Sabbath 27/10/30/120

Dear Friends,

In his book, “The Faith of our Fathers”, James Cardinal Gibbons, who served as a Catholic Cardinal-Priest for Santa Maria in Trastevere Basilica in Rome, and as Archbishop of Baltimore (1877-1886), states that God appointed the Catholic Church as the sole infallible interpreter of the writings contained within the Bible.

His opening statements in chapter 8, ‘The Church and the Bible’, begin: “The Church, as we have just seen, is the only divinely constituted teacher of Revelation. Now, the Scripture is the great depository of the Word of God. Therefore, the Church is the divinely appointed Custodian and Interpreter of the Bible. For, her office of infallible Guide were superfluous if each individual could interpret the Bible for himself.”

Gibbons continues to explain why “God never intended the Bible to be the Christian’s rule of faith, independently of the living authority of the Church”, meaning of course, the Catholic Church. He then cites how the Jews and Protestants use the Bible as their rule of faith, but all have different interpretations of it. Therefore, according to Gibbons, a single authority is needed to give the Bible correct meaning.

On page 72 Gibbons states: “A rule of faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths that a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obligated to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obligated to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But, 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 sanctify.” (Emphasis added)

Gibbons bases his silly reasoning on John 21:25 and 2Thessalonians 2:14 by stating: “The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded in the inspired writers. For instance, most Christians pray to the Holy Ghost, a practice which is nowhere found in the Bible.”

But, as we will see, Gibbons and his Catholic Greco-Roman Church system is steeped in Gnostic and Hellenistic philosophy that was predominant throughout the Roman Empire prior to the incarnation of Christ. This Church system institutionalized Gnostic Sunday worship and other pagan-orientated doctrines beginning with the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, followed by the several Church councils thereafter.

Alan Knight's book titled, "Primitive Christianity in Crisis" (ISBN no. 0-9679332-0-X, 2nd edition), documents historical research into ancient Gnosticism and Hellenism and their impact on modern Christianity today. Just as in the time of early Christianity, we too are faced with what Alan Knight describes in the sub-title of his book, "The Mystery of 'Lawlessness' Prophecies, Gnostic Christianity for Our Time". He documents what Gnosticism and Hellenism is all about and how these philosophies have influenced and permeated modern Christianity. Some of the contents in his book include, Part 1: Historical background and origins of Gnostic Christianity; Part 2: Mystery of Lawlessness Today and Reformation Theology; Part 3: Conclusions and Appendices that include Hellenistic Apostasy in N.T. prophecies, and The Great Indo-European Pagan Reformation.

In chapter 3, titled, "The Hellenistic Sabbath", Knight states:

"Gnostic Christianity pioneered the conversion from Sabbath to Sunday. As Gnostic Christians began to leave the apostolic church and found their own sects, beginning late in the first century, their absorption of Hellenistic theology accelerated. The apostolic church followed their lead beginning early in the second century. But for them conversion to Sunday proceeded much more slowly, stretching over three centuries during which many local churches continued Sabbath observance and some observed both Sabbath and Sunday.

Sunday is the first day of the week, but they didn't call it that. Creation took all seven days of the week. Though the seventh day especially was celebrated in honor of creation, the entire week itself, and the very concept of the week smell of creation. Really they couldn't pick any day of the week. So they chose Sunday, but not Sunday the first day of the week. They called it the "Eighth Day." Coming one day after, Sabbath, the seventh day, Sunday could be counted as the eighth day. What that meant is that it is outside of the week and therefore divorced from creation.

It was all symbolic of course, and what Sunday worship symbolized for Gnostic Christianity was rejection of the material world, rejection of the creator God, and freedom from the bondage of the Old Testament. Since the number eight also symbolizes the eighth level of the cosmos, the starry heavens, Sunday also therefore symbolized salvation and escape of the soul back to heaven after death.

Clearly the transfer of worship to Sunday had tremendous theological significance for Gnostic Christians. However, did it have any of the same meaning for their more moderate, Hellenistic Christian cousins? They too referred to Sunday as the Eighth Day, and the term is used occasionally in mainstream Hellenistic Christianity yet today. Still, we must ask the question: Does use of the term Eighth Day really have the same religious significance in Hellenistic Christianity? Historically this is an important distinction.

Was conversion to Sunday worship in the early church a theological event directed against the Sabbath and Hebrew religion in general?" (Emphasis added)

Knight then continues in chapter 3, giving an historical analysis and answer to his question above. In conclusion to this chapter, he states:

"Eighth day theology formed inside the world of Christianity under the influence of pagan Hellenistic religion. It received its first and most enthusiastic response from Gnostic Christianity, which focused more on the cosmological ideas about the planetary spheres surrounding the earth that lead up to heaven. In Gnosticism the Eighth Day symbolized heaven, the eighth level above the earth.

The goal of man is to ascend through the planetary spheres, to return to the soul's original home in heaven. This by its very nature was diametrically opposed to Hebrew religion. Return of the soul to heaven was seen as escape from the material world. And escape, they reasoned is possible only by rejecting the God of creation, rejecting his angels who administer the material world, and rejecting his inferior, deceptive seventh-day symbolism of rest."

The following Gnostic writings reflect the development of Sunday as the eighth day within Gnostic Christianity beginning around 100 CE:
100 CE BARNABAS: Moreover God says to the Jews, 'Your new moons and Sabbaths I cannot endure.' You see how he says, 'The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested [heaven: Heb 4] from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.' Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus rose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven. (15:8f, The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 CE, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 147)

100 CE BARNABAS We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead (The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 CE 15:6-8).

150 CE JUSTIN: He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]. The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first. (Justin, Dialogue 41:4)

250 CE CYPRIAN: The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord's Day.
Epistle 58, Sec 4)

The quote above from 150 CE Justin includes "the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle." What is this all about? It is important for us to understand as Knight brings out in his book. He states, "The importance of Sunday lay in its interpretation not as the first, but rather the Eighth Day. Symbolically that means it is OUTSIDE the weekly cycle. It symbolically represents the eternity of our existence in heaven, which comes after the material world." (Emphasis added)

The value of Gibbons’ book is in the lesson it brings in Gnostic and Hellenistic Christian thinking. It fits well with what Alan Knight's book exposes as pagan philosophy. The doctrines of modern Christianity with its Sunday-worship are steeped in these paganistic philosophies.

Christ states in John 4:22-24 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (KJV). See the paper The Sabbath (No. 31) for an exposition of the Fourth Commandment and the obligations it imposes on the Christian.

True worshippers will seek the truth and worship God based on the truth of His Word, not on fallacious doctrines and teachings of fallible men. The TRUTH of the matter is that history teaches us how Gnosticism and Hellenism that formed our modern Christianity has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Regarding the rituals and traditions in Catholicism, see paper Catholicism: Frequently Asked Questions (No. 8). Also see study paper The Soul (No. 92).

When Christ soon returns, He will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:15). Sunday-worship will not be tolerated and the Laws of God will be enforced, as Isaiah 66:22-23 states:

22: "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain.
23: From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD. (cf. RSV)

And 1Corinthians 15:24-28 reads:

24: Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
25: For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26: The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
27: For he "has put everything under his feet". Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.
28: When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (NIV)

Seek the truth, worship God in the spirit of His Word, and contend for the Faith once delivered, as Jude admonishes us in verse 3 of his letter: “Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Tom Schardt
Assistant Coordinator of California