20th Century Roman Catholic and Protestant
Confessions about Sunday Observance
American Congregationalists: No
authority in the New Testament for substitution of the first day for
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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.),
"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,
"1. Is Saturday the 7th day according to the Bible and the
"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'
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