Without Sabbath Observance We Could Not Identify Christians

How do you spot a Christian? That may be easy compared to defining religion. Damon Linker had a go at religion recently:

Religion is any set of norms, practices, and beliefs that establishes a comprehensive way of life that is held out as the right or best way of life for those who adhere to it.

Noah Millman agreed but wanted to amend the definition:

. . . religion is a comprehensive set of normative practices that reflect or imply a set of beliefs about the nature of life and the right way to live it. Those beliefs may or may not be conscious, and may or may not be articulated and taught, in the way that the practices are.

I wonder why both Linker and Millman are so hung up on comprehensive. They don’t seem to understand a two-kingdom (read Augustinian) presentation of Christianity, one that recognizes some aspects of a believers life are religious, some are common or creational. It’s the hyphenation thing. But it’s especially a worry about “all of me” or comprehensive accounts of Christianity when in fact the Bible or bishops haven’t weighed in on everything and Christians have some liberty to figure it out themselves (rue the uncertainty).

In which case, the recent story about the decline of Sabbath observance may be a better indication of how to define religion and spot Christianity, as in Christians are people who take worship seriously and set aside a day for it. But that is changing in the South:

Signs are beginning to emerge suggesting that role of religion in the Bible Belt may be declining, at least to some degree.

The shift is increasingly apparent in local cafes and restaurants in towns across the South, particularly on Sundays. The sale of alcohol on Sundays has long been prohibited in many traditionally religious conservative communities. But recently, more and more of those communities are repealing so-called Blue Laws.

In Sylacauga, Alabama, a small town of just 12,700 people that hosts 78 churches, after-church lunch-goers are now bumping into craft beer drinking sports fans at local restaurants, following a September vote to do away with the Sunday exclusion. Similar initiatives are also underway in parts of Georgia and Mississippi.

A Pew Research Center survey showed 19 percent of Southerners do not identify with any organized religion, a 6 percent rise since 2007 and a number that more closely matches that of the rest of the country.

In another Pew study, 35 percent of Millennials surveyed self-identified as atheist or agnostic. The tendencies appear to be consistent across races.

“We’ve seen this sort of broader shift throughout the country as a whole with fewer people identifying as being part of the religious base,” Jessica Martinez, a senior researcher in religion and public life at Pew told the Associated Press. “In the South you see a pattern very similar to what we are seeing in other regions.”

Maybe sanctification of the Lord’s Day is something that “obedience boys” and Old Lifers could both get behind.

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25 thoughts on “Without Sabbath Observance We Could Not Identify Christians

  1. Interesting that the only promised place of the gospel or the right hand kingdom (word & sacrament) is the one that gets no comprehensive respect.

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  2. “Hart and the Obedience Boys” could be a new Southern Gospel group which ought to bring in the crowds on Sunday mornings, especially in the South.

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  3. C-dubs, I was coming home from the store Saturday night and got caught in St. Puis X’s traffic. Talk about a mass exodus. Bada bop.

    But around here the Baptists pass the Reformed churches on Sunday and shake their heads at the smokers exiting the morning service. The Reformed return the favor and shake their heads at the Baptists exiting Bob Evans.

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  4. DG: How do you spot a Christian?
    DG: Christians are people who take worship seriously

    Amen and you asked = so haft-to send Bible verses, also does “Without Sabbath Observance We Could Not Identify Christians” = r2k? 🙂

    ‘course, it can’t be that alone ….since we know wheat and tares ‘Sabbath observers’ both to grow together until the harvest Matt 13:30

    so…Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
    John 4: for an hour is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

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  5. The ugly DGH points to is in all that uber-spirituality that disdains–and even mocks–ordinary means.

    When did Jesus’ reminder of the necessity of an interior godliness to accompany outward observance, morph into a self-congratulatory Sunday On The Bay (fishing’s great)?

    In other words, don’t tell someone else to “get heart religion” if your version of piety justifies neglect of observable rigors of duty.

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  6. BruceThe ugly DGH points to is in all that uber-spirituality that disdains–and even mocks–ordinary means.When did Jesus’ reminder of the necessity of an interior godliness to accompany outward observance, morph into a self-congratulatory Sunday On The Bay (fishing’s great)?In other words, don’t tell someone else to “get heart religion” if your version of piety justifies neglect of observable rigors of duty.

    Agreed Bruce.

    or how about a self-congratulatory Sunday in church too

    As well, don’t mock and neglect speaking of the ‘heart religion’ cause that’s the only true ‘religion’…. given to us, written on our hearts, Christ in us the hope of glory . Which by the way is the only acceptable source for the ‘rigors of duty’ because the flesh cannot please God. So also nor mock and that Jesus says ‘sanctification’ won’t necessarily look like the good tree

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  7. Because it’s so trendy, American Evangelicals condemn Black Friday and any sort of commerce on Thanksgiving and Christmas while dismissing Sabbath observance as constricting and legalistic as they rush home to watch football, or head to their hunting blinds and restaurants. Good times.

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  8. and btw, the primary ‘ordinary means’ is God word, by His Spirit in us, and prayer, something I notice is consistently mocked, diminished, not emphasized despite woeful bankruptcy of them

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  9. Ali
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “or how about a self-congratulatory Sunday in church too”

    muh-hum. Because that’s currently the really big problem, right? Your once-cozy PM service is now crowded with folks eager only to “be seen” socially at worship? What planet is your church on again?

    Ps.119:136, “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” If all that matters is invisible on the inside, what does the Psalmist know or care?

    So instead of 1 thing–full churches all day on the Lord’s Day, which is the public commandment–there are 1000s of man-made pieties by which one salves his conscience; yea, many opportunities to have one’s good deeds done in secret “accidentally” exposed. Pharisaic, yup.

    The point is, no one has any idea what sort of religion lies behind the facade of the church-goer. On the other hand, neglect of the 4C is public evidence of lawlessness, Jas.1:22-25.

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  10. I thought you could identify a Christian plumber or truck driver by the way they do their job better and more sanctified than non-Christians.

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  11. Fake Ali:awww, zrim..a lowchurch gospel gal like me doesnt call em sacraments,,,silly oldlifers, pslam 38:5 crowd.

    Dear Fake Ali, oh man. you guys are something – that made my day -I’m going to comment on somethin’ around here I’m sure in a minute, but after I quit laughing so hard.
    Is that you cw?

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  12. Zrim – means of grace:the Word, prayer, sacraments, assembling as believers, probably more from the Lord

    Bruce: “or how about a self-congratulatory Sunday in church too”muh-hum. Because that’s currently the really big problem, right? Your once-cozy PM service is now crowded with folks eager only to “be seen” socially at worship? What planet is your church on again?Ps.119:136,
    “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” If all that matters is invisible on the inside, what does the Psalmist know or care?
    So instead of 1 thing–full churches all day on the Lord’s Day, which is the public commandment–there are 1000s of man-made pieties by which one salves his conscience; yea, many opportunities to have one’s good deeds done in secret “accidentally” exposed.
    Pharisaic, yup.The point is, no one has any idea what sort of religion lies behind the facade of the church-goer. On the other hand, neglect of the 4C is public evidence of lawlessness, Jas.1:22-25.

    Helllloooooo , Bruce, all that matters is what is on the inside? –please read every comment I’ve ever made here. You’re talking to the wrong person.

    And I am impressed, that though the Lord says the (remaining old) heart is deceitful above all else and that everything flows from the heart, and above all else guard the heart, it is no problem for you, you have it licked, and are concentrating on the outward only now. sheesh.

    And re Bruce:On the other hand, neglect of the 4C is public evidence of lawlessness, Jas.1:22-25. -every sin is lawlessness – 1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
    And don’t you know that :
    1 Cor 6 9that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    Gal 519 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Eph 53 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

    Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

    About now Bruce, I’m thinking your brothers are probably really sorry you brought up ‘law’ and ‘lawlessness’ with me 🙂

    PS: I am sure the Lord loves devotion to Him on Sunday

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  13. I’m sorry I thought a basic Scripture reference was the one thing that you actually listened to.

    You are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
    an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth; desiring to be teacher of the law; understanding neither what you say, nor whereof you affirm.

    Lookit you, reading my heart. This: “And I am impressed, that though the Lord says the (remaining old) heart is deceitful above all else and that everything flows from the heart, and above all else guard the heart, it is no problem for you, you have it licked, and are concentrating on the outward only now,” is pure projection.

    Who do you think you are, spewing garbage about my putative self-confidence, and where I do or should put my efforts? Psychologist you ain’t. Someone else here at OL has already commented on your lack of reading comprehension….

    Go back and read the main post. My comments–other than diversions in response to your constant dripping–are focused on the topic.

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  14. Bruce: Go back and read the main post. My comments–other than diversions in response to your constant dripping–are focused on the topic.

    Morning Bruce -thanks for the encouragement! And I did as you asked and reread the post, to see if I misunderstood. Don’t think so, same as first understanding.

    -DG’s question:How do you spot a Christian?
    -DG’s proposal: it can’ t be because they act like one out in society, nor should they always, necessarily “They don’t seem to understand a two-kingdom (read Augustinian) presentation of Christianity, one that recognizes some aspects of a believers life are religious, some are common or creational.”
    DG observes:decline of Sabbath observance may be a better indication of how to define religion and spot Christianity, as in Christians are people who take worship seriously and set aside a day for it.
    DG’s Conclusion: Without Sabbath Observance We Could Not Identify Christians

    Yet zrim proposes over in Defense of Neutrality, that we do have commands to obey, so as to make us be spotted out in the world.

    I read that great set of Scripture he brings us this am, to see all the instruction there alone ..finding that Christian credibility and witness comes from paying attention to the way they live on a day-to-day basis because non–Christians can judge us only by appearances.
    Instruction here alone: ‘excel still more (x2)…. in loving brothers; not stop working hard, just because Jesus is returning soon; always staying set apart by holy conduct; living quietly – ie leading peaceful, calm, restful, content lives, free of conflict/hostility toward others; a quiet life that also can to listen to God, get to know Him better and therefore v12 “not be in any need.”

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