05 January 2012

Dominical (& Ecclesiastical) View of the Sabbath

ON PAGE NINE of Perspectives on the Sabbath, I outlined the four views ensconced in the book. As a final note, I wrote that "Roman Catholics, traditional Anglicans, and the Orthodox, while maintaining a much stronger magisterial and thus 'dominical' view of this matter, exegetically fall somewhere in between Arand [the Lutheran] and Pipa [the puritan sabbatarian]."

Truth be told, I had wanted the Lutheran position position to fill this gap, but, as it turned out, Arand ended up being a little too close to Blomberg. Had I known, I would've also invited an Anglo-Catholic, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox thinker to contribute (while retaining Arand's important discussion in the mix as a mediating position between the aforementioned group and Blomberg).

When writing the above, I footnoted two sources: the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, III.ii, 1.3 (also para. 1166); and These Truths We Hold—The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings ("Orthodox Dogma and Doctrine: The Ten Commandments, no. 4").

All this to say that I came across Taylor Marshall's brief synopsis of Aquinas on the Lord's Day. I had not read this bit from Thomas in quite some time and thus forgot about it as I was preparing the manuscript for Perspectives on the Sabbath. It doesn't contradict any of the above, of course, just further elucidates the so-called "dominical" view and its quasi-sabbatarian leanings (in even asking the question, "May Catholics Work on Sunday?"), even though it does posit a significant (redemptive-historical) break between old covenant sabbath observance and new covenant worship.

AS AN ASIDE, it is commonly asserted that Calvin and other early reformers held to this "dominical" view. At least as far as Calvin is concerned (and Luther, with a slightly different twist), I think this holds true. Put differently, I think Gaffin is essentially right in his thesis that Calvin represents a via media. While Gaffin downplays the disparity between the reformer and Westminster on this point, he nonetheless acknowledges it. This is another reason why I wrote in the introduction to the book that the view "exegetically falls somewhere in between Arand and Pipa."

As an aside to this aside, Gaffin also argues that Calvin saw Rome as perpetuating a strict continuation of the old covenant sabbath. I forget what the literature concludes on this subject, but I do recall some of it highlighting the increasing sabbatarianism of the medieval church (e.g., Bauckham argues that starting in the sixth century pockets of legislative activity supporting Sunday sabbatarianism began appearing, until finally it became assumed practice by the late Middle Ages [From Sabbath to Lord's Day, 302–304]).

What I'm sure about is that there was increasing canonical enforcement of Sunday worship (and thus "servitude to another man," in Aquinas' words, was forbidden on the Lord's Day); what I don't think holds up, however, is the notion that it was "any day is as good as another" when it comes to the gathering of God's people before that, in the early church and in apostolic times. Gaffin's use of Rome as a foil is, I think, overstated. And, besides, criticizing High Middle Ages sabbatarianism is a bit ironic for a Westminsterian, don't you think?

Final aside: the "dominical" view is also necessarily an "ecclesiastical" view, because everybody that holds to some form of the dominical view, to varying degrees, grounds Lord's Day practice both in scripture (e.g., Jesus' resurrection on the first day of the week—as opposed the idea that the old covenant sabbath carries over into the new covenant) and church tradition (some of which is actually inscripturated).


Anonymous said...

But the asides to end all asides is this: why is Aquinas referred to as Thomas? Nobody ever says "Martin" when he means "Luther."


Chris Donato said...

Perhaps the answer to that conundrum is revealed when the status of doctor angelicus is achieved?

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