Wish I could provide a glowing review of Dan B. Allender’s, Sabbath, but my grade rests firmly in the B- range. One of seven books in The Ancient Practices Series (published by Thomas Nelson), I admire the intent behind the text, which is to challenge modern Christians’ understanding (and practice) of the Sabbath in hopes of inspiring a return to a genuine engagement of this precious day. To this extent, I held high expectations of Sabbath, hoping to find a biblical grounding and a sprinkling of examples of Sabbath practices since the first century throughout the text. To my disappointment, Allender provided neither. While Allender is clearly passionate about the subject (evident in Section 1: Sabbath Pillars) and his theology is solid, I found the writing to become less fluid, organized, and connected as the book progressed (Section 2: Sabbath Purpose and Section 3: Sabbath Performance). While there is much to mull over in Sabbath, I finished this book wanting much more: a strong scriptural base, expansion of supportive-points, and a clearer sense of thematic continuity between sections and within chapters.
What I found refreshing about Sabbath is the material in Section 1: Sabbath Pillars. Allender leads the reader through an exploration of the question, “What is the Sabbath?” In this section the reader is encouraged to think beyond current, cultural perceptions of what the Sabbath has become for many: a day of rest from one’s occupation and a day to catch up on the mundane—laundry, housework, yard-work, etc. To spiritualize the day, Allender found that many Christians use the day to attend Church, but beyond that spiritual practices are limited to holding part of the day as a time of prayer or bible study—practices that are important, yes but Allender poses the notion that the Sabbath is meant to be so much more—not rest, but engagement in life!
Exploring Allender’s definition of the Sabbath Pillars (Holy Time, Sensual Glory, Communal Feast, and Play Day), the reader is challenged to confront personal perceptions of the meaning of Sabbath and encouraged to analyze patterns of behaviour demonstrated weekly on this day. What I will take away from the Sabbath, is Allender’s invitation to experience the Sabbath for all it is meant to be: Holy, exciting, precious, joy-filled, and delight-full. Allender asserts that Christians today use the Sabbath as a day of rest but “God wants us to have a day of wonder, delight and joy” (pg29). Allender emphasizes that to use the Sabbath as a “day off” (for personal gain to catch up on mundane tasks and projects) is to belittle the intent of the Sabbath. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed Section 1: Sabbath Pillars, and for this section alone would recommend reading Sabbath.
(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)