there has been an interesting debate (if we can call it that) in some of the bigger pomo and anti-pomo blogs as of late about the nature of the sabbath, and why and whether we ought to celebrate it.
i have long felt that “church on sunday” has become almost an idol in itself, and the way we treat it, as if thou musteth attend on sunday morning were a salvation issue(1).
some churches even include regular attendance as compulsory — that one must attend in order to remain a member of that congregation.
this strikes me as setting up rules where jesus did not — a thing i have tried to be very careful about ever since i started taking this faith-thing seriously.
even in the most romanized books attributed to paul(2), where “paul” is at his most draconian we don’t see such rules.
and the real paul, as Jeremy Pierce at Parableman points out, was apparently against setting aside any day as “special” at all.
this is in line with what paul was all about: freedom. freedom from the old laws that brought death, not life. freedom from the roman empire (real peace, not pax). freedom, because of the work of god on the human heart, to be what it is one is really designed to be.
it seems very un-paul, and indeed very un-christian, to then turn around an apply the importance that we have to a “worship service”.
now, meeting together is important. we were not designed to do this thing alone, be it school, marriage, life, or faith.
but i believe we’ve allowed the cart to get ahead of the horse on this issue.
(1) salvation issue: this is a weird phrase, isn’t it? where did we come up with such a phrase? what, exactly, is a salvation issue? is it something that costs us our salvation? doesn’t paul tell us, rather clearly, that nothing can separate us from the love of god? jesus comes right out and says that if we forgive others, god forgives us — so how do we, then, turn around and talk about stuff as if it can take that away?
(2) i’ll go on record as saying that i believe only about half of the books that are said to be written by paul actually were. i think john dominic crossan, in his book “in search of paul” makes a very compelling case against pauline authorship of several of the “later” books, both from archeology and from studying the texts themselves. rather than go into it here where i have neither internet access nor the book in front of me, let it suffice for now that it seems some books were forged in paul’s name in order to “tone down” paul’s freedom message. he was preaching “dangerous” ideas, such as equality of men and women, freedom for slaves and these ideas were getting in the way of christianity being accepted by the upper-class roman citizens (though women and slaves were converting in droves, for obvious reasons).