Arnold, the Adventists, and the Sabbath

Legalism 101: in which Arnold, a Christian ex-Seventh Day Adventist, meets up with his old Adventist friends.

(Update: Life Outside Adventism, a followup epistle from Arnold.)

I remember reading some Adventist literature in a Wordstar document a long time ago, and it was, at the start, good and solid Christian doctrine on sin, grace, salvation, and the sufficient propitiation of Christ — but something funny happened a few pages in. The text began to cover the Old Testament, with, as you may expect, a special focus on the Jewish Sabbath and its importance to the faith, then suddenly turned from the Bible to a rather unhinged history lesson on the “evils” of Roman Catholicism, how the Pope is the Antichrist and the Beast of Revelation, how the Catholics had twisted Scripture by changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and that true Christians must worship on the Old Testament Sabbath, as so ordained by God in the Ten Commandments. The Adventists’ Sabbath rule wasn’t a legalistic binding, (i.e. you don’t go to hell for not worshipping on Saturday, since you’re saved by grace) but the message being pushed was clear: “Evil people changed the Sabbath to Sunday. You’re a Christian; you’re not going to do what the evil people are doing, are you?”

The author of Hebrews is fairly clear about the new meaning of the Sabbath rest given to those who follow Christ: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

The Sabbath day of rest was intended as a sign of the time when we would rest from the toil of the Law, by placing our faith solely in the grace of our Savior, and not in our own works. The early church broke bread and collected offerings on the first day of the week as a way of commemorating the day that Christ rose from the dead: not as a way of replacing the old Sabbath, but as a way of celebrating a new one, a Sabbath which transcends days of the week and works of the Law, a Sabbath that the elect will always be in, on all days, for all time.

Hey, Saturday-worshippers, I didn’t make this up. It’s in the Bible. Yet, as I do with the Roman Catholics: if you acknowledge Christ as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, I embrace you as brothers and sisters yet.

More from and