Jay E. Adams, Keeping The Sabbath Today? -- By: Ryan M. McGraw
PRJ 1:2 (July 2009) p. 275
Jay E. Adams, Keeping The Sabbath Today?1
In 1853, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) declared: “A church without the Sabbath is apostate.” 2Even rivals such as R. L. Dabney and Charles Hodge were in perfect harmony with regard to Sabbath-keeping. But radical changes have occurred with respect to Sabbath-keeping since the nineteenth century. It is increasingly common for Presbyterians to question Sabbath-keeping as it is outlined in the Westminster Standards. However, the position advocated by Jay Adams in Keeping the Sabbath Today?, represents a far more radical shift.
The question addressed in this book is not how Christians should keep the Sabbath, but if Christians should keep the Sabbath. In twenty short chapters, Adams answers this question with a decisive “no.” However, the overarching purpose of this book is to demonstrate that the Decalogue, and the fourth commandment preeminently, are irrelevant to Christians as the standard for personal holiness. Instead, Christians should keep “the commandments of Christ,” which are summarized by love (102). Keeping the Decalogue makes Christians guilty of Judaising, living like “Jewtiles” (85). Adams notes: “admittedly this is a controversial volume” (ix).
Every chapter of this book departs from the traditional Reformed understanding of the Sabbath and of the law of God. As with all of Adams’s works, this book is clearly written and tightly argued. Coupled with the fact that the name and reputation of the author will
PRJ 1:2 (July 2009) p. 276
make this volume attractive to many, this makes it necessary to rehearse in brief the arguments of each chapter.
Chapter 1 begins with a syllogism: The Sabbath is a Jewish holy day. Romans 14 and Colossians 2 demonstrate that Jewish holy days are not binding upon Christians. Therefore, Adams asserts: “The Bible teaches that the Sabbath has been abolished.” In chapters 2 and 3, Adams argues that the Sabbath was not changed from the seventh to the first day of the week because the Sabbath is not a creation ordinance, and that the commandments of the Decalogue are irrelevant in the New Testament unless they are repeated by Jesus and His apostles (13). Ignoring Genesis 2, Adams argues that the injunction to keep the Sabbath in Exodus 16 was not “a full-fledged Sabbath” (9), since labor was not forbidden. Neither Jews nor Gentiles were reprimanded for Sabbath-breaking before You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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