It seems there are quite a few Christian leaders (Warren, Driscoll) and Pajama Pages commentators who are arguing that because we can’t be sure that the Sabbath is really supposed to be on Sunday, or even that it’s supposed to be celebrated weekly, that we can observe it on any old day of the week. While I think there’s a Biblical argument to be made for a Sunday Sabbath, let’s just look at the issue from a cultural perspective and ask whether it’s such a grand idea to be ditching Sundays.
An important goal of the modern church, especially the Turnstile Church, is to be culturally relevant. I assume the ultimate outcome of cultural relevance is to make culture more like the church, rather than make the church more like culture. Perhaps that assumption is mistaken, but where might you say the church has been most sucessful in shaping secular culture? I would say it is in defining and protecting the Sabbath.
Most people the world over understand that Sunday is a day for worship, rest and recreation. Even though not all use the day for worship, you could talk to most unsaved folk and they would tell you that Sunday is a special day for Christian worship. You can see elements of this understanding in efforts by parents to send their children to church on Sundays, even though they may not attend themselves.
The heavy emphasis on televised sports (especially NFL, MLB, and NASCAR) on Sunday afternoons reflects the day’s special status as a day of rest. Even though the day is not what it used to be and is now highly commercialized, there is still a strong cultural gravitation towards rest on Sundays. Reduced trading hours and blue laws are also artifacts of the culture’s special regard for Sunday.
I would argue that the church has established a very strong cultural beachhead when it comes to honoring the Sabbath as a day of rest. Even though many people stay home, most Americans know that Sunday is God’s day.
I think there’s tremendous ground to be lost when some neoCalvinists and Turnstilers throw up their hands and say that they don’t know if the Sabbath is supposed to be exactly on Sunday, so let’s just do church whenever. For now, our culture continues to preserve and respect Sunday as a special day of worship. If Christians abandon it, we lose any claim on the day at all. We strip the day of whatever sacred cultural value it still has, as well as the church’s special cultural time, and clumsily plop the church down in the middle of all the other mundane cacophonous cultural forces competing for our attention and allegiance.
If you were trying to build a strong cultural movement, to abandon what you’ve already won seems rather illogical. The sacred Sabbath is one area of common ground where our culture understands and respects the church. We should embrace that and build on it.
Although it’s not a scriptural argument, it is an argument.