Part Five — Transcript

Copyright © 2003 LLT Productions

 

ROGER WILLIAMS DRAMATIZATION, PART A

 

Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1636

“Mary Williams”

Tom Miller! Lands sake. Come in, come in. Let’s get those wet things off before you freeze to death.

“Tom Miller”

The governor sent me. It's a matter of great urgency. I must speak with your husband.

“Mary Williams”

He’s not well, Tom, but I know he’ll want to see you. Come over by the fire.

(To Roger)

Roger, you must wake up. “Tom Miller” is here from Gov. Winthrop.

“Roger Williams”

Tom Miller, aren't you a sight for sore eyes. What brings you all the way from Boston on a night like this?

“Tom Miller”

The governor sent me, sir. I’ve ridden the whole way with no rest, but it’s a matter of great urgency. Mr. Winthrop sends word of great danger for you. The magistrates want to send you to England. They’ve dispatched Captain Underhill and his men to take you by surprise.

“Roger Williams”

So my high and mighty judges…they are not content with banishing me from the colony. Do they not know that I am a sick man?

(To Mary)

Mary, some of that special tea, please.

(To Tom)

I would offer you some, but it is a rather bitter concoction. I was taught it by the wild Americans – the barbarians, as the Christians like to call them. And yet we are the ones who have stolen their birthright and occupied their homeland. And we call them barbarians.

(To Mary)

Thank you, dear.

“Mary Williams”

I’ve got something for you too, Tom.

“Roger Williams”

So, it seems as though they are afraid I will find refuge in this wilderness and raise an army of malcontents and nonconformists. This is now their plan for my future. It’s the dead of winter and they want to send me on a ship back to England.

“Tom Miller”

Perhaps England would be a welcome change. More civilized and all.

“Roger Williams”

Civilized, you say? Let me tell you what going back to England means. Going back to England means falling into the merciful hands of the Archbishop William Laud. I can well remember how civilized he was when he condemned Alexander Leighton for following his own conscience.

“Tom Miller”

Leighton?

“Roger Williams”

You’ve not heard of him? As fine a Christian as walked. In civilized England, William Laud—in Christian kindness, you can be sure—condemned him to thirty-six stripes across his naked back, to have his ears cut off and his nose split and his face branded. Then our Christian friend had him pilloried in the frost and snow.

I suppose my crimes are worse than his. I am to be hounded from my home and family. For standing in support of freedom. For preaching the gospel of liberty. And for upholding the rights of every man, even the Indian.

“Tom Miller”, thank you for bringing me this news. Go to the governor and thank him for his warning. Tell him I am not for England. I will live free in this new world. What ever the cost.

“Tom Miller”

But, sir…

“Roger Williams”

No arguments my lad. I will be fine. I know this good land far better than Captain Underhill, I can assure you of that. Go now, and God be with you.

“Tom Miller”

And with you, sir.

“Roger Williams”

Good lad, that.

Mary, those things you set aside for me. I need them now. I will leave tonight.

“Mary Williams”

Tonight? But you’re ill. If you go out in that storm. It will be the death of you.

“Roger Williams”

It will be the death of me, if Underhill catches me here. I must be gone and far off before he and his men ever arrive. Those things please…

“Mary Williams”

Yes, I've got them here.

I’m not sure which is worse. Having Underhill catch you, or you catching your death out in the storm.

“Roger Williams”

I’ll take my chances with the storm any day.

“Mary Williams”

At least kiss your babies goodbye. They will miss you terribly, as will I.

“Roger Williams”

Do not disturb them. You will all be in my thoughts every waking moment. And, God willing, we shall be together very soon.

I must go now. If Underhill catches me here you may well be in danger yourself.

 

END OF ROGER WILLIAMS DRAMATIZATION PART A

Hal Holbrook

It was January, 1636, when Roger Williams left home and hearth to brave the icy cold of that New England winter. 1 His flight was an act of defiance against a repressive regime.

This was a defining moment in the cause of religious liberty. And it would have a significant impact on the story of the seventh day Sabbath.

Hello, I’m Hal Holbrook Holbrook. Welcome to Part Five, the final chapter of The Seventh Day, Revelations from the Lost Pages of History.

Historians and biographers portray Roger Williams as a man of strong convictions, a warm heart – and a stubborn, invincible will. He was passionate about the individual rights of all men, and he advocated the separation of church and state – a truly radical concept in a world where religion was enforced by civil law.

After his escape from Salem, he made his way southward through the trackless wilderness, surviving on whatever he could scrounge up from the forest floor. Eventually he found shelter with the native American tribes who lived on Narragansett Bay. 2 His enemies must have been glad to be rid of him, but family and friends were eager to learn if he had survived the harsh winter months.

 

ROGER WILLIAMS DRAMATIZATION, PART B

“Tom Miller”

I’m sorry. I am looking for my friend. Mr. Roger Williams. I was told you may know about him. Well, he was very sick, and has more than likely…

“Roger Williams”

He has more than likely been nursed back to health by his good friends, and he's doing just fine, thank you.

“Tom Miller”

Mr. Williams!

“Roger Williams”

So, my young friend, you finally found me. Well enough. Does the governor still remember me? I could use some news about Salem or Boston. Come. Come sit down. Tell me.

“Tom Miller”

Well, sir, Mr. Winthrop bade me find you, and he wishes for news that you were well. And Mrs. Williams sends her love too, and says that she and your daughters are fine and hope to see you soon.

Roger Wlliams

Well I am well, as you can see. And thanks to God and the kindness of my red friends here. I shall soon have a grant of land from them, and fairly earned.

“Tom Miller”

This is the land of liberty you are seeking.

“Roger Williams”

Liberty. Inalienable rights. And power of the government over spiritual matters.

Does it seem strange to you that I claim freedom for every man? The Puritans of Boston use the sword to enforce their religion. But to force religion on an unwilling convert is nothing less than the rape of the soul.

See, Tom, the sword of man can force an entire nation into a sort of formal religious pretense. But that is worthless before God. It is only the sword of His Spirit that can rightly rule over matters of conscience.

So, when you go to the governor, tell him that I must act according to my conscience. I will have a land of freedom, where men may live and worship according to their consciences.

And take word to Mary that I will send for her soon. I miss her and the babies very much. My youngest is named Freeborn, which is exactly what she is. I am determined that she will grow up in a land of liberty. I will make a place for my family where we can be truly free.

Now, you must be starved. And let me tell you these people know how to eat and live well. You’re in for a treat, my friend…

 

END OF ROGER WILLIAMS DRAMATIZATIONS, PART B

Hal Holbrook

The grant of land that Roger Williams received—fairly earned—from the Narragansett tribe became a safe haven for those who opposed the mandatory religion of the established colonies. His vision of personal freedom is immortalized in the charter of the Rhode Island colony—the colony that he founded. Here’s what it says:

“No person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be anywise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion…” 3

And there were differences of opinion—many of them. Including the matter of the weekly day of worship. Roger William’s own correspondence shows that he recognized the seventh day of the week—Saturday—as the Bible Sabbath. 4 His Rhode Island colony provided fertile and protected ground for the seeds of seventh-day Sabbath-keeping in America.

CHAPTER TWO: TO THE NEW WORLD

Hal Holbrook

News of Roger William’s radical new colony aroused widespread criticism in England. But the promise of freedom from religious tyranny was appealing to many, and they were willing to brave the sea and the wilderness frontier in their quest for liberty.

Among those who boarded the ships was a Baptist couple from Tewkesbury:Stephen and Ann Mumford. They are the ones who carried the seventh-day Sabbath to the New World.

Janet Thorngate

In 1665, Stephen and Anne Mumford arrived in Newport, Rhode Island. They likely came because this was where there were Baptist Churches, a colony where there was complete religious freedom, the only colony with that freedom. They may also have come for economic reasons.

Mumford was a businessman, very successful later on. And this was a busy commercial port.

Hal Holbrook

In December of 1671 the Mumfords and a handful of others formed the first Seventh Day Baptist congregation in America. 5 The group flourished within the protected environment of Rhode Island. But when members ventured beyond the shelter of their home colony, they ran into trouble.

Janet Thorngate

In Connecticut, for example, members of the Newport Church were fined, even imprisoned, for working on Sunday, because their worship day was Sabbath and that was a way the state could harass them for their nonconformity.

Hal Holbrook

Those early Seventh Day Baptists saw that their Sabbath beliefs and practices would stir up conflict in any Sunday-keeping community. Their solution was to heed the call of freedom on the expanding frontier.

Janet Thorngate

The pattern of establishing churches at the edge of the frontier, which happened over and over again, partly was because it was easier to find uninhabited land to start the town, to start the church, to create other institutions that were conducive to Sabbath keeping, and to religious freedom, in general.

And so it became a way of extending the Sabbath, because as other people came to the community, they were drawn in, very often, and this happened all the way across the country. So that by 1900, their churches were scattered clear to California.

Hal Holbrook

But as the years went by it became more and more difficult for Seventh Day Baptists to steer clear of trouble. The frontier territories became states, and some of those states enacted Sunday laws, and that brought unfortunate—even tragic—consequences.

 

OLD-TIMER DRAMATIZATION

“Old-timer”

Well, it must've been back about 1885. They come out from somewhere in Ohio—the two of ‘em, she still in her teens. They were just married, and they came out to live their lives in the promised land. Danfield, that may’ve been the name. He was John; I don't think I ever really knew her name. Pretty little thing, though, she…hard worker, even when she was expectin’.

They took that land over by the state line, four or five miles from town. Had a horse, couple cows, an’ really did a nice job that place. They had a fine cabin, good well. That first year they grew up a right nice garden.

Now most folks in this area are religious. These people were Seventh Day Baptists. Y’know, the ones that take Saturday for Sunday. Livin’ so far out of town I thought that their religion would be their own business. But they did have things sorta mixed up. Not workin’ on Saturday. Sabbath, they called it. And they treated Sunday like any other workin’ day, when the other people were going to church.

Anyway, things were goin’ fine until a mean-hearted citizen brought a complaint to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury, mind you. I thought there was no call for that. But folks were sayin’ that John was defilin’ the Lord’s day every week.

He was only doin’ what he thought God wanted him to, but that made no difference. That Grand Jury - they tried him, and convicted him and sentenced him right then and there. He had to pay a fine or go to jail.

Now, this young feller had real spine. He figured since it was a free country, he could have his own religion and follow it. He flat refused to pay. Well sir, those deputies, they drug ‘im right off to jail. Left his wife alone up there with a babe just a few weeks old. It was bad enough for him in the jail, worryin’ about his wife an’ babe an’ all. But it was even worse for her. Separated from her husband, no support from anyone. Oh, one or two of the ladies did come up from town, but she was pretty much left on her own up there.

She hoped every day to see him comin’ up the road, comin’ home to her. They say that she sat out by the gate holdin’ her babe for hours at a time. A few weeks went by like that. Well, the babe took sick. Next thing we heard, the poor little thing had died right in its momma's arms. It was heartbreakin’ seein’ her and a few of the town folk, puttin’ that little bundle in the ground. Her man in jail, unable to comfort her. No comfort in it for him, either.

That poor child she just wasted away after that up there. Cryin’ all alone, night after night.

Well, John, he served his time and they finally let ‘im go. He headed off for home. Lookin’ forward like crazy to seein’ his wife. But when he got there, his neighbors were carrying somethin’ out. It was a coffin, s'what it was. It was his wife’s. She’d took sick. If you ask me, I’d say it was a broken heart that killed her.

Well, he never said a word. He just followed em up to the graveyard and watch em put his wife in the ground, next to his little baby. And he thru himself down and he cried till there were no more tears left to cry.

He hardly said goodbye to a soul before he rode outa here. We haven't heard from him since. I just hope he found a place where he could live free.

 

END OF OLD-TIMER DRAMATIZATION

CHAPTER THREE: A SONG IN THE WILDERNESS

Hal Holbrook

The Seventh Day Baptists weren’t the only ones who moved out to the frontier for religious reasons. Conrad Beisel, a young German refugee, was looking for a new place to put down his own roots. He arrived in Pennsylvania in 1720 looking for a quiet place where he could experience the presence of God.

But there were just too many distractions in the settlements around Philadelphia. So he moved west to the wilderness along the banks of Cocalico Creek in what is now the town of Ephrata. Several friends followed him there, and together they formed a tight-knit spiritual community—the Ephrata Cloister.

Beisel guided the spiritual life of his flock, instructing them in doctrine and Christian living. He wrote hundreds of hymns to enhance their worship experience—hymns that are still sung today by the world-renowned Ephrata Cloister Chorus.

It was an austere existence. They practiced celibacy, men and women living in separate quarters. They were hard-working, industrious folks. They put up sturdy buildings, planted orchards and gardens, and operated a successful printing business. It was a physically exhausting lifestyle there on the frontier, and that gave special meaning to their weekly day of rest—Saturday, the seventh day.

Jeff Bach

Beisel described his sabbatarian views in a treatise he wrote in 1728, “Mystyrion Anomias” or “The Mystery of Lawlessness.” In that treatise he described the Sabbath as a gift of God’s grace to release people from work once a week.

Hal Holbrook

The Sabbath was a day when Beisel and his companions could eat bread without toil and labor. But the other six days of the week were definitely work days. This brought Beisel’s community into conflict with the Sunday laws of Pennsylvania.

Jeff Bach

In 1730 the Ephrata Community had legal troubles for breaking the Sunday laws of the colony of Pennsylvania. Some of the brothers were even arrested and imprisoned in Lancaster.

Hal Holbrook

Although Beisel and his followers were out of step with the wider society around them, they steadfastly maintained their observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. You see, it was not only a day of rest. It was a day that, for them, represented an eternal reality.

Jeff Bach

His view of the coming of Christ and the Millennium was a hope for the eternal Sabbath. So, each week when the community would observe the Sabbath, they anticipated the return of Christ and what for them would be eternal rest.

CHAPTER FOUR: A VOICE FROM GERMANY

Hal Holbrook

Like Beisel, Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born in Germany. He was a count, part of a noble family. Even as a young man he had a sensitive, devotional spirit.

When he was nineteen he visited a gallery in the town of Düsseldorf where he saw a painting that would change his life forever. It portrayed Jesus on the cross, wearing the crown of thorns. Beneath the painting he read the words, “All this I have done for thee. What hast thou done for me?” Count Zinzendorf devoted the rest of his life to answering that question. 6

In 1722 he permitted a group of refugees to settle on his land in eastern Germany. 7 They were a remnant of the Moravian religious movement that traced its roots back to the teachings of John Hus, 8 who had died as a martyr some three centuries earlier. 9

Now, although Zinzendorf was a lifelong Lutheran, he fostered a spiritual renewal among the Moravians – reviving their faith and inspiring them with new vision. In fact, he eventually became a bishop in the reborn Moravian church. 10

Otto Dreydoppel

Zinzendorf had a vision of how the, the message of Christ’s love could be shared with the whole world. And so, beginning in 1732, he sent the Moravians out all across the world as missionaries, to take the Gospel across cultural boundaries.

Hal Holbrook

Nine years later, in 1741, some of Zinzendorf’s missionaries arrived in eastern Pennsylvania to begin their work among the native American Indians. They founded the town of Bethlehem, 11 and a short time later the Count arrived to help organize the community and advance its mission.

Otto Dreydoppel

Nicholas Zinzendorf had the idea that the Native Americans were the ten lost tribes of Israel and so for them to become truly Christian, they needed to have an understanding of the Jewish heritage as well, which included certainly Sabbath observance.

Mark Turdo

Zinzendorf felt that the Sabbath was something that was common to all man, no matter where you were from, internationally. It was a celebration that could be observed by everyone. And he felt that if he could reintroduce it to everyone, to bring, make it a common practice, it would help bring everyone to the brotherhood of Christ.

Hal Holbrook

Zinzendorf himself observed the seventh day of the week as a day of rest from labor and for communion with God and fellow believers. 12 He recommended this practice to the Moravians in Bethlehem. They agreed unanimously, 13 stating that “The Sabbath is to be observed in quietness and in fervent communion with the Savior…. ” 14

Mark Turdo

Zinzendorf felt that the Sabbath was the actual day of rest and that’s when they began to mentally prepare themselves to, as I believe Zinzendorf wrote at one point, let God work in them. And then Sunday was the legal Sabbath that English law provided for and the Moravians actually practiced both.

Hal Holbrook

But it seems that Zinzendorf himself didn’t necessarily consider Sunday as a day of rest. During the summer of 1742, he went on a tour of Moravian Indian missions. One Sunday he and his party were camped out near Hurley, New York.

Otto Dreydoppel

While they were there, some of the local dignitaries came to visit them and Count Zinzendorf was somewhat distracted because he was writing a hymn.

And so he did not receive the visitors with the attention that they felt was their due. One of these worthies announced that he was the Justice of the Peace and with a sort of huffy attitude remarked that the Count seemed to be very industrious for a Sunday afternoon. The next day he haled the Zinzendorf party into court and fined them eighteen shillings for Sabbath violation.

CHAPTER FIVE: ADVENT MOVEMENT

Hal Holbrook

As the nineteenth century dawned most Protestant churches in America were bathed in the glow of optimism. Many people believed that a millennium of peace was about to begin. But not everybody agreed. A former agnostic named William Miller proposed a disturbingly different idea. Rather than a millennium of peace, he saw the world heading to a cataclysmic crisis—a catastrophic end to this present world and all that it contains.

Miller and his colleagues carefully examined Bible prophecy, using methods of interpretation that Bible scholars had used for centuries. They came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ would return to earth in glory, with a vast army of heavenly angels, in 1844.

Thousands of people, concentrated mostly in New England and New York, accepted this view. They joined William Miller and the others in preparing for the grand climax of history. Belief in the second coming of Christ was the glue that held them together. Nothing else was worth worrying about. Not their farms or their businesses. Not their individual creeds and traditions. And certainly not the question of which day was the true Sabbath. And this is where the Seventh Day Baptists come back into our story.

Merlin Burt

During the early 1840s, Seventh Day Baptists had a new evangelistic emphasis to share the Sabbath with other Christian believers, particularly the Baptists, who were not Sabbath-keepers. And so they published a series of tracts, and they began to promote these and to take them from place to place and their members would seek to influence those who were around them. And they found, to their disappointment, that no one seemed interested. No one wanted to listen to them.

Hal Holbrook

But near the little town of Washington, New Hampshire, a Seventh Day Baptist lady decided it was time to make someone listen. That lady was Rachael Oakes. And the someone who listened was Frederick Wheeler, a Millerite preacher.

 

RACHAEL OAKES DRAMATIZATION

“Rachael Oakes”

Elder Wheeler, good of you to come. Here, give me your overcoat, and you can leave those muddy shoes right there by the door.

“Frederick Wheeler”

Sister Oakes, I am curious as to why your invitation was so urgent. No serious problems with you or your daughter, in your home, I hope.

“Rachael Oakes”

Nothing of that sort. Now come along to the sitting room. I am most eager to speak with you.

(To the maid)

Would you please put some tea on for us, dear?

(To Wheeler)

Do sit down right here. Now then, you and your family are well, I hope, even though you are away so much?

“Frederick Wheeler”

Yes, Sister, the family is well. Anyway there's not so much to do on the farm this year since the Lord will be coming in just a few months.

“Rachael Oakes”

That may very well be, but all the same we have to prepare for the future in case. . . in case He does not return before another winter. Wouldn't you agree?

“Frederick Wheeler”

Well, I suppose that possibility does exist, but I DO believe. . .

“Rachael Oakes”

Now then, let me tell you why I appeared so agitated at services this Sunday past. And why I was so earnest about having this meeting with you. Do you recall your sermon before we shared the Lord's supper?

“Frederick Wheeler”

Of course I do. It was my usual message for communion service - the need for proper preparation so that we do not take the body and blood of the Lord unworthily.

“Rachael Oakes”

You assured us that if anyone is living in conscious disobedience with the divine commands he is unfit to share the Lord's supper.

“Frederick Wheeler”

I am flattered by your close attention. But surely you do not disagree with my sermon, do you?

“Rachael Oakes”

Oh, to the contrary. I agree with it wholeheartedly. I agree with it even more than you do, I dare say.

“Frederick Wheeler”

How so?

“Rachael Oakes”

I believe, as you do, that it is our Christian duty to obey the commandments from love toward our Savior. But, when I heard you speak those words beside the communion table I could barely restrain myself from rising to my feet in objection.

Just listen to this: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.

“Frederick Wheeler”

Of course. I know the passage well.

“Rachael Oakes”

Yet you yourself, and your congregation, are in disobedience to this very commandment.

“Frederick Wheeler”

Disobedience. . . ?

“Rachael Oakes”

How can you bear to face your Savior at His coming while you ignore so clear a revelation of His will?! He declared the seventh day to be His holy Sabbath. How can you content yourself with observing the first day?

“Frederick Wheeler”

But sister Oakes…

“Rachael Oakes”

The first day, Elder Wheeler, which is Sunday. Rather than the seventh day, which is Saturday.

Don't you see? As the minister to your flock, it is your duty—your privilege—to lead your congregation to the proper understanding of the Lord's Sabbath.

“Frederick Wheeler”

I confess, I have never considered it in quite that light. Perhaps it is worthy of study. Perhaps we have been so absorbed with the thought that the Lord may yet come this year that we have ignored other important issues.

“Rachael Oakes”

Yes.

“Frederick Wheeler”

I must make this a matter of study and prayer.

“Rachael Oakes”

That is all I ask. I feel certain that the truth will become as clear to you as it has to me.

 

END OF RACHAEL OAKES DRAMATIZATION

Merlin Burt

Frederick Wheeler was deeply affected by what Rachel Oaks had said to him. It caught his attention. And he took his Bible and he took those Sabbath tracts that the Seventh Day Baptist Church had published and he began to study them earnestly and became convinced that the seventh day was the Sabbath of the Lord.

Hal Holbrook

Wheeler, along with all the Millerites, was deeply disappointed when Christ did not return during 1844. But he didn’t lose faith in the Bible, even if he didn’t understand it fully. He continued to study the biblical basis of the seventh-day Sabbath, and he soon found that others shared his interest.

Early in 1845 T. M. Preble, wrote a tract in which he presented some very persuasive arguments in favor of the seventh-day Sabbath. One very interested reader was Joseph Bates, a retired sea captain and a fervent student of scripture.

Merlin Burt

Joseph Bates read T. M. Preble’s material on the Sabbath that he had published in February/March, 1845, and as he took his Bible and as he read that material, he was convinced that the seventh day was the Sabbath of the Lord. And as he continued to expand his understanding, he went on in the future to become the principal proponent of the seventh day Sabbath, which led ultimately to the beginning of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

 

CHAPTER SIX: KINGDOM OF HEAVENLY PEACE

Hal Holbrook

While the seventh-day Sabbath doctrine was gaining ground in America during the middle of the 19th century, the Taiping Revolution was sweeping across China. The peasants were rebelling against the ruling Manchu dynasty. 15

Chun-Fang Yu

The mainland Chinese government, who presented themselves as a peasant revolutionary movement, has always glorified the peasant, similar peasant revolutionary movements in the past. So, in their estimation, the Taiping Movement was one of the most glorious examples of a peasant revolution.

Hal Holbrook

It all started with Hong Xiuchuan, the ambitious son of a poor farmer. He wanted to make something of himself, so he set his sights on a position with the civil service. But Hong repeatedly failed the civil service examination. Some historians feel that he was treated unfairly because of the government’s bias against the peasant class.

One day as Hong was leaving the examination site. One day as Hong was leaving the examination site a Chinese Christian convert handed him some pamphlets published by Protestant missionaries. He went home, put them on a shelf, and forgot about them.

Hong took another shot at passing the examination, but a final failure plunged him into a nervous breakdown – a dark and depressing period marked by a series of bizarre dreams.

 

HONG XIUCHUAN DREAM DRAMATIZATION

Hal Holbrook

Who was the old man? What was he trying to tell him? The traditional Chinese would not attach any importance to dreams unless or until there was some clear connection to real life. 16 Hong could see no such connection, so the dreams left him somewhat puzzled.

Spence

And it was some time after that that a friend visited him, after he’d had the visions and after he’d failed the exams, and said, “Oh, I see you’ve got those tracts, those are fascinating aren’t they?” Some casual remark like that, and Hong said, “Well, I haven’t actually looked at them. ”And the friend said, “Well, I think you should read them; you’d find them really absorbing.”

Hal Holbrook

The tracts introduced Hong Xiuchuan to the Bible and it’s revelation of the omnipotent God and His Son Jesus Christ. And suddenly the dreams made sense. The venerable old man he had seen was God. Hong now saw the universe as drastically different from what he’d learned in the Buddhist tradition.

Spence

So the dream, the tracts, and the Bible teaching, you know, are beginning to come together in his mind. So what he has is an increasingly complex vision of God the Father.

Hal Holbrook

Hong Xiuchuan believed that the purpose of his life was to establish the Taiping Tianguo – the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. His religious zeal swept through the oppressed peasant class, inspiring the greatest revolutionary movement of the 19th century.

Hong and his followers published and distributed the Bible and they even required their soldiers to commit portions of it to memory.

Chun-Fang Yu

I think the most clearly Christian part of the Taiping Movement was the high place they place on the Ten Commandments, because they have their ten rules, which were identical to the Ten Commandments.

Hal Holbrook

The Taiping leaders took the fourth commandment quite literally. They required the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath.

Since the traditional Chinese calendar had no seven-day week, 17 they had to adapt their customary routine. Every sixth day a flag was raised to remind the people to prepare for the coming holy day. 18

Announcer

“The seventh day is the Heavenly Father’s holy day; therefore, our Heavenly Father ordered it to be the Sabbath day, and appointed it as the day for worship, as an eternal reminder to the people that true happiness is bestowed upon them through the grace of our Heavenly Father, that they should forever remember the Heavenly Father’s kindness...." 19

Hal Holbrook

Hong Xiuchuan’s efforts to set up the Great Kingdom of Heavenly Peace never really succeeded. Oh, he and his followers liberated about forty percent of the empire from Manchu domination, but eventually the British and other westerners helped the Manchu’s gain the upper hand. They crushed Hong Xiuchuan’s revolution in 1864. 20

CHAPTER SEVEN: ESKIMO PROPHET

Hal Holbrook

During the very decades that saw the fierce battles of the Taiping Movement in China, an isolated corner of North America was seeing its own revolution. The story is well known up and down Alaska’s Kobuk River valley and throughout the surrounding territory.

Back in the mid 1800’s that area was home to a quiet, unassuming member of the Inupiat tribe: Maniilaq, the Eskimo prophet. His story has been passed down from generation to generation. 21

 

ESKIMO ELDERS REENACTMENT

“Woman One”

Once when Maniilaq was a boy he was out there checking his snares. He saw a good place to rest, so he went over and sat on a piece of driftwood. Then he heard a strange sound like…Taatagiik.

“Man Three”

(interrupting)

Taatagiik. Taatagiik. That is the sound.

“Woman One”

It means “father and son, father and son.” He came many times to the same place and he heard the same sound again and again.

“Woman Two”

And another word, Isrummiqsuqti.“The source of intelligence. The source of thought.” Again and again he heard that.

He said many strange things, so people thought maybe this was a crazy man. But he was wise. Wiser than the afatkuq – the shamans.

“Woman One”

Sometime he told about strange people who will come from outside, with white color, and he said, “They will bring books. And the people will understand these books. And they will know about God…”

“Man One”

He told about boats flying in the sky. People going in boats on the water with no paddles. That’s why they said he was crazy.

“Woman Two”

The shamans—I think they were afraid of him. Or maybe jealous. He always broke their taboos. One time in Kotzebue two of them wanted to do away with him. He told them, “I could swallow up both of you." But of course he did not.

“Man One”

They tried to destroy his spirit while he as asleep, but the light inside him was too bright. They could not get to him.

“Man Two”

Another thing. He told people about seventh-day resting. He put his fingers out like this: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. On the seventh day you have to be still and not work.

“Woman Two”

He put up a pole in front of his camp every seventh day. He said, “This is the day I rest.”

“Woman One”

People said to him, "Why are you resting? You are just lazy, so you are not doing anything." He told them he lived by the commandments of the Grandfather.

“Man Three”

The Grandfather. That means God.

All talking and nodding

Yes. That’s right.

 

END OF ESKIMO ELDERS REENACTMENT

Hal Holbrook

Even today, more than a century after his death, the impact of Maniilaq’s message and example remain. Robert Mulluk, Executive Director of the Noorvik Native Community, lives and works in the Kobuk river valley, Maniilaq’s home ground.

Robert Mulluk, Jr.

Maniilaq went over there and made some predictions that in the future what the Eskimo people are going to do is that they’ll be have capabilities of flying in the air in some kind of machine. He didn’t know what it was, but he knew that we’d be just sitting there and flying in the air. The other one was that he sat on a boat and told them that, he’d say, “Someday what you’ll do is you’ll be sitting on this boat right here without putting any effort but you’ll be moving real fast.”

Hal Holbrook

Besides predicting the future, Maniilaq was concerned about the everyday life of his people. Fearing the dark power of the shamans, these Eskimos lived under the various taboos that had become embedded in their culture. Maniilaq saw that this made life unnecessarily difficult for them. He set out to weaken the shamans’ influence by teaching the people that they could safely ignore the taboos – and he didn’t just talk. He set the example by publicly breaking the taboos himself. 22

Robert Mulluk, Jr.

One that was particular that certain kind of berries you couldn’t eat in the summer. He went there to tell them and say why are you afraid to eat berries? You should eat berries. So he would go there and eat some berries and tell them "Nothing happened to me. Nothing will happen to me." And so, and everybody watch him for a long time and said oh, when is he going to croak? But he didn’t.

Hal Holbrook

Over and over again he proved that there was a power greater than the shamans. When he confronted them they knew that they were facing a superior force. Yet he was quick to say that his wisdom and protection came from above -- from the one he called “the Grandfather.”

It was the Grandfather who gave him power over the shamans; it was the Grandfather who showed him what was to come. It was the Grandfather who told him how to teach his people to live without fear. And it was the Grandfather who taught him about seventh day resting. 23

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE SHINING ONE

Hal Holbrook

Maniilaq’s story is just one of many where people have learned about God and His Sabbath without ever reading a Bible or seeing a missionary. Another one comes to us from a remote corner of the South American rain forest. 24 About a hundred years ago a village chief named Owkwa had an amazing dream – a dream that changed his life.

 

CHIEF OWKWA DRAMATIZATION

Hal Holbrook

The visitor told Owkwa many things. He told him about God. He told him how be healthy, how to be clean, what to eat. He taught him songs and prophecies; and of course, he told him about the Sabbath.

The visitor, whom Owkwa called “The Shining One,” also told him that he should watch for a teacher who would come to his village carrying a black book.

In the little village of Paruima, in western Guyana, we found Owkwa’s descendents. They still remember the dream – and Owkwa’s shining visitor.

Cheva Lott Fredericks

It looked like God. They believed that God was speaking to him. Because in his dream, somebody was talking to him. They believe that was God.

Viola Henrico

He told them about the Sabbath, that Sabbath is a sacred day. No work should be on Sabbath days. No work, no kind of activity, just worship.

Nalee Dellia Arthur

Owkwa said, “Don’t go fishing. Don’t go to farm. Let us stay and worship God together on Sabbath day.”

Belsiano Edmunds

In those days, they used to tie knots on a string every week or every month. And every day they would loose one for the first day, second day, up to Sabbath day. So, they knew which day was the Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

Sort of a primitive weekly calendar, but it was dependable. It was still working several years later when a lone missionary made his way to Owkwa’s village. He was carrying a Bible—a black book—just like in Owkwa’s dream.

What he found was extraordinary. Rather than the typical primitive people of the jungle, the villagers were clean and healthy. And they were faithfully observing every Saturday as the Sabbath—a custom their descendants continue to this day.

CHAPTER NINE: AFRICA

Hal Holbrook

You might be surprised to learn that the seventh-day Sabbath has especially deep roots in the continent of Africa. Scores of independent churches have sprung up among the people of Africa since the arrival of Protestant missionaries back in the eighteenth century. With African founders and leaders, these indigenous groups share a common background.

Sidney Davis, a researcher and lecturer on African Christianity, explains.

Sidney Davis

The African Independent Church Movement is an expression of secession from Western Imperialism, the imposition of western culture upon the African. And so it’s appealing to them because they’re able to express Christianity from within their own experience, instead of within an imposed culture.

Hal Holbrook

This widespread Sabbath observance should not be surprising. The Sabbath concept is expressed through various African languages and traditions— and I’m not talking only about the ancient Christian culture of Ethiopia that we highlighted in Part Four of our series.

Bertram Melbourne

The Kwazulu Natal tribe worshipped a god whose origin could not be traced. They worshipped this god on a special day, and on this day no manual labor was performed. People could not harvest their crops. People were not allowed to do any kind of cultivation. The day was solely devoted to the worship of this god. This day of worship was Saturday.

Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

The concept or the tradition of the seventh-day Sabbath has always been pervasively engrained in the Ashanti culture. One needs to know that in almost every African culture, religion or the concept of God is engrained, it’s intertwined in it. So, the question how far back is the Sabbath tradition, quite frankly for an African or an Ashanti, it’s really a question that shouldn’t be asked. Because, as far as they know, it has always been part of life as they know it.

Bertram Melbourne

Saturday in the Zulu language means the day of completion or the last day. And what I find very fascinating is that they had these concepts of the Sabbath long before the arrival of the European missionaries.

Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

The missionaries were the ones who brought Sunday worship, I mean, and up until that time, every one knew God had only one day of worship and it is Saturday. When the European missionaries came, they sought to introduce not only a different way of worship but a different day of worship, which is Sunday. And because they brought Sunday worship, every white man automatically got a name, ‘Sunday white man’, ‘Kwasi Bronii’, because ‘Kwasi’ is a name given to a male child on Sunday. And every European is Sunday born, because they brought Sunday worship.

CHAPTER TEN: SAVING SUNDAY

Hal Holbrook

In America the tradition of Sunday as a holy day has characterized religious life for centuries. On one hand, its proper observance has been seen as a requirement for God’s blessings. On the other hand, some people felt that to ignore the holy day was to invite disaster.

Alexis McCrossen

A decade or so before the, the civil war began, a northern physician, who was an abolitionist, and who decided to take a tour of the south to see the conditions for himself and was inclined to see them with quite a jaundiced eye, found himself in New Orleans one Sunday, and he was shocked with the Sabbath desecration he observed—the gambling, the prostitution, the general revelry of the day. The next day a terrible destructive fire broke out, as was quite common in the 19th century. And the city was laid waste. And he wrote in his diary that he thought it was just desserts for breaking the Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

Times changed, and so did attitudes toward Sunday. As industry became more highly mechanized and labor laws limited the work week, folks began to taste the luxury of free time. Sunday itself became associated more and more with leisure. And that meant trouble!

Alexis McCrossen

The problem was that the dollar mark was being put on Sunday through leisure and recreation. That is to say that professional baseball, theatres, amusement parks—all of these activities that constituted leisure and recreation—were profitable, and many entrepreneurs were making profit from it. And therefore, they were profiting from the Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

In the eyes of many religious leaders, the secularization of Sunday was a giant step in the wrong direction. There were strong and influential voices calling for more laws to limit commercial and even private activity on Sunday. Those efforts to protect Sunday continue even today, supported, for example, by the Lord’s Day Alliance.

Rodney Petersen

And the Lord’s Day Alliance takes this position because it believes that the idea of a Sabbath day or a day of rest really antedates any of our religious communities, even that of Judaism itself.

Hal Holbrook

Back when the Lord’s Day Alliance was formed, the issue of Sunday laws was really a hot topic. In May of 1888 Senator Henry Blair of New Hampshire proposed legislation to limit secular activities on Sundays within the jurisdiction of the United States federal government. 25 Senator Blair made it clear that the aim of his bill was to preserve the first day of the week as a day of rest and religious observance. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, where Blair was chairman. 26 Among those who raised objections to the proposed legislation was Alonzo T. Jones.

 

JONES-BLAIR DRAMATIZATION

“A. T. Jones”

Sir! You may speak of the power of the majority in social and civil matters. But there is no majority, however large, that can invade the territory of a man's religion. Not in this land! Not under our constitution.

“Senator Blair”

Mr. Jones, you fail to recognize the right – or more importantly, the responsibility – of the state to protect the welfare of the people as a whole.

“A. T. Jones”

Senator, it seems that you fail to recognize the clear distinction between man's responsibility to the state and his duty toward God. The first, he must render under the force of law. The second -- duty to God – must be carried out only under the force of love -- and that freely, voluntarily. No law can command love.

“Senator Blair”

But the law of the state must protect the people to carry out their duty to God. Our Sunday law is written to ensure the preservation of the Lord's day for the benefit of the people.

“A. T. Jones”

An admirable goal, Senator Blair. But completely unnecessary. Our Constitution already recognizes the rights of the people with respect to their religion. Your Sunday law would add nothing to our fundamental freedoms. It would rather add restrictions.

“Senator Blair”

I'm afraid, sir, that you are blind to the realities of our age. If men owe a duty to God and do not willingly perform it they become a corrupting influence in society.

“A. T. Jones”

This proposed Sunday law would have a corrupting influence by introducing force and coercion into its observance.

“Senator Blair”

On the contrary, the intended effect is to enhance the Sabbath. If men do not consent to honor the Lord's day, if their actions on that day are unrestrained by civil law, then they trample on the very rights of those who would honor and observe the day as holy unto the Lord.

“A. T. Jones”

With all due respect, Senator, can you not see that your Sunday bill proposes to trample on the rights of religious minorities? Do you really want to revert to those dark ages where church and state united to force men to violate their consciences and conform to an officially established religion?

“Senator Blair”

Now that is an unworthy comparison sir! Our Sunday law is for the ultimate benefit of the whole society. Is it not a legitimate function of the State to legislate on behalf of the common good?

“A. T. Jones”

The common good, which you value so highly, is not served by restricting the rights of one man's conscience in order to enlarge the rights of another. It is best served by the freedoms upon which this republic was established. State-sponsored religious coercion defies the clear intent of the founding fathers.

“Senator Blair”

But this law provides an exemption for those who wish to worship on another day--Jews, Seventh Day Baptists, your Seventh-day Adventists, for example--who observe Saturday as the Sabbath. So where is the problem?

“A. T. Jones”

The problem is that…

“Senator Blair”

Why just this morning, Mrs. Bateham from the Women's Christian Temperance Union addressed this committee in support of such an exemption. She has conferred with representatives of nine different groups that observe Saturday rather than Sunday. And do you know how many of those approved the exemption?All of them. Every single one.

“A. T. Jones”

Senator, I have great respect for the temperance principles promoted by Mrs. Bateham's organization. But she does not speak for my denomination on the question of exemptions.

“Senator Blair”

Come now, Professor Jones. Are you about to object to exemptions that would certainly benefit your group and several others?

“A. T. Jones”

Yes, sir, as a matter of fact, we DO object! An exemption clause would not change the proposed law so as to modify our opposition. Here is the principle, Senator: if the law were just and perfect, an exemption would not be necessary! Another thing: An exemption clause is nothing other than a toleration clause in disguise. Toleration is not liberty. It is merely a form of condescension: the majority putting up with the opinions and convictions of the minority. Our Constitution guarantees not tolerance, but RIGHTS, and we claim those rights as American citizens.

“Senator Blair”

Mr. Jones, without yielding the point let me move to another question: How would you react if we were to rewrite this bill as a Saturday law, with Saturday as the Sabbath, not Sunday at all? I suppose you would take a very different position.

“A. T. Jones”

To the contrary, Senator. All laws that attempt to force the conscience are manifestly unchristian, and unconstitutional, by their very nature. Therefore, Senator, we are against every Sunday law that has ever been made since the first one enacted by Constantine to the one you are proposing now. And if you changed it from a Sunday law to a Saturday law, we would oppose it just as firmly.

 

END OF JONES-BLAIR DRAMATIZATION

Hal Holbrook

Senator Blair’s bill never made it out of committee, but there were already plenty of other Sunday laws – which are commonly called blue laws. In fact, in America today, 49 of the 50 states have laws protecting Sunday. 27 Alaska is the only exception. But just because these laws exist doesn’t necessarily mean the issue is settled.

James Standish

State Sunday laws have been challenged under a number of provisions of the constitution, both the federal and the state constitutions, including due process of law, equal protection, violation of the separation of church and state and violation of the free exercise of religion. By and large, they have been upheld by the state courts as constitutional.

Hal Holbrook

Back in 1961 the US Supreme Court heard four different cases that challenged the constitutionality of Sunday laws. Religious liberty advocates were hoping for judicial recognition that Sunday laws are unconstitutional – based on their religious content.

James Standish

In a case called McGowan vs. Maryland, one of those four cases, the court decided that although the laws were obviously originally religious – they talk about the Lord’s day, they talk about the Sabbath, they talk about a whole pervasive line up of religious terms and religious rationales – by 1961, the court had found that the rationale had evolved to be laws that protect worker’s rights. And, of course, when you ask the question “can states pass laws that protect workers’ rights?” the answer is, of course, yes.

Hal Holbrook

With so many blue laws on the books in the United States, it’s fair to ask why we hear so little news about their enforcement. Are local authorities arresting folks? Are judges handing out sentences? Are the public coffers being enriched by the fines levied on the guilty parties?

James Standish

I think there are three primary reasons why we don’t hear a lot about the enforcement of Sunday laws.

First of all, the laws that are on the books are often not enforced because law enforcement simply has other priorities. Secondly, there isn’t a great will and interest among the general populous in this issue currently. And I think thirdly, the laws that are enforced are often more or less invisible to the public. For example, behind me is Washington, D.C. Washington, D. C. bans working on construction on Sunday mornings. Most people don’t notice that because they’re not in the construction trade and even if it does occur to them, it’s not a very significant impingement on their daily lives.

Hal Holbrook

In our secular and materialistic age there are not many voices calling out in favor of religiously based Sunday laws. Besides, the record seems to show that legislation is not a good partner to religion. Even the Lord’s Day Alliance, a solidly pro-Sunday organization, agrees with that.

Rodney Petersen

The history of the Lord’s Day Alliance has been one, in the past, of maintaining or trying to maintain blue laws in the United States. We’ve come to the place today where we feel that is a retrogressive kind of approach. Legislation may help, but our end really is to promote a cultural understanding of a psychological and sociological importance of this day, which for us clearly has Christian theological and wider religious underpinnings.

CHAPTER ELEVEN: SABBATH ON TRIAL

Hal Holbrook

History proves that, in matters of religion, persuasion is better than force. But even today it’s not at all unusual for people who keep the seventh-day Sabbath to come up against laws that restrict the free exercise of their religion. They sometimes pay a high price for their beliefs.

In some countries their children are penalized for not attending school on Saturdays.

Young men in military service have faced disciplinary action for refusing to perform routine, non-emergency duties on the Sabbath.

People have been thrown in jail for breaking Sunday laws, while others have been condemned to forced labor in chain gangs.

In addition, thousands of working people have lost their jobs because employers have been unwilling to accommodate their weekly day of worship.

Kwasi Opoku-Boateng

In 1982 I was employed as a fulltime worker by the State of California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Lee Boothby

Kwasi had applied for a position as a Plant Quarantine Inspector with the California Department of Agriculture. He received the appointment and went to the post to look it over prior to actually reporting for duty.

Kwasi Opoku-Boateng

When I got there I found out that I had been schedule to work on Saturday. And I brought this up to the attention of the supervisor.

Lee Boothby

The individual who was in charge at that particular location said to him, “If you’re not willing to work on Saturdays, I’m not going to process your papers and you will not be employed by the Department of Agriculture. ”

Kwasi Opoku-Boateng

I contacted the Church-State Council and with their help we appealed to the State of California Department of Food and Agriculture attempting to get this matter settled through administrative process. But the state of California would not listen and subsequently they terminated the appointment.

Lee Boothby

And after a substantial period of time we did get a trial, which lasted several days. And ultimately, unfortunately, the judge ruled against him, which is not unusual for sabbatarians.

So we immediately filed an appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The matter was ultimately brought before three judges in the Ninth Circuit and they ruled in his favor, reversing the trial court judge.

The State of California was shocked and filed a petition for review by the United States Supreme Court, which turned down the appeal and thus, the Ninth Circuit decision is good law and held in favor of Kwasi and in favor of the need to accommodate religious beliefs.

Kwasi Opoku-Boateng

From the beginning of this process to the end took about seventeen years, but we pressed on because we believed that we were doing God’s will; and secondly, we believed that others could benefit from our ordeal.

Hal Holbrook

Losing your job because of your Sabbath beliefs seems like a minor matter compared to what’s happened in some places. For example, back in 1973 the leaders of one large African nation ordered all citizens to spend one day a week repairing roads and bridges and maintaining their communities. It sounded like a great idea, on the surface at least. But the national day for community work was Saturday, and that meant trouble for thousands of Seventh-day Adventists.

 

NATIONAL SERVICE DAY DRAMATIZATION

“Mutero”

Enter.

“MP One”

Sir, this is Gideon Kidende.

“Mutero”

Yes, Kidende. Thank you for coming, Citizen Kidende.

(to MPs)

Where did you find him?What was he doing?

“MP One”

He was right there at his church with the others. Fifty, maybe sixty people. He was in front, saying a prayer.

There were only two of us, so we couldn’t bring them all. We tried to talk some sense into him – to make him tell them to leave the church.

“Mutero”

The others? They are still there at the church?

“MP One”

Yes. At first they tried to follow us. We told them to leave, to get to work, but they just went back to the church.

“Mutero”

Ok.

(to Kidende)

Citizen Kidende, tell me, what did you see out there as my men brought you here.

“Gideon Kidende”

People working.

“Mutero”

Yes. They’re filling the holes in the roads. They’re cutting the bushes and the weeds. They’re doing these things here, and all over this country others are doing the same. And do you know why?Why are people all over this nation working in their communities today?

“Gideon Kidende”

National Service Day.

“Mutero”

So you do know it’s National Service Day. Today, and every Saturday of the year, is National Service Day. But for some reason, you do not join your fellow citizens in working for the good of your community and your country. Instead you are at church?

“Gideon Kidende”

But I am happy to serve my country – on any other day of the week. Just pick the day, and I’ll do it.

“Mutero”

(to MPs)

Chair.

(to Kidende)

Sit down please.

The law of the land says Saturday is National Service Day. So that is the day that we all will do our work in the community. That includes you and all the people in your church. You are their leader, so you must tell them.

“Gideon Kidende”

Even if I tell them, they won’t do it. Not on Saturday. Saturday is God’s Sabbath.

“Mutero”

You can tell them now that it is changed. Let them worship God some other day.

“Gideon Kidende”

I cannot change the day. Saturday is God’s Sabbath, not mine. It is His commandment that we keep it. I cannot change it.

“Mutero”

Listen well, Kidende. Make your people act like good citizens or you will personally suffer the consequences. This bruise on your face will seem like a mosquito bite.

(to MPs)

Take and lock him up.

“Gideon Kidende”

Sir! Look at me. These men – they have beaten me. My blood is on my shirt and on your hands. They may beat me again. Perhaps kill me. But this will not change anything. I cannot tell my church members to break the laws of God.

“Mutero”

We’ll see, Gideon Kidende. We’ll see about that.

 

END OF NATIONAL SERVICE DAY DRAMATIZATION

CHAPTER TWELVE: PEOPLE OF THE SABBATH

Hal Holbrook

Seems that Sabbath-keeping can be expensive, inconvenient, and even dangerous. In the face of all this, you’d be surprised at how many Christians there are who observe the seventh-day Sabbath today.

The Directory of Sabbath Observing Groups, 28 published by the Bible Sabbath Association, lists over four hundred Sabbath-keeping churches and denominations. One of them, the Colorado-based Church of God, Seventh Day, has a world-wide membership of close to 200,000.

Calvin Burrell

The seventh day Sabbath is important to us as a denomination because of our commitment to be a biblical, a Bible-based fellowship. We believe that the Sabbath is an integral part of the biblical teaching and it would be impossible for us to teach the whole council of God and to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God if we continue to ignore His seventh day Sabbath.

James Parker

It was back in 1896 that the Church of God and Saints of Christ was established by William Saunders Crowdy in Lawrence, Kansas. Although he was a Baptist deacon at the time, Prophet Crowdy received a divinely inspired view of the keys to salvation, one of which was the Ten Commandments. As a result of this view, he most naturally began to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. While it appeared that he was introducing something new, Prophet Crowdy actually reestablished a form of prophetic Judaism that has shaped the lives of men and women since antiquity.

Hal Holbrook

Many of the smaller Sabbath-keeping groups grew out of the World Wide Church of God, founded by businessman Herbert W. Armstrong. The story has an unlikely beginning. You see, it was actually Armstrong’s wife who got him interested in the seventh-day Sabbath. It happened back in 1926.

John Ritenbaugh

In Eugene, Oregon, Mr. Armstrong’s wife was convinced by a neighbor that she should be keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. The lady proved this to her from the Bible. When she told Herbert about this, he was irate. So irate that at one point in their argument he said that he would divorce her if she continued on this fanaticism, as he called it. She said, “Rather than divorce me, why don’t you look into it and see whether or not I am correct.”

Hal Holbrook

Herbert Armstrong didn’t divorce his wife. Instead, he accepted her challenge and spent several months studying in a nearby library. To his amazement he could not prove her wrong. He had backed himself into a proverbial corner and could reach only one conclusion: Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is the Bible Sabbath. This became a hallmark of the church he founded.

Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986. The new leadership of the World Wide Church of God took the denomination in a different direction, bringing it into line with the majority of the Christian world. This included shifting their day of worship to Sunday. The changes cost the church about half its membership.

We see a very different picture when we look at the Seventh-day Adventists—the preeminent proponents of the seventh-day Sabbath today. Membership totals more than 13 million in some 200 countries. And it’s growing rapidly. Although their theology is firmly rooted in the Protestant tradition, Seventh-day Adventists have been a special target of criticism because of their uncompromising commitment to the Bible Sabbath—a commitment that some opponents see as a denial of the Christian’s freedom in Christ.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: CHALLENGES

Hal Holbrook

Freedom, of course, is at the heart of the Christian faith. There are some who charge that keeping the seventh-day Sabbath is a rejection of Christian freedom. They say that Sabbath-keeping is legalism – an attempt to earn salvation by obedience. But is true Sabbath-keeping really legalism?

Skip MacCarty

God instituted the Sabbath at Creation, before sin. Was it legalism then?If it wasn’t legalism then, what inherently makes it legalistic now? When God gave them manna for forty years in the wilderness the manna didn’t fall on the Sabbath. Was that legalism? When God gave them the Ten Commandments were all ten of the commandments legalistic? Was God binding them to a legalistic code? No, He wasn’t. Obedience is not legalism. Obedience can be an expression of our response in love and gratitude to God for His grace and salvation.

Hal Holbrook

Now, most Christian theologians agree that salvation is based on God’s promises – His covenant – rather than on a person’s behavior. Therefore, they insist that keeping Sabbath in obedience to the commandment is not necessary. Seventh-day Adventists agree that salvation comes only on the basis of God’s promises, but they see the Sabbath as an important part of man’s relationship with God.

Skip MacCarty

Throughout scripture the covenant is presented as an experience of resting in God. God wanted His people to rely upon Him and He gives them the provisions that He’s given them in the covenant. So they can have this rest and security in God.

When we’re outside of that covenant relationship with God, we’re concerned about our salvation, we’re concerned about the future, what that might bring. But, within that covenantal experience, you have complete rest and confidence in God. The Sabbath symbolized that rest.

Ekkehardt Mueller

And in keeping Sabbath, we rest in this assurance that Jesus on the cross has redeemed us and we are saved, and we are His children, and we can rely on Him.

Hal Holbrook

Well, if the Sabbath does have a proper place in the Christian’s life, why does it have to be on Saturdays? Most churches teach that Christians should keep Sunday instead, and they cite New Testament references to support their view. But does the New Testament really teach that Sunday, the first day of the week, is the Christian Sabbath?

John McVay

The first day is mentioned in the New Testament. Christians even seem to have met a time or two on the first day. But there’s no transfer of the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath to the first day, what we now call Sunday. It does not become the day of rest. It does not become the day when God’s creative activity is celebrated. It simply does not become the day of Christian worship, which remains the seventh-day Sabbath.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: ETERNAL SABBATH

Hal Holbrook

But here is another consideration that is often overlooked: The place of the Sabbath in Bible prophecy—particularly the prophetic book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse.

The prophetic drama unfolds, symbolically portraying the war between Jesus Christ and Satan, His great enemy. It’s the conflict of the ages, sweeping across the stage of human events. It culminates in a thrilling climax heralded by the appearance of angelic messengers.

Announcer

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth…, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. ” (Revelation 14:6, 7)

John McVay

In the context of the closing scenes and phases of this drama, with the hour of the judgment having come, earth dwellers are to worship God. And then God is described. Using the language of the fourth commandment, God is described as the One who created all things. And because the passage echoes the fourth commandment, I don’t believe it’s stretching it too far for us to understand that at this final point in the drama dwellers on earth are issued a heavenly summons to come back to worshipping God as the Creator on His Sabbath day – on the seventh-day Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

So the Sabbath is part of God’s divine plan to heal the broken relationship with His human children. Even in a world where life’s true purpose and meaning have been almost forgotten, where faith languishes in the rubble of infidelity—even in such a world as this the Sabbath continues to signal God’s call to the human soul.

The lost pages of history have revealed the amazing story of this almost forgotten day, the seventh-day Sabbath, the biblical day of holy rest and sacred worship. We’ve traced it from its origin in the biblical account of Creation, where God established it to memorialize His creative work and to define the weekly cycle. We’ve tracked it through the time of Jesus, whose ministry infused it with new meaning; and we’ve seen how it lived on—despite the attempts to regulate it, bury it, or ban it.

We’ve uncovered ancient evidence of the Sabbath in places as diverse as Ireland and Ethiopia, where it survived through ages of opposition and attack. We’ve seen it revived in the teachings of the early Anabaptists and the English Seventh-day Men. We’ve seen it preserved in the face of persecution and martyrdom.

We’ve seen it restored to worldwide attention—as thousands upon thousands of Christians discover for themselves the place of the seventh-day Sabbath in a Bible-based religious experience.

And the Bible completes its picture of the Sabbath by giving us a preview of the life to come—the future life in a perfect universe. Listen to this: “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me...from one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:22, 23, New International Version).

So the Sabbath, the memorial of God’s creative and redemptive work, is a part of His design for the future of the human race.

From the earth as it came from the Creator’s hand to the perfectly restored New Earth, the Sabbath stands as a sanctuary in time, transcending history and projecting its promise of rest into the eternal future.



Footnotes

Williams, Roger." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9077077> [Accessed April 18, 2005]. View source

William Gammell, Life of Roger Williams, (Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1846), pp. 60, 61; View source; Edwin S. Gaustad, Roger Williams in America, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), pp. 46, 47. View source

<http://www. worldpolicy.org/globalrights/religion/ri-1663. html> [Accessed April 18, 2005]. View source

“Letter to Major Mason, Providence, June 22, 1670” in Letters of Roger Williams, compiled by John Russell Bartlett, Providence, RI, Vol. VI, pp. 346, 347. View source

Don A. Sanford, “Entering Into Covenant: The History of Seventh Day Baptists,” Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society 66, Part 1, no. 226 (1994), pp. 5, 7. View source

<http://www. zinzendorf. com/countz. htm> [Accessed April 19, 2005]. Official site of the Zinzendorf documentary series from Comenius Foundation. View source

“Moravian church." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9053669>[Accessed April 19, 2005]. View source

"Hus, Jan. " Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. <<http://www. britannica. com/eb/article?tocId=9041616>[Accessed April 19, 2005]. View source

10 “Zinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. <http://www. britannica. com/eb/article?tocId=8120>[Accessed April 19, 2005]. View source

11 "Bethlehem" Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www. britannica. com/eb/article?tocId=9078970> [Accessed April 19, 2005]. View source

12 Peter Vogt, “Zinzendorf’s Theology of the Sabbath,” in The Distinctiveness of Moravian Culture, ed. Craig D. Atwood and Peter Vogt (Nazareth, Pennsylvania: Moravian Historical Society, 2003), p. 209. View source

13 Ibid, pp. 15, 17. View source

14 Ibid, p. 16. View source; For the precise wording of our quotation see Christian Edwardson, Facts of Faith, (Nashville: Southern Publishing Association, 1942) p. 150. View source

15 John Newsinger, “The Taiping Peasant Revolt,” Monthly Review 52, 1 Oct. 2000. From Highbeam™ Research <http://www. highbeam. com/library/doc3. asp?docid=1G1:66937933> [Accessed April 19, 2005]. View source

16 Jonathan Spence, videotaped interview, Sept. 8, 2004, at timecode 01:11:32: “Because in China, one thing that’s extremely interesting and different from our own perception is that a dream in China traditionally, however interesting and strange, is unimportant until you get the key to it. You don’t take a dream and simply act according to that dream. The dream is there lodged in your consciousness. But it’s only when you understand the purpose and the direction of the dream that you can act upon it and think about it rationally.”

17 Ibid., at timecode 01:01:33: "...the traditional calendar in China at the time would have been based on the phases of the moon and the months, there would be twelve months in the year, but they would be rather differently spaced than months in the west in the solar calendar. There would be no week; there’s no such conception of a seven-day week.”

18  Hsian Ta, et al. , ed. , T’ai P’ing T’ien-Kuo, Chung-Kuo Chin-Tai-Shih Tzu-LiaoTs’ung-K’an (Shanghai:Shen-chou Kuo-kuang She, 1952, Vol. 4, “Chin-ling Kuei-Chia Chi-Shih Lueh,” p. 652. View source

19  Hsiao I-shan (compiler), T’ai-p’ing t’ien-kuo ts-ung-shu, 4, p. 1a-b. Quoted by Vincent Y. C. Shih, The Taiping Ideology: Its Sources, Interpretations, and Influences, no. 15 of Publications on Asia of the Institute of for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1972), pp. 4, 5.  View source

20 Newsinger, Revolt. View source

21 Ruth Ramoth-Sampson and Angeline Newlin, compilers, Maniilaq, (Printed pursuant to a grant from the US Office of Education, Office of Bilingual Education. No official endorsement should be inferred), pp. vi, vii. View source

22 Ibid. (See this compilation in its entirety for a detailed picture of Maniilaq. Available online at <http://www. alaskool.org/language/maniilaq/Maniilaq-English.doc>. View source

23 Ibid, pp. 69, 76. View source

24 Our account of Owkwa’s story is based on interviews with the villagers of Paruima, Guyana, many of whom are his descendants; and the chapter, “Named by an Angel” in Betty Buhler Cott, Jewels from Green Hell, (Washington: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1969), pp. 173-179. View source

25 Alonzo T. Jones, "The National Sunday Law," The Sentinel Library, (Oakland: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1889), no. 18, pp, v-vii. View source

26 <http://www. senate. gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/CommitteeChairs. pdf> [Accessed April 19, 2005]. View source

27 Miriam Cho, "State Sunday Laws," Liberty Magazine, 31 October 2003. View source

28 Directory of Sabbath-Observing Groups, Ninth Edition (Fairview, Oklahoma: The Bible Sabbath Association, 2001). View source