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Saturday, July 13, 2019
Holy? In What Universe?
Looking back on my decades in Armstrongism, there is one question that looms louder than any other question: How could we possibly think we were keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, well, Holy??
It's not as if I never understood the rationale that the Church and ministry gave us. Obedience, commanded assembly, Church authority, you follow, don't cause division, etc... Yet honestly there were always things that occurred, on the Sabbath, and Holy Days, that always, consistently, week after week or Festival after Festival, that made me question the "holiness" of the Holy Days the way that we observed it.
Not only were the glaring differentials in the way we "observed" the Holy Days different from How scripture commanded their observances shining out like a spotlight over dark skies - the reality of our version of what makes a holy day holy just didn't add up to the Biblical definition of holiness. Something always seemed completely amiss about our definition of holiness compared to what was defined as holiness in the Holy Scriptures.
In our worldview, to keep the Sabbath Holy was to obey the Church Polices exactly. To keep the Holy Days was to obey the Church Policies exactly. Yet, at the exact same time that the policies were being kept to the letter of the Law, some of the most carnal, disgusting, and dare I say worldly attitudes were consistently spewing out of members every single week. It was an inconsistency that never made sense to me. I thought to myself, "Why is it that we are calling how we do this holy when there's nothing holy here?"
Never mind the fact of the absolute disrespect we gave God while attempting to worship Him in the most disgusting, cheap, ungodly buildings you could think of. Now I know how you would respond to this. You would probably say that the building is not the church, and you would be right. Yet, when you have awful attitudes and ungodliness smelling the place up like a cow farm, it just made it seem doubly carnal, if you get my drift.
Sure, we'd stop "working" at sunset on the dot, but the attitudes didn't stop "working". And was "working" on the Sabbath without pay truly not "working", because we were doing it "for the Church and brethren"? It was difficult to work out exactly how it was okay to work your butt off on the Sabbath for fellowship hour, potlucks, or hall set up and take down, but yet you couldn't sit down and watch television because you might get "worldliness" in your head. It was allowed to get suited up and ready for Basketball before Sunset at a district weekend ready to play as soon as the clock hit sundown, but if your mind is on Basketball dressed in the uniform while it's still the Sabbath, aren't you breaking it anyway? These were just a couple of tens of tens of examples that I constantly saw where church leadership, instead of confronting the main issue, used the easy out of "Binding and Loosing" to ease any doubts. "If the Church says it's OK, it's OK, so don't worry about it, it's not your problem."
The problem is, it was our problem. It was all of our "problem". For all of our crowing and pious praises of how great and awesome we were at keeping the Law when everyone else in the world were heathen sinners who did not follow or obey the Law of God, we were breaking it all the time, willingly, and often, knowingly, thinking we were on the right side of the Law when even the slightest breaking of the Law was breaking all of the Law. To say we fell short? That's the biggest understatement ever. We didn't even get past the starting line of law-keeping. And holiness? How many of us truly ever kept the Sabbath holy - in deed, action, and thought? How many of us broke the Sabbath without even knowing we broke the Sabbath - and then used grace as a license for lawbreaking - doing the same thing we always accused protestants of doing - protestants - who we always said never had an understanding of law and grace anyway? How many of us noticed the inconsistencies, just to brush them under the table - afraid to bring it up or talk about if for fear of causing division? How many of us just brushed it under the rug because we believed we didn't have any responsibility in our conduct and behavior once the ministry "bound and loosed"?
If it was all about obedience to the ministry and the Church, then keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days would have been a piece of cake. Simply call or ask the minister, and if he says it's okay, great, and if it's not okay, don't do it. A surely powerful and effective way to grow in maturity and character, isn't it? Just pawn off all the responsibility to the minister while acting, thinking, and behaving like the word "Holy" simply meant "Human".
Our version of Sabbath and Holy Day Keeping always was a slap in the fact not only to Jesus Christ and the New Covenant example of Rest in Christ but also to the Old Testament importance of the Law and Holy Days before Christ. It was a farce the way we did it, and a farce to this day in the Splinters. A conversation to have the next time you meet at the Buffet for Sabbath Dinner while the people you hire feed and serve you on such a most holy time.
submitted by SHT