Saturday, November 4, 2017


I have heard my entire life Adventists make
the claim that Catholics changed the day of worship. Then I did some research and had that "ahah!" moment. This error in SDA teaching really could be cleared up without too much effort.

The crux of the Adventists' misunderstanding of Catholicism is their view that the Catholics have one day a week they worship as if it is the sabbath.


To better understand this mix up, let's read a few passages in scripture. The first is Genesis 2: 2, 3 NIV.  

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

Please notice that the seventh day was holy because God RESTED on it. There is nothing anywhere that talks about worship; the focus is on rest. (The word "sabbath" in Hebrew means ceasing and has no connection to a specific day in its meaning. Here God made the seventh day holy by "sabbathing" on it.)

Now let's go to the second time this seventh-day rest is mentioned in scripture. This is before the Ten Commandments were given to Israel at Mt. Sinai and God is giving instructions to Israel about the manna from heaven. It is Exodus 16: 23-30:

Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.”….Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”  
It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? See, the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

The people rested on the seventh day.

Notice that there is no association with a worship on Sabbath—only a rest. Let us go to the very Ten Commandments in order to further this idea of the Sabbath being a rest: 

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20: 8-11

The commandment of God is about resting on Sabbath. God did not include in this commandment anything about worshipping on Sabbath. The actual difference between Adventists and many other Christians is that they don't rest on the seventh day. Resting on the seventh day is absolutely something Christians should discuss. That is a legitimate difference in how we view scripture. All agree that we disagree on a seventh day rest

There is no official Catholic Church dogma on whether Christians may rest or not rest on the seventh day. Catholics, in general, do not rest on the seventh-day, however….some do rest on the seventh day. There are monasteries 
that rest on the Sabbath day. Some Catholic universities have groups that rest on the seventh day Sabbath. The Catholic Church supports Christians resting or not resting on the Sabbath day.  Catholics are allowed to follow their conscience about resting on the seventh day. Therefore our differences are not quite as severe as many Adventists believe.

Now this is where it can get really confusing for Adventists because they think of a rest day as the same as a day of worship. They see Jews attending the synagogue on Sabbath and they see Protestants go to church on Sunday. Hmmm... Adventist think this transition from the ancient Hebrew worship on the seventh-day to the Protestant worship on the first day was the Catholic Church's doing. However, if we look at history, we can see the misunderstanding in this idea.  

There is no such thing as a day of worship.

If you will do the scriptural research, you will see that there was never anything like a weekly "day of worship" for the Hebrews. (Footnote #1) This, I know, can get complicated. But just remember: Israel had no required weekly day of corporate worship once in the Promised Land. They had a required weekly day of rest

When the Temple in Jerusalem was built, there were only three times a year that Israel was required to meet together for corporate worship and that was: 

1) Pesach—Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover,  
2) Shavot—Feast of Harvest/Pentecost   
3) Sukkot—Feast of Tabernacles.

Now, even if there were only three times a year Israel would join together for corporate worship at the Temple, they did have a weekly rest wherever they lived. But there was no concept of a weekly worship as Adventists believe because in Jerusalem, at the temple, worship was going on every single day. The sacrifices in the temple was how Israel worshipped God. There is even some suggestion from biblical and archeological and Jewish history that worship was going on not just daily but twenty-four hours a day! Worship to God never ceased in the holy temple. Worship was daily, but the sabbath rest was weekly.

That is the crux of the misunderstanding for Adventists. They think day of rest = day of worship. This is wrong. And the Christian church has always mimicked the Jews in this and has had daily worship. Please research this. (2) Look up mass or Divine Liturgy in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches. In fact, I think all churches that directly go back to the churches the Apostles established worship daily. For two thousand years, Christians all over the world worship daily. There is no concept of a "day of worship" for ancient churches. 

Protestants denominations are relatively new and because they were developed in a capitalistic system that didn't allow for time off for daily worship, Protestants often have had to legally fight to even be able to have one day off for worship. And since Christ was raised from the dead on Sunday, that would naturally be the day off they pushed for to have off for corporate worship. (3)

It was the Protestants, specifically the Calvinists of France and Scotland, who introduced to America that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath taking the place of the seventh day both in rest and in corporate worship. (See footnote 4. I also included Luther's belief on why Christians should worship on Sunday.) 

The direct substitute of the seventh day of rest to the first day of rest was a Protestant doctrine. And this was more direct because the Calvinists had only one day of worship.

Catholics have no dogma or formal statement about the Lord's Day replacing the seventh-day Sabbath rest. Catholics are allowed to believe what they wish about keeping a

sabbath rest. Some popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and laymen have seen Sunday as a sabbath rest. Adventists often quote from the pro-Sunday sabbatarian Catholics assuming this is what the Catholic Church teaches. 

There also have been more popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and laymen that believe there is no weekly sabbath connection between the Lord's Day and the seventh-day Sabbath of the Jews. There is no Catholic dogma against resting on any day of the week as a sabbath and there is no Catholic dogma  that states Sunday is a sabbath. However, again, this deals exclusively with a day of rest, not a day of worship. 

For Catholics--no matter what they think about resting on Sunday--do not view it as "the day of worship." Christians see the difference between a sabbath rest and a day of worship.


Sabbath rest:
1) Catholics do not teach that a sabbath rest is required on the seventh-day. Catholics are allowed to keep a sabbath on the seventh day if they wish. Because there was a slow historical drift of some Catholics resting on Sabbath to very few resting on Sabbath, the Adventists assume there was some type of actual doctrine, document or proclamation coming from the Vatican that forbid Catholics from resting on Sabbath. Not true. 

Day of Worship: 
2) Catholics do not have a day of worship; they worship daily. In America, about a third of all Catholics go to mass (divine worship services) on the seventh-day. The first day/Sunday/the Lord's Day is not and has not ever been a "day of worship" for the Catholics.

How does this affect Adventist doctrine? 

Adventists believe God requires that all men observe the seventh day Sabbath based on the Ten Commandments. Catholics do not teach that a rest is required on the seventh day. So Catholic belief doesn't affect Adventists except that Adventists might try and convince a Catholic to rest on Sabbath. And the Catholic church would be okay with that because many Catholics do rest on the seventh-day.

Adventists believe God requires all men to worship on the seventh day. Catholics worship on the seventh day. The difference is that Adventists only have corporate worship once a week, Catholics have it daily. 

The entirety of Adventists concern is based on the idea that the Catholic Church has a "day of worship" on Sunday and that they somehow hate the seventh day and will keep people from attending worship services on Sabbath.

I challenge Adventists to go to their local Catholic parish on the seventh day of the week and discover that, in most cases, there will be Catholics worshipping there on Sabbath. There have been Christians attending church on the seventh day of the week forever. Catholics will not change that. They have no reason to because they don't have a "day of worship."


1) Catholics worship daily. If Adventists believe we should only have one day a week of worship, that is something we could discuss. Worshipping one day versus worshipping daily. 

2) Having a mandatory sabbath rest on the seventh-day is another legitimate disagreement we have about Christ's commandments for Christians. 

Please Adventists, for Christ's sake, imagine that it is possible you are wrong and the Catholics didn't change the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday. That would mean that no one is ever going to stop you from attending church on Sabbath (that would go against Catholic dogma of daily worship!) And after all, your greatest concern? Isn't that what the doctrine of Adventism is most afraid of--a law keeping you from worshipping on the seventh day?

If the Catholics do not have a day of worship, that means you are not going to be hunted down and martyred in the last days because of a day of worship! That means you could put down your theological sword of suspicion. You could then simply love your fellow Christians! How glorious would that be? You could keep the Sabbath as lovingly as you want without threat of it ever being taken away from you! There would be no fear of deception from your brothers and sisters in Christ. I can give you that marvelous reality if you want it. For it is the truth. And that should make angels sing in your heart! 

  1. The law for religious celebrations, written about in Torah, (Leviticus 23) gives His people the days that are sabbaths (rest days) and they do not all fall on the seventh day. In fact, at this time, the sabbath are associated with the phases of the moons and not an independent weekly cycle set up by the Romans centuries later. These sabbath festivals or "appointed times" are set up by God's calendar, not some later pagan timetables. (See Genesis 1: 14; "mow'ed" or seasons are observed by looking at the heavens.)

2.Please click on these random Catholic Church websites for daily mass schedules: they have at least one mass (Divine Worship Service) once a day. A tiny church in Loma Linda, CA right next to our Adventists brethren has daily mass!  Check it out! While some very small churches may not have daily mass because they don't have enough priests to do it daily, almost all of them combine with other local parishes to provide daily mass as long as parishioners can drive a little ways. 

  1. What we traditionally keep as the weekend is based on early Christians in the East resting on the seventh day and observing Sunday as the celebration of the Resurrection. There was no mix up then about the Sabbath being on Sunday. The seventh-day of the week in most languages is "Sabbath" and the first day of the week in those same languages is "The Lord's Day."

4. Westminster Confession, 
Chapter XXI: Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

Luther's  Small Catechism:
The Third Commandment—Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
Luther's Large Catechism: (see Luther's full explanation about the Sabbath commandment at this link.)
V.  Part First. The Third Commandment—Thou shalt sanctify the holy day. [Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.]
…This commandment, therefore, according to its gross sense, does not concern us Christians; for it is altogether an external matter, like other ordinances of the Old Testament, which were attached to particular customs, persons, times, and places, and now have been made free through Christ.
But to grasp a Christian meaning for the simple as to what God requires in this commandment, note that we keep holy days not for the sake of intelligent and learned Christians (for they have no need of it [holy days]), but first of all for bodily causes and necessities, which nature teaches and requires; for the common people, man-servants and maid-servants, who have been attending to their work and trade the whole week, that for a day they may retire in order to rest and be refreshed.
Secondly, and most especially, that on such day of rest (since we can get no other opportunity) freedom and time be taken to attend divine service, so that we come together to hear and treat of God's and then to praise God, to sing and pray.
However, this, I say, is not so restricted to any time, as with the Jews, that it must be just on this or that day; for in itself no one day is better than another; but this should indeed be done daily; however, since the masses cannot give such attendance, there must be at least one day in the week set apart. But since from of old Sunday [the Lord's Day] has been appointed for this purpose, we also should continue the same, in order that everything be done in harmonious order, and no one create disorder by unnecessary innovation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Halloween, October 31, 1517-2017
500th Anniversary of the Reformation

When we were in Wittenberg and Worms a few years ago doing research for our novel trilogy, we saw that many areas were already preparing for 
the onslaught of Protestants making a pilgrimage to the Reformation hotspots today. The Protestant world was readying for that celebratory moment when they could shout that for half a millennium they were "free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty they are free at last" from the horrors of the wicked and corrupt Catholic Church. I don't write that with any malice or bitterness or even sarcasm. That is how many Protestants feel. I know. I have marched in the Reformation Day parades this day when I was a Protestant. 

Whether it be from theology and doctrine or from politics disagreements or from the leaders they feel do not have God's authority—Protestants do not like the Catholic Church and are glad there are churches they can attend that more fit their own beliefs.

But for most of Christianity today, for Protestants still remain a minority within Christianity, this is a great day of mourning. We see the Reformation as more of a great divorce that ripped the Body of Christ into little divisions of distrust and left the disaster of relativism in its wake. It is a day that we should be throwing ashes upon ourselves and sitting in sackcloth. Our family is broken. God's kingdom remains divided against itself against the pleading command of God to stay unified: 

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.. Rom. 12: 4-5 
 …With all wisdom and understanding, he mde known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1: 8-10
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Eph. 3: 6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4: 1-6
Why is unity SO important?
Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Eph. 4: 11-14 
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4: 31-32
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— Eph. 5: 29

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3: 13-15

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. I Cor. 1: 10
Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. I Cor. 10:17 
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. …As it is, there are many parts, but one body. I Cor. 12:12, 20
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. I Cor. 12: 25-27

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17: 20-23
Let us not, this Reformation day, celebrate the divisions in the Body of Christ. Let us instead grieve and pray for ways of healing those divisions. And it is possible if we act in faith. For God said to unify, an we must do it even if we don't want to.

First step is to put down our swords of defensiveness. Our enemy is not those who take the name of Christ. The Bible clearly identifies the enemy of Christ as those dark powers and principalities of the unseen… the devil and his fallen angels. For Christians who may disagree with us theologically or are simply bad people, we should not see as our enemies, but see them through the eyes of Christ. They are who He died to save. It's okay to love people who are wrong. It's okay to love people who are evil. God is big enough to handle the bad Christians. Pray for them. Do not hate them.

Secondly, listen with your hearts to other Christians who disagree with you. You may find that most often, you actually agree, but just have different ways you express something. Listening is an art that we have lost today. Listen without judgment.

Thirdly, do not fear. For pride and fear are the biggest hurdles we must overcome in order to follow Christ's command to unify. And I am not saying we are going to become one big happy denomination. That is not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is the first step towards unity is to love each other and believe that no matter what it may appear, God is in control and He will bring us all into truth. He said that bringing us into all truth was the job of the Holy Spirit. We can trust the Holy Spirit. What we need to do is act in faith that God will protect His people.

Five hundred years of disobedience, divisions and heart-rendering disunity. We can change this. Begin on our knees in asking God for forgiveness for His Body being torn apart. Let's begin the healing today.