AN EXAMINATION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC POSITION
Certain documents of the Roman Catholic Church have come into my possession, parts of which I should like to share with my readers, and leave them to reach their own conclusions. Although these evidences are not recent, they represent the unbending, unchanging stand of the Roman Church, and may therefore be looked upon as a timeless challenge to Protestantism.
It will already be known that our family and fellowship hold to a Saturday Sabbath, in keeping with the words of our Lord in Genesis 2. We are neither Jews nor Seventh Day Adventists, indeed we are free from all such denominational pressures.But in saying this we in no way wish to class either Jews or Seventh Day Adventists as being in error. Denominational mud-slinging is a dirty game not worthy of those who have been cleansed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In all matters of Christian doctrine and practice there will be people within all branches of Christendom who are known to the Lord, the “One who searches the hearts,” and it ill becomes us to denounce people of other persuasions just because they do not “fit the bill” for us. However it is one thing to maintain a loving attitude to the PEOPLE we meet, but quite another thing to say that an ORGANISATION is acceptable before the Lord. I am quite prepared to sit down with any Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, or Spiritualist and talk about the Lord Jesus, but I cannot speak well of their ORGANISATIONS. In asking the Lord, some years ago, why certain Roman Catholics were apparently receiving gifts of the Holy Spirit, (a thing which greatly surprised me at the time) the Lord said, “I do not see Catholics, I only see human beings.” That put me in my place! I thought I ought to mention these things before getting down to business.
There is a document entitled “CATHOLIC CATECHISM OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION”, from which the following has been extracted, concerning the FOURTH COMMANDMENT, (i.e. the Sabbath Day. )
Q. What does God ordain by this commandment?
A. He ordains that we sanctify, in a special manner, this day on which He rested from the labour of creation.
Q. What is this day of rest ?
A. The seventh day of the week, or Saturday for He employed six days in creation, and rested on the seventh. Gen.2.2, Heb.4:1
Q. Is it, then, Saturday we should sanctify in order to obey the ordinance of God?
A. During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified, BUT THE CHURCH, instructed by Jesus Christ, and directed by the Spirit of God, has substituted Sunday for Saturday, so now we sanctify the first, not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of the Lord.
Q. Had the church power to make such a change?
A. Certainly, since the Spirit of God is her guide, the change is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
This question is taken up again in “ABRIDGEMENT OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE “ . which reads as follows:-
Q. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
A. 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.
Q. How prove you that?
A. Because by keeping Sunday they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin; and by not keeping the rest by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power.
And yet again, in “CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTED” the same subject of the Sabbath is aired by question and answer:-
Q. What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday preferably to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?
A. We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition.
Q. Does the Scripture anywhere command the Sunday to be kept for the Sabbath?
A. The Scripture commands us to hear the church (Matt.18:17 Luke 10:16) and to hold fast the traditions of the apostles. (2 Thess.2:15) But the Scripture does not in particular mention this change of the Sabbath. St.John speaks of the Lord’s day(Rev 1:10) but he does not tell us what day of the week this was, much less does he tell us that this day was to take the place of the Sabbath ordained in the commandments. St.Luke also speaks of the disciples meeting together to break bread on the first day of the week. (Acts 20:7) And St.Paul (1 Cor. 16:2) orders that on the first day of the week the Corinthians should lay by in store what they designed to bestow in charity on the faithful in Judea; but neither the one nor the other tells us that this first day of the week was to be henceforward the day of worship and the Christian Sabbath; so that truly the best authority we have for this is the testimony and ordinance of the church. And therefore those who pretend to be so religious of the Sunday, whilst they take no notice of other festivals ordained by the same church authority, show that they act by humour, and not by reason and religion, since Sundays and holy-days all stand upon the same foundation. viz., the ordinance of the church.
And now I should like to quote from “THE CLIFTON TRACTS”; A Catholic work, wherein is found a section entitled, “A Question for all Bible Christians.”
“I am going to propose a very plain and serious question, to which I would entreat all who profess to follow “the Bible, and the Bible only,” to give their most earnest attention. It is this: Why do you not keep holy the Sabbath day? – – You will answer me, perhaps, that you DO keep holy the Sabbath day [or that you abstain from all worldly business, and diligently go to church, and say your prayers, and read your Bible at home every Sunday of your lives. But SUNDAY IS NOT THE SABBATH DAY; Sunday is the FIRST day of the week; the Sabbath day was the SEVENTH day of the week. – – You tell me that Saturday was the JEWISH Sabbath. but that the CHRISTIAN Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Changed by whom? Who has authority to change an express command of Almighty God? – – You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible and the Bible only, and yet in so important a matter as the observance of one day in seven as a holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and put another day in the place of that day which the Bible has commanded. The command to keep holy the seventh day is one of the ten commandments; you believe that the other nine are still binding; who gave you authority to tamper with the fourth? If you are consistent with your own principles, if you really follow the Bible, and the Bible only, you ought to be able to produce some portion of the New Testament in which this fourth commandment is expressly altered, or, at least from which you may confidently infer that it was the will of God that Christians should make that change in its observance which you have made. – – We blame you, not for making Sunday your weekly “holiday” instead of Saturday, but for rejecting tradition, which is the only safe and clear rule by which this observance can be justified. We do not pretend, as you do, to derive our authority for so doing from a BOOK; but we derive it from a LIVING TEACHER, and that teacher is the church. – – You who are Protestants have really no authority for it whatever, for there is no authority for it in the Bible, and you will not allow that there CAN be authority for it anywhere else.”
But listen to this cutting reproof contained in the Catholic work entitled “TREATISE OF THIRTY CONTROVERSIES. “
“The word of God commands the seventh day to be the Sabbath of our Lord, and to be kept holy, you [Protestants] without any precept of Scripture, change it to the first day of the week, only authorised by our traditions. Divers English Puritans oppose against this point,- that the observation of the first day is proved out of Scripture, where it is said, the first day of the week – Acts 20:7. 1 Cor. 16:2 Rev. l:l0. Have they not spun a fair thread in quoting these places? If we should produce no better for purgatory, prayers for the dead, invocation of the saints and the like, they might have good cause indeed to laugh us to scorn; for where is it written these were Sabbath days in which those meetings were kept? 0r where is it ordained that they should be always observed? Or which is the sum of all, where is it decreed that the observance of the first day should abrogate or abolish the sanctifying of the seventh day, which God commanded everlastingly to be kept holy? Not one of those is expressed in the written word of God, “
Another Catholic, a Doctor of Laws, and a very accomplished writer. has this to say:-
“The Sunday, as a day of the week set apart for the obligatory public worship of Almighty God, to be sanctified by suspension of all servile labour, trade, and worldly avocations, and by exercises of devotion, is purely a creation of the Catholic Church. Nothing in the New Testament forbids work, travel, trade, amusement, on the first day of the week. There is nothing that implies such a prohibition. The day, as one especially set apart, had no authority but that of the Catholic Church. The laws requiring its observance were passed to enforce decrees of councils of the Catholic Church. For ages all Christian nations looked to the Catholic Church, and as we have seen, the various states enforce by law her ordinances as to worship and cessation of labour on Sunday. Protestantism, in discarding the authority of the church, had no good reason for its Sunday theory, and ought, logically, to keep Saturday as the Sabbath, with the Jews and Seventh Day Baptists. For their present practice, Protestants in general have no authority but that of a church which they disown.”
A learned Catholic medical doctor, in a public debate with a Protestant, had this to say about Sabbath observance:-
“Christ never wrote, but God the Father did. He wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone, and the only commandment He emphasised was that to keep the seventh day. “REMEMBER to keep holy the seventh day” and there is no command so often repeated in the Old Testament. If the Bible alone be the gentleman’s rule of faith, he is bound by this commandment; but does he observe it? – No he does not. Why then does he not observe it? BECAUSE THE CHURCH THOUGHT FIT TO CHANCE IT. Here the gentleman admits the authority of the church to be superior to the handwriting of God the Father, and yet he will look you in the face, and declare that the Bible, without church authority, is his rule of faith.”
Finally, here is the statement made by a Catholic priest in a huge auditorium, to a large concourse of people which was reported by the media in Hartford, Kansas: – –
“Christ gave to the church the power to make laws binding upon the conscience. Show me one sect that claims or possesses the power to do so save the Catholic Church. There is none, and yet all Christendom acknowledges the power of the church to do so, as I will prove to you, for example, the observance of Sunday. How can other denominations keep this day? The Bible commands you to keep the Sabbath day. Sunday is not the Sabbath day. No man dare assert that it is; for the Bible says as plainly as words can make it, that the seventh day is the Sabbath, i.e. Saturday; for we know Sunday to be the first day of the week. Besides, the Jews have been keeping the Sabbath day unto this present time. I am not a rich man, but I will give $1,OOO to any man who will prove by the Bible alone that Sunday is the day we are bound to keep. No, it cannot be done; it is impossible. The observance of Sunday is solely a law of the Catholic Church, and therefore is not binding upon others. The church changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and all the world bows down and worships upon that day in silent obedience to the mandates of the Catholic Church. Is this not a living miracle – that those who hate us sobitterly, obey and acknowledge our power every week, and DO NOT KNOW IT?”