Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why Do Some Catholics Refer to Sunday as the "Sabbath"?

For my beloved Adventist brothers and sisters who have become confused, due to no fault on their part, by the Catholic rhetoric about Sunday being a Sabbath. 

You see it is confusing. Even to Catholics.

Few Christians today have questions surrounding the Ten Commandments and Sabbath-keeping so to them it is an argument as relevant to their lives as who wrote the book of Hebrews. (Some say St. Paul, others argue Apollo or someone else.) Most Protestants believe that when we are saved by God's grace, we simply don't have to worry about Sabbath--that is old covenant. Or they believe Sunday is the Christian Sabbath.  

When Catholics fall into the cultural habit of calling Sunday the Sabbath, it is not on any bishop's "to do" list to correct him, because Catholics see the church as doing battle with Satan for souls. When you are fighting abortion, divorce, contraception... the list goes on and on and on... the Sabbath/Sunday issue is buried.

Therefore, it will be up to me, a former SDA to give a very brief and incomplete history of how this Sunday "sabbath" issue grew up in America and why Seventh-day Adventists can find a whole slew of writings they quote in their literature that back up Catholics calling Sunday, "the Sabbath."

First, through the centuries, scholars have seen the similarities in holy days. There are similarities in the high holy days that occur once a year in Lev. 23 (Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, Day of Atonement) and the weekly sabbath. In fact, the Passover is called a "sabbath" just as the 7th day was called a Sabbath, though they were not commemorating the same event. The Passover was a holy day just as the seventh-day was a holy day, but they were very different in that one pointed to Israel leaving for the Promised Land and the other pointed to Creation. We have holy days/holidays in America and are free to call Christmas a holiday and somehow that is not confused with Easter. It's similar to the way Catholic theology treats the Lord's Day and Sabbath. 

Okay... so, understanding this, I jump to 19th century United States to begin the explanation.

America had been very anti-catholic. Many early colonies did not allow Catholics to live there. Later, the KKK's targets were both blacks and Catholics. The Catholic Church was attempting to survive by proving to Protestants we were not the great evil thing it was being portrayed as. Public and private debates erupted.

There seemed to be one point upon which the Protestants could not answer the Catholics. Catholics asked them why Protestants went to church on Sunday when there was nothing explicit in scripture that commands Christians to worship on Sunday. It was their "gotcha" moment in all exchanges. 

The Sunday debate was never supposed to be a debate about the Sabbath. However, since the Calvinists in the U.S. considered Sunday a Sabbath, the Catholics just adopted the Protestant wording. This was okay with the Catholic Church because it had long seen similarities in the Lord's Day and the seventh-day of the commandments. So the Catholics felt free to use those similarities for what they believed was the greater point.

Catholics were attempting to show that the Protestants had  unknowingly accepted the authority of the Catholic Church by going to church on Sunday. To this day, the same argument is used by Catholics to Protestants who deny that the Catholic Church has authority.
 Why do you go to church on Sunday? 

Protestants' response?...... cricket sounds......

Adventist of course would misunderstand the Catholics poorly worded response of: "the Catholic Church had the right to change the Sabbath to Sunday." 

And the world is shown by Adventists a plethora of 19th century priests and scholars who used the word "Sabbath" for Sunday, showing the Protestants they actually were following the Catholic lead on Sunday worship services... not the Bible.

In fact, the Catholic Church did not change Sabbath to Sunday. Sunday is the Lord's Day. It is the first day and the allegorical eighth day---Sunday is not the seventh day--so it not the day of the fourth/third commandment. (Protestants separate the first commandment and make it two, so the numbering is different.)

If one goes to Rome, one will hear anyone speaking Italian or Latin refer to the first day of the week as "The Lord's Day" and the seventh day of the week as "The Sabbath." There is not a transference. Sunday is not the Sabbath to Catholics anywhere on earth.

Sunday gets its holiness from being the great day the Son of God gave His life to save the world. Sunday doesn't need to borrow its holiness from Sabbath. Indeed, Sabbath derives its holiness because it foreshadowed the holiest day of all time.... the day heaven and earth met in a cosmic battle for our souls. And there was never a doubt as to who would win. Jesus won. And each Sunday we are celebrating that.

The Sabbath was just like John the Baptist when he said something similar to, "I must grow lesser that Jesus may grow greater."

It is time Catholics clear this up. American Catholics have used the Sabbath/Sunday as a survival issue so that the could end the attacks on Catholics. They just have never taken the time to explain the theological nuances of the Lord's Day. And that has caused untold misunderstandings with Adventists.