Thursday, December 06, 2007

God Publishes Datebook: Eden Located In Australia

Our dogmatic assertion that the seventh-day Sabbath observance is the mark of the “remnant church” is not biblical or Christian. Paul makes that clear. In addition, this idea is silly. We live on a round world, our church recognizes the International Date Line, and the sundown to sundown “Sabbath hours” have been officially abandoned in countries and populations in the Far Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

I personally believe that the Sabbath is not an arbitrary test of obedience. Paul’s words (Romans 14:5) proclaim that Christians are free to honor God in different and very personal ways. It is this “mindful honoring” that is the essence of Sabbath keeping. As Paul intimates, the Sabbath is a state of mind, not a test of Christian discipleship.

NOTE: Cartoon by Richard Guindon from his book, "Together Again".


  1. Friend let me say that your personal believe will not help you,but rather Biblical believe. God gave Sabbath to Adam and did not tell him to regard it as he wishes. If he did, then he could not have written the 4th commandment like it is now on the Bible.further more look at Isaih 66:22,23. If you will be there at this time, you will not meet with those who worship on Sabbath because yours will be at any time as it is now. Paul does not mention the word"Sabbath" on Romans, he simply mentions a day, and that could be any day esteemed important except Sabbath. Iam glad because you even mention that it is your personal believe. How long will you lean against your personal believe?

  2. Read the book of Acts 17:2 and tell me what was the state Paul's mind. After all he was going to preach to Thessalonians, Gentiles if you like, So why did he keep Sabbath if it was not important for Gentiles to keep it?

  3. This particular blog entry is a lot of lazy assertions, said with a misplaced sense of authority that is ironically in tone quite 'dogmatic'. What ever happened to humility, not to mention exegesis? Sabbath is now a 'state of mind' - and apparently this is Paul's view!? If only Jesus had had been around to learn this new truth he would have saved himself a lot of trouble. Guess he was unsophisticated and pre-modern in his approach to scripture. ; )

  4. Sure.., Mr. Anson's reading of Roman 14:5 would allow people to worship God even as they strap bombs to their bodies and sacrifice to "Allah". That is a very personal state of mind and an unique way of worshipping God, indeed...

    The Sabbath IS as arbitrary as any other of the Ten Commandments. If one has a problem with the Sabbath, then he/she has a problem with all the others. Ultimately, the problem is with God himself. (James 1:25).

    I suspect Mr. Anson would much sooner turn the Ten Commandments into the Ten Suggestions.

    International Date Line. God will judge people by the opportunities and light they received. Just because Eskimos have 3 hour Sabbaths doesn't mean I'm off the hook to keep my 24 hour Sabbath, Sundown to Sundown.

    The true Sabbath is the only commandment being contended by phony evangelicals who claim to be the "moral majority" and yet wouldn't mind exterminating homosexuals. In this sense, it's a very strong test of REAL obedience to the Giver of all commandments.

    Finally, the cartoon is unbiblical and false.

  5. Andy,

    I'm beginning to think that you're less interested in "reinventing the SDA" wheel and more interested in just making it "a wheel" (that is, removing the SDA part all together).

    Is that too strong of a conclusion? Maybe you can explain your intent, rather than leaving it up to speculation.

    Do you see Adventism as something to be refined or made more relevant, or is it an anachronism whose time is more or less over?

    Do I understand you to say that (1) Sabbath is not a mark of the remnant, and (2) Sabbath is "merely" a state of mind?

    I think most of Adventists would agree that Sabbath is a state of mind AND a holy day. One without the other seems hollow, vacant.

    Any reaction?

  6. When I saw the first few sentences of this post, I said, "I'll come back later and read it when I have a little more time to really digest what he's going to present." Then I came back and realized there's not a lot more.

    I'm not sure if this post was a bad joke, or whether it was one person's highly flawed understanding of an isolated (and taken out of context) verse of scripture. Please tell me it was the former, though, if it is, it's a really ineffective joke.

  7. Gang,
    This is a joke that reminded me once again that we live on a round planet, not a desert in the Middle East. Our 24-hour Sabbath in the United States is Sunday in Australia, and it just occurred to me that if our founders lived in Australia, we in the US would be keeping our present Sabbath on their Sunday!

    Our God is not a god of the flat earth, and I believe it is important to recognize that fact. I am very comfortable “standing” with Paul on this issue, because I am a Christian Seventh-day Adventist not an Adventist [first] Christian. To Paul and me, the Gospel Message is far more important than what you eat or the day or days you set aside to honor God. It is the Gospel Message that unites Christians around the world.

    For those of you who question my motives in presenting my “jokes” and comments, I am and have always been a Seventh-day Adventist and have been ordained as an elder. I love this Church and am saddened by the fact that such a high percentage of students, products of Adventist education, do not continue to value the fellowship of our community. (I have young grandchildren, and I want it to be difficult for them to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.) So I consider myself a progressive Adventist, attempting to “make room” in our fellowship for people of differing, honestly held theological and religious convictions.

    For those of you who are upset by this reminder that Adventist doctrine should and must be constantly evaluated, I’m sorry. My intent was to make that point by making a joke. The larger question for all of us is this, “How do we keep Sabbath?” Do we “keep” it as Adventist Christians or Christian Adventists? Andy Hanson

  8. Andy, not only is that kind of "humor" not funny, it is actually offensive and counterproductive.

    Wouldn't it save us the hassle to foster direct discussion on a given subject than to try to be smug and end up aggravating people in the process?

    Furthermore, I disagree that we need to question every single aspect of our faith just to include people that intrinsically despise the very foundation of the Christian faith: the Sovereignty of God and all its ramifications...

    Does the SDA church need more questions, or do we need more people living up to the light we have, a life of love and service?

    So far, I would think that your posts have endangered the credibility of this blog as a tool for cogent discussions.

    Please enlighten me...

  9. I guess I still don't see the humor. Of the comical devices, I only see "irony" as a possible label here. However, since we keep the 7TH DAY, it wouldn't matter where the movement started (which actually was not the U.S.), so it seems that irony isn't even present.

    Anything else we can talk about?

    In addition to the insightful worship articles, what else are people doing to re-invent Adventism to make it more alive and active in this world?

    What are you doing to promote justice?

    What acts of mercy is your church instigating?

    How have you and your church shown the world this week that God is alive and active?

    How is your church caring for members, the community, and the earth?

    How are you restoring relationships with God, others and our planet?

    How goes your "ministry of reconciliation"?

    Other barely-related questions: Have any SDAs you know volunteered with Jim Wallis at Sojourners ( Have any spent time with Shane Claiborne and the crew at in Philly ( Have any of you had involvement with the Christian Community Development Association ( I know SDAs who value International Justice Mission, but have any of us worked there?

    It would be great to hear some stories.

    And does anyone love Geez Magazine (

  10. I disagree. Andy’s remarks are highly relevant. Perhaps the cartoon is a little silly, nevertheless his central question is not.

    Sabbath observance as a mark of the remnant church is pivotal to the raison d’etre of Sabbath keeping amongst the vast majority of Seventh-day Adventists. Such a remarkable claim based on traditional Adventist exegesis is tenuous and in my opinion is floating on an equally fragile view of scripture – on the meaning, the purpose, and the validity of the scriptural voice.

    The remnant idea is fragmentally embedded in the Old Testament Jewish psyche, remerging especially in the intertestamental period at Qumran (in a rather nasty form, in my view), and may well be hinted at in certain aspects of the teachings of the Pharisees. It appears in all manner of ‘stripes and types’ throughout Christian history and could well be described as a type of crisis theology. Such fellow travelers do not of course make of no consequence such a ‘remnant’ viewpoint, nevertheless the history of the idea will reveal some alarming trends in the Christian church. So very different to Jesus’ view of both the law, the Sabbath, and his view of Jewish exclusivity.

  11. "by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,"

    Ephesians 2:15

    I did not think this was a joke I thought it was embracing Grace.

    Can anyone explain the text above?

  12. The cartoon is perhaps sarcastic (a characteristic of the writer's sense of humor), but allow yourself to read it in the context of the posting and Andy's comment (how many disagree with Andy that Sabbath on the West Coast is another Adventist's "Sunday" rest?) before quickly dismissing it through (speaking to Adventists here) our theologically-acculturated and memetic lenses.

    I have gathered over the years that Adventists come to several conclusions of the Sabbath. Andy's honest and albeit provocative observation only adds to the flavorful concoction that makes up the increasingly diverse and divergent Adventism of this generation.

  13. "by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace," - Ephesians 2:15

    Without wishing to burden this forum with a largely irrelevant debate about law and grace, may I make just a few comments from the other side of the fence (I am no longer an SDA, neither do I keep the sabbath).

    You could only be referring to one of the laws of the decalogue - the sabbath. And that regulation (or invitation) goes back to the Old Testament creation account. Interestingly, some of my non-SDA friends see much virtue in keeping the sabbath. If it were not for the exclusivity of the SDA church I believe many followers of Jesus would be happy to join with them in keeping their seventh-day sabbath, and would cherish the uniqueness of that special space which the day brings with it.

    Today society needs a day of rest more than ever before. A community which is hell-bent on the aquisition of material wealth would benefit from a sabbath rest which allows one to switch off and reflect on some of the deeper meanings to life.

    I think your interpretation of Ephesians 2:15 is not only a little outdated - it also defies logic. Beside that, the lawlessness which now pervades much of western society can well be defined by the other nine laws of the decalogue.

    Is Edgar perhaps endeavouring to use Paul's viewpoint in opposition to Jesus' great sermon in Matthew 5-7. If so, I think Paul's discussion of the law in Romans takes care of what he is writing about in Ephesians (and which the writer of the Book of Hebrews is discussing), namely that the vast collection of ceremonial laws is now fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

    Regarding Jesus and the sabbath, never forget his comments in Mark and elsewhere, where he speaks of the sabbath as made for man, not man for the sabbath. His comment on that day fits in neatly with his entire attitude toward the relationship of man with his God. Laws are ultimately made for man's benefit and convenience, not for a slavish obedience.

  14. Gordon, I agree that the Sabbath is a relevant for people outside the church. One "non-7th-day-keeper" who teaches the importance of a Sabbath rest is Matthew Sleeth (from an ecological conservation viewpoint). Yep, rest was for humans (and animals and the planet), not humans for rest.

    Regarding 7th day Sabbath: I think it's worth remembering that God probably knew the Earth was round when he gave his instruction to the Jews (and earlier). He's pretty sharp.

    I'm guessing Jesus knew the world was round when he said the Sabbath would still be important 30 or so years after his death when the followers would need to head to the hills. And he taught his friends to make sure everyone around the world heard about it.

    I don't see him going, "Man, they're really going to be in for a shock when they learn this is logistically and theologically backwards. Hope they don't figure it out for awhile!"

    The way he arranged the special day is beautiful in its simplicity. He didn't require world-wide synchronization of worship. He gave something locally relevant and practical for the individual and community. Genius.

    Considered another way... For my life, God doesn't care when someone else's Sabbath is, just mine. It's for me. And it says something about how I relate to him. (I can imagine this paragraph eliciting responses.)

    Regarding 7th-day Sabbath as mark of a remnant: This discussion will never end, yet for me personally it's already concluded this way--Sabbath doesn't save me any more than not lying, but God expects both of me. Regardless, only his grace and forgiveness and love will get me home.

    But this starts to veer toward discussions of salvation and the decalogue, places we don't need to go right now it would seem.

    So how can we make this conversation ACTIONABLE?

    And any responses to my earlier questions?

    Andre, how are Adventists responding to the declaration that Scientology is unconstitutional in Germany? What are the issues involved? Any chance you could write up a balanced account of
    (1) what has happened,
    (2) why,
    (3) what could happen next, and
    (4) how the SDA church might respond?

  15. I enjoy your blog. More specifically I enjoy that you have the courage, or rather the better word is honesty to share what the narrative of scripture speaks to you. Keep it up. This kind of dialogue keeps us asking, knocking, and seeking always a better way to follow Jesus and experience the Kingdom that though not this world is evident through those that are courageous enough to find themselves in the story of Scripture.

  16. If you really love the Sabbath, as I do, you will want to keep it even when you cannot do so because work interferes. (To be totally honest, some weeks I love it more than others. Go figure.)

    When I'm scheduled to work on Saturday, every other week, sometimes two Saturdays in a row, I still keep the Sabbath during my 15 minute union-mandated breaks and during my lunch break, as I meditate by a lake next to my place of employment.

    When the sun sets early and I'm driving home, I sing my Sabbath songs and pray for God's continuing presence.

    Once I'm home and it's midnight on a Saturday night, I thank God for the concept of his Eternal Sabbath which I'm enjoying after the sun has set.

    So, yes, the Sabbath and it's conceptual blessing is a state of mind. It is not--how can it be--ceasing from all work, going to Sabbath school and church service, and doing all things religious/spiritual until the sun sets at the indicated time.