Sabbatarian churches share a common argument; that Sunday worship is wrong. They cite a number of reasons for this:
It was instituted by the Catholic Church / pope.
It is about sun worship.
The day is not sanctioned by Scripture.
Sunday worship is the mark of the beast and is devil worship.
What I would like the reader to comprehend here is that these claims are generally lacking in credible evidence and they are claims couched in accusations.
First of all, these claims revolve around a logical fallacy, where Sunday worship is set up as a straw man argument. Sunday is set up as the antithesis of the Sabbath. It is “knocked down” so as to leave the Sabbath the winner in this argument where the proponents of the Sabbath never truly have to address the issue of whether the Sabbath is required of people or not; the Sabbath “wins by default.”
We should ask ourselves the critical questions: why does a belief require such a spurious argument in order to justify its observance? Is this truly how we are to discern truth from error?
Was the Catholic Church responsible for instituting Sunday worship?
The early church documents show that Christians had “abandoned” Sabbath keeping very early, and had embraced Sunday as a day of worship long before there even was a Catholic Church or a pope. The church at Rome was a satellite church of the Eastern Orthodox.
Sabbatarian churches cite examples of Catholics claiming to have “changed the day” yet these claims were an attempt by them to claim Protestants were not abiding by their claim of “Sola Scriptura” in that they were following the lead of the Catholic Church when it came to Sunday worship. Their claim was proven false by the documents of their own history and that of the early writings of the church. These Sabbatarian churches often claim the Catholic Church to be unchristian, but when it suits their purpose, they are cited by them as an authority.
Is or was Sunday about sun worship?
When Christians began gathering on Sundays for communal worship and prayer, the day was known as the “first day of the week” or the day after the Sabbath. The designation “Sunday” did not occur until centuries later. Sun worship did indeed exist in the Roman world of influence, but the adherents did not have a weekly day dedicated to sun worship. They did have a day for this every month. Furthermore, even into the Christian era, the Roman world continued to follow an 8 day week.
This also begs critical questions. How would these pagan sun worshipers have managed to steal a day from God, thus forever spoiling it for any godly purpose? They could not, but this is the logical conclusion one must come to in order for this sun worship argument to work. The whole concept is an affront to God.
The day is not sanctioned by Scripture
It doesn’t need to be. Christians are free, according to their Christian liberty, to worship God on any day and at any location they so desire, as contrasted to worship as commanded in the old covenant, where time and location were dictated.
In Romans chapter 14, the apostle Paul states that Christians are free to esteem a day to God, or not. The Sabbatarian take on this is Orwellian in nature, demanding that the day we esteem has to be the Sabbath, and cannot be any other day, especially the first day of the week. Critical thinking shows the absurdity of this belief.
Jesus declared to the Samaritan woman regarding the age old debate over where the proper place or worship was that the time was coming and “now” (at that time) is that people would be worshiping God in spirit and in truth. The implication is, they were not doing so then and earlier, where worship was restricted to time and location; the temple at Jerusalem at specific times and days; worship that was compulsory and not voluntary, because you wanted to.
The Sabbatarians also blur the distinction between the Sabbath command to rest or cease from labor with corporate worship. It needs to be pointed out that worship is not cessation of work, and cessation of work is not corporate worship.
Sunday worship is the mark of the beast and is devil worship1
The Sabbatarian claim comes down to a declaration that it is wrong to worship God on a Sunday. This too begs the critical thinking question regarding the other days of the week. If trying to worship God on a Sunday is actually sun worship and the worship of devils, then what about worshiping God on, say, Monday?
The mark of the beast is discussed in the Book of Revelation. In that book, the author invokes a curse on those who would dare to add to, or take away from the words of that book. Do you find any mention of Sunday worship being associated with the mark of the beast in that book? No?
When it comes to the Sabbath, the Sabbath should be seen and judged on its own merits. There should be no need to resort to logical fallacies and spurious claims in order to make the case for the Sabbath. But the fact that such claims are made should tell us something about those using these methods in order to convince people they should be keeping the Sabbath.
By William Hohmann (former WCG member; graduate of Ambassador College)
Exit & Support Network™
1 This teaching originally came from false prophetess Ellen G. White.
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