Roman Catholic and Protestant Confessions about Sunday
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 about?
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 never sanctify."
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
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
"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
"Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic
Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to
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
"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
"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
"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,
"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
"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 to Protestantism!"
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
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
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
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 Antichrist.'
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
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 celebrated both."
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
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 Sunday."
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
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 binding?"
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