Seventh-day Adventists are in full accord with point 1that the moral law
is eternal in its very nature and has not been abrogated. We believe that these
eternal moral principles are unchanged and unchangeable. We further believe
that these basic principles are found in the DecalogueTen Commandments, or
the moral law.
We believe that the moral law in its original form, though the wording has
not been recorded, finds comprehensive expression in the principles set forth
by Jesusloving God supremely and loving our fellow men equally with
ourselves. These primary principles are the foundation of God's throne, and the eternal law of His beneficent moral government.
We also believe that it is this moral lawthe Decaloguethat reveals sin:
"By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20); "Where no law
is, there is no transgression" (Rom. 4:15); "I had not known sin, but
by the law" (Rom. 7:7); and "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth
also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).
It was the outbreak of sin in Eden, the transgression of the divine law,
that made the plan of redemption necessary. Because of man's sin the Saviour
died a vicarious, atoning death on Calvary to save lost man. Hence, the moral
law and the gospel are inseparably related. One reveals the sin; the other, the
Redeemer who saves from sin.
We are also in agreement with most of point 2that the Sabbath springs from
creation week, and is likewise permanent and eternal. The "six-and-one
day" expression, from which we dissent, will be discussed later. But on
the basis of the fundamental Protestant principle that the Bible is the
Christian's sole rule of faith and practice, we believe that the contention of
point 3that while the moral nature of the Sabbath as an institution is
permanent, its specific time element was only ceremonial and temporary, and
thus lapsed at the crossis inconsistent as a corollary argument.
We likewise reject the implication that while the moral aspect of the Sabbath
is firmly anchored in creation, its time element is not.*
Nowhere in the teachings of Jesus do we find any declaration to the effect
that this time element, or seventh-day-ness (if we may so term it), of the
Sabbath command has been changed. We have not found any questioning of the
validity of this seventh-day-ness on the part of Jesus, or any relaxation of
the obligation of its seventh-day-ness, but rather an implicit recognition of
1. Points of Agreement and Difference.Adventists believe that the
seventh-day Sabbathwhich was "made for man" (Mark 2:27)was given
to "man" (i.e., mankind) in Eden, long before the Hebrew people came
into being. And it was observed throughout the patriarchal age, long before it
was placed in the special custody of ancient Israel, following their exodus
*Some think of the Sabbath as an institution related only to the Hebrews.
Those who press this point claim that the Deuteronomy version of the Decalogue
emphasizes that the Sabbath was given exclusively to the Hebrews, because they
had been delivered from slavery.
**The silence of the latter part of Genesis regarding the Sabbath is
understandable when one remembers that acquaintance of the patriarchs with
God's commandments was taken for granted. The author of the historical record
in Genesis did not deem it necessary to mention it in his sweeping survey of
the centuries. But Abraham kept the commandments of God (Gen. 26:5)the Hebrew
word here used for "commandments" being the same as that used for the
Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5:10, 29. Kalisch mentions this as the law written in
the heart of man, and the Pulpit Commentary states that the word means
"that which is graven on tables." Abraham acknowledged and obeyed the
moral law of God. If so, would that not include the Sabbath? The Companion
Bible (Gen. 26:5) says Abraham had a charge, to be observed; commandments, to
be obeyed; statutes (decrees), to be acknowledged; and laws
"instruction," the Torah), to be followed.
And during their wilderness experience, God tested His ancient people as to
whether they would walk in the way of His commandments (Ex. 16:4). The test
came on the subject of the Sabbath. And comparison of Exodus 16:1 with Exodus
19:1 shows that this occurred several weeks before the promulgation of the
Decalogue. They must, therefore, have known not only of God's law but also of
specific commandments embraced therein, as evidenced by this reference to the
The principles of the moral law were, we believe, known to man before the Fall.* and were later
committed to written form in the Decalogue, amid the awesome scenes of
Sinaispoken and written by God (Exodus 19 and 20; 32:15, 16). And we believe
that when Israel became God's special covenant people, pledging to honor Him in
keeping His commandments, the Decalogue was given as the basis of that
We dissent, however, from the contention in point 4 of
"continuity"transfer of the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath
to the festival of the resurrection, on the first day of the week. We believe
the basis of the two observances to be totally differentin the first, it was
to commemorate the rest of the Creator; in the second, to commemorate the
resurrection of our Lord.
We dissent from the suggestion that the seventh-day Sabbath of the Old
Testament had only a ceremonial significance, or was in any way "fulfilled
and abrogated by Christ," or that the seventh-day-ness is an
"abrogated" aspect or "temporary" feature of the abiding
Sabbath of the fourth commandment. We dissent from the change of the original
wordingthe "six days" and "the seventh day," of the
fourth commandment of Exodus 20to the unbiblical expression "six-and-one
days," or a mere proportion of time, for to us such a change of phrasing
involves a definite change of intent to which we cannot agree.
We dissent from the proposition that the Lord Jesus Christ transferred the observance from the
last day of the week to the first in order to point beyond the original
"creation rest" to a greater "redemption rest."
*At his creation Adam was untainted by sin. God "made man
upright" (Eccl. 7:29). Man was created "in the image of God"
(Gen. 1:27). That being so, the moral law would be written in his heart.
We find no scriptural evidence to sustain such a claim. The Biblical and
historical reasons for our views follow.
2. Memorial in Character, Not Ceremonial.All Seventh-day Adventists, as creationists,
believe in the Genesis record of a fiat creation (Gen. 1:1 to 2: 2), with the
seventh day as God's recorded and attested rest day, and the Sabbath given as
the perpetual memorial of that creation, blessed and sanctified (or set apart)
for man. The Sabbath had its inception before sin entered the world (Genesis 2
and 3), and it was given to commemorate a completed creation. If sin had not
entered, all would have kept the original Sabbath day.
God did not make man in order that he might keep the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
But having made man, He gave him the Sabbath as a continual reminder and
memorial of the mighty power of the Creator. And while the principle of the
Sabbath includes both physical and spiritual rest, a memorial cannot be
spiritualized away, and does not expire with the lapse of time.
Inasmuch, then, as the Sabbath was instituted at creation, before the
entrance of sin, it was an inseparable part of God's original plan and
provision for man. It did not, therefore, have any ceremonial significance by
foreshadowing something to come. On the contrary, it has ever had a
commemorative significance, for it points back to something already donethe
creation of the world and the human race.
Our observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is an expression of our belief
that Christ created the world. And it is also a sign of our love, loyalty, and
Him as our Maker and King. The further fact that the Lord of the Sabbath so
loved us that He became man and sacrificed His life to save us from sin's ruin,
makes His Sabbath all the more precious and glorious as the Lord's day.
We believe that at His incarnation Jesus Christ came to reveal the perfect
character and will and love of God, and to vindicate and fulfill the
righteousness of His moral law and government. In this way Christ's perfect
obedience and righteousness is first imputed (through justification) and then
imparted (through sanctification) to all who accept His atoning death in their
stead. Provision was thus made for His perfect Sabbathkeeping to cover all our
Sabbathbreakingas well as the infraction of the nine other precepts of the
3. Moral and Ceremonial Sabbath
is Basically Different.We
believe that a sharp and fundamental distinction has been made between the
weekly seventh day Sabbath of the Lord, and the seven annual ceremonial or
typical sabbaths of the tabernacle ritual (Passover, Pentecost, Day of
Atonement, et cetera). These annual sabbaths each fell on a specified day of
the month, not on a specific day of the week, and only occasionally coincided
with the seventh-day Sabbath.
We believe that these annual typical sabbaths, with their special
sacrificial offerings, all pointed forward to the one all-encompassing and
all-sufficient offering of Jesus Christ as "the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The Scripture states that He is
our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). His death occurred on the designated day of the
Passover (Nisan 14),
which in that year fell on a Friday. His resurrection took place on the
day of the wave sheaf, or first fruits (Nisan 16), when, as the "firstfruits"
of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20, 23), He arose triumphant over death. These
tremendous events assure us of our acceptance in Him, and of our resurrection
at the last day. These typical annual sabbaths ended forever at the cross, when
all types met their complete antitype. But this in no way affected the
seventh-day Sabbath, which was never a type, and consequently was not
4. Sabbath Not Abrogated by Christ.
The Sabbath of the fourth commandment
had no ceremonial or typical significance that could be either
"fulfilled" or "abrogated" in Christ. It was not instituted
as part of the tabernacle ritual at Sinai, and did not point forward to the
atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Instead, the Sabbath remained the
established memorial of the original creation, hence pointed back to the work
of the Creator. And this, by its very nature, could be neither fulfilled nor
abrogated as long as His work of creation stands.
The Jewish traditions which encrusted Sabbath observance were indeed swept
away by Christnot because He fulfilled them by His antitypical, sacrificial
death, but because they were simply the unauthorized "traditions of
men" that had never had any validity. So it was the many added rules and
rabbinical regulations pertaining to the observance of the Sabbaththe
encumbrancesthat were swept away by the teachings of Christ. But this
involved only the appendages, not the Sabbath itself.
Isaiah prophesied that Christ would magnify the law and make it honorable
(Isa. 42:21). This He did. And He magnified the Sabbath of that law, by showing
it to be not a day of burden and restriction but a day of rest and release
from the burdens of sin and its consequences. He observed the Sabbath
throughout His life and ministry, but exemplified what true Sabbathkeeping
meansshowing that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and on occasion
healing the sick on the Sabbath.
There were, moreover, the civil laws of Israel, given when the nation was
under a theocracy. Some of these were related to the Sabbath, and entailed
severe civil penalties for desecration of the seventh day, such as capital
punishment for presumptuously picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14;
35:2, 3; Num. 15: 32-36). But these ended forever with the cessation of the
theocracy of Israel, and were in no way transferred from, or continued beyond,
Seventh-day Adventists hold the Sabbath to be for all the world and for all
time. We firmly believe that there is nothing of a ceremonial or typical nature
in the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
5. "Seventh-day-ness" and
"Sabbath-ness" of the Sabbath.Two
characteristics stand out conspicuously in connection with the original Sabbath
institution, which, for convenience, may be termed its seventh-day-ness and its
sabbath-nessthat is, the specific time set apart, and the nature of the
observance, rest from labor. As before noted, the entire ceremonial system was
instituted after sin entered the world, with the specific purpose of pointing
sinners forward to the coming Saviour.
It was designed to inculcate faith in His power to save them from their
sins. But nowhere do the Scriptures state, or even imply, that the time element
of the original Sabbath command was ceremonial. On the contrary, they provide
explicit evidence that its seventh-day-ness could not have been ceremonial, for
to be ceremonial and typical the time element would have to be instituted after
the entrance of sin, and the consequent need of a Saviour.
The Sabbath command gives as the very reason for its existence that "in
six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and
rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and
hallowed it" (Ex. 20:11). The seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath is therefore
no less surely anchored to creation than the moral quality that may be called
its Sabbath-ness. And our recognition of the one should be just as great as
that of the other. To this undeniable fact testifies the seven-day week, which
comes down to us from the time of creation (see Gen. 2:1-3).
God instituted the Sabbath on the seventh day of the first week of time.
Thus both aspects of the dayits seventh-day-ness no less than its
sabbath-nessare inseparably linked with creation. Except for some explicit
statement of Scripture in evidence to the contrary, to affirm the one and deny
the other is clearly inconsistent with the major premises we have surveyed,
especially in view of the Protestant position on the supreme authority of
There was nothing ceremonial, or typical, about the several acts of
creation, or about God's resting from His work of creation, or about the fact
that He chose to do
so on the seventh day of creation week. Thus the Scriptures nowhere so much
as imply that the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath ever pointed forward to the
cross. And only those things that pointed forward to the cross were abolished
at or by the cross. The seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath was not one of those.
6. The Logic of the Case.The
seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath is frequently referred to by some as a
"temporary" feature, for Old Testament times and the Hebrews only.
But in view of the foregoing evidence, it is proper to ask, If it is claimed
that God's resting on the seventh day implied a "temporary" feature,
then would not the same argument apply to the fact that He rested at all? What
is there more "temporary" about the fact that God chose to rest on
the seventh day of creation week than about the fact that He rested at all?
Another common contention pertaining to this seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath
is that to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week involves the
observer in legalism. But we ask, In precisely what way, and on what scriptural
authority, can regard for the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath be declared to
involve us automatically in legalism? Was God legalistic because He chose to
rest on the seventh day of creation week, rather than upon the first day of the
week, at its outset; or interrupting His work of creationto rest upon some
other day part way through the week? And if it was not legalistic for God so to
rest, why then is it legalistic for us to do so under His bidding? And if it is
legalistic for us to rest on the seventh day of the week, why is it not as
legalistic to rest on the first day, or any other day, of the week?
And where does the Bible either explicitly affirm, or even imply, that the
sabbath-ness (or sheer rest) of the Sabbath is not legalistic, but that the
seventh-day-ness rest on the particular seventh day, is legalistic? Again, did
God institute a ceremonial, or typical, side of the Sabbath by choosing to rest
on the specific seventh day? Then by what process of logic can it be maintained
that it is ceremonial for us to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the
week, but not for God to do so?
Moreover, it is sometimes affirmed that the essential purpose (the sabbath-ness)
of the Sabbath was in harmony with the preservation and maintenance of life.
Does that imply that there is a necessary conflict between the seventh-day-ness
of the Sabbath and the preservation and maintenance of life? But in what way
was the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath any more in conflict with the
preservation and maintenance of life than its sabbath-ness? The sabbath-ness of
the Sabbath restricts activity on a specified day, while the seventh-day-ness
of the Sabbath simply specifies on which day this is to take place.
It is also said that the sabbath-ness of the Sabbath existed for the good of
man, implying that its seventh-day-ness operates against his well-being. But in
what way does the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath militate against the good of
man, any more than does Sunday, the first day of the week? Did God's emphasis
on the seventh-day-ness of the world's first Sabbath militate against the good
of the Creator?
To sum up: We protest against the fallacious reasoning that would
make it legalistic to observe the seventh day of the week but not legalistic to observe the
first day of the week. Such lines of reasoning as these that have been referred to in the
foregoing discussion are inconsistent with sound logic. To be consistent, it
would seem that one should either follow through, to their logical conclusions,
the accepted major premises of points 1 and 2, by acknowledging the divinely
instituted seventh-day-ness, as well as the sabbath-ness, of the Sabbath, or
else retreat from the declared major premises and find another basis for
retention of the moral quality of the Sabbath. Otherwise, such a course would
seem to lead either to the position that the Ten Commandments have been
abolished, or to the Roman Catholic position that the church has the authority
and power to alter the Decalogue.
Postulate Untenable.We dissent
from the position implied in point 2 of the question at the beginning of this
discussion, that moral significance attaches to the distinction of the
"six-and-one-day" proportion principleor merely one unspecified day
in seven as the Sabbathbut not to the keeping of the day designated in
Scripture. We believe such a contention to be subjective reasoning, unsupported
by the wording of the fourth commandment, or by any other command or sanction
of Scripture. We adhere to the Protestant principle of the Bible and the Bible
only, and ask for scriptural evidence for such a change from the express
wording and obvious intent of Holy Writ.
And the implication that the "six-and-one-day" principleor
simply one day in sevenis admittedly inseparable from the moral essence of
while specification of the seventh day as such reduces it
to a ceremonial relationship, is, we believe, neither Biblically sound nor logically true.
There is nothing whatsoever in the specific seventh-day Sabbath that has
ceremonial significance in the life and work of Christ, and consequently
affords any basis for being so considered. We take the fourth commandment
8. Introduction of Sunday Observance.Turning
now to the historical side, we dissent, first of all, from the thesis that the
Sabbath has actually been transferred from the seventh to the first day of the
week, called the "Lord's day" by many. The earliest authentic
instance, in early church writings, of the first day of the week being called
"Lord's day" was by Clement of Alexandria, near the close of the
second century (see Miscellanies v. 14). And the first ecclesiastical writer
known definitely to teach that the observance of the Sabbath was transferred by
Christ to Sunday was Eusebius of Caesarea (died c. 349), who made the
allegation in his Commentary on the Psalms, on Psalm 92 (Psalm 91 in K.J.V),
written in the second quarter of the fourth century. (See Frank H. Yost, The
Early Christian Sabbath, 1947, ch. 5.)
Sunday observance as a church festival commemorating Christ's
resurrectionbut as supplementary to, and not in lieu of, the Sabbathwas
introduced at Rome about the middle of the second century. The custom spread
gradually from that time onward. Although the Christians in Rome generally
fasted instead of celebrating communion on Sabbath days, Ambrose, bishop of
Milan (375-397), refused to follow this
practice in his diocese (Ambrose De Elia et Jejunio 10; Paulinus Life of St.
Ambrose 38; Augustine Epistle 36. 14 to Casulanus; Epistle 54. 2 to
Augustine, bishop of Hippo (died 430), stated that while the church of Rome
fasted on the seventh day of each week in his time, the practice was not
generally followed elsewhere in Italy, making special mention of Ambrose's
refusal at Milan. He added that the vast majority of the Christian churches
throughout the world, particularly in the East, had too much respect for the
Sabbath to do that. He likewise stated that while some churches in North Africa
followed Rome's example in fasting on Sabbath days, others under his care did
not. (Augustine Epistle 36. 14 to Casulanus; Epistle 54. 2 to Januarius; and
Epistle 82 to Jerome.)
Church historian Socrates (Ecclesiastical History v. 22), writing about A.D.
430, left the record:
Almost all Churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on
the sabbath [seventh day] of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and
at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this.
Socrates also wrote that the Arians similarly held their meetings on both
Sabbath and Sunday (ibid. vi. 8). And fifth-century church historian Sozomen
(Ecclesiastical History vii. 19), confirmed Socrates' statement, declaring:
The people of Constantinople, and of several other cities, assemble together
on the sabbath, as well as on the next day; which custom is never observed at
Rome, or Alexandria.
After the enactment of Constantine's first civil Sunday law, in 321,
enforcing "the venerable day of the sun" by rest from labor-designed
to sustain and enforce
already existing ecclesiastical legislation regarding Sunday
observancethe Sunday festival became increasingly popular and widespread with
the passing of the centuries. It was buttressed thereafter by increasing
ecclesiastical and civil legislation. However, at the time of the great schism
between the churches of the East and West, in 1054, one of the principal issues
of controversy was Rome's practice of still observing the Sabbath day by
fasting. The Eastern churches, even at this late date, still regarded the
Sabbath too highly to do that, although Sundaykeeping was then almost
universal. (Cardinal Humbert, legate of Pope Leo IX to the Greeks, Adversus
Graecorum Calumnias [Against the Calumnies of the Greeks], in Migne's
Patrologiae Latina, vol. 143, cols. 936, 937; see also Gibbon, Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire, ch. 60.)
Thus the eclipse of the Sabbath by Sunday in general practice took place
slowly, but with much controversy and even bloodshed, as the history of the
Celtic church attests, according to Lange.* It required centuries for Sunday to
come to be regarded as the Sabbath.** And to this day in Spanish, Portuguese,
Italian, Polish, and a number of other languages, the seventh
day of the week is still called by some transliteration of the old name
*The Sabbath was observed by the Celtic church as late as the eleventh
century. (Andrew Lange, A History of Scotland, 1909, vol. 1, p. 96; see also
William F. Skene, Celtic Scotland, 1877, vol. 2, p. 349.)
**Seventeenth-century Edward Brerewood, of Gresham College, London
(A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath, 1630, p. 77), left the record:
"The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed by the Christians of
the East Church, above three hundred years after our Saviour's death."
This is supported by Sir William Domville (The Sabbath: or an Examination of
Six Texts, 1849, vol. 1, p. 291), writing two centuries later:
"Centuries of the Christian era passed away before the Sunday was
observed by the Christian Church as a Sabbath."
And historian Lyman Coleman, of Lafayette College (Ancient Christianity
Exemplified, 1852, ch. 26, sec. 2), concurs with these and many other
"Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was
continued in the Christian church, but with a rigour and solemnity gradually
9. Prophesied Change of Sabbath.We,
as Adventists, believe there has been a wholly unauthorized, unwarranted, and
presumptuous change in the Sabbath by the Catholic, or great Roman, apostasy,
as prophesied by Daniel (recorded in Daniel 7, especially verses 24 and 25).*
The unblushing frankness of Rome's claim of authority and power to change even
precepts of the "Ten Commandments of God" is seen in Joseph Faa di
Bruno's Catholic Belief (1884), which has passed through many printings and
various translations. On one page (page 311) are listed "The Ten
Commandments of God," of Exodus 20, given in their shorter form, with the
third (fourth) reading, "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath
day." On the next page (page 312) appear "The Commandments of the
Church," the first of which is this: "We are chiefly commanded by the
Church1. To keep the Sundays and Holydays of obligation."
That this specifically involves the substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath
is seen from the explanation of the expression "Apostolical and
Ecclesiastical Traditions" appearing in the authoritative "Creed of
Pius IV," which was issued at the close of the Council of Trent:
That is, I admit as points of revealed truth what the Church declares the
Apostles taught as such, whether clearly or not
*Even Philip Melanchthon, on the prophecy on Daniel 7:25, declared: "He
[the papal Little Horn] changeth the tymes and lawes that any of the sixe worke
dayes commanded of God will make them unholy and idle dayes when he lyste, or
of their owne holy dayes abolished make worke dayes agen, or when they changed
ye Saterday into Sondaye. . . . They have changed God's lawes and turned them
into their owne traditions to be kept above God's precepts."Exposition
of Daniel the Prophete (1545), tr. by George Joye, p. 119.
clearly expressed or not even mentioned in the Written Word of God: as, for
instance, . . . that Sunday instead of Saturday (called the Sabbath) is to be kept
holy.Ibid., p. 251.
Nothing could be plainer, or more bold.
While, as noted, the seventh-day Sabbath continued to be observed in certain
areas for centuries after the cross, the festival of the resurrection came
gradually to parallel and then later to overshadow it. And at the Synod of
Laodicea, the predominating influence at the council anathematized those who
continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath and enjoined the observance of
Sunday.* The Sabbath-Sunday canons of this Eastern council were incorporated
into the canons of the General Council of Chalcedon in 451, and thus received
legislative force for the entire church.
Then, in the next century, Justinian incorporated the canons of the first
four general councils (including Chalcedon and Laodicea's Canon 29) into his
famous Code (Corpus Juris Civilis), with their infraction now punishable by
civil penalties. And this remained
*Canon 29, of the Council of Laodicea is quoted by Hefele (A History of the
Councils of the Church, 1896, vol. 2, p. 316) as follows:
"Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday
["Sabbath," original], but shall work on that day; but the Lord's day
they shall especially honour, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do
no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut
out from Christ."
Back in the seventeenth century William Prynne of Britain (A Brief
Polemicall Dissertation concerning the true time of the Inchoation and
Determination of the Lord's Day-Sabbath, 1655, pp. 33, 44), affirmed this fact:
"The seventh-day Sabbath was . . . solemnized by Christ, the Apostles
and Primitive Christians . . . till this Laodicean Council did in a manner
quite abolish the observation of it." "The Council of Laodicea . . .
first settled the observation of the Lord's-day."
Three centuries later Roman Catholic catechisms still maintain that this
Council had been the turning point. Thus Peter Geiermann (The Convert's
Catechism of Catholic Doctrine 1910, p. 50), whose treatise received the
apostolic blessing of Pius X, January 2, 1910, gives this answer:
"Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
"A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
"Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
"A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church,
in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday
Some even place the date just before Nicea (325) ; others after
Constantinople (381). Most older writers fixed on 364.
the dominant law of Europe all through the Middle Ages, until modification
by the countries adopting Protestantism, where decrees of tolerance were
enacted by their respective parliaments. Later this was superseded by the Code
of Napoleon, after the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century.
We, as Seventh-day Adventistsand doubtless many in other Protestant
communionsdeny the validity of such a change of the Sabbath as claimed by
Roman Catholics and repeatedly admitted by prominent Protestants. We believe
that the seventh day continues as the changeless memorial of God's original
creation; and further, that the regenerated believer in Christ who, ceasing
from sin, enters into spiritual rest, can keep the Sabbath as the sign of his
recreation. We therefore refuse to recognize, honor, and obey what we believe
to be the papal substitute of God's unchangeable Sabbath. Taking the Bible as
our sole rule of faith and practice, and unable to find Scripture warrant for
such a change, we decline to follow what we believe to be the traditions and
"commandments of men."
While Catholics claim responsibility for the change of the Sabbath,
prominent Protestantsfrom Reformation times onwardadmit that the change was
not by scriptural authority or apostolic act, but by human churchly action.
The Augsburg Confession of 1530, Art. XXVIII, declares:
They [the Catholics] allege the change of the Sabbath into the Lord's day,
contrary, as it seemeth, to the Decalogue; and they have no example more in
their mouths than the change of the Sabbath. They will needs have the Church's
power to be
very great, because it hath dispensed with a precept of the Decalogue.Philip
Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 3, p. 64.
German church historian, Johann August Neander, in The History of the
Christian Religion and Church, Roses' translation (1831), volume 1, page 186,
The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human
ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a
divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic
church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday.
English Congregationalist Robert W. Dale, in The Ten Commandments. (1891),
page 100, says:
The Sabbath was founded on a specific Divine command. We can plead no such
command for the obligation to observe Sunday.
Anglican Dr. Isaac Williams, in Plain Sermons on the Catechism (1882),
volume 1, page 336, admits:
The reasons why we keep the first day 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 it.
American Congregationalist Lyman Abbott, in Christian Union, June 26, 1890,
The current notion that Christ and his Apostles authoritatively substituted
the first day of the week for the seventh is absolutely without any authority
in the New Testament.
British Anglican Dean F. W. Farrar, in The Voice From Sinai (1892), page
The Christian Church made no formal, but a gradual and almost unconscious,
transference of the one day to the other.
Anglican Canon Eyton, of Westminster, in The Ten Commandments (1894), page 62, adds:
There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining from work
N. Summerbell, in History of the Christians, page 418, avers:
It [the Roman Catholic Church] has reversed the fourth commandment, doing
away with the Sabbath of God's Word, and instituting Sunday as a holy day.
And Statesman William E. Gladstone, four times prime minister of Britain, in
Later Gleanings, page 342, observes:
The seventh day of the week has been deposed from its title to obligatory
religious observance, and its prerogative has been carried over to the first;
under no direct precept of Scripture.
10. Sabbath Changed by "Authority" of Roman Church.The
Papacy's formal answer to Protestantism was given at the Council of Trent
(1545-1563). It was here that her deliberate and final rejection, and anathema,
of the Reformation teachings on the supremacy of the Bible, and other clear
doctrines of the Word of God, took place. The real issue was the equality, or
actual superiority, of tradition to the Scriptures as a rule of faith.
During the seventeenth session, Cardinal Casper del Fosso, archbishop of
Reggio, on January 18, 1562, asserted that tradition is the outgrowth of
continual churchly inspiration residing in the Catholic Church. He appealed to
the long-established change of the Sabbath into Sunday as standing proof of the
inspired authority of the Roman Church. He declared that the change had not
been made by command of Christ, but by the authority of the Catholic Church,
which change Protestants accept. His speech was the determining factor in the
decision of the Council. And ever since Trent, the change of the Sabbath to
been pointed to by Roman Catholics as the evidence of the church's power to
change even the Decalogue. (See epitomizing Creed of Pius IV in Joseph Faa di
Bruno, Catholic Belief, 1884, pp. 250-254; Henry Schroeder [tr.] Canons and
Decrees of the Council of Trent, 1937.
11. Why We Observe the Sabbath.We believe that Protestants are on
perilous ground when they unwittingly follow the same subtle Sabbath argument
advanced in the Council of Trent, as recorded in the Cathechism of the Council
of Trent (Catechismus Romanus). In this it is held that while the Sabbath
principle is moral and eternal, the specific time element is only ceremonial
and temporary. And further, that as the seventh day constituted the temporary
time emphasis for the Jews of Old Testament times, so the Catholic
mother-church, in the plenitude of her delegated power, authority, and insight,
and as the designated custodian and only infallible interpreter of tradition
and truth, has transferred the solemnity from the seventh to the first day of
the week. (Donovan, Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1867, pp. 340, 342; see
also Labbe and Cossart, Sacrosancta Concilia; Fra Paolo Sarpi, Histoire du
concille de Trente, vol. 2; H. J. Holtzmann, Canon and Tradition; T. A.
Buckley, A History of the Council of Trent; et cetera.)
In making this effective, most Roman Catholic catechisms reduce the Sabbath
commandment simply to read, "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath
day" (e.g., Geiermann's The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p.
50; Butler's Catechism, p. 28; et cetera). And in various vernacular catechisms
the Sabbath command
actually reads, "Remember to keep the festivals," or
"feasts," instead of "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath."
The Roman Church upbraids and challenges the sincerity of Protestants who,
professing to follow the Bible as their sole rule of faith and practice, in
reality accept and follow the authority and example of Catholic tradition.*
On the contrary, we as Adventists believe that Jesus Christ Himselfwho was
the Creator of all things (John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6) and the original maker of
the Sabbath, and who is "the same yesterday, and to day, and for
ever" (Heb. 13:8)made no change in the Sabbath. And He authorized no
change to be made by His followers. We therefore believe that until the Sabbath
law is repealed by divine authority, and its change made known by definite
Scripture mandate, we should solemnly "remember" and "keep"
the unrepealed original seventh-day Sabbath of the Decalogue, which is
explicitly on record.
*Thus French prelate Mgr. Louis de Segur (Plain Talk About the
Protestantism of Today, 1868, p. 213, with imprimatur by Johannes Josephus).
"It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has
transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the
resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is
an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic]
The Catholic Mirror, official organ of James Cardinal
Gibbons (Sept. 23, 1893), in a series of four editorials, similarly asserted:
"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."
"The Protestant world at its birth [the sixteenth
century Reformation] found the Christian Sabbath too strongly intrenched to run
counter to its existence; it was therefore laced 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."
(See also James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers,
1893, p. 111; J. I. von Dollinger, The First Age of Christianity and the
Church, vol. 2, pp. 206, 207.)
We believe, without any reservations, that the Sabbath is the memorial
of an immutable historical facta finished creation, and
the Creator's rest on the specific seventh day at the close of creation week.
We say it humbly, but we believe that nothingno person, or group, or power on
earthcan change the commemorative, historical fact that God rested on the
seventh day of creation week and gave His rest day to mankind as the perpetual
memorial-reminder of a finished worknever repealed, and never to be repealed.
And we believe, furthermore, that the Sabbath will ever be the eternal
memorial of God's creative power and righteousness (Isa. 66:22, 23), and will
remain the everlasting reminder of His justice and sovereign government, as
well as of His wondrous plan of redemption and the recreation of man through
the wonders of His grace.