The Seventh Day Baptist Church is a denomination in the Baptist tradition that believes in the continuation of the Old Testament Sabbath command. Seventh Day Baptists meet on Saturday for worship and keep that day as a day of rest to honor God. As Baptists, they also practice believers’ baptism by immersion, not infant baptism.
Seventh Day Baptist churches are independent congregations but are affiliated with each other under a denominational structure and statement of beliefs. The Seventh Day Baptist Church traces its origin to the mid-1600s’ Separatist movement in England. Recognizing that the basis for doctrine and practice is the Bible, some of those in the Separatist movement considered the keeping of the Sabbath as an inescapable conclusion and requirement for the Christian church.
The first Seventh Day Baptist church in America began in 1671 when some traditional (i.e., Sunday worship) Baptists developed the conviction that worship should take place on the Sabbath day, and they withdrew from other Baptists. The statement of faith of the Seventh Day Baptist Church reveals an orthodox understanding of the Trinity, the Bible, and the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Their understanding of salvation is Arminian in that they believe fallen man has the ability to choose to believe in Christ.
Seventh Day Baptists hold that there exists a continuity between the Old and New Testaments regarding Sabbath-keeping. This is not a salvation-related issue, and one’s view of the Sabbath is not necessarily a mark of orthodoxy. But it is a distinctive for the Seventh Day Baptist Church, as indicated by the name of the denomination.
One possible matter of concern found in their statement of faith is in the introduction, which contains this statement: “Seventh Day Baptists consider liberty of thought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be essential to Christian belief and practice. Therefore we encourage the unhindered study and open discussion of Scripture. We uphold the individual’s freedom of conscience in seeking to determine and obey the will of God” (Statement of Belief, accessed January 22, 2019).
Any one Bible passage has only one true meaning. While there may be several possible applications, there can be only one correct interpretation. The proper application of sound exegetical and hermeneutical principles is important for those who propose to teach the meaning of the Bible. The Seventh Day Baptist Church’s statement that “liberty of thought” is essential to “Christian belief” raises questions: are there certain Christian beliefs that we are at liberty to dispense with? And how far should we take the “open discussion of Scripture” before common-sense rules of interpretation intrude? Are personal beliefs and preferences to yield to biblical exegesis?
In conclusion, the Seventh Day Baptist Church is orthodox in that their statement of faith appears to align with the basic creeds of historical Christianity. The issue of observing the Sabbath should not be a major issue (see Romans 14:5), as long as it does not lead to legalism. Of course, in any association or denomination, individual churches have unique differences, and the doctrine and practices of any church should be assessed according to what Scripture says.