> > I doubt if anybody can categorically say that Sunday shopping is "right"
> > "wrong" but your statement that you don't tend to shop on Sundays but do
> > to restaurants or pubs is interesting. Why one and not the other, unless
> > you don't have cooking facilities at home?
> I know - it does seem hypocritical - though I would say that this is only
> done on occasions and not as a regular thing. I gave it as an example of
> how we all often unthinkingly do things that the rest of society does,
> without considering it from a Biblical perspective. (Which would appear to
> be the Fourth Commandment, though that raises the issue of whether
> Christians ought to treat Saturday as the Sabbath - and some I know do so,
> feeling that the move to Sunday was a pagan influence. That is a knotty
> issue that I don't really want to get bogged down in. The Fourth
> commandment specifies a day of rest - which one we nowadays arbitrarily
> choose does not seem to be of such importance as the general principle).
At the time of the Reformation, Roman Catholics sometimes pointed to the
change from Saturday to Sunday as an example of the authority of the church,
since God had allowed it to change
even one of the Ten Commandments. Though of course not accepting this argument,
the Puritans emphasized Sunday as the new Sabbath, requiring abstention from
work &c. It is due to the latter influence, I think, that we've had Sunday
closing laws &c.
In reality we don't really know just when or by what authority
Christians started observing Sunday as their primary day of worship, though
clearly it was very early. (I Cor.16:2 may point to the practice but that isn't
But almost all the arguments about observance Sabbath/Sunday tens to be
legalistic to some extent & to miss the radical character of the NT's critique
of such ceremonial regulations - e.g., Paul laments the fact that the Galatians
"observe days, and months, and seasons, and years" (Gal.4:9). The Sabbath, in
the sense of a specific day of rest, is seen in the NT just as it is seen by
Orthodox Jews today, as a sign and precursor of the time of the Messiah, the
true Sabbath. The difference, of course, is that the NT sees the Messiah as
having come - that is why, e.g., so many of Jesus' healings take place on the
Sabbath. That being the case, the preliminary sign no longer needs to be
The need for rest remains. It is a recognition that we can't ensure our
life, security &c by working 24/7 but should depend on God to supply our needs
even though we aren't working all the time. & it would be very good for society
as a whole to recognize that & to have some uniform day of rest. But that
doesn't mean that there is a theological requirement that any particular day be
observed or that it be uniform.
Christians are accustomed to the idea of Sunday as the day of worship &
Luther, for example, explains "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy"
entirely in this fashion in the Small Catechism.
& of course it is true that we should "not despise God's Word or preaching, but
instead keep that Word holy and gladly hear and learn it." But it's a bit of a
stretch to connect that with the Sabbath. A congregation could have its
principle service of worship on Tuesday evening if there were good reason to.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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