Sabbatarianism refers both to an emphasis on strict Sunday rest and to the practice among some Christians of a return to the Jewish-Christian seventh day (Saturday) as the day of worship. Only the latter will be discussed here.
Sabbatarianism has been a perennial, even if peripheral, issue among radical Protestants since the 16th century. In the 20th century, it is vigorously taught by the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Seventh-Day Baptists. Among Anabaptists it appeared between 1527 and 1529 at Liegnitz, Silesia, under the leadership of Oswald Glait and Andreas Fischer. These men then carried the teaching into the Nikolsburg area in Moravia about 1532, provoking, among other things, a written reaction from Martin Luther (Wider die Sabbather, 1538). It appeared late in the century among radical Unitarians in Transylvania, but was never widely accepted by either Anabaptists or Unitarians. The teaching died out by about 1540 among Anabaptists and was completely marginalized among Unitarians by about 1620.
Anabaptist Sabbatarianism does have interpretive significance in modern research. For, although the teaching was clearly rooted in biblical primitivism, the fact that most Anabaptists considered it a peripheral issue indicated that these Anabaptists employed other criteria alongside restitutionism in biblical interpretation.
Bacchiocchi, Samuele. From Sabbath to Sunday. Rome, 1977.
Hasel, Gerhard. "The Anabaptists of the Sixteenth Century and their Relationship to the Sabbath." MA thesis, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, 1960.
Liechty, Daniel. Andreas Fischer and Sabbatarian Anabaptism. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1988.
Mueller, Richard. Adventisten, Sabbat, Reformation. Lund, 1979.
Springer, Nelson and A.J. Klassen, compilers, Mennonite Bibliography, 1631-1961, 2 vols. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1977: II: 623 (on Sunday rest).
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 784. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Liechty, Daniel. "Sabbatarianism." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S235.html.
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