Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 09:3 (Summer 2000)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Celebrating The Sabbath, Bruce A. Ray. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing (2000). 125 pages, paper, $8.99

It was a very hot Saturday in June. Sitting in the shade of the truck and enjoying a slow drink of cold water I listened to the discussion. There had been an equipment breakdown and we weren’t going to get all of the hay out of the field before dark. “Are we going to work on Sunday?” was the question up for consideration. Rain was forecast for Sunday night and Monday morning.

The final decision has been lost in my memory but I do recall a comment made by my grandfather, “The last time we worked on Sunday, nothing went right. The machinery kept breaking down. It’s just not a good idea to work on Sunday.” I remember my grandfather’s comment sounded more like a bad luck omen than something distinctly Christian, more like tossing salt over a shoulder than a fervent commitment to uphold “the law of God.”

In the years since those “hay days,” I’ve encountered a full-spectrum rainbow of opinions regarding Sunday protocol. What’s acceptable to do on Sunday and what’s taboo depends on who you’re talking to and when you’re talking to them. In college, I had friends who wouldn’t watch television on Sunday, but would go to the student center and play billiards.

Later I met couples who thought it definitely wrong to work on Sunday, but they went to restaurants and paid other people to work for them. (Regarding the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” would they apply the same logic: It would be wrong for me to choke my disagreeable neighbor, so I’ll hire someone else to do it?) And I once observed “ox-in-the-ditch” die-hards work to restore air conditioning on a hot July Sunday. Is air conditioning a necessity?

Throughout the years, as I contemplated the inconsistent and bewildering varieties of Sunday codes and ethics, I searched the Scriptures for clarification. I discovered, to my dismay, this isn’t an easy subject. Commentaries and confessions have enough diverse opinions to try both mind and patience. As a result, many of us are still waiting for the definitive resource on this subject. That’s why Bruce Ray’s new book piqued my interest.

Celebrating the Sabbath is a readable, creative book. Pastor Ray’s good-humored approach to the topic comes through in the very first chapter, “McSabbath.” Various other chapters such as “Sabbath or Lord’s Day? Old Testament Roots” and “Sabbath or Lord’s Day? New Testament Flower and Fruits” establish a pulpit flavor. But in spite of its enjoyable style, content and scope are disappo...

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