Sunday: Christian Sabbath, Lord’s Day, or Something Else – Introduction

For the entire series, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

One of the more interesting areas of Christian faith and life concerns Sunday, also known as the Lord’s Day. This is a weekly day when Christians all around the world meet as local churches. This weekly day is a challenge to understand, when one studies the Scripture. It is not to say that the gathering on a weekly day is unusual, but it is the combination of what the Bible does not say about Sunday and what the Bible does say about Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, that make its consideration difficult. Some tend to link Sunday with Saturday in some way, but that is not the right approach. The real question is this: “Why does the church practice Sunday at all?” I recently read some interesting literature on this topic, and these writings have helped me to some degree on this. Below is a list for reference:

  • Committed to Lord’s Day Worship by Thomas Overmiller, a fundamental Baptist pastor in New York City.
  • “The Sabbath Day: Christian Views from New Testament Times to the Present” by Dr. David Beale in Historical Theology in-Depth: Part 2
  • The Sabbath: A Test Question” by Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his work Grace (available here).

I suppose that many of us may think about the Lord’s Day in terms that are more Jewish in origin. Instead, it is not a stretch that the early church tied the idea of the Lord’s day more to a commemoration of the day Jesus rose from the dead (c.f. Overmiller and Chafer, section II. A. 2. of Chapter 4 Section 6 on the Sabbath). But most of us, may link the Lord’s Day with the idea of rest (fitting to the Jewish purposes of Saturday). I myself have practiced Sunday as a day of rest, not even doing my seminary studies on Sunday.

These resources were of interest and at this time, they helped me reach some clearer thought about the true Biblical understanding of Sunday. What will follow are share some of my musings on this topic. First, I will share concerning the idea of a Christian Sabbath and how it does not find support in church history or in theology. Second, I will summarize the case made by these three authors for a traditionalist understanding of the Lord’s Day—by traditionalist is meant the idea that the Lord’s Day is a divinely intended day of worship and Christian activity without reference to the Jewish Sabbath. Third, I will offer several counters where I remain unsatisfied by this traditionalist position. At the end of the series, I will summarize my approach to Sunday at this time, explaining the Biblical rational for why I continue to worship on Sunday, indeed why it is the best day of the week in my life!