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Sabbath: The Ancient Practices - eBook
Thomas Nelson / 2009 / ePub
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Does resting on the Sabbath mean to cease all activity? In his new book Dan Allender presents an insightful and fascinating look at the origins and purpose of the Sabbath day. Serving as volume three in The Ancient Practices Series, Sabbath examines the key issues of this oft-misunderstood day of the week.
This "day of delight," as instituted by God, has become a dirge for millions of believers. For many, it is simply a break from the busyness of the work week. So, what keeps us from properly understanding, sanctifying and celebrating this important day? Allender looks at not only the history of this discipline, going all the way back to ancient Israel, but also at the modern manifestations and misunderstandings of its practice. Drawing upon the Hebrew word Menuha, Allender bases his premise upon the forgotten definition for this word (best translated as joyous repose, tranquility, or delight) and what it truly means to rest.
Sabbath is the third volume in the Ancient Practice series published by Thomas Nelson, the first of which is Finding Our Way Again written by Brian McLaren. Dan Allender is the founder and president of Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle (no connection to Mars Hill Church pastored by Mark Driscoll).
Allender develops his book around three core premises: keeping the Sabbath is a commandment and thus is incumbent upon every child of God; the Sabbath is to be a day dedicated to delight; and the Sabbath is a feast day which remembers our leisure in Eden and anticipates our play in the new heavens and earth (p. xiii). It is important to note that Allender does not draw any of his premises from Scripture but rather from Jewish tradition (pp. 11-12), ancient and modern practices and rituals created and imagined by Allender and those in his mystically oriented camp.
For example, Allender claims that since Sabbath is part of the Ten Commandments Christians are to keep it. Not only does this ignore the frequent New Testament statements proclaiming us free from the Mosaic Law, but Allender also has no intention of actually following the prescribed Old Testament manner in which Sabbath was kept. Working from Deuteronomy 5:12-15, which states Sabbath as a day of rest, Allender immediately twists the passage to teach Sabbath is a day of play and celebration of creation (p. 64). At no point does the author mention, nor does he intend to apply, the many and stringent Old Covenant regulations regarding Sabbath. Instead, Allender makes an inexplicable leap from the pages of Scripture to an imaginary understanding of Sabbath as a day of pretense and delight.
In order to delight in Sabbath, Allender recommends many options from lighting candles (p. 24), smoking pipes (pp. 24, 58, 136), drinking good wine (pp. 135-136), finger painting (p. 42), taking a hike (p. 42), reading a novel (p. 78), fly fishing, even if it is an imaginary adventure on the lawn (pp. 78, 108) and eating the best of food. The only stipulation is that Sabbath must be pursued with delight: What intrigues, amazes, tickles your fancy, delights your senses and casts you into an entirely new and unlimited world is the raw material of Sabbath (p. 28).
Not only is Sabbath a day of play, it is also a day of pretense. It is a day we pretend that all is well, our enemies are not at war with us and the peace we will one day enjoy for eternity, is an eternity that utters this day on our behalf (p. 86, see also pp. 88, 108-109). Sabbath then is a fiction (p. 88) a day lived as if there was no sin (p. 88), a day of curiosity, coziness, and care (p. 89). It is a party (p. 103). We are to pretend and play on Sabbath as if the new heavens and earth were here (p. 110). Such pretense will require props which could include candles, using our finest china, or rituals such as Sabbath sex or a walk in the woods (p. 131).
In Allenders theology, the Jewish year of jubilee is also to be kept, but true to form, not as it was kept in the Old Testament (pp. 153-166). Instead it is twisted into a call for social action.
In other words, Allender has created a totally unbiblical view of the Sabbath, one that would be totally unrecognizable by Old Testament Jews as well as church age Christians. He has not drawn his concepts from Scripture, nor has he made any serious attempt to do so. He is content with the opinions of his peers, his own imagination and the direct communication that he receives supposedly from the Lord (pp. 106, 112, 141, 146, 151-152). In short Sabbath is in fact a work of fiction, not exactly the kind of fiction Allender recommends but fiction nevertheless. -- Gary Gilley, ChristianBookPreviews.com
In this reflection on the many faces of the Fourth Commandment, Allender (The Healing Path) tries to reinvigorate the Judeo-Christian idea of the Sabbath as a time of joy, celebration and holiness rather than a time for sporting events and grocery shopping. The author, who is president of Mars Hill Graduate School, urges his readers to go play in the fields of God. The book, part of the Ancient Practices series, is founded on three central ideas. The Sabbath is a commandment, not an option. It is not a minivacation but a day of delight. It is also a time for feasting, a remembrance of Eden and an anticipation of eternal life. Allender liberally sprinkles his work with personal anecdotes as he proposes a Sabbath theology that includes time, sensual glory, feasting, ritual, abundance, play and justice. While this volume may be really helpful to those readers seeking to take a fresh look at Sabbath observance, the often convoluted and confusing prose makes it a bit of a slog. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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