Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sunday: A tradition or command?

Rev. Andrew Sandlin argues that Sunday is not the day of worship, but merely a creation of human tradition. He quotes Harold O.J. Brown as saying that the change of worship from Saturday to Sunday is "not demonstrable from Scripture." I disagree. Now if these gentlemen want to argue that there is no direct command, then they are correct, but that does not mean it is not demonstrable at all nor does it mean that is a mere tradition of men.

The issue, it seems to me, is how much authority does one give the book of Acts and other historical passages in Scripture. Is the apostolic example of worshipping on Sunday inspired by the Spirit or a mere tradition of a group of men?

The theological argument revolves around the 4th Commandment and its link to redemption as seen in Deuteronomy 5. Thus, when redemption is accomplished there is now a new act and basis for the day with the resurrection of our Lord. Which by the way is on Sunday (John 20:1). Sunday worship can also be seen as prefigured in the Festival of the Booths and the high worship done on the 8th day, a Sunday. However, we will set this argument aside and simply look at the NT worship patterns.

It should be noted that the disciples met and Christ met with them on Sunday in John 20:19. They received the Holy Ghost during this meeting (22). The very next Sunday Christ met with them again in verse 26. It would seem as if Christ established a bit of a pattern of meeting with the disciples when they gathered together on Sundays after his resurrection. But did the disciples see it this way? It would seem so because on Pentecost, which is a Sunday, there were meeting "all with one accord in one place." As you know Pentecost is when the Holy Ghost came and the church baptized 5,000 people on that day. It is also reinforced in Acts 20:7 where we see "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached . . ." Here we clearly see Sunday was a day of worship that included preaching and perhaps the Lord’s Supper. Paul also seems to command a tithe or offering taken up on the first day in I Corinthians 16:2. All of this culminates in Revelation 1:10 when John tells us he was in the Spirit on the "Lord’s Day." The meaning here is that there is a day that is called the "Lord’s" and apparently was used for worship according to not only the context of being "in the Spirit", but any historical record one examines. The church can never be found to worship on any other day after the resurrection than Sunday. Church history is unanimous with this proclamation, Sunday is the day Christians worship.

Now of course all of this is familiar to Rev. Sandlin, I am not shedding any new light. Yet, he persists in calling it a tradition of men. Thus, I believe that the issue revolves around what weight one wants to ascribe to historical accounts. Are they binding? Are they prescriptive or descriptive? Should one assume the Holy Spirit inspired apostles were setting up an example to followed or were they the first tradition makers with no real guidance in what they were doing? Does the fact Christ at least twice met with them bodily after his resurrection on Sunday, and twice gave them the Holy Spirit on Sunday have any significance at all? Does it matter that on 2 of the 5 Sundays in which Christ’s resurrected body on earth the disciples gathered expecting to met with Him, and did just that? By the way it is the only 2 Sundays we are shown, so it very well could have happened every Sunday.

I believe it is significant. I believe the Bible can require things without a written command. The apostles blatant examples preserved for us in Scripture can serve as a binding command. If we are to take Rev. Sandlin’s position then not only does Sunday worship become a mere tradition of men, so too does Presbyterian church government in Acts 15. So too does the office of deacon in Acts 6. These things have the same or less amount of evidence than Sunday worship, so does Rev. Sandlin believe these to be optional traditions as well? While I do not know his answer, mine is a resounding no.


Micah said...

But can I watch and/or play football on Sunday?