Review of Terry L. Johnson, The Christian Sabbath, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2021.

            Rarely has so much been packed into a 60 page booklet. Nicholas Bownd took over 450 pages to tackle the same topic in 1606. Johnson begins with a somewhat nostalgic recollection of the quieter Sundays in the USA of his youth. I am old enough to have similar recollections in Australia. Even the rugby league matches were concentrated on Saturday, and the venture into Sunday football was undertaken rather tentatively. We have since moved on to a 24/7 world of remorseless activity.

In the Church of the early centuries, Sunday was never called the Sabbath (which was reserved for Saturday); rather, it was the Lord’s Day. The Westminster documents use both terms. Some of the Puritan assertions need to be re-examined. Thomas Watson, for example, says that the fourth commandment is ‘purely moral’. If that is so, it is difficult to see how the day could be changed. Perhaps he was referring to the sabbath principle of one day in seven.

The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28). Accordingly, it was designed for rest, not idleness, and joy, not gloom. Even in our secular world, there is usually respect paid for the stance taken by Eric Liddell at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris where he withdrew from his favoured 100 metre event because the heats were run on a Sunday. Not even Sunday afternoon was acceptable as a compromise, for, as he said, ‘My Sabbath lasts all day.’

Full of quotations and information, this booklet will provide all that is needed for most Christians to work through this issue.

– Peter Barnes