Question about Martin Luther

pythons

Active member
Disclaimer: I am Roman Catholic.

Now, that that's out of the way I have a question about Martin Luther's teaching about the 3rd Commandment (the Sabbath).

I'm having a discussion with a nondenominational Christian who claims (and in all honesty appears) to have some extensive knowledge of Martin Luther's Works (at least the ones that have been translated into English). This person has asserted that Martin Luther believed that that Adam was trained in the Holy Sabbath and subsequently his children who trained their children about the Sabbath so that "Abraham" kept the true Sabbath holy as did all the righteous men and women prior to Abraham.

From my limited knowledge of Martin Luther's writings I was under the impression that Luther believed ANY DAY could be the Sabbath and that the natural law of setting aside time for worship is MORAL or NATURAL and therefore when the Sabbath was enjoined on Israel at the time of Moses the timing part of observing Sabbath on a particular day was part of the "ceremonial law" therefore Abraham, Noah, etc. wouldn't have observed the equivalent of a Gregorian Saturday cycling through time all the way back to the creation event.

Essentially what this person I'm talking with has implied is that observing the Sabbath on Saturday IS A MORAL LAW because it was carved in stone by the finger of God and placed inside the ark of the covenant. Because of this the Sabbath can't be observed on any day other than Saturday.

I reached out to a couple of Lutheran Seminaries who were kind enough to respond to me (Professors of Luther History and Scripture) who said Martin Luther believed the true Sabbath before Moses and after Christ is any time someone stops to hear the word of God and that the True Sabbath isn't a particular day (because one day is just as good as another) below is a short summary of what I was told by the Lutheran Professor

Lutheran Professor:
(The Sabbath) is an entirely external matter, like the other ordinances of the Old Testament connected with particular customs, persons, times and places, from all of which we are now set free through Christ...



This (the Sabbath), I say, is not restricted to a particular time, as it was among the Jews, when it had to be precisely this or that day, for in itself no one day is better than another. Actually, there should be worship daily; however, since this is more than the common people can do, at least one day in the week must be set apart for it.

I think I understand what the Professor said - i.e. the Jews had a "particular time" they were ordered to observe the Sabbath and this instruction as to the day did not proceed Moses. Obviously Christ fulfilled the ceremonial aspects of the Law but this isn't my question.

Has anyone heard that Luther's teaching was that Adam kept the true [Saturday] Sabbath and this knowledge was passed down through time until the Children of Israel were enslaved and forgot about it?

Thanks




 
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BJ Bear

Well-known member
Disclaimer: I am Roman Catholic.

Now, that that's out of the way I have a question about Martin Luther's teaching about the 3rd Commandment (the Sabbath).
Luther wrote a lot but his basic sum of the matter and how he thought best for the head of the household to teach the household, including kids, can be found in the [Small] Catechism.

"The Third Commandment
05 Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.

06 What does this mean? — Answer.
We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it." https://bookofconcord.org/small-catechism/part-i/commandment-iii/
I'm having a discussion with a nondenominational Christian who claims (and in all honesty appears) to have some extensive knowledge of Martin Luther's Works (at least the ones that have been translated into English). This person has asserted that Martin Luther believed that that Adam was trained in the Holy Sabbath and subsequently his children who trained their children about the Sabbath so that "Abraham" kept the true Sabbath holy as did all the righteous men and women prior to Abraham.
It seems to me that your discussion partner is equivocating on the word sabbath in this regard. To quote Christ, "The sabbath [rest] was made for man, not man for the sabbath [rest]," Mark 2:27. So when Luther refers to Adam and the fathers observing the sabbath he is referring to the rest of God, rather than the type of rest later enjoined upon the Israelites.

Luther did speculate, for example, that even if Adam had remained sinless he would have observed the sabbath, in Paradise, see LW/AE, v. 1, pg. 79-80
From my limited knowledge of Martin Luther's writings I was under the impression that Luther believed ANY DAY could be the Sabbath and that the natural law of setting aside time for worship is MORAL or NATURAL and therefore when the Sabbath was enjoined on Israel at the time of Moses the timing part of observing Sabbath on a particular day was part of the "ceremonial law" therefore Abraham, Noah, etc. wouldn't have observed the equivalent of a Gregorian Saturday cycling through time all the way back to the creation event.
Luther rightly asserted that Moses in the creation account does not mention man nor does Moses imply that the sabbath was commanded to man at that time. ibid.
Essentially what this person I'm talking with has implied is that observing the Sabbath on Saturday IS A MORAL LAW because it was carved in stone by the finger of God and placed inside the ark of the covenant. Because of this the Sabbath can't be observed on any day other than Saturday.
You may already know this, or it may be more information than you want to know, but if a person today were to observe the law given through Moses regarding the sabbath [rest] on the seventh day then that person would rarely observe It on a Saturday. This is because the current solar calendar and the Hebrew lunar calendar would often not be in sync.
I reached out to a couple of Lutheran Seminaries who were kind enough to respond to me (Professors of Luther History and Scripture) who said Martin Luther believed the true Sabbath before Moses and after Christ is any time someone stops to hear the word of God and that the True Sabbath isn't a particular day (because one day is just as good as another) below is a short summary of what I was told by the Lutheran Professor



I think I understand what the Professor said - i.e. the Jews had a "particular time" they were ordered to observe the Sabbath and this instruction as to the day did not proceed Moses. Obviously Christ fulfilled the ceremonial aspects of the Law but this isn't my question.

Has anyone heard that Luther's teaching was that Adam kept the true [Saturday] Sabbath and this knowledge was passed down through time until the Children of Israel were enslaved and forgot about it?

Thanks
No, because Adam and the fathers, according to Luther, would have observed the rest of God from His work rather than the rest later enjoined upon man. A rest from their work which was patterned after God's rest from His work.
 
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pythons

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Thanks BJ Bear! I appreciate your thorough and articulate answer. I'm finally at peace with my question.
 
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Nic

Well-known member
Thanks BJ Bear! I appreciate your thorough and articulate answer. I'm finally at peace with my question.
Gosh BJ Bear beat me to it.... Not! 😆
I had in mind such a simple response that I thought I leave it to someone that would do your query justice.
 

pythons

Active member
All good LOL, thanks Nic!

I suspect the person I was talking with at the other forum didn't realize that Luther's understanding / definition of the Sabbath wasn't the same as a 20th century Sabbatarian's so when he saw those statements Martin Luther had made about the Sabbath he automatically assumed if you wound the calendar back to the days of Enoch, Abraham, etc. that the Sabbath then would have coincided exactly with todays Saturday found on the Gregorian Calendar.

That was the part we got into somewhat of a BEEF over - I had taken the position that the true Sabbath for Enoch & Abraham wouldn't have been on the same day it was for the Israelites because the Israelites were the ones who the "particular day" was given to for observance of the Sabbath.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
It seems to me that your discussion partner is equivocating on the word sabbath in this regard. To quote Christ, "The sabbath [rest] was made for man, not man for the sabbath [rest]," Mark 2:27. So when Luther refers to Adam and the fathers observing the sabbath he is referring to the rest of God, rather than the type of rest later enjoined upon the Israelites.
How can this be when the passage you cite from Mark is explicitly referring to the seventh day of the week?
A rest from their work which was patterned after God's rest from His work.
Which explicitly occurred on the seventh day of the week.

Paul also points out that we should endeavor to be in agreement and get along with people if at all possible, so why not keep the Sabbath so as to get along with our Jewish brethren?
 

pythons

Active member
.....Not a Seventh Day Adventist, but someone simply "nondenominational"? That's interesting.

I thought the person was but he said no and said he was a nondenominational Christian. The discussion took place on a Seventh Day Adventist discussion forum however. I suspected that he was one but left yet retained some denominationally distinctive ideas. That the Sabbath was enjoined upon mankind at the creation and perpetually cycled throughout time so that todays Gregorian Saturday would coincide with the original Sabbath is definitely an SDA idea.
 

Tertiumquid

Active member
I thought the person was but he said no and said he was a nondenominational Christian. The discussion took place on a Seventh Day Adventist discussion forum however. I suspected that he was one but left yet retained some denominationally distinctive ideas. That the Sabbath was enjoined upon mankind at the creation and perpetually cycled throughout time so that todays Gregorian Saturday would coincide with the original Sabbath is definitely an SDA idea.
Interesting.

FYI, Luther wrote a treatise entitled, “Against the Sabbatarians." That may be worth you taking a look at if you're continuing in discussion with this person.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
As a matter of disclosure "shnarkle" is an anti-Trinitarian.
False. I actually found a way to reconcile the idea of Trinitarian versus strict monotheism. I've posted on the subject numerous times, even posting threads on the subject.
This poster is not the individual I was having the Luther discussion with - it's on a totally separate forum. shnarkle can be observed disagreeing with the Trinity doctrine here: https://forums.carm.org/threads/why-cant-trinitarians-say-we-worship-3-gods.6063/page-2#post-405340
I only disagree with a particular articulation, i.e. "one god in three persons". However I wholeheartedly agree with the articulation found in the creed, e.g. "one in being with the father". So again, you're spreading lies.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Thanks BJ Bear! I appreciate your thorough and articulate answer. I'm finally at peace with my question.
You're welcome.

Just to be clear for all the passers by,, we're only discussing Luther's opinion and speculation based on Scripture rather than a scriptural doctrine or teaching.
 

pythons

Active member
Below are those Martin Luther quotes the nondenominational individual posted.





"Thus Abraham was observant and waited for the commands of the Lord, also for the commands that pertained to morals. At the same time he observed the Decalog, the rite of the Sabbath, and the law of circumcision."

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 5: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 26-30. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 5, p. 20). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

"It follows, therefore, from this passage that if Adam had remained in the state of innocence, he nevertheless would have held the seventh day sacred. That is, on this day he would have given his descendants instructions about the will and worship of God; he would have praised God; he would have given thanks; he would have sacrificed, etc. On the other days he would have tilled his fields and tended his cattle. Indeed, even after the Fall he kept this seventh day sacred; that is, on this day he instructed his family, of which the sacrifices of his sons Cain and Abel give the proof. Therefore from the beginning of the world the Sabbath was intended for the worship of God."

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 79–80). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

"Therefore although man lost his knowledge of God, nevertheless God wanted this command about sanctifying the Sabbath to remain in force. On the seventh day He wanted men to busy themselves both with His Word and with the other forms of worship established by Him, so that we might give first thought to the fact that this nature was created chiefly for acknowledging and glorifying God."

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 80). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

To my understanding the poster acknowledges that Luther was against Christians "keeping the Sabbath" as did the Jews. What the poster is claiming was that Martin Luther believed (taught) - that, PRIOR TO the Jews receiving the Sabbath Commandment at the time of Moses that Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. all kept the rite of the Sabbath and that this means that the 7th day Sabbath in the time of Enoch, Adam & Eve, Noah, etc. was the IDENTICAL (same) 7th day as enjoined on the Children of Israel.

From what little I know of Luther's works I am under the impression that Luther believed that the Moral Law of God pre-existed the Children of Israel and that it was only at the time of Moses that God appointed Israel to "observe a particular day" and prior to Moses anyone could have observed the Sabbath on ANY DAY within the week. The poster who provided these posts is claiming that Luther believed the True Sabbath in Enoch's day was the same exact day that a Gregorian Calendar Saturday is on.

All in all it was a pretty odd conversation but interesting to be sure.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
How can this be when the passage you cite from Mark is explicitly referring to the seventh day of the week?
We are understanding the passage differently. The sabbath came into being for man rather than man for the sabbath. When did the sabbath come into being for man?

If a person tries to tie the sabbath to seventh day of the week starting from the days of creation it isn't going to work mathematically or religiously. It isn't going to work mathematically because each year of the Israelite lunar calendar has days left over that need to be accounted for. The seventh day of the week is going to shift from year to year.

It also doesn't work religiously because the order of the year for the Israelites was established in the days of Moses. "This month shall be [or is] unto you the beginning of months: it shall be [or is] the first month of the year to you." Exodus 12:2 - KJV

Which explicitly occurred on the seventh day of the week.

Paul also points out that we should endeavor to be in agreement and get along with people if at all possible, so why not keep the Sabbath so as to get along with our Jewish brethren?
Colossians 2:1-17.
 

pythons

Active member
Interesting.

FYI, Luther wrote a treatise entitled, “Against the Sabbatarians." That may be worth you taking a look at if you're continuing in discussion with this person.

I downloaded that document and another called "Against the Heavenly Prophets". I enjoyed reading both of them. The primary issue or disagreement I was having with the other person was his insistence that Luther believed Enoch, Noah, Abraham and others (long prior to Moses) observed the "rite of the Sabbath" and that this Sabbath they observed was on the same day as Saturday on our Gregorian Calendar. I was told it would be "preposterous" to suggest that the Sabbath Enoch observed was on a different day than Saturday on our Gregorian Calendar.

This is the part I was not agreeing with.

Thanks again for the tips on the reading material!
 

pythons

Active member
Shnarkle: False. I actually found a way to reconcile the idea of Trinitarian versus strict monotheism. I've posted on the subject numerous times, even posting threads on the subject.

That doesn't appear to be what you said below at the link I earlier provided.

Shnarkle:
I was brought up believing in the Trinity so I can see your point. Even though I was taught that there is only one God, I believed the father, son and holy Spirit were three distinct persons, and all divine. So even though I professed in one God, I perceived three distinct divine personages.

While I no longer believe in this doctrine, I do still see some value in the doctrine. I just see that it needs to evolve. For example, one of my favorite analogies is Polarity which is one, but requires two poles and the relationship between them. This is a far better analogy than anything I've ever seen anyone else ever come up with. The problem is that it doesn't present three distinct entities or anything similar to three distinct personages. However, I think this spotlights just where traditional ideas of the trinity fail. They see the spirit as a person instead of God's power.

You've articulated the Mormon godhead. They also believe (prior to the Jesus coming to earth) that the Father was a "Person" with flesh bones, organs, members and parts. As was the case with Jesus and Lucifer. The SDA's were even more explicit that the Father, Michael & Lucifer the archangels were all hominid flesh, bone, organ and members, all the functional parts of a perfect human man. This isn't Trinitarian.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
We are understanding the passage differently. The sabbath came into being for man rather than man for the sabbath. When did the sabbath come into being for man?
The day after man was created.
If a person tries to tie the sabbath to seventh day of the week starting from the days of creation it isn't going to work mathematically or religiously. It isn't going to work mathematically because each year of the Israelite lunar calendar has days left over that need to be accounted for. The seventh day of the week is going to shift from year to year.
I'm not following your argument. Could you provide some actual evidence to support this claim? I see how the feast days can change, but I've never heard of anyone claiming the seventh day Sabbath shifts.
It also doesn't work religiously because the order of the year for the Israelites was established in the days of Moses. "This month shall be [or is] unto you the beginning of months: it shall be [or is] the first month of the year to you." Exodus 12:2 - KJV
Still not following how you come to your conclusion that the weekly Sabbath shifts. I've never seen this happen anywhere. I've seen the feast days shift, but never the weekly Sabbath. I see no reason why any of the days of the week would need to shift according to your theory. I know of no examples of this historically, religiously or mathematically. The calendar can shift without the necessity of shifting the days of the week. Fourteen days after the first new moon after the spring equinox gives us the day of preparation (aka Passover). The days of the week need not change to accommodate the monthly or yearly calendar.
 

pythons

Active member
Shnarkle,

Considers those who eat BLT's and shrimp cocktails akin to a man buggering another man - he says God hates His followers eating those nasty and blasphemous things.


Discussing things with this guy is going down a never ending gopher hole.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
The day after man was created.

I'm not following your argument. Could you provide some actual evidence to support this claim? I see how the feast days can change, but I've never heard of anyone claiming the seventh day Sabbath shifts.

Still not following how you come to your conclusion that the weekly Sabbath shifts. I've never seen this happen anywhere. I've seen the feast days shift, but never the weekly Sabbath. I see no reason why any of the days of the week would need to shift according to your theory. I know of no examples of this historically, religiously or mathematically. The calendar can shift without the necessity of shifting the days of the week. Fourteen days after the first new moon after the spring equinox gives us the day of preparation (aka Passover). The days of the week need not change to accommodate the monthly or yearly calendar.
There are sites which explain the Israelite lunar calendar, but to illustrate the matter considering the following.

The measure of days are equidistant (24hours) and seven days comprise a week. Three hundred and sixty five days is not evenly divisible by seven days. So both in the Israelite lunar calendar and in our current solar calendar the day shifts every year.

For example, using January first on our current solar calendar each year that date, like all other dates on the calendar, occurs on a different day from year to year. It cycles through the days of the week.

In a similar manner, there are left over days at the end of each year in the Israelite calendar. This is so because their year begins at a particular time that is a fixed lunar event and the distance between that annual event is not divisible by seven days, therefore, for the new year to start each year on that particular event or day the cycle of seven days is broken.

So regardless of when a person reckons the sabbath to be made for man our Saturday, our seventh day, is going to shift from and to that fixed day on which it is reckoned as it annually cycles through the days of the week.
 
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shnarkle

Well-known member
Shnarkle,

Considers those who eat BLT's and shrimp cocktails akin to a man buggering another man - he says God hates His followers eating those nasty and blasphemous things.
Correct. In both cases, the biblical god states they are "abominations". The biblical god states that eating any unclean thing is "an abomination". Likewise, he says the same thing for sodomy.
 
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