The response of grassroots Christians to the introduction of Sunday trading to New Zealand in 1989: by what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority?
Saunders, Christopher James
This thesis considers the responses of grassroots Christians to the introduction of Sunday trading to New Zealand in 1989. The key question addressed is, “by what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23). Did grassroots Christians consider authority resided with the church or the state and what shaped their ideas? Was the introduction of Sunday trading seen as weakening further any consideration of New Zealand as a “Christian” State? Did the correspondence indicate Sunday trading was an issue that included economic morality? Are the arguments used in opposing Sunday trading in 1988-1990 still being used by Christians opposing the proposed legislation to allow shops to open on statutory holidays: Easter Sunday and perhaps Christmas Day? The conclusion of the thesis suggests Christians opposing further extensions of the Shop Trading Hours Act might benefit from wider engagement with the many issues that can arise from biblical texts, and greater consideration of the history of the church and its Sunday practice, especially in New Zealand. Those who view society from a Christendom perspective are now in the minority. Debate in a pluralistic society raises issues not only of the authority claims that are made but also the language used in making these claims. Sabbath-Sunday questions are included as these issues were important in some correspondents’ arguments. What grounds exist for the “transfer” of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday? Is the fourth commandment a creation ordinance and for all people for all time? What did the correspondents’ understanding of Sabbath law suggest about their attitudes to the authority of the state when it was perceived to be in conflict with the church or scripture? The primary sources used in helping determine the perception of grassroots Christians to the question of authority included letters to the editor, submissions to the Shop Trading Hours Advisory Committee (1988) and the Parliamentary Select Committee: Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Bill 1900. Correspondence and articles on Sunday trading from forty newspapers and Christian and secular periodicals was reviewed. Two types were used in considering Christian responses to the introduction of Sunday trading. Correspondents in the “Christendom type” often used the bible or God as their source of authority. Those in the “Family, Economic, and Community Concerns” type used a wider range of authorities in presenting their arguments. In general correspondents appeared to consider the authority of scripture or God, rather than the church, as being above that of the state. However does this give Christians a right to impose “God’s law” on society?
Advisor: Bradstock, Andrew William
Degree Name: Master of Theology
Degree Discipline: Theology and Religious Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Sunday trading; Christian; Sabbath transfer; authority; Church and State
Research Type: Thesis