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Martin Luther the Reformer and the Sabbath

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During the debate, the Romanist controversialist John Eck (1486-1543)  demanded of Martin Luther in their Leipzig Disputation in 1519, that if the Reformer “turn from the church to the Scriptures alone”, he should then also “keep the sabbath with the Jews”, seeing that “the cessation of the sabbath and the institution of Sunday” was, in Eck’s opinion, not mentioned in Scripture, but had “taken place by the apostolic Church instituting it without Scripture”

Martin Luther never fully addressed this challenge during this debate but he later addressed in his writings and speeches. It is telling that he never used the modern arguments that people use when defending Sunday. Most modern Christian leaders somehow believe that observing the Sabbath is akin to legalism and therefore not consistent with salvation by grace.

Martin Luther never held to the abolition of the Decalogue and its sabbath, irrespective of all his criticisms of the Romanist perversions thereof. In his Table Talk, Luther recorded his belief that “the Apostles transferred Sabbath to Sunday, (as) none else would have dared to do it”; and in his tract Against the Antinomians of 1539, he exclaimed: “I wonder exceedingly how it came to be imputed to me that I should reject the law of Ten Commandments”.

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