Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012



Sabbatarianism ‘Sabbatarianism’ is a term used to refer to any conflation of Christian and Jewish practice with respect to the observance of a weekly day of rest. Historically, this takes two main forms: first, the belief that Christians should honour the Jewish sabbath (viz., Saturday) rather than Sunday as their weekly day of rest; second, a scrupulous observance of Sunday as a day of rest and worship to the exclusion of all other activity.

The former type of sabbatarianism was defended by some Transylvanian Socinians in the sixteenth century (see Socinianism) and some English and American Baptists from the seventeenth century; it is today most widely practised by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (see Adventism). Its proponents look both to the Ten Commandments, which explicitly name Saturday as the day of rest (Exod. 20:8–11; Deut. 5:12–15), and to Jesus' own practice of sabbath observance (e.g., Luke 4:16). Their opponents point out that Christian observance of Sunday, as the day of Jesus' resurrection, has been the normative practice of Christians from the earliest times, with clear roots in the NT (e.g., the reference to ‘the Lord's day’ in Rev. 1:10; Paul's designation of ‘the first day of the week’ for making offerings in 1 Cor. 16:2).

Scrupulous observance of the Sunday sabbath is historically associated with English-speaking Reformed Christianity, with its stress on the formal replacement of Saturday by Sunday as the divinely instituted sabbath – with all of its attendant obligations (see, e.g., WC 20.7).

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Boeve, L. and Leijssen, L., Sacramental Presence in a Postmodern Context (Peeters, 2001).
Brown, D., God and Grace of Body: Sacrament in Ordinary (Oxford University Press, 2007).
Chauvet, L. -M., Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence (Liturgical Press, 1995 [1987]).
Marion, J. -L., God without Being: Hors-Texte (University of Chicago Press, 1995 [1991]).
Osborne, K. B., Christian Sacraments in a Postmodern World: A Theology for the Third Millennium (Paulist Press, 2000).
Rowell, G. and Hall, C., The Gestures of God: Explorations in Sacramentality (Continuum, 2004).
Daly, R. J., The Origins of the Christian Doctrine of Sacrifice (Fortress Press, 1978).
Stevenson, K. W., Eucharist and Offering (Pueblo, 1986).
Sykes, S. W., ed., Sacrifice and Redemption: Durham Essays in Theology (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
Young, F., Sacrifice and the Death of Christ (SPCK, 1975).
Brown, P., The Cult of the Saints in Later Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press, 1999).
Kennedy, V. L., The Saints of the Canon of the Mass, second revised edn (Pontificio Istituto de Archeologia Cristiana, 1963).
Post, W. E., Saints, Signs, and Symbols, second edn (Morehouse, 1974).
Walsh, M., A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West (Liturgical Press, 2007).
Woodward, K. L., Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't, and Why (Simon & Schuster, 1990).
Frei, H. W., The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics (Yale University Press, 1974).
Pannenberg, W., ‘Redemptive Event and History’ in Basic Questions in Theology (Fortress Press, 1970 [1967]), 1.15–80.
Athanasius, , On the Incarnation (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1978).
Dayton, D. W., Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Francis Asbury, 1987).
Runyon, T., ed., Sanctification and Liberation: Liberation Theologies in Light of the Wesleyan Tradition (Abingdon Press, 1981).
Tamez, E., The Amnesty of Grace: Justification by Faith from a Latin American Perspective (Abingdon Press, 1993).
Wesley, J., ‘Sermon 40: On Christian Perfection’ and ‘Sermon 92: On Zeal’ in The Works of John Wesley, vol. III, Sermons III (Abingdon Press, 1986).
Yoder, J. H., The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster (Eerdmans, 1972).
Hilkert, M. C. and Schreiter, R. J., eds., The Praxis of the Reign of God: An Introduction to the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx (Fordham University Press, 2002).
Kennedy, P., Schillebeeckx (Liturgical Press, 1993).
Mariña, J., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Tice, T. N., Schleiermacher (Abingdon Press, 2006).
Peiter, H., Schleiermacher's Christian Ethics (Wipf and Stock, 2008).
Dierkes, H., Tice, T. N., and Virmond, W., eds., Schleiermacher, Romanticism and the Critical Arts (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008).
Asselt, W. J. and Dekker, E., eds., Reformation and Scholasticism: An Ecumenical Enterprise (Baker Academic, 2001).
Pieper, J., Scholasticism: Personalities and Problems of Medieval Philosophy (Pantheon Books, 1960).
Cameron, N. M. de al., eds., Dictionary of Scottish Church History & Theology (T&T Clark, 1993).
Macleod, J., Scottish Theology in Relation to Church History since the Reformation (John Knox Press, 1943).
Torrance, T. F., Scottish Theology: From John Knox to John McLeod Campbell (T&T Clark, 1996).
Childs, B. S., Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (SCM, 1979).
Frei, H. W., The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics (Yale University Press, 1974).
Kelsey, D. H., Proving Doctrine: The Uses of Scripture in Modern Theology (Trinity, 1999 [1975]).
Ricœur, P., Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences: Essays on Language, Action and Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 1981).
Watson, F., Text and Truth: Redefining Biblical Theology (T&T Clark, 1997).
Webster, J., Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
Berger, P. L., Sacks, al., The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Eerdmans, 1999).
Bruce, S., A House Divided: Protestantism, Schism, and Secularization (Routledge, 1990).
MacIntyre, A. C., Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (University of Notre Dame Press, 1989).
Stefano, F., The Absolute Value of Human Action in the Theology of Juan Luis Segundo (University Press of America, 1992).
Aquinas, T., Summa theologiae2/2.35–6, 118, 132, 148, 153, 158, 162.
Aquinas, T., De Malo8–15.
B. Cole, O. P., The Hidden Enemies of the Priesthood (Alba House, 2007).
Torre, M., A Lily among the Thorns: Imagining a New Christian Sexuality (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
Douglas, K. B., Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective (Orbis, 1999).
Grenz, S. J., Sexual Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Word, 1990).
Gudorf, C. E., Body, Sex, and Pleasure: Reconstructing Christian Sexual Ethics (Pilgrim, 1994).
Jordan, M., The Ethics of Sex (Blackwell, 2002).
Thielicke, H., The Ethics of Sex (Harper & Row, 1964).
Barth, K., Church Dogmatics (T&T Clark, 1956–8), IV/1–2.
Jones, S., Feminist Theory and Christian Theology: Cartographies of Grace (Fortress Press, 2000).
Kelsey, D. H., ‘Whatever Happened to the Doctrine of Sin?’, Theology Today 50:2 (1993), 169–78.
McFadyen, A., Bound to Sin: Abuse, Holocaust and the Christian Doctrine of Sin (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
McFarland, I., ‘The Fall and Sin’ in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology, ed. Webster, J., Tanner, K., and Torrance, I. (Oxford University Press, 2007), 140–59.
Williams, R., ‘Sin and Evil’ in Christian Theology: An Introduction to Its Traditions and Tasks, ed. Hodgson, P. C. and King, R. H., updated edn (Fortress Press, 1994), 168–95.
Stăniloae, D., ‘The Holy Spirit and the Sobornicity of the Church’ in Theology and the Church (St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980), 45–72.
Turcescu, L., ‘Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?’ in Dumitru Stăniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology, ed. Turcescu, L. (Center for Romanian Studies, 2002), 83–103.
Curtis, S., A Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel and Modern American Culture (University of Missouri Press, 1991).
Dorrien, G., The Making of American Liberal Theology, 3 vols. (John Knox Press, 2001–6).
Handy, R. T., ed., The Social Gospel in America, 1870–1939 (Oxford University Press, 1966).
Hopkins, C. H., The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865–1915 (Yale University Press, 1940).
Luker, R. E., The Social Gospel in Black and White: American Racial Reform, 1885–1912 (University of North Carolina Press, 1991).
Pinnock, S. K., ed., The Theology of Dorothee Soelle (Trinity Press International, 2003).
Soelle, D., Suffering (Fortress Press, 1984).
Augustine, , On the Predestination of the Saints, in Basic Writings of Saint Augustine, vol. I (Random House, 1948), 777–817.
Balthasar, H. U., Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory, vol. IV: The Action (Ignatius Press, 1994).
Luther, M., The Freedom of a Christian, in Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings, 2nd edn (Fortress Press, 2005), 386–411.
Moltmann, J., The Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions (HarperCollins, 1990).
Morse, C., ‘Salvation’ in Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief, 2nd edn (T&T Clark, 2009), 225–55.
Ruether, R. R., Sexism and God-Talk (Beacon Press, 1983).
Green, J. B., Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (Baker Academic, 2008).
Murphy, N., Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Wright, J. P. and Potter, P., eds., Psyche and Soma: Physicians and Metaphysicians on the Mind–Body Problem from Antiquity to Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2000).
Abeyasingha, N., The Radical Tradition: The Changing Shape of Theological Reflection in Sri Lanka (Ecumenical Institute, 1985).
Boyd, R., An Introduction to Indian Christian Theology (ISPCK, 1989).
England, J. al., eds., Asian Christian Theologies: A Research Guide to Authors, Movements, Sources (Orbis, 2002).
Kim, S. C. H., ed., Christian Theology in Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
Sugirtharajah, R. S., ed., Frontiers in Asian Christian Theology: Emerging Trends (Orbis, 1994).
Balthasar, H. U., Explorations in Theology, vol. I: The Word Made Flesh (Ignatius Press, 1989).
Holder, A., ed., The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality (Blackwell, 2005).
McGinn, B., The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, 4 vols. (Herder and Herder, 1994–2005).
Sheldrake, P., ed., The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (John Knox Press, 2005).
Stolz, A., The Doctrine of Spiritual Perfection (Herder and Herder, 2001).
Smit, D., ‘A Status Confessionis in South Africa’, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 47 (1984), 21–46.
TeSelle, E., ‘How Do We Recognize a Status Confessionis?’, Theology Today 45:1 (April 1988), 71–8.
Haight, R., Jesus: Symbol of God (Orbis, 1999).
Joseph, H. P., Logos-Symbol in the Christology of Karl Rahner (Libreria Ateneo Salesiano, 1984).
Brock, S., Fire from Heaven: Studies in Syriac Theology and Liturgy (Ashgate, 2006).
Chesnut, R. C., Three Monophysite Christologies: Severus of Antioch, Philoxenus of Mabbug, and Jacob of Serugh (Oxford University Press, 1976).
Lebon, Mgr J., ‘La Christologie du monophysitisme syrien’, in Das Konzil von Chalkedon: Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. I: Der Glaube von Chalkedon (Echter-Verlag, 1951), 425–580.
Murray, R., Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition, revised edn (T&T Clark, 2006).
Frei, H., Types of Christian Theology (Yale University Press, 1992).
Lash, N., The Beginning and the End of ‘Religion’ (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Pannenberg, W., Theology and the Philosophy of Science (Westminster Press, 1976).
Ritschl, D., The Logic of Theology (SCM, 1986).
Tanner, K., Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (Fortress Press, 1997).
Williams, R., On Christian Theology (Blackwell, 2000).