Editorial proposal provokes increasing examination of the validity of Sunday observance.
Dr. Harold Lindsell, the editor of the well-known evangelical magazine Christianity Today, published in Washington, D.C., recently proposed "that Saturday be set aside as the day of rest" for all Americans. "Even though the world has vast underdeveloped sources of energy," he said, "there is a shortage of the kind of fuel that keeps buildings warm, provides electric power, and makes possible the operation of industry. To close down virtually all energy-consuming business operations one day a week would be a useful step" (Christianity Today, November 5, 1976, p. 42). Several months previously Editor Lindsell had argued in a similar vein for prompt action to conserve our dwindling natural resources, then citing Sunday as the logical day. This, however, raised a storm of protest from Sabbatarians, both Christians and Jews. It was discriminatory and an infringement of the First Amendment to the Constitution, they declared. In addition, many see compulsory religious observance of Sunday as the mark of the beast prophesied to prevail in the closing days of this era of man, just before the return to earth of Jesus Christ. Lindsell's suggestion was based on "natural law and the common good of humanity" — mankind's built-in need for a periodic rest at weekly intervals — not on the idea that government should decree anything regarding religious activity. His current proposal for Saturday rest likewise intends no religious coercion. Those who wished could observe the day to God; others could spend it as they pleased. "It should prove no theological hardship: apart from the fact that our Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week, " Lindsell wrote, "there is nothing in Scripture that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day. In the interest of the nation, Protestant and Catholic churches could change their worship services from Sunday to Saturday. Or we could keep Sunday as our sabbath; whatever inconvenience we suffered would be a token of our good will toward a minority whose sensitivities we respect." He concludes: "Saturday closing could not possibly be construed as a religious ploy. It would provide no church-state problem. It would serve the larger interests of humanity. Responsible leaders should discuss the possibility." Dare we see in his editorial another sign of a trend of our times? Considerable attention is being paid in many quarters to the question of the biblical Sabbath. Many are seriously wondering by what right and authority Christians ever turned from the day God ordained to another day which was hallowed chiefly, if not solely, by its dedication to the sun-god by the pagans. During a time when, in Lindsell's words, "Sunday observance is rapidly losing, not gaining, ground," several small denominations, evangelistic organizations and other religious enterprises have recently reestablished the Sabbath, arid actively emphasize it. Contrary to the misleading usage of some of the older denominations, Sunday was never "Sabbath." God's Sabbath was never changed to Sunday. Honest scholars all admit the two were, and always have been, two separate and distinct institutions. Sabbath is Saturday. Today a small, but discernible ground swell of thinking people are raising and facing the implications of the uncertain foundations of the traditional Sunday observance. Were social, political and pagan reasons ever a sufficient basis for leaving the Sabbath of the fourth commandment? Indeed, should we not all return to the practice of Sabbath observance of Jesus and the apostles? If you would like to start your own unbiased investigation, unfettered by the firmly believed but often erroneous personal opinions usually taught in the name of Christ, read our free booklet Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath? And watch for future articles in this magazine further explaining and clarifying this and other important issues.