Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sabbath Debate After-Report

On Sunday March 25, 2007, Patrick Donahue ( and I debated the resolution, “The Sabbath is no longer binding for believers.” Pat of course took the affirmative position and I took the negative (double-negative?) position. We should have the audio up on the HebrewRoot site soon for those who are interested.

I have to confess that this was the first public debate that I’ve been in since college; all of my other debates have been informal affairs online. I am very grateful to Pat for the opportunity, as well as to all of those who came to support us from both synagogue and church. And finally, I’m grateful to Rabbi Gavri’el for his support in putting on the debate.

As always in such a format, there were arguments that I simply didn’t get around to addressing or which I had to address so briefly that I’m not sure the audience picked up on it; there were also missed opportunities, thrusts and ripostes that occurred to me only after the debate. I’m sure Pat would say the same. Nevertheless, I’ve been told that I did a fine job of defending my position. Many of my arguments have appeared on this blog and on already; others will be appearing soon.

Pat’s strategy was to attempt to establish that the Sabbath was part of the “Old Law” and that the Law had been done away with. Many of his arguments have been refuted on HebrewRoot; others I have yet to write articles for. He opened with a very rapid-fire presentation designed to put me on the defensive and leave me scrambling to just keep up with trying to counter his arguments, without any time left to really present my own. As a result, I countered what I felt were the essential arguments and ignored others while I built up my own argument.

My position hinged on three main thrusts: 1) Yeshua kept the Sabbath as well as the whole Torah, and commanded us to do the same (Mat. 5:17-19); 2) the Apostles likewise keep the Sabbath and the Torah; and 3) so why then should we who are saved by grace not follow their example? I also showed from Hebrews 4 that we are indeed told in the NT that there still is a “Sabbath-keeping” on the seventh day for the people of God and showed from Isaiah (56:2-7 and 66:23) that the “foreigners,” the Gentiles, were called to keep the Sabbaths and Rosh Chodeshim (New Moons).

As always in such public debates, opinions will doubtless vary on who won. I’m sure Pat would agree with me that if we inspired those watching and listening to thought and to digging into their Bibles for themselves, that G-d was the true winner here. As it should be.


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