Five Myths about Sabbath Keepers
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
Myth #1: Sabbath keepers belong to a cult
Unfortunately, this is often the first thing we hear when others find out that we honor the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. I cannot fully identify where this misconception comes from – likely just because we are different. We have not been drugged or brain washed into following the Sabbath. We have studied the Bible and arrived at the conclusion to follow the example of Jesus.
Myth #2: Sabbath keepers only think God can answer prayer one day a week.
I am accused of this belief by non-Sabbatarians. I honestly have never met or heard of a Sabbath keeper who believes this – and I have connections to thousands of them. There might be a few radicals out there who think this way, but it is certainly not the majority belief of the Sabbath community. Many Sabbath churches host prayer meetings and even Bible studies on other days of the week. While we rest on the Sabbath and honor the example of Jesus, we also seek God daily in our lives.
Myth #3: Sabbath keeping started in the 1800s
Another myth we commonly hear is that no Christians honored the Sabbath until the 1800s AD. We know Jesus and the early Apostles actually honored the Sabbath (see Matthew 12:1-8, Acts 13:13-48 for a couple of examples). Historically speaking, most Christians honored the Sabbath into the 400s-500s AD. On this site, we have posted a number of blogs discussing this. You can actually find Sabbatarians who believed in Jesus in every century from Christ to the present.
Now, where does the misconception come from? The world’s largest Sabbatarian group is the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which has millions of members today. This group has its origins in the mid-1800s. Due to this, many people think their group was the first group to practice the Sabbath. The Seventh-Day Adventists were influenced to keep the Sabbath by Seventh-Day Baptists, who can trace their origins to the 1500s. And there are other Sabbatarian groups that precede the Seventh Day Baptists.
Myth #4: We hate people who don’t keep the Sabbath.
This is another misconception. Most Sabbath keepers I know are very kind and function fine in the work place with others no matter their religious background or denominational affiliation. I personally have never met a Sabbath keeper who hated someone of a different viewpoint. Just because we disagree with people about the Sabbath does not mean we hate them.
We believe very strongly about the Sabbath, but we are often treated differently because we keep the Sabbath. We are used to mistreatment on jobs and exclusion from family and friends. Due to this, Sabbath keepers are discerning about their friends and can come across as being cautious or reserved. We certainly do not hate people who do not honor the Sabbath.
Myth #5: Sabbatarian children are socially and emotionally handicapped.
There are plenty of events in our society that take place on the Sabbath such as sports, concerts, etc. We abstain from many cultural activities that happen on the Sabbath. We raise our children to do the same.
There is a misconception that we are socially and emotionally handicapping our children because we do not participate in certain activities on Sabbath. The premise of this misconception is typically rooted in fear. How are we handicapping someone for teaching them to live like Jesus? Was Jesus socially and emotionally handicapped?
Instead of being afraid, think about the wonderful lesson being instilled. We are teaching our children that we will stop worldly activities to honor God as Jesus did. This reinforces the idea that God comes first. We learn that temporary gain is secondary to honoring God. Again, our focus is Jesus, not someone else. This lesson is reinforced throughout childhood.
The idea that Sabbatarian children are handicapped is also not rooted in fact. Our children still play sports and participate in extracurricular activities; we just abstain from them on Sabbath. Sabbatarians have been successful in business and even served in many positions in society.
Ben Carson honors the seventh-day Sabbath; he is a brilliant neurosurgeon and has ran for President. Five men gave benedictions during the President’s inaugural address. One of them, Bishop Wayne T Jackson, honors the Sabbath. There are millionaires and Billionares that honor the Sabbath. Some are Christian and some are Jewish. They display that honoring the Sabbath does not hinder us financially, socially, or otherwise. Some famous companies were formed by Sabbath keepers (such as Kellogg’s). For a modern example, research Billionaire Adam Neumann.
There have been professional athletes that also honored the Sabbath. Dmitriy Salita is an Ukrainian-born welterweight boxer is an orthodox Jew who will not fight on the Sabbath. Ed Correa, from Puerto Rico, is a Seventh Day Adventist. He played 3 seasons in the major leagues and was a starting pitcher. The Texas Rangers adjusted their rotation to accommodate Correa’s religious beliefs.
At the same time, there have been some athletes who left professional sports to honor the Sabbath. Trevor Bullock was a tremendous pitching prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was considered one of their top minor-league pitchers. However, he was convicted about the seventh-day Sabbath and decided to walk away from the game altogether. When asked about having any regrets for leaving baseball, he said, “No. Well at first I regretted that I didn’t do it sooner. But then I look at the journey; it has made me stronger and made me trust God more. I am healthy, happy, and I’m getting married.” (to see more of his story, read: http://archives.adventistreview.org/2002-1538/story1.html).
I sincerely hope that this article will help you have a better understanding of Sabbath keepers and how to interact with them.
Kelly McDonald, Jr. is President of the Bible Sabbath Association (BSA)