Call The Sabbath A Delight by Walter Chantry
Published by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991
Review by Chung Jia Jun
“In their pride, men have dismissed God’s perfect law. His Decalogue requires the habit, the steady routine practice, the discipline of a day of worship and service to God. It is such habit, routine and discipline that will give men both a knowledge of God and moral standards by which to live. It is just such a Sabbath Day that will strengthen families and social institutions. No wonder the church herself is devotionally, doctrinally and morally weak. Even Christians will not devote a day each week to their Lord.” (p. 12)
In Call The Sabbath A Delight, Pastor Walter Chantry spends slightly more than 100 pages dealing with an often disregarded commandment among Christian circles: keeping the Sabbath holy. As a Banner of Truth publication, one can expect to receive the perspective of conservative evangelism—that the Sabbath commandment is holy, spiritual and good—and should be spent totally in devotion to God. It is important to note that Chantry believes that one should not employ another to work on the Sabbath for himself, because the Sabbath law applies to them as well.
Personally, I appreciate the fact Chantry does not simply force a rigid, legalistic or Pharisaic view that some of the conservatives have swung to, but gives great consideration to the matters of the heart, which he believes to be the most important factor of all. His view can be thus summed up, “More rests upon motive and intent than upon the outward acts we do on the Sabbath.” (p. 106) At the same time, he labours, exhorts and persuades his readers to keep the Sabbath holy while resisting excuses or objections to it—both personal and theological.
Although his views on Sabbath-keeping appears harsh by modern standards, he insists upon it for a compelling reason: Scripture says so. Even in his supposed ‘harsh’ treatment (which I personally do not think is overbearing, but justified), Chantry shows his deep pastoral concern to the reader through patiently considering questions that might be raised, as well as responding to objections by those who argue that the Sabbath does not need to be kept. He does so on the firm basis of the Scriptures, appealing from the fact that:
- Sabbath is a creation ordinance, thus applicable to all of creation, and not just the Jews (as some might believe), and,
- Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, and he came to establish the law, not to destroy it.
The table of contents might give a clear idea of how wide the scope of the book is:
- The Commandment is Holy
- The Commandment is Spiritual
- The Commandment is Good
- Does the New Testament Teach the Fourth Commandment?
- Sabbath Observance: Mosaic and Christian
- Motives for Sabbath-Keeping
- Which Day of the Week is the Sabbath?
- Difficult Cases of Conscience
For a small book, I think Chantry has dealt with this subject adequately and carefully, not to allow the legalist to legislate do’s and don’ts nor antinomians to discard the law wholesale, but to reveal to the reader the blessedness and delight that can be found in dedicating one day of seven back to the One who gave us all seven days to begin with. As a first-time reader of a book dealing specifically with this subject, I have been greatly edified and motivated to keep the Sabbath—and it is my hope that the reader will be convinced of it too. I heartily recommend it to those who have not seriously considered the Sabbath law, as well as to older saints who wish to gain a clearer understanding on this weighty subject.