Roman Catholic and Protestant Confessions about
The vast majority of Christian churches today teach the observance
of Sunday, the first day of the week, as a time for rest and worship.
Yet it is generally known and freely admitted that the early Christians
observed the seventh day as the Sabbath. How did this change come
History reveals that it was decades after the death of the apostles
that a politico-religious system repudiated the Sabbath of Scripture
and substituted the observance of the first day of the week. The
following quotations, all from Roman Catholic sources, freely
acknowledge that there is no Biblical authority for the observance of
Sunday, that it was the Roman Church that changed the Sabbath to the
first day of the week.
In the second portion of this booklet are quotations from
Protestants. Undoubtedly all of these noted clergymen, scholars, and
writers kept Sunday, but they all frankly admit that there is no
Biblical authority for a first-day sabbath.
Roman Catholic Confessions
James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of our
Fathers, 88th ed., pp. 89.
"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
Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd
ed., p. 174.
"Question: Have you any other way of proving that the
Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
"Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done
that in which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have
substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for
the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there
is no Scriptural authority."
John Laux, A Course in Religion for Catholic
High Schools and Academies (1 936), vol. 1, P. 51.
"Some theologians have held that God likewise directly determined
the Sunday as the day of worship in the New Law, that He Himself has
explicitly substituted the Sunday for the Sabbath. But this theory is
now entirely abandoned. It is now commonly held that God simply gave
His Church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem
suitable as Holy Days. The Church chose Sunday, the first day of the
week, and in the course of time added other days as holy days."
Daniel Ferres, ed., Manual of Christian
Doctrine (1916), p.67.
"Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command
feasts and holy days?
"Answer. 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.'
James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore
(1877-1921), in a signed letter.
"Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the Ten
Commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did
the Church change the seventh day -Saturday - for Sunday, the first
day? I answer yes . Did Christ change the day'? I answer
"Faithfully yours, J. Card. Gibbons"
The Catholic Mirror, official publication
of James Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893.
"The Catholic Church, . . . by virtue of her divine mission, changed
the day from Saturday to Sunday."
Catholic Virginian Oct. 3, 1947, p. 9,
art. "To Tell You the Truth."
"For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the
Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday.
We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath
day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians
keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the[Roman Catholic]
church outside the Bible."
Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Converts
Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1957), p. 50.
"Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
"Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
"Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
"Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic
Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."
Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked
About (1927),p. 136.
"Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed
from Saturday to Sunday .... Now the Church ... instituted, by God's
authority, Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same
divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory long before the
Bible was made. We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as
we have for Sunday."
Peter R. Kraemer, Catholic Church Extension Society
"Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to
the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts:
"1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith
and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the
Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the
Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.
"2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith.
Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the
Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by
Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the
ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of
the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes, the Church made this
change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the
Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed
marriages, the regulation of Catholic marriages and a thousand other
"It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in
pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there
is nothing in their Bible."
T. Enright, C.S.S.R., in a lecture at Hartford,
Kansas, Feb. 18,1884.
"I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from
the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such
law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The
Bible says, 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.' The Catholic
Church says: 'No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and
command you to keep holy the first day of the week.' And lo! The entire
civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the
holy Catholic Church."
Protestant theologians and preachers from a wide spectrum of
denominations have been quite candid in admitting that there is no
Biblical authority for observing Sunday as a sabbath.
Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the
Catechism , vol. 1, pp.334, 336.
"And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the
first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are
nowhere commanded to keep the first day .... The reason 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."
Canon Eyton, The Ten Commandments , pp.
52, 63, 65.
"There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining
from work on Sunday .... into the rest of Sunday no divine law
enters.... The observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent stands exactly on
the same footing as the observance of Sunday."
Bishop Seymour, Why We Keep Sunday .
We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from
Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy Catholic
Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, a paper read before a New
York ministers' conference, Nov. 13, 1893, reported in New York
Examiner , Nov.16, 1893.
"There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but
that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with
some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh
to the first day of the week .... Where can the record of such a
transaction be found? Not in the New Testament absolutely not.
"To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years'
intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the
Sabbath question . . . never alluded to any transference of the day;
also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing
"Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early
Christian history . . . . But what a pity it comes branded with the
mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, adopted
and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy
William Owen Carver, The Lord's Day in Our
Day , p. 49.
"There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish
seventh-day Sabbath to the Christian first-day observance."
Dr. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments (New
York: Eaton &Mains), p. 127-129.
" . . . it is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may
spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath - . . 'Me Sabbath was
founded on a specific Divine command. We can plead no such command for
the obligation to observe Sunday .... There is not a single sentence in
the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the
supposed sanctity of Sunday."
Timothy Dwight, Theology: Explained and
Defended (1823), Ser. 107, vol. 3, p. 258.
" . . . the Christian Sabbath [Sunday] is not in the Scriptures, and
was not by the primitive Church called the Sabbath."
Disciples of Christ
Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist,
Feb. 2, 1824,vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164.
"'But,' say some, 'it was changed from the seventh to the first
day.' Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell. No; it never was
changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again:
for the reason assigned must be changed before the observance, or
respect to the reason, can be changed! It is all old wives' fables to
talk of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. If
it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes
times and laws ex officio - I think his name is Doctor
First Day Observance , pp. 17, 19.
"The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a
mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first
day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath
anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about
the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any
place in the Bible any intimation of such a change."
The Sunday Problem , a study book of the
United Lutheran Church (1923), p. 36.
"We have seen how gradually the impression of the Jewish sabbath
faded from the mind of the Christian Church, and how completely the
newer thought underlying the observance of the first day took
possession of the church. We have seen that the Christians of the first
three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time
Augsburg Confession of Faith art. 28;
written by Melanchthon, approved by Martin Luther, 1530; as published
in The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
Henry Jacobs, ed. (1 91 1), p. 63.
"They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, a shaving been
changed into the Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems.
Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the
changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the
Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!"
Dr. Augustus Neander, The History of the
Christian Religion and Church Henry John Rose, tr. (1843), p.
"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
John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday ,
pp. 15, 16.
"But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old
Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to
be kept by the children of Israel .... These churches err in their
teaching, for Scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the
week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New
Testament to that effect."
Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate,
July 2, 1942, p.26.
"Take the matter of Sunday. There are indications in the New
Testament as to how the church came to keep the first day of the week
as its day of worship, but there is no passage telling Christians to
keep that day, or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day."
John Wesley, The Works of the Rev.
John Wesley, A.M., John Emory, ed. (New York: Eaton &
Mains), Sermon 25,vol. 1, p. 221.
"But, the moral law contained in the ten commandments, and enforced
by the prophets, he [Christ] did not take away. It was not the design
of his coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can
be broken .... Every part of this law must remain in force upon all
mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or
any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and
the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other."
Dwight L. Moody
D. L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting (Fleming
H. Revell Co.: New York), pp. 47, 48.
The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever
since. This fourth commandment begins with the word 'remember,' showing
that the Sabbath already existed when God Wrote the law on the tables
of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been
done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still
T. C. Blake, D.D., Theology Condensed, pp.474,
"The Sabbath is a part of the decalogue - the Ten Commandments. This
alone forever settles the question as to the perpetuity of the
institution . . . . Until, therefore, it can be shown that the whole
moral law has been repealed, the Sabbath will stand . . . . The
teaching of Christ confirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath."