Monday, January 11, 2010

The Taste of Sabbath

Having journeyed during my life from being a Saturday Sabatarian to holding the position that the Sabbath had been done away with in Christ, to everything in between, it was with interest that I picked up Stuart Bryan's little book The Taste of Sabbath: How to Delight in God's Rest.

This is Stuart Bryan first book and I hope it will be followed by many more, since Stuart has a particular gift at distilling complex theological ideas and making them accessible for a lay person. His particular theological emphasis is always to give attention to the story of redemption history, showing how the rich tapestry of Old Testament themes find fulfilment in the work of Christ. The Taste of Sabbath is no exception, and takes us on a journey of God's redemptive plan, showing how it reaches a climax in the work of Jesus in general and the Christian Sabbath in particular.

The other benefit of the book is that it functions as an apologetic for Sunday Sabbath observance (those wishing for a more scholarly apologetic should consult From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation edited by D.A. Carson). In the first chapter, Bryan lays out the four dominant views on the Sabbath.

The first of these positions is that the Old Testament Sabbath is completely abolished, and thus no day of the week is any different from another.

The second position is that although the Old Testament Sabbath has been completely abolished, it has been replaced by the Lord's Day. (I think that is the position of D.A. Carson's book, although its been a while now).

The third position is that the Old Testament Sabbath is still binding for Christians in the exact same way that it was in the Old Testament. The various 'Seventh Day' Christian groups that have emerged in the last couple of centuries advocate this view.

Fourth, there is the position that the Old Testament Sabbath is still binding for Christians today but has undergone a transformation and been fulfilled in the Lord's Day, the Christian Sabbath (which is Sunday). This view has some similarities with the third position since it emphasizes the continuity between the Christian Sabbath and the Jewish Sabbath, but also has some similarities with the second position, because it emphasizes the discontinuity between the two. This is the position that Stuart Bryan defends in his book The Taste of Sabbath.

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