From HebrewRoot: Answering Objections – Introduction

sundaymorningworship-300x300A couple of things came together to start this series. First, Cris Putnam has been posting a series on his blog (Logos Apologia) about what he calls “Confusion About Sunday Worship.” I agree there’s a lot of confusion on the subject, and I think many of my Hebrew Roots brethren are a bit too strident on the subject, but I think Cris is a bit blind to the confusion on his own side. I’m hoping to answer his objections.

Second, I still occasionally get email with questions that come out of things I wrote for Hebrewroot.com between four and ten years ago. That site is no longer under my direct control, and in fact belongs to a ministry that I’m far less involved in than I used to be due to some differences in direction, and while there’s nothing on there that I would be embarrassed to stand behind today, my knowledge has grown quite a bit since I last wrote. Moreover, I’m told by several visitors to that site that it’s raising red flags with their virus protection (which is why I’m not linking it here; since I’m not sure whether they’re false flags or not).

So what I’m going to do is post updated editions of my old material here on the Return of Benjamin, both to preserve the data in the event that Hebrewroot ever goes down, and to give my best foot forward in the ongoing debate on the Torah within the Body of Messiah.

And this most certainly is a debate within the Body. I’ve candidly lost patience with those on both sides who want to make this a salvational issue or who carelessly sling around accusations of heresy. Cris hasn’t done that so far, though his tone is a bit acerbic–doubtless stemming from his own frustrations with those nominally on my side.

Since his first post is so short and focused on a broad theological issue, I’ll go ahead and answer it here:

Confusion About Sunday Worship — Logos Apologia

The Sabbath did not change but the covenant changed and Sabbath observance is part and parcel of the obsolete Mosaic covenant. The Sabbath did not change the covenant did (Heb 8:13).

We agree that there is a new covenant. However, what Cris assumes, but does not prove–at least not in this first post–is that “Sabbath observance is part and parcel of the obsolete Mosaic covenant.” Frankly, there’s no such statement in the New Testament; Cris is reading his particular Christian tradition back into the text rather than doing exegesis from the text, no different than Catholics reading Mary’s exalted status back into the angel’s greeting to her or Muslims reading a prophecy of Mohammed back into Yeshua’s promise that “the Comforter” would come.

Instead, the NT makes it clear that the Sabbath is ongoing. Yeshua, the Son of Man and the one who enacted the New Covenant in the shedding of his own blood, is Lord of the Sabbath (Mat. 12:8). Nice to know that Cris thinks that the Savior is Lord of an obsolete service. Moreover, Yeshua says the Sabbath was given to man, i.e., as a gift, not man to the Sabbath as an onerous religious burden (Mark 2:27). So are we to assume that God intended to impoverish the New Covenant by taking away a blessing? The book of Acts shows that Yeshua’s followers continued to go to synagogue on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14 & 42, 15:21, 16:13, 17:2, 18:4).

Cris claims that Acts 20:7 is proof that the Apostolic Christians worshiped instead on Sunday. Hardly. First, the night “of the first day” would be Saturday night rather than Sunday night because of the way Jews track days, from sundown-to-sundown instead of from midnight-to-midnight. The presence of the lit lamps strongly suggests that this was what we would call a Havdalah (“Separation”) service, marking the close of the Sabbath. It makes sense that the disciples of Yeshua, continuing to go to regular synagogues on the Sabbath, would then join together in a fellowship meal (ala 1Co. 11) after the Sabbath was over.

But even aside from all that, a single mention that on a single occasion a group got together to listen to Paul preach on the first day of the week no more proves that Sunday has supplanted Saturday as the day of rest and worship than the existence of Wednesday night Bible studies proves that Christians today regard Wednesday as the holy day over Sunday!

Cris ends by quoting Justin Martyr. There are some problems with that as well: First, Justin admits that the Jewish followers of Yeshua continued to observe the Sabbath and all the Torah in his own day. Second, Justin was so far afield of the Bible on this subject that he actually claimed that God had given Israel the Sabbaths and the Feasts as a punishment for the hardness of their hearts. That directly contradicts Christ himself on the subject. Third, the last time I checked, Justin Martyr was neither an apostle nor a prophet, and his writings are not canon, nor to be used as canon–for good reason (see point #2).

The most one can claim is that Justin Martyr proves that many, but not all, Christians in the Second Century had taken to worshiping on Sunday instead of the Biblical Sabbath. That proves the relative antiquity of the practice and disproves the idea sometimes raised by HRM-types that Sunday worship was instituted by Constantine. (However, we are right to point out that Constantine was the one who made the Sabbath illegal for Christians, as I’ve shown in Judenrein Christianity.)

Since I’ll be following Cris Putnam’s arguments, I’ll be posting my articles a bit out-of-order, but they’ll all be here and searchable when I’m done. Hopefully, both Cris and I will get some good “sword practice” in and come out arms across each other’s shoulders, whether or not we come to an agreement.

Shalom.

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