What Does It Profit a Lineman if He Preserves His ACL and Loses His Soul?

If you want to know what it was like living under King Manasseh, consider the following: evangelical Protestants are more worried about football’s effects on breaking bones than they are about football players breaking God’s law.

One of the amazing accounts of Israel’s sorry history is the reform effort of King Josiah. Don’t get me wrong, oh you sons of the obedient boys. Josiah’s reforms were terrific. What’s amazing is how far God’s people had descended:

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel. And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens. And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. (2 Kings 23:4-7 ESV)

That’s just for starters.

But how different is the state of U.S. evangelical Protestantism when you consider the priorities included in this piece about the dangers of football?

The inherent dangers of the sport should not and cannot be taken lightly—but all athletic endeavors come with risk, and thankfully every level from the NFL to peewee football leagues are taking large strides toward improving safety. They are developing better equipment, technology, and practices. They are ushering a better, safer football game onto fields across the country.

And yet, American kids are more likely to be watching the game on the couch or playing Madden on the Xbox than running around playing pickup games. With many schools reducing physical education requirements, only one in four young teenagers (between ages 12 and 15) get the recommended one hour of exercise a day, according to federal health statistics. In a culture that is rapidly becoming more sedentary, we can be grateful for athletic heroes who encourage kids to get out there and play. The NFL’s Play 60 program promotes daily physical activity to young fans. Such campaigns are immensely valuable and something we as Christians should consider promoting as well.

All parents—Christians or not—have to figure out if we’ll encourage our own children to play football, and we know that each year more of us hesitate to put our kids in youth leagues. It makes sense to proceed with caution. But especially given how few kids will end up going pro, we can weigh the decision with the positive impacts of playing team sports: learning how to win and lose with grace, respecting coaches, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and the benefits of exercise. We can also take practical steps, such as ensuring that our kids know the warning signs of injury, and that their coaches are certified through USA Football’s Heads Up program.

I have hope in the experts shaping the next generation of players for an even better football experience for them and for the fans. I believe in the power of this sport, and I believe that it has a valuable place in our culture. We can see its impact pulsing through American stadiums, sports bars, and living rooms.

I can’t think of another institution that provides the instant camaraderie (or fierce rivalry) as football loyalties. I also just enjoy watching it—it’s fun! The pageantry, tradition, and on-field drama give us unique entertainment in a way that only unscripted and live sports can.

I’m sorry, but if evangelicals are going to fret publicly and select officials on the basis of their concerns about upholding the sixth commandment (the sanctity of human life), or the seventh commandment (marriage), or the second great commandment — love of neighbor (immigration reform) and not worry about the fourth commandment (worship and rest from secular activities), why in heaven or on earth should I take them seriously?

171 thoughts on “What Does It Profit a Lineman if He Preserves His ACL and Loses His Soul?

  1. But hey we have the beginning of a Football Creed:

    I have hope in the experts shaping the next generation of players for an even better football experience for them and for the fans.
    I believe in the power of this sport
    I believe that it has a valuable place in our culture.

    And liturgy:
    “The pageantry, tradition, and on-field drama”

    Sin:
    “American kids are more likely to be watching the game on the couch or playing Madden on the Xbox than running around playing pickup games.”

    And sanctification:
    “the positive impacts of playing team sports: learning how to win and lose with grace, respecting coaches, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and the benefits of exercise.”

    But what we really need is a faith healer for when Gronk gets injured.

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  2. What in the world is unscripted about football? It’s all choreography, responsibility, adjusting, resetting and doing it again. In fact, the fascination with running QB’s is the very breaking of the script, which if you’re anyone else on the field, gets you benched. Evangelicals don’t even know their sports. Now, we can turn to the bigger picture: Oh yeah, it’s the Lord’s day. Jerry Jones has done more good for my Lord’s day observance…………………..

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  3. I’m sorry, but if evangelicals are going to fret publicly and select officials on the basis of their concerns about upholding the sixth commandment (the sanctity of human life), or the seventh commandment (marriage), or the second great commandment — love of neighbor (immigration reform) and not worry about the fourth commandment (worship and rest from secular activities), why in heaven or on earth should I take them seriously?

    Hmmm….maybe that is why they are not taken seriously. I can’t.

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  4. All those evanjellyfish who have Saturday nite worship so the soccer families can dispense orange slices and watch fake injury writhing on Sundays…well, it works out good for those who enjoy the NFL, too, I guess.

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  5. “I believe that as Christian fans, we can acknowledge and mourn the fall manifested in football, while still finding God’s redemptive work and light within it.”

    Try this, fill in the blank with activity of your choice:

    “I believe that as Christian ____, we can acknowledge and mourn the fall manifested in ____, while still finding God’s redemptive work and light within it.”

    My choice: “I believe that as Christian beer drinkers, we can acknowledge and mourn the fall manifested in Coors Light, while still finding God’s redemptive work and light within it.” Roll Tide.

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  6. DGH, as I recall, you are licensed to do history, so can you please continue explaining to us how similar the modern evangelical world is to those who worshipped Baal and the Asherah in Josiah’s day? Thanks very much.

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  7. Nice to see DGH and the OL crowd fancy themselves as modern day Josiah’s, trying to reform the modern era by ridding it of participating/watching evil secular football on Sundays.

    Yeah, that sure is a compelling reason to take this thread seriously. Not.

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  8. Peter, good for you. You’ve given up the evangelical sweetness and light piety. We knew you had it in you.

    But as to the substance of the post, why exactly would you think I am delusionally channeling Josiah? The point was the evangelical habit of missing the spiritual for the temporal.

    You think the CT piece was sound? Don’t go gooey on us.

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  9. A strange article – I hope Petros’ characterization is incorrect “trying to reform the modern era by ridding it of participating/watching evil secular football on Sundays” but that’s how it comes across to me. Are you saying Christian parents should not allow kids to participate in sports on sundays, and that no Christian should be watching or attending any type of sports game at all on sundays? Because that would not be considered “appropriate” rest because of its secular nature? (Of course people can idolize such entertainment/recreation or prioritize it over sacred things, but the CT writer obviously wasn’t endorsing that). Do you eat sanctified eggs for breakfast while reading a holy newspaper on Sundays?

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  10. @Petros

    I can’t speak for the other OL’s around here, but I certainly don’t think football is evil (or that there is anything wrong with the secular). However, neglecting the sabbath is a very serious sin (as is the breaking of any of the 10 commandments). It is rooted in the created order and points to our eternal rest. To neglect gathering with God’s people for worship on the Lord’s day in order to watch football, take your kid to a soccer game, or squeeze in a little extra shopping says a lot about how we view God.

    To be sure, necessity often calls us to work on the Sabbath rather than worship and rest. But worldly amusements hardly count as works of necessity.

    What I don’t understand is why you think that not honoring God the way he commands us to honor him is somehow less serious other sins. It seems very much like what the Israelites did with their false worship. A church that can invent justifications for neglecting something as clear as Sabbath observance will have no trouble finding ways to justify compromise on other aspects of the faith when they run up against the flow of the broader culture (e.g. the treatment of divorce and remarriage in the typical evangelical church). I suspect that acceptance of SSM won’t be far behind.

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  11. If this “kids need exercise, the NFL’s campaigns promotes exercise, we-as-Christians need to consider promoting such campaigns” reasoning were edited out of Christian women magazines, you’d have a stack of perfume ads.

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  12. DGH, as to the substance of this post, you’ll have to do better with your history than to cite the CT article as the means by which we are to “know what it was like living under King Manasseh”.

    Meanwhile, the world awaits your answers to Mr. van Damme’s questions.

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  13. Apparently wordpress thinks because of my linkage I’m a spammer and require extensive moderation.

    Go to youtube and search for “Jesus is better than football”. Top two links are the song itself, and the Table Talk Radio “crunch” thereof.

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  14. Sdb, you’ll have to ask DGH, as it is he who implies that there is something about football on Sundays that inherently is at odds with the 4th commandment. Please ponder the 9th commandment, if you would — there’s no assertion in the CT article, or by me, that not honoring God is less serious than other sins.

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  15. Calvin would be so proud that DGH is an avid reader and sharer of the meaty and heady stuff found at “Her-Meneutics. Christian Women. Cultural Comment”.

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  16. Petros, yes, because if OL is about anything it’s “ridding the modern world of evil.” That shows you’ve been paying attention. But as an evangelical, you might summarize your own take on the fourth. From my experience in broad evangelicalism, there was a lot of chatter about injecting the 10 Commandments into general society but a lot of behavior that suggested there was really only about 7-9.

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  17. sdb,

    “I certainly don’t think football is evil (or that there is anything wrong with the secular). However, neglecting the sabbath is a very serious sin (as is the breaking of any of the 10 commandments).”

    No one here has yet demonstrated that watching a football game on Sunday inherently entails neglecting the sabbath. The CT writer and a billion other evangelicals don’t think so. Can it be a cause for neglect? Obviously. Must it? Yet to be shown.

    “To neglect gathering with God’s people for worship on the Lord’s day in order to watch football, take your kid to a soccer game, or squeeze in a little extra shopping says a lot about how we view God.”

    Where did the CT writer say one should neglect gathering for worship in order to watch football? You and Darryl just seem to assume that but that seems a false dichotomy. Plenty of people go to church and also watch a pro or their kid’s game on Sundays – it’s not Sophie’s Choice every weekend.

    “To be sure, necessity often calls us to work on the Sabbath rather than worship and rest. But worldly amusements hardly count as works of necessity. ”

    Worldly amusements/recreation can be part of rest for people in addition to helping point to/honor God, just as work – which you give a pass – can as well.

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  18. Zrim, if you or DGH want to post a separate, full-orbed P&R position on the proper and improper way of observing the 4th Commandment in today’s modern world, please do. I’ll happily read and learn.

    Meanwhile, this particular post makes the inaccurate assertion that the CT article suggests that people not worry about the 4th commandment. Since there’s nothing in the CT article about blowing off the 4th commandment, one has to wonder if OL believes that the 9th commandment was amended somewhere.

    Look, it’s not hard to find issues of concern in the evangelical world that merit legitimate discussion. But it’s certainly not clear why the CT article (one woman’s opinion on football) was so provocative to DGH that it would raise the spectre of Manasseh’s idolatry and 4th commandment violations.

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  19. Petros, take a course in logic to add to your new-found aggression then come back to us. Wait – and learn the catechism, too. Yeah, and get a sense of church history that goes further back than Billy Graham. I think that’s it for now.

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  20. I have problems regarding this too. After all, it seems that the implication here is that only those with the Scottish Calvinist interpretation of the Sabbath and who tries to Christianize the Greek division between good and evil–that is the spirit and body. I also struggle with the people who hold so fast to a particular set of confessions while ignoring the Scriptures that would challenge the intolerance they show for other views of the sabbath.

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  21. I have problems regarding this too. After all, it seems that the implication here is that only those with the Scottish Calvinist interpretation of the Sabbath and who tries to Christianize the Greek division between good and evil–that is the spirit and body.

    I have problems regarding that sentence. “only those …” can you give me a verb to go with that subject?

    Also I don’t need any commandments, I have problems with professional sports in general, on natural law grounds. It’s just stupid to waste that much time, money, energy, conversation, obsession, etc on other people playing games. Athletics needs to be more about personal doing, and less about vicarious watching.

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  22. Curt, think of how little capitalism would be taking place if it makes you feel any better. And it used to give the menial laborers a day to rest. Tell us what the downside is, other than the liberty to have all days be the same, drab upon drab, or never-ending frivolity.

    Yeah, right, you’re spiritual seven days a week. Got it.

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  23. MG,
    the biggest obstacle to overcome in some of these discussions is the pride some have that makes them think they are above others. Throughout church history, Christians have differed on the meaning of the Sabbath in NT times. Why not express our views in ways that don’t exclude the views of other Christians and don’t overlook the legitimate challenges to one’s own viewpoint.

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  24. RubeRed,
    Sorry if I don’t edit all of my comments, the meaning was clear though. I was referring to those who agree with the Scottish Calvinist position.

    And I agree with objecting to the emphasis pus on professional sports. Athletes are overpaid but that is a reflection of our escapist culture.

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  25. Curt, seriously there are some natural law elements like rest for the oppressed. You should give it some study with that in mind.

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  26. foxy lady, obviously you never read the Shorter Catechism (60):

    The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

    I didn’t write the rules. It used to be that it was hard to find a gas station open on Sundays, thanks to all of those evangelicals’ interest in sabbath observance.

    Stick with us, foxy. We know how to put sanctity in holidays.

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  27. Petros, imagine not worrying about keeping the Lord’s Day holy. Imagine what it was like for the Israelites to forget the law.

    You have an imagination, no? Or does Omaha Fixtures sell them?

    I try to make the Lord’s Day as different from other days as possible. Morning and evening worship. Rest, no work on stuff for which I get paid. And meals that are different than other days. Different route for the walk. Better cigar.

    You asked.

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  28. foxy lady, um, hello, the NFL is professional football. The athletes are paid. The announcers are paid. The referees are paid. (The cheerleaders aren’t.)

    You’re watching other people work on the Lord’s Day. You like to watch profanity?

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  29. Peter, where is the CT article worried about the players who working on the Lord’s Day in clear contradiction to the fourth commandment? Know the Decalogue much?

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  30. Curt, why do you uncharitably assume that this post is written from the perspective of self-righteousness? Why don’t you sense something odd about a post that puts a player’s health above his soul (doesn’t even mention what duty God requires of man)?

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  31. Petros, but in today’s world sports inevitably intersect with Sabbath observance in one way or another. It’s an angle you evangelicals completely miss. Someone has pick up your slack. And so the fact that it gets so badly missed when it so inevitably intersects only helps make the point. Where are you guys on this one? Left field.

    But I try to avoid “full-orbed” lists on proper Christian behavior in relation to the law. It tends toward legalism. But on this one, I’m content with two services each Sabbath. If one can do that, chances are good he’s kosher.

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  32. A fan of an SEC football team concerned about ethics?

    Petros – Zrim, if you or DGH want to post a separate, full-orbed P&R position on the proper and improper way of observing the 4th Commandment in today’s modern world, please do. I’ll happily read and learn.

    Erik – Zrim and DGH are Presbyterians. The Westminster covers this. No position paper needed.

    When did Petros get roid rage?

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  33. I’m admittedly a pretty poor Sabbatarian, but to think that the world or evangelicals have one up on Presbyterians who attend two services and rest on Sunday is a pretty stupid assertion.

    Yeah, the Pagans and the Babdists have Sunday down cold…

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  34. Stop the gambling and stop watching TV and no more interest in the game at all.

    And go to church twice on Sunday to end idle time wasted on football.

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  35. @dgh – I wasn’t clear. I was responding to Petros who seemed to indicate that sabbath observance was trivial, “trying to reform the modern era by ridding it of participating/watching evil secular football on Sundays. Yeah, that sure is a compelling reason to take this thread seriously. Not.”

    @petros Perhaps I am misreading you, and if so I happily stand corrected. I’m not sure what the 9th commandment has to do with that though (or do you think they only way to misread you is to lie?). Do you dispute that sabbath observance is not held in high esteem by evangelicals? That certainly isn’t my experience, and attendance stats on professing evangelicals backs me up on that. Or do you dispute that sabbath observance matters? That is how I understood your comment. Of course sabbath observance is more than just going showing up for corporate worship for an hour. It is about setting the Lord’s day apart from all other days – work and play hard Monday – Saturday, but set Sunday aside.

    @cvd you wrote, “No one here has yet demonstrated that watching a football game on Sunday inherently entails neglecting the sabbath….Worldly amusements/recreation can be part of rest for people in addition to helping point to/honor God, just as work – which you give a pass – can as well.”

    My basis is the WCF which states, “This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men…do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.”

    I’ll leave it to others to derive this from first principles in the comm boxes, but the WCF (and catechisms) indicates that “Worldly amusements/recreation” (activities that are fine the other six days of the week – and perhaps valid ways of pointing to/honoring God) are not part of setting aside a day to God. I don’t do so well here, and I love football (Go Irish!). But I think the WCF is right here and proper sabbath observance is something worth striving for.

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  36. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/steven-greydanus/lords-day

    A few decades ago the stores were all closed on Sundays. Even if they were open, they weren’t busy. Now, of course, the stores are mobbed on Sundays. It might be the biggest shopping day of the week. Even churchgoing Catholics and Protestants often treat Sunday as no different from any other day, except for the hour or so we spend in church.

    It’s true that Sunday rest in the United States has historically been colored by Puritan piety and legalism. It was a matter of avoiding certain forbidden activities. If you’ve read the Little House books, as I have to my kids any number of times, you may recall that Laura was not allowed to run or shout or engage in noisy play on Sundays, and in her grandfather’s day even laughter and smiling were not allowed. Only reading the Bible and the catechism were allowed. This is not Catholic piety.

    Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the Lord’s Day (CCC §2184ff):

    The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.
    On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

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  37. Kevin writes:

    football should not dictate whether we can attend a Sunday school class, whether we stay for the missionary potluck, whether we can invite a new family over for lunch, or whether we can come back for evening worship. Football is fun–in its place. Football in the place of worship is, well, worship.

    If we are concerned about people who use drugs or look at porn, why are we worried about professionals who need to work on the Lord’s Day (in clear violation of the fourth commandment)? The NFL is no act of necessity and mercy.

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  38. D.G.,
    But doesn’t your concern for the player’s soul put all Christians who do not share the Scottish Calvinist view of the Sabbath in the same boat as that player? So wouldn’t it follow that only Scottish Calvinist are saved because they are the only ones keeping the Sabbath?

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  39. Curt, as a once a upon a time fundy myself (all about me) I recognize that question. To distinguish yourself in doctrine and piety from other Christians/Christian bodies does not admit the charge those others are “unsaved.” I do recall, however, the “so wouldn’t it follow” logic of fundamentalist separation often presumes such secret knowledge.

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  40. I’m gonna get all personal and vulnerable here, because that’s just who I am — sensitive and all.

    Would I support a restrictive blue law campaign in my town? No. It pains me to see non-essential service employees working as I drive to church, but I could not support civic law that would take income away from them or restrict the freedoms of Jews, SDA’s, pagans, and…dumb evangelicals.

    Do I occasionally do things on Sunday to facilitate good relations with unbelieving family members? Yes.

    Was I glad the Home Depot was open when I had an active plumbing crisis? Yes.

    Did I and another OL commenter buy gas and food on a 15-hour round trip funeral (former pastor’s father) trek on a recent Sunday? Yes.

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  41. So I’m curious – does DGH think that we shouldn’t watch football (or golf or The Sopranos) on Sunday? Or is it simply evangelical inconsistency?

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  42. WB, what is so hard to understand that NFL is forcing people to work on the Lord’s Day. Whether you decide to watch is your call with your undershepherds. But why are evangelicals more worried about head injuries than violating God’s law?

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  43. Step up, WB. Here’s your next comment: “It’s good to watch football on Sundays because ___________.” Possible answers include:

    – I contemplate God through his creation. Like mountains, sunsets, and football.
    – As a pastor in Green Bay, I would get run out of town for drawing that line.
    – Bo Jackson was a Christian.
    – I do what I want, you legalist.

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  44. If Sunday afternoon NFL games are bad Sunday NASCAR races are a magnitude worse. But if telling the football crowd that it’s evil could start an argument, telling the racing crowd the same thing might cost you an appendage or two.

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  45. Excellent post.

    Why is rivalry a Christian virtue to be taught to our children? And sports bars? Hmmm, very silly indeed.

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  46. Seems like NT ethics encourages you to grow into maturity in your conscience. Being shepherded down to the minutiae of which sock to put on first on Sunday morning is not what Paul is aiming to develop. We are supposed to be able to determine profitability and line up faith and conscience for ourselves. Don’t forsake the assembly as is the habit of some but encourage one another…………

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  47. Cletus-

    Exactly right: Christians should not be playing football, watching football, letting their kids play football or even talking or thinking about football on Sabbath.

    Dr. Hart-

    I do really hate to take issue with you in a thread on which I am in agreement with you, but when you ask Cletus why he assumes a self-righteous tone in this blog post do you not see that’s the attitude you take to people like Mark Jones and the other “obedience boys”? You assume they are being self-righteous, pharisaical, boasting in their own sanctification when they take issue with certain behaviours of Christians today. Maybe it would be better if we all just stopped accusing each other of self-righteousness?

    Other than that, I’m very happy to see you arguing for the Sabbath 🙂

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  48. Alexander, you missed it. There is nothing wrong with rivalry per se, but even cooperative efforts on Sunday can be misguided. And then you go legalist. Surprise, surprise.

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  49. Zrim-

    I just applied the SC 60- which was quoted by Dr. Hart and sdb- to this particular area (with a bit of fleshing out from the LC). Why am I the legalist for applying the doctrine but they’re not for stating the doctrine?

    Q. 119. What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?

    A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.

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  50. Sorry, Alexander, but “don’t play, watch, talk or even THINK about X (buster!)” is how legalists speak–don’t touch, taste or handle. WSC 60 doesn’t quite have that tone.

    But I’m more a HC fellow anyway.

    Q. What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?

    A. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I diligently attend the assembly of God’s people to learn what God’s Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor. Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.

    Even less legalese…

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  51. Alexander spends his Sundays stewing and getting his bodily fluids all hot in anger at the imagination of others not behaving as he demands they do.

    Must be tough.

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  52. Darryl,

    “The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.”

    I think most Protestants, Calvinist or not, agree with that. But the problem I’m having is you’re nuking football without exception, but I don’t see you nuking people who cook and eat a nice breakfast, read the newspaper, do some gardening they enjoy, maybe play some games with the kids, etc. Are these not “worldly recreations” lawful on other days as well that you nevertheless are engaging in on Sunday and that are not of necessity? You’re just blanketly judging what certain people enjoy as rest (hugely subjective, as the ncregister article notes with the gardening example) as unacceptable while other forms get an ad hoc pass.

    “I try to make the Lord’s Day as different from other days as possible. Morning and evening worship. Rest, no work on stuff for which I get paid. And meals that are different than other days. Different route for the walk. Better cigar.”

    Many of these are wordly enjoyments that are not of necessity. And why is football that is only watched (or played by ones’ kids) on Sundays not making the Lord’s Day different from other days, but smoking a fine cigar or taking a different walk is? As the CCC says “and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.” The faithful construction worker killing his body all week relaxes watching a game with a beer on Sunday (and also going to church). You do it by smoking a fine cigar and taking a walk. And the former should be chastised why again?

    “foxy lady, um, hello, the NFL is professional football. The athletes are paid. The announcers are paid. The referees are paid. (The cheerleaders aren’t.)
    You’re watching other people work on the Lord’s Day. You like to watch profanity?”

    Your criticism was not confined to professional football because you were also taking issue with kids engaging in organized sports Sundays as well. So let’s be clear – is the gist of your criticism instead that it is encouraging people (whether they are believers or not) to violate the Sabbath by being paid and working that day, rather than the nature of the activity itself (I was understanding you to be criticizing both)? Are you standing outside the grocery store or gas station or home depot rending your garments on Sundays when your car runs low or a pipe bursts? Doubtful – but a true christian would walk home from his stranded car or let his house get ruined rather than assist in helping someone lose their soul!
    Should there be no Christian professional athletes playing on Sundays? Should they sacrifice their god-given talents to work as something else? If Drew Brees or Tebow were in your congregation would you pull them aside?

    Alexander,

    “Why is rivalry a Christian virtue to be taught to our children?”

    Sports teaches many things to children as the CT writer noted – teamwork, respect for others, losing and winning with grace, perseverance, stewardship of health, identification and development of god-given talents, etc. And aside from that, it can just be something that helps one relax and recharge – just like Darryl’s taking a walk or smoking a cigar.

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  53. Kent-

    Actually I have wonderful Sabbaths hearing the Word preached, spending time at meal and fellowship with my brethren, conversing and reading and enjoying rest. You should try it.

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  54. Not tossing stones, gents – just seeking clarity. And I’ll come home from church this Sunday and get comfortable as I watch the NFL before heading back to a small group midway through the late afternoon game. Geaux Saints.

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  55. Zrim-

    But the LC does say exactly that. And if I’m not mistaken you’re in a church which subscribes the Westminster Standards?

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  56. I was just looking at the 6th commandment.

    Q. 135. What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
    A. The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselvesn and otherso by resisting all thoughts and purposes,p subduing all passions,q and avoiding all occasions,r temptations,s and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any;t by just defense thereof against violence,u patient bearing of the hand of God,w quietness of mind,x cheerfulness of spirit;y a sober use of meat,z drink,a physic,b sleep,c labor,d and recreations;e by charitable thoughts,f love,g compassion,h meekness, gentleness, kindness;i peaceable,k mild, and courteous speeches and behavior;l forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil;m comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.n’

    Are you kiddin me? I can’t do that. It must be an Old Testament thing.

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  57. These are the same evangelicals who thought that Tim Tebow winning a game was the most noteworthy thing that could happen for Christians on the Sabbath.

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  58. Writing a post that advocated lying or adultery would raise howls of protest. Suggesting that popular cultural idols might contribute to violation of a first table commandment raises similar protests. Isn’t that interesting?

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  59. John,
    To cite the plight of an individual because of a rule puts emphasis on the rule rather than the individual. Thus what follows is the conclusion drawn from the rule.

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  60. “… NASCAR is o.k. on Sundays because all NASCAR fans love Jesus, their mothers, their guns, and America …”

    What!? No apple pie?

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  61. CW,

    I don’t know that writing a post advocating lying would raise howls of protest. Do you condemn all forms of deception blindly? Doubtful. But for whatever reason people just assume watching or having kids participate in football on Sunday must entail a violation but “meals that are different than other days. Different route for the walk. Better cigar” is all good.

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  62. CVD, Old Lifery is unrelentingly about the church. If public worship ought to be conducted on Sunday it seems undeniable that 1) participating in sports, attending sports, being overly concerned about sports or 2) approving of and facilitating the employment of Xians in these venues on Sundays must have an impact on the most important thing that the church is about — Lord’s Day worship. Of course, you may think Saturday night mass is cool, or you may not agree that worship is the church’s most important activity.

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  63. Dowling Catholic of West Des Moines has the #1 football team in the state of Iowa so you’re damn right they’re talking a lot of football after Sunday Mass at St. Augustin’s on 42nd Street…

    Some of the small evangelical protestant Christian schools in the Western suburbs combine with Dowling for football. Ecumenism and winning go hand-in-hand, baby.

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  64. Alexander,

    Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
    A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days;and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

    Sorry, but that just doesn’t sound like “Christians should not be playing football, watching football, letting their kids play football or even talking or thinking about football on Sabbath.” Legalism is possible for any pious law, the fourth being no exception. And if your finger wagging formulation that goes all the way down to talking and thinking about a sport isn’t an example of it, I truly wonder what would be.

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  65. Zrim,
    The confession’s statement is true if it is faithful to the Scriptures. So why aren’t we talking about what both the NT and OT say about the sabbath?

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  66. CW,

    “If public worship ought to be conducted on Sunday it seems undeniable that 1) participating in sports, attending sports, being overly concerned about sports or 2) approving of and facilitating the employment of Xians in these venues on Sundays must have an impact on the most important thing that the church is about — Lord’s Day worship. ”

    If public worship ought to be conducted on Sunday it seems undeniable that 1) smoking fine cigars, preparing/eating fancy meals, taking long walks or 2) approving of and facilitating the employment of Xians in one’s engagement of these activities must have an impact on worship.

    If everyone employed by the NFL was non-Christian, would that get a pass then? What if one’s kids participate in sports where no one is getting paid – all good?

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  67. Cletois, I don’t think most of us will be baited into legalism on this, nor could we withstand its demands. Can we agree that it would be better not to have our kids play in Sunday leagues? Can we agree that a quiet walk or a cigar on the back porch is different than hours in a packed professional sports stadium? Who has to work so that you can do the former? Thousand have to work for you attend an event in the latter. I think we can also agree that if your culinary standards require your wife or someone else to work like a dog on Sunday, then something is wrong. Modesty and restraint ought to characterize the day.

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  68. CW,

    “Can we agree that it would be better not to have our kids play in Sunday leagues?”

    Sure, I’m just not going to stand with arms-folded and judge parents/kids who do though. Just like I don’t stand with arms-folded if I saw a parent eating a nice fancy lunch while reading a paper and smoking a fine cigar before taking a nice long walk with his family in the woods. It’s called “rest” – if someone takes their rest relaxing with the game or watching their son play, don’t see the problem.

    “Can we agree that a quiet walk or a cigar on the back porch is different than hours in a packed professional sports stadium?”

    I thought we weren’t being legalistic. Some people may *enjoy* that more than a quiet walk. Some people go out to a nice restaurant after church that could be loud (uh oh – enabling the employees!) or to see a movie with their family at the cineplex. It’s *subjective* and to be prudentially evaluated by each person. And we keep shifting around between someone taking their kid to little league, someone watching a pro game at home, and now someone watching in some sold out arena.

    “Who has to work so that you can do the former? Thousand have to work for you attend an event in the latter.”

    Thousands don’t work so a parent can watch his kid play a game. This again starts getting legalistic.

    “I think we can also agree that if your culinary standards require your wife or someone else to work like a dog on Sunday, then something is wrong. Modesty and restraint ought to characterize the day.”

    No one is saying someone should work like a dog – just like above, some people might *enjoy* cooking – that’s how they rest and relax. The issue again is that somehow watching/participating in a game is automatically flagged here as necessarily lacking modesty or restraint.

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  69. You know, that verse in 1st Cletusians — “If it feels good do it.” And women love to cook — relaxing always. And I always found youth sports to be a sort of purgatory. And if your favorite team really sucks or gets shafted on a replay review…nothing better to get your mind right for that evening service.

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  70. Muddy,

    “do what you enjoy. Very perceptive.”

    Thanks. No that is not what I said the essence of LD was. But that is a component of it – unless you like to rest and relax by doing things you don’t enjoy. Darryl enjoys smoking fine cigars, eating fancy meals, and taking a long walk. Does that mean he has lost the meaning of the LD? Nope. Could someone engaging in those same activities do so though? Of course – idols can be made of anything, not just sports and entertainment. Similarly, someone else likes to rest by watching a game or their kids play. Does that mean he necessarily lost the meaning of the LD? Nope.

    CW,

    Oh brother – way to mischaracterize my statement. Some women enjoy cooking, some men enjoy cooking, some hate it. Darryl likes a good meal though on the LD apparently. Just like some of either gender enjoy gardening. Or smoking cigars. Or taking long walks. Or….watching football (evil! kill it!) What if Darryl sprains his ankle on his long walk (remember he picks new routes so he might be unfamiliar) – will that get him the right mind for evening service?

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  71. Cletus, you’re arguing it into non- existence. Focus on the things above, don’t pull others away from doing the same, take a break from sixdayness, don’t nit-pick others trying to do the same. Rotsa ruck fitting the NFL into that.

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  72. Lee Irons (9) Due to its character as a promissory sign of eschatological consummation, the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant, sanctifying the covenant community as holy unto the LORD and putting a visible difference between those that belong to the covenant community and those that belong to the world (Exod. 31:13-17; Ezek. 20:12; cp. Gen. 17:11).

    (10) Promise establishes obligation (Heb. 4:1). Thus, the Sabbath sign is to be observed only by
    the holy covenant community, for to it alone does the promise of eschatological consummation
    apply (Heb. 4:9-10; Luke 13:16).

    (11) Conversely, since unbelievers have no promise of eschatological consummation, they have
    no obligation to observe the sign thereof.

    (12) It is not biblically permissible for the covenant community to attempt to enforce Sabbath
    observance on those outside of the covenant community (e.g., blue laws), nor should believers
    refrain from certain activities solely on the ground that such activity may cause unbelievers to
    profane the Sabbath.

    http://www.christpresnewhaven.org/documents/The%20Sabbath%20as%20an%20Eschato.pdf

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  73. more from Lee Irons

    But aren’t unbelievers still in Adam under the covenant of works? Wouldn’t it be proper, then, to
    argue that the Sabbath requirement, as the sign of the covenant of works, remains binding on all
    men in Adam? This is a plausible argument, but we must distinguish between being under the
    probation of the covenant of works with its eschatological prospect (the post-fall sons of Adam
    today are not under that) and being under the curse of the covenant (they are under that).

    Irons–The covenant of works is not an ahistorical “do this and live” principle but a concrete historical
    administration of God’s holy kingdom in time. The covenant breach of the federal head, Adam,
    changes the nature of the unbeliever’s relationship to the covenant in significant ways.
    There is a sense in which the weekly Sabbath command confronts the unbeliever by virtue of his
    covenantal union with Adam. This is so because man, even after the fall, remains a creature in
    the image of God, created for eternal rest with God. The Sabbath command in this sense is
    unfulfillable, just as the covenant of works as a whole is unfulfillable.

    Irons–The unbeliever may attempt to keep the Sabbath in some external manner,
    but all his attempts will be futile and in fact sinful, unless he first puts his trust in Christ. First of all,
    if he tried to keep the Sabbath as an unbeliever under the creational covenant of works, he would
    be placing himself under the impossible requirement of perfect obedience. Second, he would be
    obligated to keep the seventh day holy – an activity that, after the coming of Christ, is nothing less
    than a sinful denial of Christ (Col. 2:16-18). Third, even if the unbeliever were to attempt to keep
    the first day of the week holy, he would still be unable to keep it properly, since not working in
    itself is meaningless unless it is a rest from one’s labors in the knowledge that Jesus has
    performed the labor for us and given us the rest.

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  74. Lee Irons Asks himself a question–“Since the Sabbath is one of the ten commandments, and since the ten commandments are a summary of the moral law (and the moral law is binding on all men) – doesn’t it follow that the Sabbath is binding on all men?”

    and answers—The sign of circumcision is given only to those who are party to the Abrahamic covenant of redemptive promise to be fulfilled in Christ. Those who are not circumcised are in fact to be cut off from the covenant community. It is clear that the Mosaic covenant, of which the Sabbath was the sign, was not made with the world at large, but only with the redeemed community of Israel whom God had delivered out of Egypt in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham….

    In addition to the fourth commandment itself, numerous aspects of the Decalogue are directed specifically to the covenant community (e.g. Exod. 20:2, 5-6, 7, 8-11, 12b). Indeed, so intimate is the connection between the Decalogue and the covenant made with Israel at Sinai, the ten commandments are frequently referred to in Scripture as the covenant itself (Exod. 34:28; Deut. 4:13; 5:2ff; 9:9-11; 1 Kings 8:9). There is a sense in which the entire Decalogue was limited to the covenant community only.

    http://www.christpresnewhaven.org/documents/The%20Sabbath%20as%20an%20Eschato.pdf

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  75. CvD, the RCC clearly thinks there is a misuse of the LD. What would that look like? From your comments so far it would seem to be whatever doesn’t float your boat, man. But if everything is kosher then nothing is.

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  76. foxy dame, “I thought we weren’t being legalistic. Some people may *enjoy* that more than a quiet walk. Some people go out to a nice restaurant after church that could be loud (uh oh – enabling the employees!) or to see a movie with their family at the cineplex.”

    Are you hoping the bishops reason this way when it comes to the seventh commandment (your sixth) next month?

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  77. foxy lady, who said my meals were fancy? Eww.

    You still haven’t addressed the question of making others work on Sunday — or taking delight (leisure) from profanity.

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  78. I am only reporting what Lee Irons wrote. I am not even Reformed enough to say that Jesus is only a law-giver as He is the creator, so that we can ignore His redemptive example. I don t base duty on ability, and I don’t base duty on offers of grace. Duty remains even for those Christ never knew.

    Lee Irons—Objection # 1:
    “How do you reconcile your acknowledgment that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance with your
    view that the Sabbath is exclusively for the covenant community?”

    The phrase “creation ordinance” brings to mind certain duties that are given to all mankind, such
    as marriage, labor, and the dominion mandate. Most of these creation ordinances are
    applicable, not just to the covenant people of God, but to all mankind by virtue of their being
    rooted in the creation order. It would seem, then, that the Sabbath too is of universal morality.
    The Sabbath, however, wasn’t first and foremost part of Adam’s duty toward God, as the other
    creation ordinances. The Sabbath was a (conditional) promise on the part of God to Adam. This
    does not mean that there was no duty involved, but the duty flowed from the promise: since Adam
    was promised the eschatological rest, if he fulfilled the covenant of works, therefore he was to
    observe the weekly sign of that promised rest.

    Lee Irons—The duty never existed apart from the promise, but came to Adam precisely because of the promise. If promise creates duty, then the duty evaporates as soon as the PROMISE IS RETRACTED. After Adam’s fall, the promise of eschatological rest is no longer OFFERED to all mankind, only to the covenant community in Christ. Therefore,since the unbeliever has no promise, he has no duty.

    Lee Irons; The creation ordinances cannot be understood apart from their covenantal context. Certain creation ordinances were reissued after the fall for mankind in general (e.g., marriage and labor). But the fall must also be taken into account in terms of the effects it has on the way these
    ordinances get applied in the post-fall situation. For example, the dominion mandate is still in
    effect, but it no longer has any eschatological promise attached to it. Man as man, both believer
    and unbeliever, exercises a certain dominion over creation, and is involved in the general task of
    procreation and filling the earth. But the eschatological fruition of that labor has been frustrated by
    death and man’s dominion produces only temporal goods mixed with thorns and thistles. Man’s
    post-fall cultural labor is… not holy, i.e., it will not enjoy eschatological consummation.

    http://www.christpresnewhaven.org/documents/The%20Sabbath%20as%20an%20Eschato.pdf

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  79. Darryl Hart and I are the same age and grew up in the same small town in Pennsylvania. We had “Blue Laws,” where except for emergency services, all business and commerce was shuttered, in no small part so everybody had the day off to spend with their families, if not to attend church.

    The Sabbath was made for man, not vice versa. As I recall, the Blue Laws were a good thing. Even–especially–for the heathens. Gave a man a chance to catch his breath. Gave us all a chance, us women and children..

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  80. Darryl Hart and I are the same age and grew up in the same small town in Pennsylvania. We had “Blue Laws,” where except for emergency services, all business and commerce was shuttered, in no small part so everybody had the day off to spend with their families, if not to attend church.

    The Sabbath was made for man, not vice versa. As I recall, the Blue Laws were a good thing. Even–especially–for the heathens. Gave a man a chance to catch his breath. Gave us all a chance, us women and children..

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  81. Zrim-

    Larger Catechism Q&A 119: I literally quoted it, just adding football in as that is the subject under discussion. If the SC is authoritative so is the LC: they were compiled by the same assembly, both adopted by the church. You can’t pick and choose the bits you like and ignore the rest: that’s, like, the complete opposite purpose of confessionalism.

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  82. Cletus-

    The problem you are having is trying to get consistent answers from people who don’t observe a consistent practice.

    So first of all, any form of paid employment or financial transaction is forbidden by the 4th Commandment so that means any professional sports, any sports clubs (like a swimming pool or a sports centre) and by extensions watching any professional sports; any financial transactions- going to restaurants, ordering take out, going to the cinema, travelling by public transport &c. The exceptions are those works of necessity and mercy, e.g. the emergency services, care workers. Note: Necessary work is that which is objectively necessary, e.g. someone falls off a building they need medical attention. Things like “I have a presentation on Monday and I “need” to work Sabbath to prepare for it” doesn’t count; neither does “I work in a shop and my manager “needs” me to work on Sabbath”. The work itself has to be necessary. Works of mercy, furthermore, should be examined as to their necessity as well. If someone has a heart attack on Saturday night and needs an operation which would have to be performed on Sabbath then fine; if someone’s going to get a hip replacement and the consultant could schedule it on Saturday on Monday but chooses, or the patient chooses, to do it on Sabbath that would be wrong: it doesn’t need to be done on that day.

    Recreations: any recreations. Unnecessary/recreational walking (trampling the Sabbath); sports; watching TV, going on the Internet, unnecessary phone calls. Even discussions on temporal things should be avoided as much as possible. Rest is not “what I like to do to relax”. It’s a resting from our temporal affairs and recreations to spend the whole day in spiritual and holy observances: secret, private and public worship; spiritual conversation and fellowship; edification.

    Food: Eating is a necessity. Sabbath meals tend to be bigger because of the increased hospitality that often comes with the Sabbath. It’s probably advisable to as much as possible before the Sabbath, because then one has less to do on the actual day. Preparing/cooking food on Sabbath is not breaking the Sabbath but if you’re planning a meal that in total will take a few hours to prepare, why not do as much as possible on the Saturday? In some cultures, like Holland, the Sabbath meal is often the smallest of the week because there’s less need for food as people are not expending as much energy.

    Smoking: well, if one doesn’t consider smoking a breach of the Sixth Commandment and indulges then I don’t think that’s necessarily breaking the Sabbath. I’ve heard of many Godly men who smoked on the Sabbath: but they also cut their tobacco on the Saturday.

    These practises are all the clear application of the Confessional standards on Sabbath observance. A couple of Scripture texts as well:

    Isaiah 58:13-14: If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

    Jeremiah 17:21-23. Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

    Amos 8:5. Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? [Referring to those who wish the Sabbath to be over so as to return to their worldly affairs.]

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  83. Darryl,

    “Are you hoping the bishops reason this way when it comes to the seventh commandment (your sixth) next month?”

    Heh that was good, but no I’m just following your lead. Enjoyment is a component of the LD, but not the full extent of it – you enjoy things like smoking a fine cigar, taking long walks, and having nicer-than-usual meals on LD to help mark it “different”. Others don’t enjoy those particular activities and choose to keep it “different” according to their subjective tastes, and I doubt you would fault them or say they should/must engage in smoking a fine cigar, taking long walks, and having a nicer-than-usual meal. OTOH, you also refrain from any paid work/job responsibilities and attend services – this you would say others should/must do as well (another component of the LD).

    “You still haven’t addressed the question of making others work on Sunday — or taking delight (leisure) from profanity.”

    This keeps shifting around, so I’ll ask clarification. Let’s use football as the example again. Is your issue with watching/participating in football on sundays that the people involved in the product are working and being paid (in a non-necessary sense like with emergency services)? Or is your issue with watching/participating in football on sundays the nature of the activity itself?

    If the former, what if they weren’t working? If someone plays (or has their kids playing) in a pickup game or some organized sport that’s all volunteer, is that fine then? Do the non-paid nfl cheerleaders get a pass? What if the nfl was all unbelievers – would that be fine then?
    If the latter, then I still fail to see how you give a pass to your long walks, fine cigar, nice meal but not watching a pro/kid’s or playing in a pickup football game.

    I know you guys are not fans of Alexander, but he seems to at least have a consistent position and is working out your criticisms to its logical end.

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  84. CeeVee, you and Alexander are both killing this issue with a thousand cuts. It’s a spiritual issue with real-world implications. DG raised the issue to provoke discussion and reflection. Obviously he’s on to something, given the responses.

    If bullfighting was the national sport and number one obsession of a papist country like Spain, do you think the parish priests would have any heartburn if all the big fights occurred between noon and 10 pm on Sundays? Would it affect the church?

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  85. CW,

    “If bullfighting was the national sport and number one obsession of a papist country like Spain, do you think the parish priests would have any heartburn if all the big fights occurred between noon and 10 pm on Sundays? Would it affect the church?”

    Why must there be heartburn? The faithful go to mass in the morning. Then some go watch some bullfighting with their families and enjoy each other’s company – how is that different than every Sunday the family enjoying a big special meal together after morning service? Or going to some big church fair/festival thing being held in the afternoon (let me guess you would tell your pastor any fairs/festivals should really be held on Saturdays)?

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  86. Darryl,

    Is the person breaking God’s law separately from me paying them? Or is my paying them what is causing them to break God’s law (i.e. if they weren’t paid there wouldn’t be a problem)?

    How am I paying someone by watching them on tv? Because I enjoy it? If I turn off the tv or dvr the game to watch monday instead, are they paid less? This would seem to mean you don’t care if they’re working/being paid at all, it’s the nature of the activity itself. Which drives us back to my previous question.

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  87. CeeVee, the effect on the church is what I’m most concerned about. If believers go to church their lives will be, more or less, reformed by hearing the word and participating in the sacraments. If they don’t go to church because of other Sunday activities or are too distracted by the thought of all the other stuff on their plates, that’s bad. Of course, overt and blatant violation of a commandment is kind of a big deal too, whether you’re in San Diego or Bucksnort.

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  88. Alexander, I think I see the problem. As I pointed out earlier, I subscribe and take the view of the HC, you Westminster. The former just isn’t much interested in detailing behaviors the way the latter seems to be (though I’d say not nearly as stridently as you personally). It’s more interested in portraying the Sabbath as simply a “festive day of rest.” Again, to the question of is God’s will for the fourth:

    First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people to learn what God’s Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.

    Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.

    I’m also looking at this with American eyes, where Presbyterians aren’t exactly known for their sabbatarianism but perhaps more for their a- or even anti-sabbatarianism, while the Reformed don’t seem to have that problem. It’s arguable that a detailed sabbatarianism that you champion is what makes for such apathy–legalism begets license. But among the Reformed, where there is little interest in parsing out the do’s and don’ts and more in the opportunity for worship, which tends to make the Reformed more inclined to view the Sabbath as more a blessed opportunity than a day to tick off do’s and don’t’s.

    There is also the Second Helvetic Confession, which reads:

    The Lord’s Day. Hence we see that in the ancient churches there were not only certain set hours in the week appointed for meetings, but that also the Lord’s Day itself, ever since the apostles’ time, was set aside for them and for a holy rest, a practice now rightly preserved by our Churches for the sake of worship and love.

    Superstition. In this connection we do not yield to the Jewish observance and to superstitions. For we do not believe that one day is any holier than another, or think that rest in itself is acceptable to God. Moreover, we celebrate the Lord’s Day and not the Sabbath as a free observance.

    Which seems to dovetail nicely with Paul with in Colossians 2:16-17 says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” and in Romans 14:5-6, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.”

    I don’t see much awareness of that simultaneous honoring and freedom in the things you say (and in your reaching to Westminster for justification). I see a lot of Phariseeism is how you handle the Sabbath. But from where I sit, the Reformed posture is superior for not only motivating Christians freely to devote the first day of the week, which the church has set aside for worship and rest, but also in refraining from judging another person for his mode of observing the day.

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  89. C-dubs, the condensed version: Sabbatarianism-of-the-non-legalist-variety. (Also works for the second, as in iconoclast-of-the-non-philistine-variety.)

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  90. Foxy lady, would you pay a woman to have sex with another man (not her husband)?

    You think the foods and beer you buy are priced that way because the producers don’t advertise? You’ve been reading too many encyclicals.

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  91. Darryl,

    If I don’t watch the game, does the NFL even know or care? If every Christian did not watch the game, would the NFL care? Maybe given the numbers (yes, the NFL makes some money from advertisers) – so should Christians start picketing stadiums and boycotting advertisers and start storming social media? How very transformational of you.

    “You think the foods and beer you buy are priced that way because the producers don’t advertise?”

    This is where I expected things to eventually end up. You are basically going down the path of Greg the Terrible. I hope you are examining the origins of everything you participate in or support or buy/pay for to make sure it is free from any stain of sin in the causal chain – you gotta keep your hands clean. Alexander and Greg are taking your criticisms to their logical end. Be like Zrim – “but also in refraining from judging another person for his mode of observing the day.”

    And you still haven’t clearly answered the question – if the NFL was all-volunteer and no one was being paid, is that all good then? Or is the nature of the activity itself the problem and your fine cigar smoking and long walking and nice-meal dining are inherently more sanctified than someone playing pickup football or watching their kid play in an all-volunteer league on Sundays?

    CW,

    “If they don’t go to church because of other Sunday activities or are too distracted by the thought of all the other stuff on their plates, that’s bad.”

    Agreed. (as I’m sure the CT writer is as well)

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  92. CvD, this is also how pro-lifers reason in relation to the sixth. Anyone who has choice politics or votes for a choicer is about two hops away from killing babies. Here’s hoping you show up in those debates.

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  93. foxy lady, and you haven’t responded to the issue of watching and paying people to break God’s law. How Roman Catholic of you.

    How is this, btw, Greg the Terrible? In my world, what is lawful on other days is unlawful on a holy day (you know about them right, oh, well, maybe not because of the way your church makes saints).

    It’s not a question of whether the NFL cares. It’s your conscience. You have one now that Vatican 2 has acknowledged it.

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  94. Darryl,

    I haven’t responded because I’m still trying to decipher what you think is the cause of the breaking of God’s law – the payment and working/employment of the producers, or the nature of the activity itself, or some hybrid of the two – hence my repeated unanswered questions.

    “what is lawful on other days is unlawful on a holy day”

    So smoking a fine cigar, eating a nice meal, and taking a long walk is lawful on both days, but watching or playing in a football game is unlawful on Sunday. Why again? Did you make sure the people who produced the cigar and lighter, produced the food and tools needed for the meal, and helped create the walking trail weren’t working on Sunday in doing so?

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  95. foxy lady, why won’t you stick to the obvious point? You are paying other people to break the Lord’s Day so you can have enjoyment. You’re okay with that?

    If you work with this we can go from there.

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  96. Darryl,

    I already know if I watch a paid game on Sunday, you think I’m breaking LD (and somehow encouraging everyone involved in said game to break LD as well). Your logic would also dictate I should tell some kid who has a full ride on athletic scholarship to sacrifice that if it meant he had to play/practice on Sunday, or to tell Brees and Tebow to sacrifice their god-given talents and gifts and find work in some other lesser capacity – that’s fine but I want to hear you actually own up to that.

    Let’s clarify the issue, then we can move on. Here are 2 scenarios:
    – I dvr a professional paid sports match that was played during the week. I watch it on Sunday. Am I breaking LD (obviously the ones involved in match itself are not)?
    – I watch a relative play in a pickup game or watch some other non-paid volunteer organized game on Sunday. Am I (and the others involved) breaking LD?

    Is your issue with ME (all about) breaking the LD, or rather my actions enabling/approving of others to break the LD? Or both?

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  97. foxy broad, but do you yourself interpret the fourth commandment (your third) to permit you to pay people to work on Sunday? If you don’t, no surprise. You believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. But that is my point. Disagree if you want. But this is not a way for the dame to pin hypocrisy on the dg.

    Like

  98. Zrim-

    What church are you a member of? I’m sorry, I thought you were OPC. Well, if you’re in a church that subscribes the Three Forms then I understand where you’re coming from, whilst not agreeing with it. Clark has gone to some lengths to argue that there is no substantive difference between the two. The Dutch church in Holland is very strict on Sabbath: but I think that’s because they’re strict throughout the whole week. I’m not sure if the Sabbath itself is the issue or if it’s just that they avoid the same things all week. But I do know of some Dutch who won’t drive cars on the Sabbath.

    Again, the problem is you’re not part of the culture over here so it’s hard to explain it to you. Sabbath is not taken up with ticking off a list of dos and don’ts: there’s just an established practice and conduct which is expected of people on the Sabbath. I grew up in a worldy church where there was no Sabbatarianism but I’ve taken very easily to the Sabbatarianism of my new church because firstly I have been convinced of its Scripturalness. This, in turn, makes it very easy to observe and indeed delightful. Secondly, I’ve actually found it liberating to exclude a lot of practises which just end up being distracting or tiring and keep one from the purposes of the day. And one is not given a list of things to do but one learns by observing the behaviour of others and through the teaching.

    CW/Zrim-

    I give the list above because, as you say CW, this is a spiritual principle with real-world application. Sometimes we need the application. What is the substantial difference between what you and Dr. Hart are arguing here and what I am? I’m merely applying the principle you’re applying in greater degree. And if the only issue is that the footballers are being paid to play then that really is a truncated application of the 4th Commandment because it’s not merely working but also recreation that is forbidden and Scripture is clear about that.

    I’m inclined to think Dr. Hart just wanted to attack “eeeeeevangelicals” who play football and those who congratulate them for their “witness” and isn’t actually interested in rigirously and comprehensively applying the 4th Commandment. I hope I’m wrong but if what you’re saying is true then I don’t think I am.

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  99. CW-

    You say that if one is going to church one will be taught of the Lord through the means of grace. But if one is going to church in the morning and playing football in the afternoon then that is a clear sign they are not being taught. The issue is not whether they are missing church to play football; the issue is how they spend the day. The Sabbath is appointed as a whole day to be given to God: God sanctified the whole day. Not a couple of hours in the morning and evening.

    Also, I thought you liked small churches pastored by unknown ministers? Or is that only when you’re attacking a mega church pastor you happen not to like?

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  100. Cletus-

    I’ll say it since Dr. Hart is too chicken to: yes, if pursuing their scholarship or talents in sports would require them to play on Sabbath then they should not pursue that scholarship or profession. God does not give people talents to break His commandments. If Tebow were in my church he would not be admitted to the sacraments.

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  101. Alexander, while you’re questioning my motives and pet preferences, the point was not the evangelicals who play. It’s the evangelicals who watch them play and even on Super Bowl Sunday have their one evening service of the year. Why can you tout the ten commandments and ignore the longest one?

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  102. Dr. Hart-

    If you don’t like people questioning your motives then don’t question mine and maybe you could tell your disciples to stop questioning my motives.

    That being said, I agree with you when you criticise the evangelicals who watch sports ignoring the 4th commandment. But my worry- and the reason I “question your motives”- is that it seemed- and the comments of others seemed to back up my conclusion- that your concern was purely with watching people play professional sports as if the playing of sports generally on the Sabbath was ok. So a Christian could go to the morning service then go for a kick around in the park. That would also be a violation of the commandment but it seemed you would be ok with that.

    Indeed this was a point Cletus was repeatedly challenging you on.

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  103. Groundskeeper Alexander tells us it is either him or DGH and Reformed friends

    Na Na Na Na
    Na Na na Na
    Hey hey hey
    Goodbye Groundskeeper Alexander

    That took a picosecond to decide

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  104. Alexander, if in America the Baptists shake their heads as they pass the Reformed church on Sunday where the congregants are standing outside smoking and the Reformed return the favor by shaking their heads at the Baptists on their way to Bob Evans, what’s it look like in the Scottish Highlands where the new life Presbyterians apparently have something against both activities? It’s just a (passive-aggressive) joke.

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  105. The ones who favor revival over revivalism, celebrate the communion season, play up religious affections, reject substance use and worldly amusements, and talk about the Sabbath the way fundamentalists talk about beer and neo-Cals talk about secular education.

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  106. Zrim, we should let people know it’s okay to be a Fundamentalist and it’s okay to be a Baptist.

    There are a few who post here in annoying and useless detail that are clearly in one or both of those camps… and even some of them fool themselves they are Reformed…

    it’s just sad….

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  107. “or to tell Brees and Tebow to sacrifice their god-given talents and gifts and find work in some other lesser capacity…”

    Lesser capacity? So now football is a high calling? I’d put it way below average, under plumbing, law enforcement, trash collection, construction, farming and I could make this list a long one. It’s more like the Kardashian gig, where there just happens to be some marketable assets in a celebrity and entertainment culture that aren’t very useful, actually.

    So, sorry, but watching football isn’t above watching the Kardashians. Different people just get excited about different things.

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  108. Alexander, doubt it, but were they judging others who did? Don’t know, but if they were that sounds more New-ish than Old-y.

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  109. Alexander, there are so many personal interpretations of the Reformed Standards out there.

    And the 3FU doesn’t match the WCF explicitly along so many lines.

    How you were taught to read them seems to have a big influence on the rest of one’s life. Cultural norms make a huge difference as well. People leaving Reformed Baptist phases and then subscribing to the WCF causes interesting conflicts.

    The flimsy terms “necessary, efficient, and sufficient” could tie us up for decades.

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  110. “kent”- I’ve never been a Baptist in my life. I don’t know why you think I am or left one.

    Zrim- How can there be discipline in the church- you know, one of the marks of the true church- if office bearers adopt a “live and let live” approach. Um, this is kinda why the church today has completely crumbled. You get that, right?

    Dr. Hart- whit?!

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  111. A, i would never mistake you for a former Baptist.

    It was just a reference, an example of how people can have different views on theology.

    I enjoy the big tent of various Christian beliefs that I come across in life; maybe i will have another chance to completely reverse my views oven the next decade, can’t wait to find out.

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  112. A, the church has always been crumbled. I’m sure it wouldna take you long to find laments and warnings from Paul or Peter.

    Worrying about the culture does nothing. Complaining does even less than nothing.

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  113. Alexander, who’s adopting that stance? CvD, not me. Mine’s the non-legalist-sabbatarianism, remember? Which raises the question about whether you think sabbatarianism is vulnerable to legalism at all, and if so, what would it look and sound like? Some might say it abides within the one prone to making lists, invoking discipline and hyperventilating the sorry state of things these days.

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  114. Which of these congregations pays attention to the regulative principle?

    http://www.broomallrpc.org/index.php/articles/is-it-okay-to-watch-football-on-the-tv-on-sundays

    Lancaster PCA

    LESSON: John 10:22–33 (Pew Bible Page 896)
    SERMON: God’s Two–Handed Grip Dr. Rogers
    #36 in a Series, John’s Gospel: That You May Believe
    BENEDICTION AND CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE (All join to sing) *
    (200th Anniversary today of The Star Spangled Banner)
    *Worshipers, please stand if physically able.
    Exactly 200 years ago today, Francis Scott Key, a devout Christian, penned the words of a song we know very well on the back of an envelope. He had observed an overnight bombardment by British warships against Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. At sunrise, he was uncertain of the battle’s result until America’s flag was seen flying proudly. Music for Key’s victory poem came much later, and only in 1931 did Congress adopt The Star Spangled Banner as our national anthem. We sing this stanza today to give glory to God who guards our free land.

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  115. Dr. Hart-

    Ah ok. Do you mean Jack Miller who posts on here? I thought he was one of yours?

    Kent-

    Apologies, I read your comment wrong.

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  116. Zrim-

    Of course it’s probe to legalism. Lots of things are. But I don’t believe I am justified by my keeping of the Sabbath; rather it’s in obedience to God. You seem to equate legalism with strictness, or rather strictness stricter than you. You say it wrong to play and watch professional sports on Sabbath; I say more than that is wrong. You’re not a legalist whereas I am. That seems to me like special pleading.

    And I would say that my “list of rules” was in response to questions specifically asked in this context. Are we not meant to give guidance to people when they enquire about certain things? Some things do require discernment; a lot of things are quite clear.

    Furthermore, you accuse me of hyperventilating in a thread started by Dr. Hart, once again, criticising evangelicals for breaking the Sabbath? It is uncharitable- and hypocritical- to constantly criticise me for things others on this forum- not least the one who runs the forum- also so but towards whom you offer no criticism. Is it purely because you agree with their specific position?

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  117. Alexander, actually I’ve avoided specificity on what’s wrong. But another sign of legalism is to call what’s wrong “more than wrong.” How can something wrong be more than wrong, unless perhaps one means to add to the law and go beyond what God has said (Pharisee alert)? And I understand you have been responding to certain questions, but have you considered that when someone asks for lists a good answer may be that (contrary to popular sentiment) it’s a bad question, that maybe you are indulging legalism unawares? Where is there any room for the Spirit to guide and convict the conscience in the world of lists? And like mom always said, you should worry less about who else is getting criticized and more about what’s earning your own corrections.

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  118. Jack, I’ve wondered whether you were the son of Jack Miller of Sonship fame.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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  119. Zrim-

    I think you misread me: I didn’t say it was more than wrong but that I think there are more things wrong, or forbidden, than you do.

    If someone asks me if a particular activity is appropriate for the Sabbath I’ll give him my thoughts, based on my understanding and the teaching I’ve received. Agreed: some things do require discernment and thought but some things don’t. That has been done for us. The Scriptures say to keep from following our own pleasures on the Sabbath; the Westminster Standards tell us that recreations are forbidden on the Sabbath. So when someone asks me if it’s ok to play football on the Sabbath I’m gonna say no: the Bible and the Westminster Standards tell me so.

    Also, the Spirit gave us lists in Galatians.

    And if it’s unwise to get into the list business maybe it was unwise to start a thread condemning the playing and watching of football on the Sabbath.

    Finally, why should I take your “corrections” when you are selective in your application of them?

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  120. No problem Alexander.

    Actually I came to 3FU from a year of Reformed Baptist but they really didn’t pay any attention to their LBCF in any meaningful way

    So the chopped out parts of the WCF didn’t come into play for me except to find great amusement in arguments by others

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  121. Darryl,

    “foxy broad, but do you yourself interpret the fourth commandment (your third) to permit you to pay people to work on Sunday?”

    Do you interpret it to permit you to pay people when your car breaks down or you forgot you have no aspirin in the house for your bad headache (not life-threatening) or your pipe bursts flooding your house or any other countless scenarios that may inconvenience you but could wait until that magic 12:01am turnover (no legalism here of course) to Monday before rectifying? That’s why these continual generalizations are going nowhere. I hope if you would tell a college hopeful to sacrifice his atheletic scholarship or Brees to quit the NFL, you’d at least be willing to let your house suffer damage or walk 15 miles back to your house (you know people are working on sundays to keep your cell phone working so that can’t be used). I also hope you would put in the effort to make sure your fine cigar and fine food and walking trail were not at all created from paid workers during the LD.
    Also I hope your church doesn’t prepare coffee or donuts after the service, you know since “enjoyment/leisure” counts as a form of “payment” according to you so lack of monetary compensation to the preparers due to your involvement is irrelevant.

    “But this is not a way for the dame to pin hypocrisy on the dg.”

    I’m asking for clarification on your position (which so far seems one step removed from the legalism of Alexander and Greg the Terrible) which is why instead of continuing to go in circles I issued those 2 scenarios to help focus:
    – I dvr a professional paid sports match that was played during the week. I watch it on Sunday. Am I breaking LD (obviously the ones involved in match itself are not)?
    – I watch a relative play in a pickup game or watch some other non-paid volunteer organized game on Sunday. Am I (and the others involved) breaking LD?

    Alexander,

    Thank you for your continued clarity and forthrightness of your position. It’s a relief from the beating around the bush from others here.

    Muddy,

    “Lesser capacity? So now football is a high calling?”

    Not what I meant. If someone has undeniable talent/strengths but works below them, that’s a lesser capacity. Being a janitor is a noble profession (all honest work is) but a trained neurosurgeon becoming a janitor is working in a lesser capacity. A star athlete working at McDonald’s is working in a lesser capacity (and negating/marginalizing his god-given talents). It’s the Good Will Hunting bricklayer argument all over again.

    “It’s more like the Kardashian gig, where there just happens to be some marketable assets in a celebrity and entertainment culture that aren’t very useful, actually.”

    Kardashians and others are famous for being famous. An Olympian is not a Kardashian – star athletes put years of sacrifice and hard work and training and often are doing so despite facing grave hardships in their upbringing to reach that level.

    “So, sorry, but watching football isn’t above watching the Kardashians. Different people just get excited about different things.”

    Yes football is entertainment. Movies are entertainment. Music is entertainment. Books are entertainment. Why entertainment is forbidden on LD but smoking fine cigars, eating fine meals, and taking long walks are not forbidden has yet to be shown.

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  122. foxy dame, nothing abstract. Do you watch NFL games knowing that it uses people who violate God’s law? You can’t answer the question.

    I am willing to give up a cigar or a walk if it involves compromise of the Lord’s Day. Are you?

    If not, then shut up please keep it to yourself.

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  123. Alexander, right, because if legalism is suggested elsewhere you’ll begin to take my points. But more feasible that you’ll keep going with your lists.

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  124. Darryl,

    I occasionally watch NFL games on sunday (actually not really a huge fan of televised sports – I’d rather exercise/play which is what I do with my sunday league soccer games – more evil kill it! stuff I know). I disagree that breaks the LD which you assume in your question (when did you stop beating your wife). I’d be willing to give it up if it could be demonstrated such breaks the LD. Such has not been demonstrated yet, merely assumed. Why are you using the Internet this LD anyways? Aren’t the people working to make sure your Internet network and electricity stay up today violating the LD?

    Btw feel free to finally address my questions when the mood strikes.

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  125. “Yes football is entertainment. Movies are entertainment. Music is entertainment. Books are entertainment. Why entertainment is forbidden on LD but smoking fine cigars, eating fine meals, and taking long walks are not forbidden has yet to be shown.”

    Cletus, pretend this is an SAT. Can you really find nothing that distinguishes the first list from the second? It’s not about suffering. It’s not a weekly penance or purgatory. First and foremost, meditate on the things that are above. You can do that just fine with the second list, but the first demand focus. Music depends – good music would demand my focus but Kenny G wouldn’t. But then Kenny G would be a penance concept so that wouldn’t be the point either. CCM would also veer to the penance side of things but CCR wouldn’t maybe Curt listens to CCP, who knows? Maybe elevator music would be good cuz it fades into the background, so maybe Christian book stores should have an “elevator” section. And elevator music naturally brings me back to the Kardashians and NFL players. The Kardashians will just get older and be replaced by the next chica flava of the day, but NFL players will get dementia and get addicted to pain pills while laboring to get in and out of their chairs. So they would be still be laboring on Sundays.

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  126. Foxy lady, prove? To a Roman Catholic? When you have the market on motives of credibility? Sorry, I’m not going to waste my calories.

    I’m glad my use of the Internet on Sunday makes you feel superior. I thought you already were. Papal infallibility and all that.

    BTW, if you know how to read you might have noticed the original post was about an evangelical author who didn’t even raise the issue of the Lord’s Day in a post about the NFL. That would be like a Roman Catholic talking about Jesus’ brother James and never mentioning Mary’s perpetual virginity.

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  127. Darryl,

    “I’m glad my use of the Internet on Sunday makes you feel superior.”

    Not superior – it’s just to measure you by your own offered yardstick. I’m glad your shunning and criticism of the NFL and watching it makes you feel superior to the CT and evangelical crowd. Also I hope you didn’t read any news of the world today – you know enabling/approving of those journalists to violate the LD.

    “BTW, if you know how to read you might have noticed the original post was about an evangelical author who didn’t even raise the issue of the Lord’s Day in a post about the NFL.”

    So now it’s incumbent to cover every possible related topic on a subject when talking about it. Shall you be held to this new yardstick as well in your writing or will that invite similar charges of superiority?

    The offer for you to actually address my questions/issues still stands.

    Like

  128. Darryl,
    Why do you care about CT pieces on football? I think youre too loose with your nuking of certain positions. Plus iron sharpens iron – if I am mistaken I like to clarify my understanding of other perspectives – you know the whole asking questions thing I have been doing.

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  129. foxy lady, this is “nuking”?

    I’m sorry, but if evangelicals are going to fret publicly and select officials on the basis of their concerns about upholding the sixth commandment (the sanctity of human life), or the seventh commandment (marriage), or the second great commandment — love of neighbor (immigration reform) and not worry about the fourth commandment (worship and rest from secular activities), why in heaven or on earth should I take them seriously?

    Maybe you only meant in the microwave sense.

    One reason to care about evangelicals is that RC’s like you always lump Protestants in with them with much rejoicing about Rome’s superiority.

    Don’t be coy.

    Like

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