Most Christians assume that Sunday is the biblically approved day of worship. The Roman Catholic Church protests that it transferred Christian worship from the biblical Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday, and that to try to argue that the change was made in the Bible is both dishonest and a denial of Catholic authority. If Protestantism wants to base its teachings only on the Bible, it should worship on Saturday.
Over one hundred years ago the Catholic Mirror ran a series of articles discussing the right of the Protestant churches to worship on Sunday. The articles stressed that unless one was willing to accept the authority of the Catholic Church to designate the day of worship, the Christian should observe Saturday. Those articles are presented here in their entirety.
[From the Catholic Mirror of Sept. 23, 1893]
"Halting on crutches of unequal size, One leg by truth supported, one by lies, Thus sidle to the goal with awkward pace, secure of nothing but to lose the race."
In the present article we propose to investigate carefully a new (and the last) class of proof assumed to convince the Biblical Christian that God had substituted Sunday for Saturday for His worship in the new law, and that the divine will is to be found recorded by the Holy Ghost in apostolic writings.
We are informed that this radical change has found expression, over and over again, in a series of texts in which the expression, "the day of the Lord," or "the Lord's day," is to be found.
The class of texts in the New Testament, under the title "Sabbath," numbering sixty-one in the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles; and the second class, in which "the first day of the week," or Sunday, having been critically examined (the latter class numbering [eight]); and having been found not to afford the slightest clue to a change of will on the part of God as to His day of worship by man, we now proceed to examine the third and last class of texts relied on to save the Biblical system from the arraignment of seeking to palm off on the world, in the name of God, a decree for which there is not the slightest warrant or authority from their teacher, the Bible.
The first text of this class is to be found in the Acts of the Apostles 2:20: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord shall come." How many Sundays have rolled by since that prophecy was spoken? So much for that effort to pervert the meaning of the sacred text from the judgment day to Sunday!
The second text of this class is to be found in I Corinthians 1:8: "Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." What simpleton does not see that the apostle here plainly indicates the day of judgment? The next text of this class that presents itself is to be found in the same Epistle, chapter 5:5 "To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." The incestuous Corinthian was, of course, saved on the Sunday next following!! How pitiable such a makeshift as this! The fourth text, II Corinthians 1:13-14: "And I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Sunday or the day of judgment, which? The fifth text is from St. Paul to the Philippians, chapter 1, verse 6: "Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ." The good people of Philippi, in attaining perfection on the following Sunday, could afford to laugh at our modern rapid transit!
We beg to submit our sixth of the class; viz., Philippians, first chapter, tenth verse: "That he may be sincere without offense unto the day of Christ." That day was next Sunday, forsooth! no so long to wait after all. The seventh text, II Peter 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." The application of this text to Sunday passes the bounds of absurdity.
The eighth text, II Peter 3:12: "Waiting for and hastening unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved," etc. This day of the Lord is the same referred to in the previous text, the application of both of which to Sunday next would have left the Christian world sleepless the next Saturday night.
We have presented to our readers eight of the nine texts relied on to bolster up by text of Scripture the sacrilegious effort to palm off the "Lord's day" for Sunday, and with what result? Each furnishes prima facie evidence of the last day, referring to it directly, absolutely, and unequivocally.
The ninth text wherein we meet the expression "the Lord's day," is the last to be found in the apostolic writings. The Apocalypse, or Revelation, chapter 1:10, furnishes it in the following words of John: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day;" but it will afford no more comfort to our Biblical friends than its predecessors of the same series. Has St. John used the expression previously in his Gospel or Epistles?—Emphatically, NO. Has he had occasion to refer to Sunday hitherto? —Yes, twice. How did he designate Sunday on these occasions? Easter Sunday was called by him (John 20:1) "the first day of the week."
Again, chapter twenty, nineteenth verse: "Now when it was late that same day, being the first day of the week." Evidently, although inspired, both in his Gospel and Epistles, he called Sunday "the first day of the week." On what grounds, then, can it be assumed that he dropped that designation? Was he more inspired when he wrote the Apocalypse, or did he adopt a new title for Sunday, because it was now in vogue?
A reply to these questions would be supererogatory especially to the latter, seeing that the same expression had been used eight times already by St. Luke, St. Paul and St. Peter, all under divine inspiration, and surely the Holy Spirit would not inspire St. John to call Sunday the Lord's day, whilst He inspired Sts. Luke, Paul, and Peter, collectively, to entitle the day of judgment "the Lord's day." Dialecticians reckon amongst the infallible motives of certitude, the moral motive of analogy or induction, by which we are enabled to conclude with certainty from the known to the unknown; being absolutely certain of the meaning of an expression can have only the same meaning when uttered the ninth time, especially when we know that on the nine occasions the expressions were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Nor are the strongest intrinsic grounds wanting to prove that this, like its sister texts, contains the same meaning. St. John (Revelation 1:10) says "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day; "but he furnishes us the key to this expression, chapter four, first and second verses: "After this I looked and behold a door opened in heaven." A voice said to him: "Come up hither, and I will show you the things which must be hereafter." Let us ascend in spirit with John. Whither?—through that "door in heaven," to heaven. And what shall we see?—"The things that must be hereafter," chapter four, first verse. He ascended in spirit to heaven. He was ordered to write, in full, his vision of what is to take place antecedent to, and concomitantly with, "the Lord's day," or the day of judgment; the expression "Lord's day" being confined in Scripture to the day of judgment exclusively.
We have studiously and accurately collected from the New Testament every available proof that could be adduced in favor of a law canceling the Sabbath day of the old law, or one substituting another day for the Christian dispensation. We have been careful to make the above distinction, lest it might be advanced that the [fourth] commandment was abrogated under the new law. Any such plea has been overruled by the action of the Methodist Episcopal bishops in their pastoral 1874, and quoted by the New York Herald of the same date, of the following tenor: "The Sabbath instituted in the beginning and confirmed again and again by Moses and the prophets, has never been abrogated. A part of the moral law, not a part or tittle of its sanctity has been taken away." The above official pronunciamento has committed that large body of Biblical Christians to the permanence of the [fourth] commandment under the new law.
We again beg to leave to call the special attention of our readers to the twentieth of "the thirty-nine articles of religion" of the Book of Common Prayer; "It is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's written word."
We have in this series of articles, taken much pains for the instruction of our readers to prepare them by presenting a number of undeniable facts found in the word of God to arrive at a conclusion absolutely irrefragable. When the Biblical system put in an appearance in the sixteenth century, it not only seized on the temporal possessions of the Church, but in its vandalic crusade stripped Christianity, as far as it could, of all the sacraments instituted by its Founder, of the holy sacrifice, etc., etc., retaining nothing but the Bible, which its exponents pronounced their sole teacher in Christian doctrine and morals.
Chief amongst their articles of belief was, and is today, the permanent necessity of keeping the Sabbath holy. In fact, it has been for the past 300 years the only article of the Christian belief in which there has been a plenary consensus of Biblical representatives. The keeping of the Sabbath constitutes the sum and substance of the Biblical theory. The pulpits resound weekly with incessant tirades against the lax manner of keeping the Sabbath in Catholic countries, as contrasted with the proper, Christian, self-satisfied mode of keeping the day in Biblical countries. Who can ever forget the virtuous indignation manifested by the Biblical preachers throughout the length and breadth of our country, from every Protestant pulpit, as long as yet undecided; and who does not know today, that one sect, to mark its holy indignation at the decision, has never yet opened the boxes that contained its articles at the World's Fair?
These superlatively good and unctuous Christians, by conning over their Bible carefully, can find their counterpart in a certain class of unco-good people in the days of the Redeemer, who haunted Him night and day, distressed beyond measure, and scandalized beyond forbearance, because He did not keep the Sabbath in as straight-laced manner as themselves.
They hated Him for using common sense in reference to the day, and He found no epithets expressive enough of His supreme contempt for their Pharisaical pride. And it is very probably that the divine mind has not modified its views today anent the blatant outcry of their followers and sympathizers at the close of this nineteenth century. But when we add to all this the fact that whilst the Pharisees of old kept the true Sabbath, our modern Pharisees, counting on the credulity and simplicity of their dupes, have never once in their lives kept the true Sabbath which their divine Master kept to His dying day, and which His apostles kept, after His example, for thirty years steward, according to the Sacred Record, the most glaring contradiction, involving a deliberate sacrilegious rejection of a most positive precept, is presented to us today in the action of the Biblical Christian world. The Bible and the Sabbath constitute the watchword of Protestantism; but we have demonstrated that it is the Bible against their Sabbath. We have shown that no greater contradiction ever existed than their theory and practice. We have proved that neither the Biblical ancestors nor themselves have ever kept one Sabbath day in their lives.
The Israelites and Seventh-day Adventists are witnesses of their weekly desecration of the day named by God so repeatedly, and whilst [Protestant Bible Christians] have ignored and condemned their teacher, the Bible, they have adopted a day kept by the Catholic Church. What Protestant can, after perusing these articles, with a clear conscience, continue to disobey the command of God, enjoining Saturday to be kept, which command his teacher, the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, records as the will of God?
The history of the world cannot present a more stupid, self-stultifying specimen of dereliction of principle than this. The teacher demands emphatically in every page that the law of the Sabbath be observed every week, by all recognizing it as "the only infallible teacher," whilst the disciples of that teacher have not once for over three hundred years observed the divine precept! That immense concourse of Biblical Christians, the Methodists, have declared that the Sabbath has never been abrogated, whilst the followers of the Church of England, together with her daughter, the Episcopal Church of the United States, are committed by the twentieth article of religion, already quoted, to the ordinance that the Church cannot lawfully ordain anything "contrary to God's written word." God's written word enjoins His worship to be observed on Saturday absolutely, repeatedly, and most emphatically, with a most positive threat of death to him who disobeys. All the Biblical sects occupy the same self-stultifying position which no explanation can modify, much less justify.
How truly do the words of the Holy Spirit apply to this deplorable situation! "Iniquitas mentita est sibi"—"Iniquity hath lied to itself." Proposing to follow the Bible only as teacher, yet before the world, the sole teacher is ignominiously thrust aside, and the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church—"the mother of abomination," when it suits their purpose so to designate her—adopted, despite the most terrible threats pronounced by God Himself against those who disobey the command, "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath."
Before closing this series of articles, we beg to call the attention of our readers once more to our caption, introductory of each; viz., 1. The Christian Sabbath, the genuine offspring of the union of the Holy Spirit with the Catholic Church His spouse. 2. The claim of Protestantism to any part therein proved to be groundless, self-contradictory, and suicidal.
The first proposition needs little proof. The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. We say by virtue of her divine mission, because He who called Himself the "Lord of the Sabbath," endowed her with His own power to teach, "he that heareth you, heareth Me;" commanded all who believe in Him to hear her, under penalty of being placed with "heathen and publican;" and promised to be with her to the end of the world. She holds her charter as teacher from Him—a charter as infallible as perpetual. The Protestant world at its birth found the Christian Sabbath too strongly entrenched to run counter to its existence; it was therefore placed under the necessity of acquiescing in the arrangement, thus implying the Church's right to change the day, for over three hundred years. The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day, the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church as spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world.
Let us now, however, take a glance at our second proposition, with the Bible alone as the teacher and guide in faith and morals. This teacher most emphatically forbids any change in the day for paramount reasons. The command calls for a "perpetual covenant." The day commanded to be kept by the teacher has never once been kept, thereby developing an apostasy from an assumedly fixed principle, as self-contradictory, self-stultifying, and consequently as suicidal as it is within the power of language to express.
Nor are the limits of demoralization yet reached. Far from it. Their pretense for leaving the bosom of the Catholic Church was for apostasy from the truth as taught in the written word. They adopted the written word as their sole teacher, which they had no sooner done than they abandoned it promptly, as these articles have abundantly proved; and by a perversity as willful as erroneous, they accept the teaching of the Catholic Church in direct opposition to the plain, unvaried, and constant teaching of their sole teacher in the most essential doctrine of their religion, thereby emphasizing the situation in what may be aptly designated "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare."