The Implecations of Sunday Legislation
Thee Pope in his Apostolic Letter, Dies
Domini, dated May 31, 1998 but released on July 7, 1998, introduced a matter whichwas both disturbing and of the utmost importance. Ponder John Paul’s
Therefore, also in the particular circumstances of
our own time, Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil
legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy.
Civil legislation? Civil legislation has only
one place, and one place alone, in matters of religion and personal
conviction. That prerogative is to guarantee full religious liberty and
free practice of faith to all citizens of the nation. Of course, vile
crimes such as human sacrifice must not be encompassed by such liberty.
But care must be taken not to extend such exceptions beyond the realm of
criminal acts abhorrent to mankind.
If the Pope in this matter is making a plea for civil
legislation to guarantee full religious liberty for all citizens to
practice their faith, we applaud it. If he is asserting the right of man
to refrain from taking part in all aspects of religion, we could not
rightly take issue with this plea. But this does not appear to be the
intent of John Paul’s words.
Three paragraphs prior to the statement quoted above,
the Pope, of course in a manner designed to limit the serious
implications of that which he has suggested, speaks of his church having
enacted Sunday laws in times past. The historical record of such church
laws is far from exemplary, for coercion rather than liberty was the
hallmark of such legislation. The Pope speaks of the church laws being
enacted, having "in mind above all the work of servants and
workers." He further reminded his readers that
Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Rerum Novarum
spoke of Sunday rest as a worker’s right which the State must
There is no provision in Leo XIII’s Encyclical for
workers’ rights in the matter of seventh-day Sabbath observance,
should that be their convictions.
Our concerns are increased when we take regard of a
previous Apostolic Letter issued by the Pope on May 28, 1998. In this
Apostolic Letter, Ad Tuendam Fidem (To Protect the Faith), which
was designed to insert new codes into Canon Law, the new Canon 1436 is a
cause for grave concern. It states:
– § 1. Whoever denies a truth which must be believed with divine
and catholic faith, or who calls into doubt, or who totally repudiates
the Christian faith, and does not retract after having been
legitimately warned, is to be punished as a heretic or an apostate
with a major excommunication; a cleric moreover can be punished with
other penalties, not excluding deposition.
§ 2. In addition to these cases, whoever
obstinately rejects a teaching that the Roman Pontiff or the College
of Bishops, exercising the authentic Magisterium, have set forth to be
held definitively, or who affirms what they have condemned as
erroneous, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned,
is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.
Here "punishment as a heretic" is invoked,
together with a mystifying "punishment with an appropriate
penalty." With such ill-defined punishment we could be forgiven if
we reflected upon the history of the Inquisition. Peter de Rosa, a
former professor of theology at Corpus Christi College and Professor of
Ethics at Westminster Seminary, both Roman Catholic institutions, in his
book, Vicars of Christ, (Corgi Books, 1989, London, p. 244)
stated that 80 successive popes implemented the Inquisition.
In his Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, John
Paul II appealed to Pope Leo XIII, who reigned from 1878–1903. John
My predecessor, Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Rerum
Novarum spoke of Sunday rest as a worker’s right which the State
The appeal to Leo XIII is of concern. It will be
noted that he, too, called upon the State, the civil authorities, to
support Sunday sacredness. Further, Leo XIII was no friend of religious
liberty. He officially declared in his Papal Encyclical on Human
Let us examine that liberty in individuals which is
so opposed to the virtue of religion, namely the liberty of worship,
as it is called. This is based on the principle that every man is free
to profess as he may choose any religion or none.…A liberty such as
we have described…is no liberty, but is degradation (The Great
Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, 3rd addition, Benzinger, 1903,
pp. 149, 150).
Leo XIII’s predecessor, Pope Pius IX, who held the
papal seat longer than any pope in history (1846–1878), held identical
views of religious liberty. In his Syllabus of Errors, issued
December 8, 1864, Pope Pius IX condemned 80 matters which he listed as
"errors". Two are worthy of record in respect of the matter of
No. 15 Every man is free to embrace or profess that
religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.
No. 24 The church has not the power of force, nor
has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.
Again we emphasize that Pius IX declared these
matters, upholding religious liberty and precluding the church from the
use of temporal force, to be errors.
Such a philosophy of freedom leaves wide open the
door of punishment for simply holding convictions contrary to those of
the Roman Catholic Church, even when the individual leads an exemplary
life as a citizen in all respects. It is surely the thinking of the Dark
Ages, not the nineteenth century.
The Roman Catholic Church has a long track record of
what it considers as appropriate and just punishment for heretics.
Estimates of the number who died at the hand of the Church range from 50
million to 120 million.
The revered Roman Catholic saint and theologian,
Thomas Aquinas, wrote,
With regard to heretics…on their own side there
is sin, by which they deserve not only to be separated from the church
by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. (SUMMA
THEOLOGICA Part II of second part, question 11, article 3, Vol. 2
The cruelties of the Inquisition are too horrible to
recount, yet modern scholars have for several decades been reappraising
Some now maintain the justice meted out, although
brutal, was neither capricious nor unusual for the times. (Courier
Mail, Brisbane, Australia, Nov. 2, 1998).
This is a most disconcerting assessment since it was
largely the papacy which fashioned those times.
The Libro Nero (Black Book), a guide to
Inquisitors, which was still on display in the Vatican last century,
typifies papal justice, especially as many confessions were not made
because of guilt but in order to spare the accused further cruel
torture. The Inquisitors were admonished,
Either the person confesses and he is proved guilty
from his own confession, or he does not confess and is equally guilty
on the evidence of witnesses (many of whom were unreliable). If a
person confesses the whole of what he is accused of, he is
unquestionably guilty of the whole; but if he confesses only a part,
he ought still be regarded as guilty of the whole, since what he has
confessed proves him to be capable of guilt as to the other points of
accusation (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 228, Corgi
Books, London, 1989).
That death of heretics was still regarded as
appropriate in the early part of the twentieth century is evidenced in a
book written by Dr. Mariano de Luca in 1901. This book was based upon a
series of lectures which Dr. de Luca had presented. The book contains a
letter from Pope Leo XIII highly commending Dr. de Luca’s
presentations. Dr. de Luca quoted,
The civil magistrate, by the command and commission
of the church, ought to punish the heretic with the penalty of death.
(Institutions of Ecclesiastical Public Law, p. 261). NOTE: The
statement is a quote from Dr. Tanner positively presented by Dr. de
In 1910, Alexis Lépicier, professor of Sacred
Theology in the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda in Rome,
reiterated the claim that the state should inflict death on heretics (On
the Stability and Progress of Dogma, 2nd edition, pp. 194–210).
Thus, Pope John Paul II’s enactment of new punitive
laws for heretics is no trivial threat to the welfare and liberties of
mankind. Since his apostolic letter Ad Tuendum Fidem includes all
Christians, it is a great challenge as Protestantism moves rapidly
towards Rome. The introduction states:
To protect the faith of the Catholic Church against
errors arising from certain members of the Christian faithful.
The significance should not be lost upon the reader,
if a non-Catholic, that the new canon law 1436 was addressed to
"Whoever" and the new canon law 1371 was directed to "a
person who…." Thus they are not confined to Roman Catholic
While the Pope may not be considering such extreme
penalties, nevertheless the vague nature of the penalties provides an
open-ended decision-making process. Thus Canon 1436 speaks of "an
appropriate penalty" while the other new Canon, 1371, refers to
punishment for lack of doctrinal orthodoxy to be meted out with a
"just penalty." Such lack of specificity was that which opened
the way to imprisonment and death in ages past.
Of course many would claim that times have so changed
since the period of the Inquisition that such would never be tolerated.
But the Bible plainly declares that just prior to Christ’s coming both
economic boycotts and death will be imposed upon faithful followers of
Christ, simply because their convictions are at odds with the majority
faith. Christ, Himself, warned,
They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the
time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God
service (John 16:2).
In the book of the end-time Jesus plainly stated the
final events of earth’s history. Remember that this book is the
revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1).
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the
means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the
beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make
an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the
image should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship
the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both
small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in
their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or
sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the
number of his name (Revelation 13: 14-17).
To many, the language of this passage may seem
initially incomprehensible. But the 13th chapter of Revelation provides
ample evidence to make this passage all too plain. This we shall see.
But firstly let us extract the plain matters in the quoted passage:
1. This is an issue of worship (verse 15).
2. Massive deception will be perpetrated upon the entire world
3. The central focus is a "beast which had a wound by a sword
and did live" (verse 14).
4. A mark will be received by those who accept the worship of this
coercive power (verses 16, 17).
5. There will be an economic boycott of dissenters (verse 17).
6. There will be a death sentence for dissenters (verse 15).
7. There is a "he" who will empower "the beast"
and assist the "beast" in the prosecution of dissenters
We need to identify several matters from the above
facts. Having done so, this issue will be perfectly clear. These matters
1. The identity of "the beast which had the wound."
2. The mysterious "mark" which will save people from both
the economic boycott and the universal death decree.
3. The "he" who has so much worldwide influence that
"he" can enforce economic boycotts and death decrees
worldwide in support of the "beast’s" form of worship.
Let us first identify the "mark." The Bible
identifies this "mark" in other passages of Scripture.
Whatever it is, it is a most telling and important matter. As we have
seen in the above passage, it is of such value that the possessors of
it, whether in the forehead or in the right hand, will be spared both
severe economic sanctions and execution.
But further investigation of the mark of this
"beast" power reveals that it is a double-sided coin. On the
other side it provides the most dire penalties from God for those who
possess this mark. Let us look at those Scriptural passages which
plainly declare this fact.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a
loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive
his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of
the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into
the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and
brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of
the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and
ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and
his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name
This passage of Scripture reveals:
1. That this is an issue of worship (verse 9,11).
2. That the bearers of "the mark" will reap the awesome
wrath of God (verse 10,11).
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying
to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath
of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial
upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the
men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped
his image (Revelation 16:1,2).
These verses reveal that those who receive "the
mark of the beast" will be the recipients of the seven last plagues
— plagues of a magnitude never previously known upon earth. (For
details of each of the seven plagues read the entire chapter of
And the beast was taken, and with him the false
prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them
that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his
image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with
brimstone (Revelation 19:20).
The third of this trilogy of passages instructs us as
1. The "beast" and the "he" ("the false
prophet that wrought miracles — compare with Revelation 13:14 —
those who accepted the mark) will be destroyed in the final
2. Again the issue of worship is emphasized — "worshipped
his image." Thus worship is a key issue in this matter of
3. Those who receive "the mark" will also be destroyed in
the final destruction of the wicked.
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the
Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In
flaming fire taking vengeance on them that obey not the gospel of our
Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2
Thessalonians 1: 7-9).
Clearly then, at the end of earth’s history mankind
will be required to make a choice. This is no easy choice. Those who
accept the mark of the beast will be spared the economic boycotts and
execution to be meted out to the small group which refrains from
enforced worship. On the other hand, they will incur the wrath of God
and will suffer the seven last plagues and eternal destruction in the
This coerced worship will be almost universal.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship
him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain
from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).
This fact should provide every Christian pause to
consider the final goals of the ecumenical movement. While it is true
that Christ prayed for unity amongst Christians (John 17:21), it was not
unity based upon compromise and/or error. Christ never taught unity at
any price. Notice that the prayer for unity recorded in John 17:21 is
based upon Christ’s platform of truth.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is
truth.... And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might
be sanctified through the truth (John 17:17, 19).
The ecumenical movement de-emphasizes truth and
doctrinal convictions in order to obtain uniformity amongst the members
of churches which holds doctrines which are diametrically opposed. Let
us illustrate. Presbyterians believe in predestination. On the other
hand, Methodists believe in free choice. Episcopalians believe in infant
baptism. Baptists practice adult believer baptism. The Salvation Army
has no form of baptism, nor do they engage in the communion service,
unlike most other faiths. Some segments of the Church of England
practice confession to priests, while the Lutherans confess directly to
Christ. The Eastern Orthodox churches utilize icons and images in their
worship, while the Church of the Nazarenes does not. The Church of
Christ eschews the use of musical instruments in its services, while
most other faiths utilize such instruments. Some faiths assert the
doctrine of once saved, always saved; others believe that salvation is
conditioned upon continual obedience. Doctrinal positions, such as the
immortality of the soul and its opposite, the belief in death as a
"sleep," have to be submerged in the ecumenical movement. So
too do the doctrinal views of the earthly millennium and its converse,
the millennium in heaven. The difference between Sunday, as opposed to
Saturday sanctity has to be submerged if the ecumenical movement is to
succeed in its aims.
That it will all but succeed is made evident in the
prophecy of Revelation 13:8 quoted above. However, the context of this
Scripture informs us that this move for a single world religion is far
from God’s choosing and is inimical to salvation, for the minority
clearly are the ones whose names are written in the Book of Life and
thus receive salvation. The great majority will forfeit salvation. This
confirms Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 10: 22, 23) which Paul applied to
the Christian Church.
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the
number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant
shall be saved" (Romans 9:27).
Every devout Christian should reevaluate the aims of
the ecumenical movement. Manifestly it is not designed of God.
It will be this remnant featured in the prophecies of
Isaiah and Romans who will be saved. Those are the very same people who
refuse to accept the mark of the beast. Speaking of such people, when
redeemed in heaven, we are informed,
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with
fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over
his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand
on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song
of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great
and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are
thy ways, thou King of saints (Revelation 15:2, 3).