eschew all public transport in every circumstance on the Lord's Day too. It just hasn't been promulgated as something that must be followed by communicant members, but has been left to the individual conscience in the light of Scripture.

Richard:

I deeply appreciate your further clarification and am glad to hear it.

With respect to the Wee and Wee Wee Free comments I meant no disrespect in the slightest. Please forgive me. I know that those designations have been used over here in distinguishing the denominations and I was unaware of any offensive meanings attached to them. I should have been more careful and I will make sure not to do that again, certainly not in writing. Thanks for your graciousness with respect to that.

Peace,
Alan
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
There are many Free Kirk people that will eschew all public transport in every circumstance on the Lord's Day too. It just hasn't been promulgated as something that must be followed by communicant members, but has been left to the individual conscience in the light of Scripture.

Richard:

I deeply appreciate your further clarification and am glad to hear it.

With respect to the Wee and Wee Wee Free comments I meant no disrespect in the slightest. Please forgive me. I know that those designations have been used over here in distinguishing the denominations and I was unaware of any offensive meanings attached to them. I should have been more careful and I will make sure not to do that again, certainly not in writing. Thanks for your graciousness with respect to that.

Peace,
Alan

No offense was taken. I was just explaining further. It's difficult to communicate everything online. I should use "smileys" more often :)
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
Heidi, no, you were not off track. It's fine.

Regarding discipline, I don't know the particulars about how discipline is practiced in said denomination, but we also need to remember that discipline is not only excommunication from the Table. That is the final and extreme result of disobedience, not the initial response. Discipline is something we are all under as members of Christ's church. It involves gentle and sensitive teaching about the precepts of God. It would also involve the mandate to provide transportation to those who don't have it.

I remember being invited for lunch on the Sabbath by a young man. I was pleased to accept, but quickly learned that he was planning to order a pizza for our meal. Should he have immediately been barred from the Lord's Table? After all, he was a member of that confessional church. No, the proper response was to explain to him the substance of that commandment, with reference to the confession, and to then exhort him to search the scriptures to see if what I was saying was correct. He clearly hadn't thought about it before. That was "discipline" - it was informal (I was not an elder), and it was mild.

The point is that we must exercise discipline that is commensurate with where the individual is in their Christian walk, and do whatever it takes to make it very possible to abide by the doctrinal position of the church, and, ultimately, scripture.

Tim, indeed, both this thread and the recent thread on eating at restaurants on the Lord's Day, have been discipline to me. For sure, I thought that I was keeping the Sabbath by going to church on Sunday. But it has not been uncommon for my family to do our laundry, eat at restaurants, or even do the grocery shopping after church. In fact, one of the favorite pastimes has been enjoying a Falcons game after church. I have really had to rethink what it means to keep the Sabbath holy. I am truly thankful for the discussions here on the Puritan Board, for all the brothers and sisters, like yourself, who are not afraid to challenge us to think deeply about how we can best honor God.
 

thbslawson

Puritan Board Freshman
I would not take public transport to get to church on the Sabbath day. Yes, churches ought to provide carpools for those who don't have private transportation. The Free Presbyterian congregation in Singapore, for instance, has invested in two vans, which are driven by volunteers.

So, that's assuming every church has the money to purchase large vans and the hundreds in fuel it costs to provide transport. It's so easy to throw this around in the western world where churches typically have money and owning a vehicle is the norm. This is not the case for the majority of Christians. To me it seems pretty arrogant to insist to a brother or sister in a foreign country, where they have no other means of being with God's people on the Lord's Day, than to take public transport is breaking the Sabbath. Public transportation for most of the world is a necessity. If you would not take public transport then I suggest you also refrain from turning on your lights or the water.
 
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