Friday, December 04, 2009

Luther’s take on the third commandment and the protestant work ethic

“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy… Wass ist das?... We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.”
Notice what Luther does, he moves Sabbath from chronos to logos, from time to word. He de-centers Sabbath praxis into theological doxis, action into theology/thought.
One of my understandings of Sabbath is that it is a time of rest. Now, resting in God’s word is good, but I genuinely think humans are less neurotic and more whole/holy when they have a day off. In short Sabbath is about more than preaching and Word.
When a shift like this occurs it leaves room for people to abuse themselves and others. “Sure I work 90 hours a week, but I make sure to read my bible before I go to bed.” “I pay my millworkers almost nothing and they live in squalor, but on the plus side I’ve built a Methodist Church for them.”
I’m respecting God’s word, but not the rest that God’s word recommends.

1 comment:

Judah Himango said...

Interesting post. A day of rest is really invaluable. I'm a Messianic, and we love the sabbath. :-) It's refreshing and healing and restorative.

One point of confusion for Christians, I think, is the confusion between worship day and sabbath. When Christians here about God's sabbath, they'll often say, "Oh, but I worship on Sunday", as if worship is the central theme of sabbath.

But as you point out, Chris, sabbath is about rest. Worship on Sunday if you like, but that's something distinct from God's sabbath.

On a related note, and you probably already know this, but some of the early reformers tried to reinstate the 7th day sabbath as a day of rest. At one point, Luther wrote, "If [Wittenburg chairman] Karlstadt were to go further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath, that is Saturday, must be kept holy.

(If this comment is posted multiple times, my applogies, the submit form is buggy.)