20th Century Roman Catholic and ProtestantConfessions about Sunday Observance
American Congregationalists: No authority in the New Testament for substitution of the first day for the seventh
“The current notion that Christ and His apostles authoritatively substituted the first day for the seventh, is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament.” Dr. Lyman Abbott, in the Christian Union, June 26, 1890
Anglican: Nowhere commanded to keep the first day
“And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day. The reason why we keep the first of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, – not because the Bible, but because the church, has enjoined [commanded] it.” Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism, Vol. 1, pp 334, 336.
Anglican/Episcopal: The Catholics changed it
“We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church of Christ.” Episcopalian Bishop Symour, Why we keep Sunday.
Baptist: Sunday Sabbath not in the scriptures
“There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not on Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the Seventh to the First day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament – absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the Seventh to the First day of the week…
“I wish to say that this Sabbath question, in this aspect of it, is the gravest and most perplexing question connected with Christian institutions which at present claims attention from Christian people; and the only reason that it is not a more disturbing element in Christian thought and in religious discussion is because the Christian world has settled down content on the conviction that some how a transference has taken place at the beginning of Christian history.
“To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years’ discussion with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question, discussing it in some of its various aspects, freeing it from its false glosses [of Jewish traditions], never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated. Nor, so far as we know, did the Spirit, which was given to bring to their remembrance all things whatsoever that He had said unto them, deal with this question. Nor yet did the inspired apostles, in preaching the gospel, founding churches, counseling and instruction those founded, discuss or approach the subject.
“Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of a sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” Dr. Edward Hiscox, author of The Baptist Manual. From a photo static copy of a notarized statement by Dr. Hiscox.
“There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish seventh day Sabbath to the Christian first day observance” William Owen Carver, The Lord’s Day in One Day p.49
Church of England: No warrant from scripture for the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday
“Neither did he (Jesus), or his disciples, ordain another Sabbath in the place of this, as if they had intended only to shift the day; and to transfer this honor to some other time. Their doctrine and their practise are directly contrary, to so new a fancy. It is true, that in some tract of time, the Church in honor of his resurrection, did set apart that day on the which he rose, to holy exercises: but this upon their own authority, and without warrant from above, that we can hear of; more then the general warrant which God gave his Church, that all things in it be done decently, and in comely order.” Dr. Peter Heylyn of the Church of England, quoted in History of the Sabbath, Pt 2, Ch.2, p7
Congregationalist: The Christian Sabbath’ [Sunday] is not in the Scripture
“The Christian Sabbath’ [Sunday] is not in the Scripture, and was not by the primitive [early Christian] church called the Sabbath.” Timothy Dwight, Theology, sermon 107, 1818 ed., Vol. IV, p49 [Dwight (1752-1817) was president of Yale University from 1795-1817].
Disciples of Christ: It is all old wives’ fables to talk of the ‘change of the sabbath’
“If it [the Ten Commandments] yet exist, let us observe it… And if it does not exist, let us abandon a mock observance of another day for it. ‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? – No, it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned [in Genesis 2:1-3] must be changed before the observance or respect to the reason, can be changed. It is all old wives’ fables to talk of the ‘change of the sabbath’ from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio, – I think his name is “Doctor Antichrist.'” Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, February 2, 1824, vol 1, no. 7
Episcopal: Bible commandment says the seventh day
“The Bible commandment says on the seventh-day thou shalt rest. That is Saturday. Nowhere in the Bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday.” Phillip Carrington, quoted in Toronto Daily Star, Oct 26, 1949 [Carrington (1892-), Anglican archbishop of Quebec, spoke the avove in a message on this subject delivered to a packed assembly of clergymen. It was widely reported at the time in the news media].
Lutheran: They err in teaching Sunday Sabbath
But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to be kept by the children of Israel…..These churches err in their teaching, for scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New Testament to that effect” John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday, pp.15, 16
“We have seen how gradually the impression of the Jewish Sabbath faded from the mind of the Christian church, and how completely the newer thought underlying the observance of the first day took possesion of the church. We have seen that the Christian of the first three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time celebrated both.” The Sunday Problem, a study book by the Lutheran Church (1923) p.36
“They [Roman Catholics] allege the change of the Sabbath into the Lord’s day, as it seemeth, to the Decalogue [the ten commandments]; and they have no example more in their mouths than they change of the Sabbath. They will needs have the Church’s power to be very great, because it hath dispensed with the precept of the Decalogue.” The Augsburg Confession, 1530 A.D. (Lutheran), part 2, art 7, in Philip Schaff, the Creeds of Christiandom, 4th Edition, vol 3, p64 [this important statement was made by the Lutherans and written by Melanchthon, only thirteen years after Luther nailed his theses to the door and began the Reformation].
“They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, as having been changed into the Lord’s Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten commandments!” Augsburg Confession of Faith,art. 28; written by Melanchthon and approved by Martin Luther, 1530; as published in The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Henry Jacobs, editor (1911), p.63
Methodist: Jesus did not abolish the moral law – no command to keep holy the first day
The moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He Jesus did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which can never be broken…Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other.” John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, Vol.1, No. 25
“It is true that there is no positive command for infant baptism. Nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week. Many believe that Christ changed the Sabbath. But, from His own words, we see that He came for no such purpose. Those who believe that Jesus changed the Sabbath base it only on a supposition.” Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, 1902 edition, pp 180-181, 171 [Binney (1802-1878), Methodist minister and presiding elder, whose Compendium was published for forty years in many languages, also wrote a Methodist New Testament Commentary].
“Take the matter of sunday. There are indications in the new testament as to how the church came to keep the first day of the week as its day of worship, but there is no passage telling Christians to keep that day or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day.” Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate July 2, 1942 pg. 26
Moody Bible Institute: “Sabbath was before Sinai”
“I honestly believe that this commandment [the Sabbath commandment] is just as binding today as it ever was. I have talked with men who have said that it has been abrogated [abolilshed], but they have never been able to point to any place in the Bible where God repealed it. When Christ was on earth, He did nothing to set it aside; He freed it from the traces under which the scribes and Pharisees had put it, and gave it its true place. ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ [mark 2:27]. It is just as practicable and as necessary for men today as it ever was – in fact, more than ever, because we live in such an intense age.
“The [Seventh-day] Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This Fourth Commandment [Exodus 20:8-11] begins with the word ‘remember,’ showing that the Sabbath had already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they admit that the other nine are still binding? Dwight.L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting, 1898, pp.46-47 [D.L. Moody, (1837-1899) was the most famous evangelist of his time, and founder of the Moody Bible Institute].
“This Fourth is not a commandment for one place, or one time, but for all places and times.” D.L. Moody, at San Francisco, Jan. 1st, 1881.
Presbyterian: Sunday kept the Gentiles happy
“Sunday being the first day of which the Gentiles solemnly adored that planet and called it Sunday, partly from its influence on that day especially, and partly in respect to its divine body (as they conceived it) the Christians thought fit to keep the same day and the same name of it, that they might not appear carelessly peevish, and by that means hinder the conversion of the Gentiles, and bring a greater prejudice that might be otherwise taken against the gospel” T.M. Morer, Dialogues on the Lord’s Day
Roman Catholic: No such law in the Bible
“Nowhere in the bible do we find that Jesus or the apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Satuday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is, the seventh day of the week, Saturday. Today, most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman] church outside the bible.” Catholic Virginian, Oct. 3, 1947
“You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctified.” James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers (1917 ed.), pp.72,73
“If protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church.” Albert Smith, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, replying for the cardinal in a letter of Feb. 10, 1920.
Question: “Have you not any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?”
Answer: “Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her – she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority” Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd ed. p. 174
“Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holydays?
Answer: By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church.” Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine (1833 approbation), p.58 (Same statement in Manual of Christian Doctrine, ed. by Daniel Ferris [1916 ed.], p.67)
“The Catholic Church,… by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.” The Catholic Mirror, official organ of Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893.
“1. Is Saturday the 7th day according to the Bible and the 10 Commandments?
“I answer yes.
“2. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church change the 7th day, Saturday, for Sunday, the 1st day?
“I answer yes.
“3. Did Christ change the day?
“I answer no! Faithfully yours,
“J. Cardinal Gibbons” Gibbons’ autograph letter.
Some theologians have held that God likewise directly determined the Sunday as the day of worship in the NEW LAW, that he himself has explicitly substituted sunday for the Sabbath. But this theory is entirely abandoned. It is now commonly held that God simply gave His church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem suitable as holy days. The church chose sunday, the first day of the week, and in the course of time added other days as holy days.” John Laux A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies 1936, vol.1 p.51
“Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemity from Saturday to Sunday.” Peter Geiermann, The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1946 ed.), p.50. Geiermann received the “apostolic blessing” of Pope Pius X on his labors, January 25, 1910.
“The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh Day Adventist is the only consistent Protestant. The Catholic Universe Bulletin, Aug. 14, 1942, p.4
“The observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] church.” Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today (1868), p. 213