Talk:Sabbath in seventh-day churches
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Removal from Seventh-day Adventism series
This article is going really well. I'm now fully persuaded that it deserves to exist and is not a content fork from Sabbath in Christianity. Thanks to Colin and other contributors for your work. Tonicthebrown 09:56, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
- Thanks Tonic! I expect that contributions to this article and Sabbath in Christianity will be my last major contributions for the foreseeable future. Colin MacLaurin 04:42, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
As you can see from my recent edits, I've been giving (disambiguation of) Sabbath articles a lot of thought, and I'm familiar with the debate. I'd like to broaden the scope of this article by renaming it "Sabbath in seventh-day churches". It is my belief there needs to be a lot more discussion of seventh-day Christianity that does not tread heavily on the Jewish Sabbath concepts (of course Messianic Judaism would be discussed); and I think that would be the best title and this the best article to build from. ("Seventh-day Sabbath" would not work, e.g.) I see there is a section here already for influence between SDA and other groups, and I'm talking about expanding that a lot, not so much as to drown out the SDA, but enough to give all the other churches due weight somewhere. (Perhaps someone has a better site for this content.)
Well, think about it and respond here. When I finish disambiguating "Sabbath", there will be a lot of links pointing here that are not strictly SDA. I think it would be good (1) to perform the move, (2) to redo the links to the new name, making a list of the articles linked from, and (3) to beef up this article's content by reference to the list. There is a lot to build from. Thanks for your consideration. JJB 12:21, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
- I think "Sabbath in Adventism" would be quite logical - i.e. all the Adventist/Millerite groups not just the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If the article were to describe other groups than SDAs, they would want to be closely related, otherwise a list of Sabbath-keeping churches might be better (I think there may have been one once, but it was deleted). I am open to the idea personally, but need some more convincing. Colin MacLaurin (talk) 07:55, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
- OK, thanks. I recognize this will take work comparable to the work you have already put in, and so will keep it on the longterm burner. For the nonce, anyone who may be disappointed by my redirecting other seventh-day churches to this article can take the trouble to move the redirect to the "Influence on other groups" section and add the church's details there as a holding bin. It is a temporary disambiguation solution but I do think "Sabbath in seventh-day churches" is an underserved topic. It might need its own article then, with a summary and link of this one. JJB 17:49, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
- At a guess, most of the other seventh-day Sabbath churches probably got it from the Adventists anyway (perhaps this would not be true of some African groups, however). I imagine that such churches would use Adventist scholars primarily, e.g. Bacchiocchi. So the change probably is warranted. Colin MacLaurin (talk) 05:05, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Colin! There being no other comment, I'm likely to go ahead with Sabbath in seventh-day churches in the near future. After the new Template:Adventism reminded me to check here, I also thought of Seventh-day Sabbath in Christianity, which I would make a redirect at the same time. Repeat that steps (2)-(3) will also need to follow, and some reorganization and touchup as well. JJB 00:11, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
- The present title sounds a little odd. Is the term "seventh-day churches" actually used (i.e. by reliable sources), or is it just a descriptor invented by Wikipedians? What about titling it Seventh-day Sabbatarianism instead? Colin MacLaurin (talk) 11:11, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
That's good too. My intent with last year's title (which I did not seek WP:RS for) was to limit it to Christianity, but my experience to date is that the word "Sabbatarianism" is exclusively Christian, so that's a wash. "Seventh-day church" has many more Google hits than "churches" or "Sabbatarianism"; and "churches" beats "Sabbatarianism" by 98-69, wins Google news by 29-0, and loses Google books by 39-48. So at this second I favor "churches". If we move, it requires requesting a housekeeping deletion first. Influence of the COG branches is visible. Other thoughts? JJB 03:16, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
New Sabbath spinout
Having considered the state of Sabbath articles closely, I think there is still one topic to create, namely Biblical Sabbath. Currently this phrase redirects to the summary article "Sabbath" even though that article includes many other Sabbath adaptations that are not Biblical. A new article would compile the Biblical references to Sabbath in a thorough, orderly way, and give all the main viewpoints and interpretations of each passage (compare creation according to Genesis, figs in the Bible, wells in the Bible, etc.). None of the current articles do either of these, because they are quite rightly focused on Sabbath in this or that mainstream viewpoint. However, the notion of "Sabbath as the Bible describes it, without making judgments in favor of any viewpoint" is a topic frequently discussed but lacking. No need to warn me about POV risks, because I am already on duty policing those. It is just my observation that, very often, a WP editor wants to refer just to that notion, "Biblical Sabbath with essentially no POV", and has no recourse to do so (as noted, the summary "Sabbath" article is not Biblically limited, and the Biblically based articles give only one POV each). Particularly, there are many links to "Sabbath" that should very clearly, in context, be directed to Biblical Sabbath, and permitting the weaker link is suboptimal and easily remediable. Also, many of the IP contributors to "Sabbath" would do better to have such a separate article; and some of the debates about where to put this or that apologetic (if at all) would be more readily solved if there were a central article. I will be happy to move this forward, but I wanted to get a couple more opinions first, to confirm my belief that this is a good division of topics. Cross-posted to Shabbat, Sabbath in Christianity, and Sabbath in seventh-day churches. JJB 05:45, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Merge proposal (sort of)
Disagreeing strongly with the logic of the recent split and dab of Sabbath in Christianity, I believe a re-merge would be more harmonious, while the overdue reorg of this sister article can be done at the same time. Here is the proposal from the inelegantly titled new Talk:Christian Sabbath and Sunday observance:
Here's a proposed logical reorganization of affected articles. Using O for Christian Sabbath and Sunday observance, T for Christian Sabbath theology, and S for the extant Sabbath in seventh-day churches (which, we have noted, has always needed reorg ever since it was expanded from an SDA-only article):
Sabbath in Christianity (rejoining two articles split without consensus):
- Lead (rewritten as SUMMARY of below)
- 1 Biblical traditions (SUMMARY of Biblical Sabbath: Biblical theology T1)
- 2 First-day traditions
- 2.1 Early church (Ignatius+Laodicea fm O1.1; bulk of shorter O1.2-3; Constantine O2.1; 1st-day theology fm T3 as appropriate)
- 2.2 Middle ages (=O2.2)
- 2.3 Reformation (=O2.3)
- 2.4 Modern church (Roman Catholicism O2.4 & shorter T3.2, shorter LDS O2.6, other basic)
- 3 Other traditions
- 3.1 Seventh-day traditions (SUMMARY of seventh-day Sabbath)
- 3.2 Two-day traditions (Eastern Orthodox O2.5, Ethiopian)
- 3.3 Weekday traditions (=O5)
- 3.4 Non-Sabbatarian traditions (maybe summary of new article: O6, plus Justin+Irenaeus+Tertullian fm O1.1, Gibbons fm T4.2.3, Brinsmead+Ratzlaff from S4)
- 4 Other definitions (DAB-style SUMMARIES of Sabbath as seven-day week, High Sabbaths, Shmita, Shabbat Messianic POV, new moon, Day of the Vow, millennialism with eschatological T4.1)
- Lead (rewritten as SUMMARY of below)
- 1 Biblical traditions (SUMMARY of Biblical Sabbath)
- 2 Seventh-day traditions
- 2.1 Early church (bulk of O1.1; Didache interp, Bacchiocchi fm O1.2; some of history S2.3)
- 2.2 Middle ages (Africa+Europe O3.1-2 with some of history S3)
- 2.3 Reformation (bulk of O4, more of history S2.3)
- 2.4 Modern church (SDB, SDA, WCOG, UCOG, Sabbath-keeping COG, MJ, other fm O4-4.1; S1-2.1, S4-4.1)
- 2.5 Eschatology (=S2.4, other?)
- 3 Other traditions
- 3.1 Interaction with first-day traditions (1st-day and 7th-day POV dialogue: Bauckham to Bacchiocchi fm O1.2, other)
- 3.2 Interaction with other traditions (non-Sab and 7th-day POV dialogue, stub)
Biblical Sabbath absorbs 7th-day theology fm T2, transfer theology fm T3.1, non-Sabbatarian fm T4.2.1-2, each with balance added; the gigantic T4 footnote insertion should be researched for dropping or shortening; S2.2 should be shortened to a summary of its article on law and any key text moved there; and some of history S3 should move to general SDA history.
Having made a number of changes to the lead, I now find it necessary to leave behind a talk page arena where any fallout can be discussed. In this article and the many others dealing with the Sabbath, I find that there is absolutely no understanding of Orthodoxy in relation to this subject. The result is messy in terms of the articles, and because of pervasive western norms, it appears that understanding and discussion are almost certain to be required in order to iron out details that will be easy to misunderstand.
Even so, there is not as much disagreement between east and west here as it may look like at first, and it does not strike deeply into theology. Let me try to summarize a few points of Orthodox teaching.
- Orthodoxy retains the Sabbath on Saturday, without change or ambiguity from Judaism. It is viewed as a "day of rest", in accord with Genesis creation accounts, and also in light of Christ's "resting" in the tomb on Holy Saturday.
- Yet Orthodoxy also considers Mosaic Law to have been "superseded" in Christ's coming and the New Covenant. "Encompassed" might be a better choice of word. The "law of faith" (Romans 3:27), our cooperation and faithfulness with God (as characterized by the Orthodox Study Bible scholars), subsumes the entire Mosaic Law into itself. The law was given to teach God's people what righteousness is, what is necessary to please God. Mosaic Law cannot be kept. When one falls short of it in one way, one falls short of it all. But it presents a standard from which not one iota will change. The law of faith includes those standards, but does not presume that adherence to a "letter of the law" is sufficient; it must be a full and faithful cooperation with God in repenting and doing what is pleasing to Him. That cooperation does not depend on having a written rule at hand, and it covers all situations, and all life. It is comprehensive in a way a written law could never be. And it is all lived out in the presence of God all the time, and what is accomplished is only accomplished by means of God's presence, help, and our relationship to Him. There is no legalism, no Pharisee-ism possible in keeping the law of faith. Relationship with God, and cooperation, bringing us together with Him, that is the sum. "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
- There is therefore no requirement upon Orthodox Christians to keep Mosaic Law. Keep the law of faith, and fallings short will be taken care of, by God, by His promises in the New Covenant. And hence, the Orthodox observe the Sabbath day of rest not by keeping rules, or in fact by making special Sabbath observances, but by resting, praying, and attending church services in accord with the law of faith. To those who depend on rules, and see none, this looks like observing nothing at all, for there are no regular externals to point to, nothing to be legalistic about. Yet the identification of the Sabbath as Saturday, the seventh day, the day of rest, is repeated all over the services of the church, and remembered as such whenever the time is appropriate.
- Orthodoxy observes Sunday as the day of resurrection, a mini-Pascha every week. It is considered a duty to attend the Liturgy service every Sunday whenever it is within reach of the faithful to do so, and to pray oneself at the least. Thus it is always a day of celebration, of explicit religious observance, corporate wherever possible, of prayer, and a feast day. During fasting seasons, the fast is always lifted by a degree of strictness in observance of that feast. It might be worth noting that the lifting of fasting strictness generally applies to Saturdays also, which is likely partially tied to the Sabbath day of rest.
- Orthodoxy maintains a complete separation between Sunday as the day of resurrection and Saturday as the Sabbath day of rest. This is not to say that resting on Sunday is considered improper in any way, though one does make the effort required in prayer. Neither does it make praying absent in any way from Saturday, on which many observances fall, some always (Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday), and some periodically when a fixed date falls on Saturday (as Christmas might do). There is little to nothing that a western Christian might do on the Lord's Day to keep it holy, that an Orthodox does not also do to observe the day of resurrection, nor similarly that a seventh-day Sabbatarian might do in observance of the Sabbath that an Orthodox would find unfitting in the keeping of the Sabbath, except that the Orthodox do not depend on rules. Instead, it is a matter of the law of faith.
I hope this clarifies how Orthodox perspectives and practices relate but differ from western varieties. The articles make many rather sweeping or inclusive statements that fit only western situations, but the correction does not require much in the way of presenting viewpoints. More often, it requires something in the way of presenting the right separations of views, most of which are shared by one or more western groups as well. It's the way things are now divided either/or that doesn't fit the most. I'll point project Christianity here as a tie-in for wherever these issues arise in future editing. Evensteven (talk) 23:31, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
- It might do for me to make one more point about Orthodox practice: that there is no single "day of worship", or holy day, or day reserved to the Lord, in each week. Sunday is the day of resurrection, yes, and regular celebration of that day occurs each week throughout Orthodoxy. But regular Orthodox worship occurs on all days of the week, and prominent fixed feasts occur during the week all over the calendar: Ascension Day, the Dormition (Aug 15, called the Assumption by the RCs), Exaltation of the Cross (Sep 14), Christmas, Theophany (Epiphany, 6 Jan), Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Feb 2), to name a few. And many weekday services are held for lesser feasts and observances as well. Every day is a day for worship, corporate or otherwise; every day is to be kept holy; every day is reserved to serving the Lord. Sunday is exceptional in Orthodoxy only for being the regular weekly mini-Pascha. The Orthodox faith is not restricted or bottled into a separated time slot, nor is it absent outside of a "church" context. It recognizes no boundaries. Hence, it tends not to use the term "Lord's Day" for Sunday as though other days, such as the Sabbath, were not so.
Seventh-day Sabbatarianism in the early church
I am eliminating the statement in the lead paragraph as to this point, along with the two (ancient) sources, which do not confirm the statement. Both sources speak of the presbyter Sabbatius (not derived from "sabbath"), a Christian of Jewish origin who retained Jewish practices on his own. Sabbatius ventured then to introduce (insert) certain observances of the Jewish Passover into the Christian feast of Pascha, for which he was condemned and removed from office, and from which reason he is mentioned in the histories. Sozomen calls it a Sabbatian (not Sabbatarian) heresy and dispute.
It was rather late in history (after the Council of Nicaea) for any Judaizing practice to occur in the Church on this scale. The very first Christians are thought (very naturally) to have taken Jewish rites along with them and to continue using them as they worshipped, after confessing Christ. Many continued to worship at the synagogues, until in the late 60s the Jews themselves expelled them. And it took time for the Church to formulate its own worship services. Also naturally, it was predominantly in the east, and especially in areas close to Palestine, that there were later contacts and associations between Jews and Judaism and early Christians. Development of Church services and breaks with the Jews came sporadically and over time. Even the issue of a unified celebration of Pascha by all Christians on a single specified day was one hot topic for the Council of Nicaea (325). One can presume that the earliest Christians observed the Sabbath partly by attending worship in the synagogues. But they also celebrated some form of Liturgy or service of Eucharist, and from very early times there was consideration that the proper day for doing that was Sunday. I have not heard it said in early sources, but it seems possible that in early days some Christians observed both Sabbath and Eucharist, perhaps in different places, perhaps on different days. But also very early in Church history, Christianity spread out far away from Palestine, and among the gentiles who were also converted, even in the first generation. To them, Jewish practice would have made much less sense, and among them, any significant Jewishness that was not a part of Christianity would have dissipated the faster. If nothing else, the issues at Nicaea make it clear that Jewish practice and influence was not of significance in the west by that time, so any distinctly Sabbatarian observance among Christians could hardly have involved "all or most".
The modern-day Orthodox retention of the Sabbath on Saturday, and the start of its daily liturgical cycle at (about) sunset, "evening" as is often said, were both of earliest origin, and clearly aligned with Christian origins within Judaism, and its outward forms of worship and calendar. Nevertheless, the modern-day observance of Sunday as the day of resurrection, and characteristic celebration of Liturgy on Sunday, date from as far back as we can find any documentary records. Eastern Christianity in general, neither historically nor today, was/is in direct alignment with modern Sabbatarian theories or practice. Those developed in the west in relatively modern times, in reaction to the Catholicism of RC, and in an attempt to understand ancient practice which does not quite match up with the tradition continued from that time. The editorial statement I have removed from the article may have been a modern Sabbatarian-looking construct built upon that point of view, but it is certainly not in the ancient sources, who only speak of discipline, removal, dispute, and heresy. Evensteven (talk) 01:27, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
- I discovered that the references I deleted were named and used elsewhere in the article. While the sources support some of what I said above in this section, they are also quoted in the Early Church section of the article, where they use further material from those sources. Two modern-day sources are also given, but not in direct relation. I find this section in need of some more modern scholarly interpretations. The following is what I see that may escape the notice or information of the modern western Christian.
- The quote from Socrates Scholasticus speaks of Egyptian Christians near Alexandria partaking of the mysteries (celebrating Liturgy) not "in the manner usual among Christians in general". They hold religious assembly on the Sabbath (Saturday), then having first eaten at least one meal, then in the evening make offerings and "partake of the mysteries" (receive Communion). To us, it may seem then that the assembly, the meal, and the Liturgy and communion, all happened on the Sabbath. But not so, according to Christian practice, in which the Liturgy service, taking place in the evening, was during the next day, Sunday, which began at sunset. Socrates has described a regular schedule of Christian activity, some of which happened on the Sabbath, and some on Sunday, a multitude of observance such as I described above. The manner in which this was not usual among Christians in general was not necessarily related to the schedule, but was most definitely related to the fact that these near-Alexandrians ate food near onto the time of receiving the mysteries, instead of observing the usual fasting that would precede it.
- Sozomen also mentions regular multiple observances in Constantinople on both Sabbaths and Sundays and contrasts that with Rome and the Alexandria of a century later. He contrasts it also with some unmentioned cities and villages of Egypt, who meet on Sabbath evening (this is what we would normally call Friday evening, but is Saturday by their reckoning of days), then eat, and then again partake of the mysteries. Again, the anomaly in Christian practice that is being pointed out is that of failing to fast before receiving communion.
- For WP purposes, this would undoubtedly need some kind of WP:RS confirmation. But as an Orthodox Christian, even in the modern day, understanding how these elements of church praxis (practice) are among the most elemental and ancient and unchanging in Orthodoxy, the meaning of the ancient sources positively leaps off the page.
- Earlier, on WP, I had occasion to investigate the death date of the Venerable Bede, listed in a (reliable) Penguin books introduction as (Wed) 25 May 735, but in the article as (Thu) 26 May 735. The same ancient practice of the undivided Church to begin the day at sunset came into play there too, and was confirmed by direct scholarly contact as well as other WP:RS already in that article. Bede happened to die on Ascension Day, always a Thursday (still is in Orthodoxy). He was ill several days, but continued a last dictation through that time, came to Wednesday afternoon, and later attended Vespers, the first service of the new day, always held after sunset. One last dictation, and then he passed on before morning. All these details come from a trustworthy primary source who was present, and wrote them down at the time. The (unanswerable) question of whether or not it was past midnight was irrelevant. According to church practice, which kept time for both ecclesiastical and civil purpose in Northumbria in those days, Thursday began at sunset, before Vespers and before his death. The date is therefore given by scholars as Thursday, 26 May. In similar fashion, I would expect good scholarship to confirm the timing of the evening activities described by these early church historians to be as I have stated. Evensteven (talk) 03:15, 21 May 2015 (UTC)