The sabbath in Calvin's theology
The aim of this dissertation is to show that Calvin interprets the Sabbath as a sign of grace given to us by the Triune God that we repose in Him as our Father, through the Son in the communion of the Spirit, and therefore he does not reduce it to a series of legalistic exhortations and condemnations, of 'Do' and 'Don't' on a certain day. The concern of the thesis therefore is to examine Calvin's method. Firstly, his formal principle is sola scriptura (Scripture alone). The doctrine of the Sabbath is the product of both theology and exegesis,which deal directly with the witness of the Word in the Church. Secondly, his material principle is sola gratia (grace alone). The Sabbath is given to all mankind. In response to God's grace, we are commanded to cease from our work and let God work in us. True spiritual rest is revealed by the Word and effected for us and in us by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is understood in Christ alone (solo Christo) and by faith alone (sola fide). Faith is thus a response to God's grace and His faithfulness. The observance of the day is a mark of obedience in faith, joy and thanksgiving. Rest on the Sabbath does not mean idleness but an acknowledgement of God's unconditional love which is revealed in the person and work of Christ through the spirit. God in Christ and in the Spirit reveals His free grace to us and accepts us as we are and not for what we do. In Christ and in the Spirit, we joyfully repose in God our Father without any anxiety. Keeping the Sabbath must be understood, for Calvin, in terms of his soteriology, eschatology, pneumatology and Christology. Calvin sees a threefold purpose in the Sabbath; to rest in the knowledge that God is our Father, who has done everything for us in Christ; to be a stated day for personal and corporate worship in the Church; to be a day of rest for servants and dependents. This threefold purpose is understood in Trinitarian terms.