Purpose of This Blog

The Final Goal of this Blog is to work towards the unification of the seceding denominations (and the one true original denomination) into a unified and public body of believers so as to properly fight the False Presbyterian Church (better known as the PC (USA)) and to subdue it from preaching a false gospel.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

More Talk on Instruments

Over at Backwoods Presbyterian they are discussing the use/non-use of Instruments. Take a Gander.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Charles Hodge on Creation

§ 6. The Mosaic Account of the Creation.

There are three methods of interpreting this portion of the Bible. (1.) The historical. (2.) The allegorical. (3.) The mythical. The first assumes it to be a veritable history. The second has two forms. Many of the Fathers who allegorized the whole of the Old Testament without denying its historical verity, allegorized in like manner the history of the creation. That is, they sought for a hidden moral or spiritual sense under all historical facts. Others regarded it as purely an allegory without any historical basis, any more than the parables of our Lord. The mythical theory, as the name imports, regards the record of the creation as a mere fable, or fabulous cosmogony, designed to express a theory as to the origin of the universe, of man, and of evil, of no more value than the similar cosmogonies which are found in the early literature of all nations. In favour of the historical character of the record are the following considerations, (1.) It purports to be a veritable history. (2.) It is the appropriate and necessary introduction or an acknowledged history. (3.) It is referred to and quoted in other parts of the Bible as the true account of the creation of the world; especially in the fourth commandment, where, as well as in other parts of Scripture, it is made the foundation of the institution of the Sabbath. (4.) The facts here recorded, including as they do the creation and probation of man, lie at the foundation 569of the whole revealed plan of redemption. The whole Bible, therefore, rests upon the record here given of the work of creation, and consequently all the evidence which goes to support the divine authority of the Bible, tends to sustain the historical verity of that record.

Objections to the Mosaic Account of the Creation.

The principal objections to the Mosaic account of the creation are either critical, astronomical, or geological. Under the first head it is objected that the account is inconsistent with itself, especially in what is said of the creation of man; and that it is evidently composed of independent documents, in one of which God is called אֱלֹהִים, and in the other יְהוָה. The former of these objections is answered by showing that the two accounts of the creation are not inconsistent; the one is a concise statement of the fact, the other a fuller account of the manner of its occurrence. As to the second objection, it is enough to say that, admitting the fact on which it is founded, it creates no difficulty in the way of acknowledging the historical character of the record. It is of no importance to us whence Moses derived his information, whether from one or more historical documents, from tradition, or from direct revelation. We receive the account on his authority and on the authority of the Book of which it is a recognized and authentic portion.

The astronomical objections are, (1.) That the whole account evidently assumes that our earth is the centre of the universe, and that the sun, moon, and stars are its satellites. (2.) That light is said to have been created and the alternation between day and night established before the creation of the sun; and (3.) That the visible heavens are represented as a solid expanse. The first of these objections bears with as much force against all the representations of the Bible and the language of common life. Men instinctively form their language according to apparent, and not absolute or scientific truth. They speak of the sun as rising and setting; of its running its course through the heavens, although they know that this is only apparently and not really true. The language of the Bible on this, as well as on all other subjects, is framed in accordance with the common usage of men. The second objection is founded on the assumption that the fourteenth verse speaks of the creation of the sun and other heavenly bodies. This is not its necessary meaning. The sense may be that God then appointed the sun and moon to the service of measuring and regulating times and seasons. But even if the other interpretation be adopted, there need be no conflict between the record and the 570astronomical fact that the sun is now the source of light to the world. The narrative makes a distinction between the cosmical light mentioned in the earlier part of the chapter, and the light enanating from the sun, specially designed for our globe. The third objection is met by the remark already made. If we speak of the concave heavens, why might not the Hebrews speak of the solid heavens? The word firmament applied to the visible heavens is as familiar to us as it was to them.

Geology and the Bible.

The geological objections to the Mosaic record are apparently the most serious. According to the commonly received chronology, our globe has existed only a few thousand years. According to geologists, it must have existed for countless ages. And again, according to the generally received interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, the process of creation was completed in six days, whereas geology teaches that it must have been in progress through periods of time which cannot be computed.

Admitting the facts to be as geologists would have us to believe, two methods of reconciling the Mosaic account with those facts have been adopted. First, some understand the first verse to refer to the original creation of the matter of the universe in the indefinite past, and what follows to refer to the last reorganizing change in the state of our earth to fit it for the habitation of man. Second, the word day as used throughout the chapter is understood of geological periods of indefinite duration.

In favour of this latter view it is urged that the word day is used in Scripture in many different senses; sometimes for the time the sun is above the horizon; sometimes for a period of twenty-four hours; sometimes for a year, as in Lev. xxv. 29, Judges xvii. 10, and often elsewhere; sometimes for an indefinite period, as in the phrases, “the day of your calamity,” “the day of salvation,” “the day of the Lord,” “the day of judgment.” And in this account of the creation it is used for the period of light in antithesis to night; for the separate periods in the progress of creation; and then, ch. ii. 4, for the whole period: “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”

It is of course admitted that, taking this account by itself, it would be most natural to understand the word in its ordinary 571sense; but if that sense brings the Mosaic account into conflict with facts, and another sense avoids such conflict, then it is obligatory on us to adopt that other. Now it is urged that if the word “day” be taken in the sense of “an indefinite period of time,” a sense which it undoubtedly has in other parts of Scripture, there is not only no discrepancy between the Mosaic account of the creation and the assumed facts of geology, but there is a most marvellous coincidence between them.

The cosmogony of modern science teaches that the universe, “the heaven and the earth,” was first in a chaotic or gaseous state. The process of its development included the following steps: (1.) “Activity begun, — light an immediate result. (2.) The earth made an independent sphere. (3.) Outlining of the land and water, determining the earth’s general configuration. (4.) The idea of life in the lowest plants, and afterwards, if not contemporaneously, in the lowest or systemless animals, or Protozoans. (5.) The energizing light of the sun shining on the earth — an essential preliminary to the display of the systems of life. (6.) lntroduction of the systems of life. (7.) Introduction of mammals — the highest order of the vertebrates, — the class afterwards to be dignified by including a being of moral and intellectual nature. (8.) Introduction of man.”528528Manual of Geology. By James D. Dana, M. A., LL. D., Silliman Professor of Geology and Natural History in Yale College, p. 743.

Professor Dana further says, “The order of events in the Scripture cosmogony corresponds essentially with that which has been given. There was first a void and formless earth: this was literally true of the ‘heavens and the earth, if they were in the condition of a gaseous fluid. The succession is as follows: —

“1. Light.

“2. The dividing of the waters below from the waters above the earth (the word translated waters may mean fluid).

“3. The dividing of the land and water on the earth.

“4. Vegetation; which Moses, appreciating the philosophical characteristic of the new creation distinguishing it from previous inorganic substances, defines as that ‘which had seed in itself.’

“5. The sun, moon, and stars.

“6. The lower animals, those that swarm in the waters, and the creeping and flying species of the land.

“7. Beasts of prey (‘creeping’ here meaning prowling).

“8. Man.


“In this succession, we observe not merely an order of events, like that deduced from science; there is a system in the arrangement, and a far-reaching prophecy, to which philosophy could not nave attained, however instructed.

“The account recognizes in creation two great eras of three days each, — an Inorganic and an Organic. Each of these eras open with the appearance of light; the first, light cosmical; the second, light from the sun for the special uses of the earth.

“Each era ends in ‘a day’ of two great works — the two shown to be distinct by being severally pronounced ‘good.’ On the third day, that closing the Inorganic Era, there was first the dividing of the land from the waters, and afterwards the creation of vegetation, or the institution of a kingdom of life — a work widely diverse fromn all that preceded it in the era. So on the sixth day, terminating the Organic Era, there was first the creation of mammals, and then a second far greater work, totally new in its grandest element, the creation of Man.

“The arrangement is, then, as follows: —

“I. The Inorganic Era.

“1st Day. — Light cosmical.

“2d Day. — The earth divided from the fluid around it, or indvidualized.

“3d Day. — {

“1. Outlining of the land and water.

2. Creation of vegetation.

“II. The Organic Era.

“4th Day. — Light from the sun.

“5th Day. — Creation of the lower order of animals.

“6th Day. — {

1. Creation of mammals.

2. Creation of man.”

“The record in the Bible,” adds Professor Dana,529529Page 745. “is therefore profoundly philosophical in the scheme of creation which it presents. It is both true and divine. It is a declaration of authorship, both of creation and the Bible, on the first page of the sacred volume.”530530Page 746. To the same effect he elsewhere says: “The first thought that strikes the scientific reader [of the Mosaic account of the creation] is the evidence of divinity, not merely in the first verse of the record, and the successive fiats, but in the whole order of creation. 573There is so much that the most recent readings of science have for the first time explained, that the idea of man as the author becomes utterly incomprehensible. By proving the record true, science pronounces it divine; for who could have correctly narrated the secrets of eternity but God himself?”531531Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 1856, p. 110.

The views given in his “Manual of Geology” are more fully elaborated by Professor Dana in two admirable articles in the “Bibliotheca Sacra” (January and July, 1856). He says, in the former of those articles, “The best views we have met with on the harmony between science and the Bible, are those of Professor Arnold Guyot, a philosopher of enlarged comprehension of nature and a truly Christian spirit; and the following interpretations of the sacred record are, in the main, such as we have gathered from personal intercourse with him.”532532The views of Professor Guyot are presented at some length by the Rev. J.O. Means, in the numbers of the Bibliotheca Sacra for January and April, 1855.

Professor Dana of Yale and Professor Guyot of Princeton, belong to the first rank of scientific naturalists; and the friends of the Bible owe them a debt of gratitude for their able vindication of the sacred record.

As the Bible is of God, it is certain that there can be no conflict between the teachings of the Scriptures and the facts of science. It is not with Facts, but with theories, believers have to contend. Many such theories have, from time to time, been presented, apparently or really inconsistent with the Bible. But these theories have either proved to be false, or to harmonize with the Word of God, properly interpreted. The Church has been forced more than once to alter her interpretation of the Bible to accommodate the discoveries of science. But this has been done without doing any violence to the Scriptures or in any degree impairing their authority. Such change, however, cannot be effected without a struggle. It is impossible that our mode of understanding the Bible should not be determined by our views of the subjects of which it treats. So long as men believed that the earth was the centre of our system, the sun its satellite, and the stars its ornamentation, they of necessity understood the Bible in accordance with that hypothesis. But when it was discovered that the earth was only one of the smaller satellites of the sun, and that the stars were worlds, then faith, although at first staggered, soon grew strong enough to take it all in, and rejoice to find that the Bible, and the Bible alone of all ancient books, was in full accord with these stupendous revelations 574of science. And so if it should be proved that the creation was a process continued through countless ages, and that the Bible alone of all the books of antiquity recognized that fact, then, as Professor Dana says, the idea of its being of human origin would become “utterly incomprehensible.”

Friday, January 25, 2008

Return to Theological Formulations

I want to get away from the Continental/Westminster divide for a second and refocus us on a vital theological question. This having to do with the question of Creation. Now I know many Presbyteries and other local bodies have made declarations requiring ordinands to hold a certain position vis-a-vis Genesis 1-2. Now the question I have is should a United Kirk make a declaration that is strict on this issue (i.e.- 7/24-literal only) or be this a place for Christian Liberty? Below I have placed the OPC's declaration and the PCA's statement on the issue. What say you?


Does the OPC have a statement or decision regarding the length of the days of creation?


The OPC, as a denomination, has no statement or decision regarding the length of the days of creation. Though General Assembly denied the appeal of a ruling elder who taught the animal ancestry of Adam (determining that such teaching was contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith), it has thus far had no judicial case with regard to the length of the days of creation, and therefore has rendered no ruling on the matter. OPC ministers and elders are divided on the issue. Those who hold to literal 24-hour days appeal to the words "in the space of" in Shorter Catechism question 9 ("The work of creation is God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good"). On the other hand, those who hold to the day-age theory or framework hypothesis argue that the biblical text is inconclusive as to the length of the days, and the phrase "in the space of" is not determinative. The OPC is a confessional church, and therefore the Confession, Larger and Shorter Catechisms must always be the standard by which to determine an officer's orthodoxy. Unless it is determined by a judicial ruling that our doctrinal standards teach a particular position, there must be latitude in this area.

The Following is the opening statement of the PCA Report on the Creation question. The rest of the report can be found here.


I. Introductory Statement

We thank our God for the blessings of the last two years. We have profited personally and together by the study of God’s Word, discussion and hard work together.

We have found a profound unity among ourselves on the issues of vital importance to our Reformed testimony. We believe that the Scriptures, and hence Genesis 1-3, are the inerrant word of God. We affirm that Genesis 1-3 is a coherent account from the hand of Moses. We believe that history, not myth, is the proper category for describing these chapters; and furthermore that their history is true. In these chapters we find the record of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth ex nihilo; of the special creation of Adam and Eve as actual human beings, the parents of all humanity (hence they are not the products of evolution from lower forms of life). We further find the account of an historical fall, that brought all humanity into an estate of sin and misery, and of God’s sure promise of a Redeemer. Because the Bible is the word of the Creator and Governor of all there is, it is right for us to find it speaking authoritatively to matters studied by historical and scientific research. We also believe that acceptance of, say, non-geocentric astronomy is consistent with full submission to Biblical authority. We recognize that a naturalistic worldview and true Christian faith are impossible to reconcile, and gladly take our stand with Biblical supernaturalism.

The Committee has been unable to come to unanimity over the nature and duration of the creation days. Nevertheless, our goal has been to enhance the unity, integrity, faithfulness and proclamation of the Church. Therefore we are presenting a unanimous report with the understanding that the members hold to different exegetical viewpoints. As to the rest we are at one. It is our hope and prayer that the Church at large can join us in a principled, Biblical recognition of both the unity and diversity we have regarding this doctrine, and that all are seeking properly to understand biblical revelation. It is our earnest desire not to see our beloved church divide over this issue.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Question 5: What are the Major Differences between the "Continentals" and the "Westminsters"?

Polymathis said in the post below,
"However, it might be better to start out small: try to unite those within the WCF tradition or Continental first, before tackling that."

I know next to nothing about the North American "Continental" denominations. What are the Major Differences between the "Continentals" and the "Westminsters"? And how do these divisions manifest themselves?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fourth Question: Good Faith vs. Strict Subscription of the Westminster Standards

A fourth issue that has been brought up to discuss is how should we treat our relationship with the Westminster Confessions. Do we hold to an almost divine (pun intended) belief in the WCF and catechisms or should we treat the WCF as nothing more than a guide? The question also for our TFU friends is in a united kirk does Westminster trump the Canons of Dordt or the Belgic Confession? Do we follow some sort of new TFU or have a PC (USA) style Book of Confessions? Feel free to interject other questions that this may cause to arise.

From the website of the PCA in regards to the "Good Faith" subscription to the Westminster Confessions.

While our Constitution does not require the candidate's affirmation of every statement and/or proposition of doctrine in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, it is the right and responsibility of the Presbytery to determine if the candidate is out of accord with any of the fundamentals of these doctrinal standards and, as a consequence, may not be able in good faith sincerely to receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures (cf. BCO 21-5, Q. 2; 24-5, Q.2).

Therefore, in examining a candidate for ordination the Presbytery shall inquire not only into the candidate's knowledge and views in the areas specified above, but also shall require the candidate to state the specific instances in which he may differ with the Confession of Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions. The court may grant an exception to any difference of doctrine only if in the court's judgment the candidate's declared difference is not out of accord with a fundamental of our system of doctrine because the difference is neither hostile to the system nor strikes at the vitals of religion.

Selection from the RPCUS (rest can be found in Gary's post):
Strict subscription does not mean that one must adopt every wording of the Standards as the best explanation of the system of doctrine. Of course, we must be careful with any modification of words seeing that words are the vehicles that convey thought. Moreover, we must be careful not to twist the meaning of words in order to create a different sense than originally intended. This type of perversion was done by the 1972 PCUS General Assembly pertaining to the meaning of the phrase, “containing the system of doctrine.” The General Assembly said with reference to the Standards, “On the other hand, since they are said to contain the system rather than to be equated with it, allowance is made for the possibility that they may incorporate elements which neither belong to it nor are essential to it” (quoted in Morton Smith, How Is The Gold Become Dim, p. 224). The 1972 PCUS General Assembly further stated, “none of us will traduce or use any opprobrious terms of those that differ from us in these extraessential and not necessary points of doctrines” (Ibid.). Even though this wording is in the 1729 Adopting Act, the meaning of the words “extra-essential” and “not necessary points of doctrine” came to be so broadly interpreted that it would embrace non-Reformed doctrine and heresy. It became the agenda of the PCUS to act as if it was committed to the Westminster standards, but functionally it abandoned its foundational tenets. By its own admission, the PCUS in its later days confessed to being a loose subscriptionist denomination.

The doctrines and wording of the Westminster Standards are clear. The RPCUS expects all of its officers to give allegiance to every doctrine of every chapter of the Confession. This doctrinal allegiance applies only to elders and deacons -- not to church members. All that is required to become a member in any church of the RPCUS is to give a credible profession of faith to the church session. In essence, there is nothing extraordinary about the RPCUS’ expectations. We simply believe in subscription to our Constitution. There are undoubtedly some of our Reformed brethren who think we are too narrow because we are presuppositional, theonomic, postmillennial, and limit congregational voting to male heads of households. The RPCUS insists that these particular distinctives are not extraneous doctrines to the Standards; rather, they are the doctrines of the Standards

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Is It Right To Stay?

Rev. Carpenter brought up in the purpose post (which may now be off the main page) a question on whether or not it was right to stay in a denomination that continues to move farther and farther away from Biblical Christianity. He quoted two sections, one from the Scots Confession and one from the WCF that I would like to re-post here in full. I would like to focus the discussion on this particular post if possible strictly to this question of connectional church membership.

Scots Confession 18.7-9

The notes of the true Kirk, therefore, we believe, confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the Word of God, in which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts; and lastly, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God's Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished.

Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. 25


Of the Church.

I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

III. Unto this catholic and visible Church, Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world; and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.

IV. This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated as to become apparently no Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.

VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Minor Off-Topic

Have any of you seen this? I found it on Tim Baly's Blog and have ordered it. Fantastic...


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Civil Government

A question has come up concerning the role of Civil authority in the nature of the Sabbath and I wanted to highlight a post made by the Rev. Brian Carpenter quoting John Calvin on the nature of the civil magistracy and its relation to the Christian person. Also I will post Westminster's view on Civil Government:

Calvin, "Institutes of the Christian Religion"

Here it is necessary to state in a brief manner the nature of the office of magistracy, as described in the word of God, and wherein it consists. If the Scripture did not teach that this office extends to both tables of the law, we might learn it from heathen writers; for not one of them has treated of the office of magistrates, of legislation, and civil government, without beginning with religion and Divine worship. And thus they have all confessed that no government can be happily constituted, unless its first object be the promotion of piety, and that all laws are preposterous which neglect the claims of God, and merely provide for the interests of men. Therefore, as religion holds the first place among all the philosophers, and as this has always been regarded by the universal consent of all nations, Christian princes and magistrates ought to be ashamed of their indolence, if they do not make it the object of their most serious care. We have already shown that this duty is particularly enjoined upon them by God; for it is reasonable that they should employ their utmost efforts in assertion and defending the honour of him, whose viceregents they are, and by whose favour they govern. And the principal commendations given in the Scripture to the good kings are for having restored the worship of God when it had been corrupted or abolished, or for having devoted their attention to religion, that it might flourish in purity and safety under their reigns. On the contrary, the sacred history represents it as one of the evils arising from anarchy, or a want of good government, that when "there was no king in Israel, every man did that which was right in his own eyes." These things evince the folly of those who would wish magistrates to neglect all thoughts of God, and to confine themselves entirely to the administration of justice among men; as though God appointed governors in his name to decide secular controversies, and disregarded that which is of far greater importance—the pure worship of himself according to the rule of his law. But a rage of universal innovation, and a desire to escape with impunity, instigate men of turbulent spirits to wish that all the avengers of violated piety were removed out of the world. . ."

Westminster Confession of Faith


Of the Civil Magistrate.

I. God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil-doers.

II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto; in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth, so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.

III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

IV. It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience' sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their obedience to him: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted; much less hath the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and least of all to deprive them of their dominions or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.

Monday, December 31, 2007

My Apologies

I forgot to let you all know that I was going to be gone all weekend. Looks like we had lots of traffic and a whole lot of messages for me to sift through.

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Second Question For Unification

A suggestion was made that we move on from EP to another question that may cause tension in the seeking of a unified body. The Question that we will now take a look at is the observation of the Sabbath. Now it is of my knowledge that until at least 50 years ago in the United States practically all people, religious or not, were made by civil law to abstain from doing certain things on the Sabbath. I do not know what part this has to play in this particular discussion but I thought it was worth noting. Below I have posted two articles, one pro and one con from sources that fit the mold of the direction that we want to take. AS I did with EP I will create a section in the margin where you can visit other links and denominational positions on the subject.

Here is an Article from Pulpit Magazine, John MacArthur's work, arguing against a strict Sabbatarian viewpoint.:

Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today?

We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ.

Here are the reasons we hold this view:

Bullet Point In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the Sabbath as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is quite clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is included, with the phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refering to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11).

Bullet Point The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.

Bullet Point The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath. On the other hand, each of the other nine commandments are reiterated in the New Testament.

Bullet Point In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

Bullet Point Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so. That is strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle.

Bullet Point There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses, nor are there any commands in the Bible to keep the Sabbath before the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.

Bullet Point When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.

Bullet Point The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.

Bullet Point In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).

Bullet Point In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).

Bullet Point The early church fathers, from Ignatius to Augustine, taught that the Old Testament Sabbath had been abolished and that the first day of the week (Sunday) was the day when Christians should meet for worship (contrary to the claim of many seventh-day sabbatarians who claim that Sunday worship was not instituted until the fourth century).

Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).

So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”

John Calvin took a similar position. He wrote,

There were three reasons for giving this [fourth] commandment: First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest, whereby believers must cease from their own works in order to let the Lord work in them. Secondly, he wished that there be an established day in which believers might assemble in order to hear his Law and worship him. Thirdly, he willed that one day of rest be granted to servants and to those who live under the power of others so that they might have a relaxation from their labor. The latter, however, is rather an inferred than a principal reason.

As to the first reason, there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ; because he is the truth by the presence of which all images vanish. He is the reality at whose advent all shadows are abandoned. Hence St. Paul (Col. 2:17) that the sabbath has been a shadow of a reality yet to be. And he declares elsewhere its truth when in the letter to the Romans, ch. 6:8, he teaches us that we are buried with Christ in order that by his death we may die to the corruption of our flesh. And this is not done in one day, but during all the course of our life, until altogether dead in our own selves, we may be filled with the life of God. Hence, superstitious observance of days must remain far from Christians.

The two last reasons, however, must not be numbered among the shadows of old. Rather, they are equally valid for all ages. Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God, to break the [mystic] bread of the Supper, and to offer public prayers; and, moreover, in order that some relaxation from their toil be given to servants and workingmen. As our human weakness does not allow such assemblies to meet every day, the day observed by the Jews has been taken away (as a good device for eliminating superstition) and another day has been destined to this use. This was necessary for securing and maintaining order and peace in the Church.

As the truth therefore was given to the Jews under a figure, so to us on the contrary truth is shown without shadows in order, first of all, that we meditate all our life on a perpetual sabbath from our works so that the Lord may operate in us by his spirit; secondly, in order that we observe the legitimate order of the Church for listening to the word of God, for admin-istering the sacraments, and for public prayers; thirdly, in order that we do not oppress inhumanly with work those who are subject to us. [From Instruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].


And here is a Pro-Sabbatarian message delivered by Dr. John Murray

The Fourth Commandment

According to the Westminster Standards

John Murray

A perusal of the statements of the Westminster Confession of Faith and of the Larger and Shorter Catechisms bearing upon the fourth commandment will show that the position taken in these Standards is that of the universal and perpetual obligation of the Sabbath and that this obligation rests upon divine commandment. The commandment to which reference is made is, of course, what we know as the fourth in the decalogue. These Standards, however, imply that the Sabbath law, expressed in the fourth commandment, was not first instituted when the ten commandments were promulgated to the children of Israel at Sinai. We know that the Sabbath institution goes back to creation; we know that there is explicit allusion to the observance of the Sabbath and of divine commandment bearing upon that observance prior to Sinai. Of such facts these Standards are not forgetful, and so the language is carefully framed to include and guard these facts. Nevertheless, the law that had been instituted at creation did receive at Sinai formal enunciation and promulgation. It was included in the ten words given to Moses and written with the finger of God upon the two tables of stone.

At Sinai, then, the Sabbath law was set forth with fullness and explicitness and we do not have evidence that it had before then received similarly full and formal pronouncement. So, for our knowledge of what the content and import of the Sabbath institutions are, we are largely dependent upon the fourth commandment. What is this law or institution?

The Sanctity of the Day

First, and most elementally and centrally, it is that one day in seven is distinguished from the other six. That day is to be sanctified, and at the heart of the word sanctify is the idea of distinction and separation. This one day is set off, it is placed in a distinct category. This import of the word cannot be evaded and it is to be very carefully marked, for on it depends the whole notion of what we may and must call the sanctity of the Sabbath.

It is not, however, the bare notion of distinction or separation that is expressed in the commandment. The command to sanctify occurs in a context. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.” And it is not only in the context of the remainder of the commandment, but also in the context of the other commandments. “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” It is separation, therefore, to God, to the specific purpose of contemplation upon Him and specific occupation with His work in contrast with their own work. In this kind of distinction or sanctity the meaning of the fourth commandment resides. Abolish it, and the essence of the commandment is destroyed. There is no purpose in contending for the moral obligation of the commandment unless this sanctity is recognized and preserved, for it is the core around which all else is formed and without which all else disintegrates. Just as there is an ineradicable distinction between the six days of creation and the day of rest by which they were followed, so it is here. And it is precisely with this reminder that the commandment itself ends, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Israel truly was a holy people; they were separated unto God Jehovah. It might, then, be supposed that the sanctification of one day in seven was inconsistent with the totality of their devotion to God. Yet it is an inescapable fact that this kingdom of priests and holy nation was in the most direct way commanded to separate one day from the other six for a specific purpose. And unless our conception of devotion to God, and of time as it is related to Him, can embrace and appreciate this notion, together with the divine wisdom embodied in it, we can have no understanding of the fourth commandment.

Every Recurring Seventh Day

But second, the law or institution of the Sabbath implies that every recurring seventh day is to be sanctified. It is not simply a seventh of our time, not simply one day out of every seven, but it is every recurring seventh day in regular succession.

The controversy that has turned on the question as to whether or not, in the Christian dispensation, the Sabbath is the first day of the week or the seventh, and as to whether we can be said to observe the fourth commandment when we substitute the first day of the week for the seventh, has too often been allowed to obscure the central principle, namely, that every recurring seventh day was by divine ordination distinguished from every other day. The difficulty that may be encountered in determining which day of the week is the Sabbath should never be used as a subterfuge to escape from the central and straightforward import of the commandment, that every recurring seventh day is specifically holy to God. At the cost of repetitiousness, may we say, that the principle should never be perplexed or prejudices by the further question: which day in the succession of days should be accorded that distinction? We may not minimize the importance of this latter question. But we must not allow the difficulties that may attend this question to unsettle what is antecedent and even more central, the obligation, so far as the fourth commandment is concerned, to recognize the divine distinctiveness of every recurring seventh day. And it must be said that the position taken by the Westminster Standards, to wit, that with the advent of the New Testament dispensation there was signalized the change from the seventh day of the week to the first, in no way interferes with the strictest fulfillment of this principle in the Christian Lord’s Day.

The Sabbath a Perpetual Obligation?

But some will say, “All this is conceded with respect to the meaning of the fourth commandment. But of what practical concern is that to us? The fourth commandment does not obligate the Christian.” This objection we must now face.

If the fourth commandment is not binding in the Christian dispensation, then we have to take one of two positions. We have either to take the position that the fourth commandment occupies a different position from the other nine commandments in the decalogue, or to take the position that the whole decalogue has been abrogated in the Christian economy. We shall now discuss the former of these two alternatives.

If we say the fourth commandment is abrogated and the other nine are not, we must understand what we are saying. It would indeed be an amazing phenomenon that in the heart of the decalogue there should be one commandment — and one given such prominence and meticulous elaboration — that is totally different from the others in this regard that they are permanent and it is not. Surely no one will dispute that in the Old Testament the ten commandments constitute a well-rounded and compact unit. And surely no one will dispute that the Old Testament is itself throughout conscious of that fact. If the ten commandments were a loose and disjointed collection of precepts, there would be nothing very extraordinary about the supposition we are now discussing. But that is precisely what the decalogue is not. And so to establish this supposition that the fourth commandment is abrogated, when the other nine are not, would require the most explicit and conclusive evidence.

As we read the Old Testament we do not find any warrant for discrimination between the fourth and the other nine. Nor indeed do we find any intimation in the Old Testament that in the Messianic age the Sabbath law would cease. If any commandment is emphasized it is the fourth. Obedience to it is a mark of faithfulness and severe retribution follows its breach. The text we are about to quote epitomizes the Old Testament outlook and emphasis. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isa. 58:13-14). If there had been in the Old Testament some evidence that would create a presumption in favour of discrimination, if there had been even something that would justify a strong suspicion that in the Messianic age the Sabbath law would no longer bind, then, of course, even slight confirmation from the New Testament might clinch that suspicion and warrant the inference that the fourth commandment had been abrogated. But no such suspicion is created and the evidence is altogether against such a supposition.

So nothing short of compelling and conclusive evidence from the New Testament would warrant the position that the fourth is to be discriminated from the other nine.

Abrogated in the New Testament

When we come to the New Testament, do we find such evidence? A good deal has sometimes been made of the alleged silence of the New Testament. It must be admitted that the argument from silence may be made to appear very plausible. But it will have to be said at the outset that an argument from silence is not the compelling and conclusive evidence that would in this case be required. In the Old Testament we have continuous and accumulating emphasis upon the Sabbath law that in no way suggests any distinction in the matter of morality between the fourth commandment and the other nine. Indeed, as we found, the emphasis upon the fourth mounts to a degree that constitutes the very opposite presumption. It is with that manifold of emphasis that we are placed on the threshold of the New Testament economy. Silence on the part of the New Testament will not fulfil the exigencies of the kind of evidence required for abrogation.

We must not, however, conclude that the New Testament exhibits the silence alleged. It is not necessary now to enter into a detailed discussion of the implications of all the allusions found in the four gospels to the Sabbath. We need not deal in detail with the implications inherent in our Lord’s attitude to the Sabbath. The proper insight and care should show that in the very rebuke that our Lord gave to the unwarranted accretions and impositions with which pharisaic tradition had obscured and perverted the Sabbath institution, there is implicit the same kind of sanction for the Sabbath law in itself as there is in similar episodes of His example and teaching for other commandments. Suffice it to refer to the one affirmation of His, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

The Sabbath Made for Man

In this affirmation, contrary to much glib but wanton appeal to it, there is not the least hint that the Sabbath law was about to be abrogated. What Jesus was combating on this occasion was the travesties of application by which the Jews had made void the law of God. Jesus’ unsparing condemnation of those artificialities that had turned a beneficent institution into an instrument of tyranny no more argues the abrogation of the institution itself, than does His condemnation of the traditions by which the Jews had made void the fifth commandment argue for the abrogation of the fifth (cf. Mark 7:8-13). If His condemnation and correction of the tradition by which the Jews of His day had made void the Word of God in the fifth commandment in no way relieves but rather reinforces the divine obligation of this commandment itself, so His statement with reference to the Sabbath quoted above furnishes no support for the abrogation of the fourth commandment. But let us examine Mark 2:27-28 more closely.

“The sabbath was made for man.” Of course, when it is said that it was made, there is but one meaning, namely, that God made it. It is not a device of human expediency or utility. It is a divine creation. It is God’s day. The reasonable inference is that this is an allusion to the primeval institution as recorded in Genesis 2:2-3. We know that the Sabbath institution existed prior to the promulgation of it at Sinai. So the making of it referred to by our Lord cannot reasonably refer simply to the giving of the law at Sinai. And since we must go back to something that antedates Sinai, what is there that more naturally or perfectly suits the allusion than that referred to in Genesis 2:2-3?

It was “made for man.” Perhaps the fact that Jesus says it was made for man and not simply for Israel has sometimes been unduly pressed to establish the universality of the Sabbath law. But recoil from exaggeration must not be allowed to obscure the real force of what is meant. The Sabbath, after all, was made for man, and in that word man there inheres a reference to what man’s very nature as man and man’s highest need as man require. When we bear in mind that the point of time referred to in the making of the Sabbath antedates all ethical distinction, we are constrained to find in this simple statement confirmation of the universality of the obligation and blessing of the Sabbath institution.

Jesus’ Lordship and the Sabbath

But Jesus in this passage also asserts His own Lordship over the Sabbath. “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” The title Son of man is distinctly Messianic and points to the dominion which He in His capacity as the Messiah exercises. It is in His capacity as the Son of man that He exercises this Lordship over the Sabbath. And this simply means that, within the universal Lordship and authority that is His as the one to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been committed, the Sabbath has its proper place and function. Abolition of it is, as B.B. Warfield says, “as far as possible from the suggestion of the passage.”

Further we must observe that Jesus says “even of the Sabbath.” The presence of the word even serves to show the extent of Jesus’ Lordship. This Lordship is so comprehensive that it even includes the Sabbath, and surely such an emphasis discloses the high conception of its sanctity and authority Jesus entertained.

Finally, the reason assigned for this Lordship over the Sabbath is the fact that the Sabbath was made for man. It was for the sake of man that Jesus came into the world, it was for man’s sake that He died and rose again, it is for man’s sake that He is exalted as the Messiah to supreme mediatorial sovereignty. But it was also for man’s sake that the Sabbath was made. If then, it was for man’s sake that Jesus came, and suffered, and died, and rose again to ascend up where He was before, is it possible that that which was made for man — the Sabbath — should be annulled and abrogated by that which He became and did for man’s sake? There is complete congruity between His Messianic work and Lordship on the one hand and the Sabbath ordinance on the other. They both serve the same purpose. And so His Lordship embraces the Sabbath institution, embraces it too for the purpose of preserving it, confirming it and blessing it. He is Lord of the Sabbath too.


Professor John Murray was born in Scotland and was at the time of this writing a British subject. He was a graduate of the University of Glasgow (1923) and of Princeton Theological Seminary (1927), and he studied at the University of Edinburgh during 1928 and 1929.
In 1929-1930 he served on the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary. After that he taught at the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where he served as Professor of Systematic Theology.
He was a frequent contributor to theological journals and is the author of Christian Baptism (1952), Divorce (1953), Redemption Accomplished and Applied (1955), Principles of Conduct (1957, The Imputation of Adam's Sin (1960), Calvin on the Scriptures and Divine Sovereignty (1960), The Epistle to the Romans, Vol I, Chapters I-VIII (1960) and The Atonement (1976).

This article appeared in The Calvin Forum, May 1941.