Why has the church lost its appreciation for the Sabbath?
I think one of the temptations of American evangelical Christianity—borne out of something fundamentally good, namely our desire to see the church revived and our desire to see the church involved in evangelism and missions—has gotten persuaded, in our time particularly, that the way to advance evangelism is to pursue minimalist Christianity. “What is the absolute least we need to know and believe and require of people to make them Christians?”
I understand the motive behind that. In some ways you can say the motive is praiseworthy. But it’s a fundamental betrayal of the Great Commission.
The Great Commission was not, “Figure out the minimum number of things you can say about me and get people to believe those.” The Great Commission was, “Teach them to obey all things I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). There’s maximalism to the Great Commission.
I think part of the church’s abandonment of the Sabbath was to make life easier for evangelism. And then, when you start to make things easier, suddenly everybody wants things easier.
One of the most dismaying things that has happened in recent decades is the abandonment of the second service on the Sabbath day by churches far and wide. Can it really be good for Christians to go to church half the time? Can it really be good to hear half the number of sermons that you used to hear?
Now, I have heard sermons where I had thought to myself, “I wish I could hear half of that.” But in principle, to think that we are better off with less time in fellowship with the people of God, less time in prayer, less time in study, and less time listening to the Word of God just is so self-evidently wrong that it makes me mad.
Lightly edited for readability, this is a transcript of W. Robert Godfrey's answer given at our 2016 National Conference. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.