• Our Blogger

    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Octavio F. Lucas on Ask a Priest
    Francis Philip on Consecration of a Woman Bishop…
    Anna on Ask a Priest
    Father Joe on Ask a Priest
    Father Joe on Questions & Answers About…

The Great Saturday or Sunday Sabbath Debate #6

Lou writes:

“Of the Apostle Barnabas, nothing is known, except what is recorded in the Acts. There we have an honorable encomium of his character, and a particular description of his joint labors with St. Paul. It is a great injury to him, to apprehend the Epistle which goes by his name to be his.” (Vol. I., p. 126, Church History. Boston, 1809.)

Father Joe responds:

This is becoming monotonous! It does not matter to Roman Catholics if the author is or is not St. Barnabas! Authorship concerns have been conceded for centuries! Get a life! The important matter is the reception give the document by the Church and its antiquity. It gives us an accurate depiction of the mind of the early Church.

Lou writes:

“The so-called Epistle of Barnabas, a forgery of the second century.” (Cyclopedia Biblical Literature, article Lord’s-day.)

Father Joe responds:

Sorry, fragments and references have pushed the date back to 100 to 131 AD. You must be using out-of-date archaeological sources! (Of course 131 AD would make it EARLY second century– VERY EARLY!)

Lou writes:

“But the Epistle was not written by Bamabas; it is not merely ‘unworthy of him,’ it would be a disgrace to him, and, what is of much more consequence, it would be a disgrace to the Christian religion, as being the production of one of the authorized teachers of that religion in the time of the apostles, which circumstance would seriously damage the evidence of its divine origin.” (An Examination of the Six Texts, p. 233.)

Father Joe writes:

Read what I wrote before, it still holds! As for the content, the methods of rhetoric change over the centuries. It must be appreciated as a work of its time and not according to more modern standards. Many of the Church Fathers implemented allegorical interpretation. The greatest fault of the document is not the content but that the style is a bit boring.

Lou writes:

“The tract known as the Epistle of Barnabas was probably composed in A.D. 135. It is the production, apparently, of a convert from Judaism, who took special pleasure in allegorical interpretation of Scripture.” (History of the Ancient Church, p. 367. New York, 1859. See also The Old Catholic Church, pp. 8, 13. T. & T. Clark, 1871.)

Father Joe responds:

Yes, this is quite plausible. Here at least is one intelligent quotation that adds something new to the discussion.

Lou writes:

The Epistle of Barnabas, bearing the honored name of the companion of Paul in his missionary labors, is evidently spurious. It abounds in fabulous narratives, mystic allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament, and fanciful conceits; and is generally agreed by the learned to be of no authority. Neander supposes it to have originated in the Alexandrian school; but at what particular time he does not define” (Ancient Christianity Exemplified. chap. 2, sec. 2, p. 47. Philadelphia, 1852).

Father Joe responds:

Given that the author of the commentary was probably not thinking about its use in the Sunday observance debate, the comments here are fairly to the point.

Lou writes:

“The author was probably a converted Jew from Alexandria (perhaps by the name Barnabas, which would easily explain the confusion), to judge from his familiarity with Jewish literature, and, apparently, with Philo, and his allegorical method in handling the Old Testament. In Egypt his Epistle was first known and most esteemed, and the Sinaitic Bible which contains it was probably written in Alexandria or Caesarea in Palestine. The readers were chiefly Jewish Christians in Egypt, and the East, who overestimated the Mosaic traditions and ceremonies” (History Christian Church, Vol. II., p. 677. New York, 1883.)

Father Joe responds:

Yes, this is not bad either. Although more modern scholarship suggests that he was a Gentile convert who was quite familiar with Judaism.

Lou writes:

“He could not be the author of a work so full of forced allegories, extravagant and unwarrantable explications of Scripture, together with stories concerning beasts, and such like conceits, as make up the first part of this Epistle.”

Father Joe responds:

Who is this by? Oh no, it is just like the epistle under discussion— ANONYMOUS! And yet, do you not consider it a comment possessing some weight? Alas, such is the same with TRUE Christians and the EPISTLE OF BARNABAS.

Lou writes:

The preceding historical evidence brings only one conclusion. The Epistle of Barnabas is a vague, fanciful production of some unknown author, forged at an uncertain date in the second century. I can’t base my faith on forged and faulty works when I have the option of by faith believing in the inerrant Word of God.

Father Joe responds:

Here you come out with it. You would not accept any testimony outside of the Scriptures. If such is the case then why did you demand a response from Cathy on Sunday observance before 100 AD? You underestimated her, didn’t you? Yes, you did! Boy, am I proud of Cathy!  (See previous postings in this debate.)

As I said before, there is nothing FORGED about the epistle. The early texts do not claim to be written by Barnabas. He is simply an early Christian who wanted to be known, not by his given name but by his cherished faith in Jesus Christ.

The litany of anti-Catholic books listed by Lou, some going back as much as two centuries are hardly credible and objective critiques of the EPISTLE OF BARNABAS. Does he actually have all these books? Some of them are classics of backward and prejudiced thinking. The quotations themselves show that many of them disregarded the value of the epistle because it conflicted with evangelical thinking and their watered-down doctrines. This is hardly the criterion for judging the historicity and value of a work. No doubt Lou sees them as his spiritual kin in religious bigotry and dancing around the difficulty of Catholic truths.

Here are some links to aid Lou in his education:

As for the DIDACHE:

I think it is appropriate at this point to restore all the citations Cathy made with the hope that Lou will read them with openness to the ancient testimony of Christian faith and Sunday observance.

Lou writes:

In conclusion, you have failed to prove that Christians BEFORE the second century AD were Sunday keepers. You are relying on false, forged, works.

Father Joe responds:

In conclusion— nothing— quite the opposite is the testimony.

Lou writes:

And I might add this. Even if there were some that it could be proven did in fact keep Sunday before 100 AD – it still wouldn’t prove your position that there was a Divine COMMAND to substantiate it. There isn’t any. As for me, I’ll stick with the Word of God and shun the false forgeries of the Didache and the so-called letters of Barnabas.

Father Joe responds:

There you have it folks. Just as I said, this has been a wasted exercise over a counterfeit question. The one additive I would make to Lou’s remarks is that he DOES NOT stick with the Word of God, but his own private (mis)interpretations of Scripture. It is a BIG DIFFERENCE.

Lou writes:

You quote [speaking to Cathy] Colossians 2:16 to prove that the Sabbath has *passed away*. This is not discussing the Sabbath. It’s discussing the shadow ordinances that met their fulfillment in Christ.

Father Joe responds:

“Shadow ordinances?” But you said NOTHING would pass away. Ah, excuses, excuses!

Lou writes:

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

The Sabbath day of the moral law is different from the “sabbath days” of the ceremonial shadows that pointed to Christ. The Bible makes the distinction. So should all of us.

Father Joe responds:

Absolute bunk! Do you make this up as you go along or does someone feed it to you?

Lou writes:

“These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, everything upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD” (Leviticus 23:37-38).

God set aside certain feast days that were also sabbaths and were holy days of convocation. And God makes the distinction between those sabbaths and the Sabbath of the Lord. It’s the ceremonial sabbaths that Colossians 2:16-17 is discussing, not the Sabbath of God’s great moral law of ten commandments.

Father Joe responds:

Lou, if you are not willing to study the languages of the original texts then you really must purchase for yourself some parallel bible translations. Note the rendering from the RSV:

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

It is true that a distinction is being made about the various festivals, however, the SABBATH IS THE SABBATH. The text is referring to a hierarchy of holy days: the YEARLY festivals, the MONTHLY new moon, and the WEEKLY Sabbath. Your contention is preposterous that the Sabbath here is not the one of the Decalogue. It is made manifest that you know neither the history nor the Scriptures of God’s people. Cathy is again proven astute and correct. She is one smart young woman! If all college girls were like her, we would have few problems to worry about.

Lou writes:

And again, Cathy, the catholic church doesn’t look to the Bible for support of Sunday keeping. They cite THEIR OWN AUTHORITY for the change in Gods Sabbath. It really is a major exercise in futility to try and prove that Sunday is a Divine institution. Your misuse of the Scriptures proves you wrong. Your citation of forged writings proves you wrong, and even your church who fully admits that Sunday keeping is THEIR MARK of authority proves you wrong in attempting to do something that she herself does not do, and that is try to defend Sunday keeping as Scriptural. In this instance, Cathy, you are deviating from your church that cites THEMSELVES, not Scripture, in validating Sunday keeping. Based on these truths, I do hope you prayerfully reconsider your position. Peace!

Father Joe responds:

Reconsider her position? I hope not. Despite your protestations otherwise, she shot you down on every point. Just because the Catholic Church claims the power of the keys regarding Sunday observance does not nullify the salvation truth and utility of the Scriptures. Catholics do not believe in Church authority alone or Tradition alone or Scripture alone. Your faulty commentary shows that you really do not believe in Scripture alone. Rather, you believe in LOU ALONE.
Some of the books you cite against the EPISTLE OF BARNABAS are from the Anglican and Presbyterian (Low Church) tradition. I suspect all of them support Sunday observance.


Do any of the books you quote against the EPISTLE OF BARNABAS promote the Hebrew Saturday Sabbath over the observance of the Christian Sunday? I suspect not. Perhaps I am cynical, but I suspect that you have never even read those books and only know them second-hand? Prove me wrong, if you can. I would be pleasantly surprised. Peace.

The Great Saturday or Sunday Sabbath Debate #5

Lou writes:

The Letter of Barnabas (as a source before 100 AD) is unfortunately for the Sunday-keeping proponents, an unreliable source. This is not of the “Barnabas” who was the companion of the apostle Paul. This is but a forgery in a futile attempt to bolster the validity of Sunday-keeping, which has NO Biblical authority.

Father Joe writes:

Says who, you? If ignorance were really bliss, you would be in heaven already. Just as some of the Pauline letters in Scripture were written by another hand, this does not make the documents into forgeries according to the criteria of the ancients. It was attributed to Barnabas by Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, Origen, the Codex Sinaiticus, and in later manuscripts. However, the oldest texts are anonymous. We do not know the author’s identity for sure. This is the stance of the Catholic faith regarding this text. The validity of source material in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition is based not so much upon an author’s identity as it is upon the reception of these documents as expressive of the Church’s abiding faith. Thus, all your citations that dismiss the letter because of “false” authorship can, themselves, be dismissed. Again, it is the antiquity of the document and its revelatory character regarding the early Church that makes it important. It was probably written between 100 AD to 131 AD.

The thrust of the document is not merely “Sunday-keeping” as you call it. The “way of light” and “way of darkness” sections are reminiscent of the DIDACHE. He implements an allegorical means of interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures as opposed to a more radical or literal approach. It is a somewhat tedious polemic against Jewish cultic (worship) practices. His community celebrates Sunday, “the eighth day” (15:8-9). Lou claims that this was the Catholic Church’s “futile attempt to bolster the validity of Sunday-keeping”; however, it was only translated into Latin during the third century. Considered canonical Scripture by many in ancient Egypt, the epistle had little impact upon Rome and the Western Church. It is a legitimate picture of the early Church. Again, Cathy answered your response and did so quite well.

Lou writes:

“The writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers are, alas! come down to us, for the most part, in a very uncertain condition; partly, because in early times writings were counterfeited, under the name of these venerable men of the church, in order to propagate certain opinions or principles; partly, because those writings which they had really published were adulterated, and especially so to serve a Judao-hierarchical party, which would fain crush the free evangelical spirit. We should here, in the first place, have to name Bamabas, the well-known fellow traveler of St. Paul, if a letter, which was first known in the second century, in the Alexandrian church, under his name, and which bore the inscription of a Catholic epistle, was really his composition. But it is impossible that we should acknowledge this epistle to belong to that Barnabas who was worthy to be the companion of the apostolic labors of St. Paul, and had received his name from the power of his animated discourses in the churches. We find, also, nothing to induce us to believe the author of the Epistle was desirous of being considered Barnabas. But since its spirit and its mode of conception corresponded to the Alexandrian taste, it may have happened, that as the author’s name was unknown, and persons were desirous of giving it authority, a report was spread abroad in Alexandria, that Barnabas was the author.” (History of the Christian Church of the First Three Centuries, pp. 407, 408, Rose’s Trans.)

Father Joe responds:

Cathy uses primary source material and you parrot secondary material. Again, the Catholic Church admits it may not be the companion to St. Paul. So what? Does he even make the claim? Many people have the same name! Just as many authorities claim the hand of John’s disciples in the Johannine writings, why not here in reference to Barnabas?

Note that your so-called authority dismisses all the Apostolic Fathers. This takes care of the debate quite nicely. The ostrich buries his head in the sand.

Lou writes:

The Epistle of Barnabas was the production of some Jew, who most probably lived in this [the second] century, and whose mean abilities and superstitious attachment to Jewish fables, show, notwithstanding the uprightness of his intentions, that he must have been a very different person from the true Barnabas who was St. Paul’s companion.” (Church History, Vol. 1, p. 113, Maclaine’s Trans.)

Father Joe responds:

You miss the whole point. Using an analogy, the discussion here is about the value of eggs, not about which chicken laid them. Let me say it still again, Rome does not insist that the author of this epistle is St. Barnabas! Since he seems to have some blind spots regarding Jewish practices, he was probably not a Jew as this citation asserts, but a Gentile who was familiar with many Jewish ways.

Lou writes:

“For what is suggested by some of its having been written by that Barnabas who was the friend and companion of St. Paul, the futility of such a notion is easily to be made apparent from the letter itself. Several of the opinions and interpretations of Scripture which it contains, having in them so little, either of truth, or dignity, or force, as to render it impossible that they ever could have proceeded from the pen of a man divinely inspired.” (Historical Commentaries, Century 2, See. 53.)

Father Joe responds:

Many of the great figures of Christian history had a different assessment of the quality of this work. In any case, I will say it once more; it makes no difference if the authorship is not St. Barnabas. The Church has not made any definite claimed it was. Indeed, most authorities, Catholic or otherwise, assert that it cannot be him. But the document stands on its own historical merits.

Lou writes:

“Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant Epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles.” (Church History, Book III., chap. 25, Sec. 4. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I., p. 156.

Father Joe responds:

The Catholic bishops did indeed REJECT all these writings as canonical Scripture. They are useful in our historical appreciation of the early Church, but they are not “lost” books of the Bible. Do we agree upon this much?

Lou writes:

“The letter still extant, which was known as that of Bamabas, even in the second century, cannot be defended as genuine” (Commentary on Acts, p. 251).

Father Joe responds:

Genuine what? We know it is plenty old. That is all that Cathy is contending. These citations about authorship (stolen from footnotes or editorial notes?) do not address her contention. Cathy wins on this score. The Sunday observance was practiced within the first century of the Christian era!

The Great Saturday or Sunday Sabbath Debate #4

Cathy writes:

The Letter of Barnabas (74 A.D.)

“Moreover God says to the Jews, ‘Your new moons and Sabbaths 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 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 [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (Barnabas 15:6-8).

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath.” (Colossians 2:16).

Here are some other writings that describe the Lord’s Day being celebrated on Sunday in later centuries (just for fun):

Ignatius of Antioch (110 A.D.) wrote:

“[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death” (Letter to the Magnesians 8).

Justin Martyr (155 A.D.) wrote:

“[W]e too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . How is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us—I speak of fleshly circumcision and sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you to keep the sabbath, and imposed on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21).

Tertullian (203 A.D.) wrote:

“Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ For if circumcision purges a man, since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? . . . Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, was by him [God] commended [Gen. 4:1-7, Heb. 9:4]. . . . Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and unobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge. For Enoch too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, he translated from this world, who did not first taste death in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God” (An Answer to the Jews 2).

The Didascalia (225 A.D.) stated:

“The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven” (Didascalia 2).

Origen (229 A.D.) wrote:

“Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection” (Commentary on John 2:28).

Victorinus (300 A.D.) wrote:

“The sixth day [Friday] is called parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom. . . . On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God or a fast. On the seventh day he rested from all his works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any sabbath with the Jews . . . which sabbath he [Christ] in his body abolished” (The Creation of the World).

The Great Saturday or Sunday Sabbath Debate #3

Cathy writes:

The Didache (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles) written in 70 AD:

“But every Lord’s day, gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned” (Didache 14).

“And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection…?” (Didache, Vol. 7).

“And how can he be other than an adversary to God, who takes pains about temporary things night and day, but takes no care of things eternal? Who takes care of washings and temporary food every day, but does not take care of those that endure forever? How can such a one even now avoid hearing that word of the Lord, ‘The Gentiles are justified more than you’ as He says, by way of reproach, to Jerusalem, ‘Sodom is justified rather than thou.’ For if the Gentiles every day, when they arise from sleep, run to their idols to worship them, and before all their work and all their labors do first of all pray to them, and in their feasts and in their solemnities do not keep away, but attend upon them; and not only those upon the place, but those living far distant do the same; and in their public shows all come together, as into a synagogue: in the same manner those which are vainly called Jews, when they have worked six days, on the seventh day rest, and come together in their synagogue, never leaving or neglecting either rest from labor or assembling together… If, therefore, those who are not saved frequently assemble together for such purposes as do not profit them, what apology wilt thou make to the Lord God who forsakes his Church, not imitating so much as the heathen, but by such, thy absence grows slothful, or turns apostate or acts wickedness? To whom the Lord says to Jeremiah, ‘Ye have not kept My ordinances; nay, you have not walked according to the ordinance of the heathen and you have in a manner exceeded them… How, therefore, will anyone make his apology who has despised or absented himself from the church of God?” (Didache, Vol. 7).

“…every Lord’s day, hold your solemn assemblies, and rejoice: for he will be guilty of sin who fasts on the Lord’s day, being the day of the resurrection…” (Didache, Vol. 7).

“On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church: ‘In every place shall incense and a pure sacrifice be offered unto me; for I am a great King, saith the Lord Almighty, and my name is wonderful among the heathen,’ [Malachi 1:11, 14]” (Didache, Vol. 7).

Lou writes:

I will comment on your references of Sunday-keeping before 100 AD. Your first reference to Sunday-keeping before 100 AD is the Didache. Unfortunately, the last ten volumes of the Didache is a most unreliable source. The first six volumes are recognized as containing the binding force of the Word of God, the rest (from which you gather your information) is the work of human compilation and contrivance. The Didache is, properly speaking, the first six chapters and no more.

Father Joe responds:

Good work, Cathy, you answered Lou’s challenge and he had to tell a fable to escape the trap he made for himself!

Turning to Lou, since its teachings ring as heretical to your SDA ears, you join the likes of F. E. Vokes in saying that the DIDACHE must be later fiction.

Sorry, Lou, I do not know who told you that the DIDACHE was a counterfeit, but you were misled. Cathy is again right on target. While there is an evolutionary character to the work, its style, language, etc. all point to its authenticity in its various sections. Fragments of the DIDACHE have been found in Latin, Coptic, Georgian, and Greek (particularly of the DOCTRINA that you oppose).

The DIDACHE TON DODEKA APOSTOLON is universally held as a first century Syrian document dated around 60 AD to 70 AD. That means that it was not written long after St. Paul’s letters and about the same time period as our Gospels. It has sixteen chapters in total. The first six that you hold in high regard deal with the “Way of Life” and the “Way of Death.” Chapters seven through ten deal with liturgical affairs like baptism, fasts, and the Eucharist. You reject these chapters, not because they reflect a different hand or a later date (which is not true) but because you find their content offensive. The fact that Christians could be involved with such “Catholic” things during the “living memory” period after Jesus puts your every dissent into question. You would be more consistent and honest to spurn the entire work. Chapters eleven through fifteen cover church laws and discipline, including THE PROPER KEEPING OF THE LORD’S DAY (Sunday) and the election of bishops. Chapter sixteen prophesies the Lord’s return WITH ALL THE SAINTS (oops! I guess they were not sleeping after all). Cathy was brilliant in mentioning this document. It undermines every misconception and lie (even if inadvertent) that you might conjure up.

The DIDACHE was well known in the early Church. There are even references to some of the parts you disavow. It influenced the APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS and was promoted by St. Athanasius. It also includes the earliest known Church condemnation of abortion.

Since this document is authentic, Cathy has successfully answered your challenge to give testimony prior to 100 AD in favor of Sunday worship over the Saturday synagogue service (see first post). You need to respond intelligently, without subterfuge to the texts she gives you.

The Great Saturday or Sunday Sabbath Debate #2

This post gives my response (only) to the legalistic argument for the Saturday sabbath over the Sunday observance made by Lou, one of the Internet’s more offensive anti-Catholics.  

Father Joe writes: 

As for Scripture verses that seem to put things in a more balanced perspective, we read:

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never be the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near” (Hebrews 10:1).

Believers in Jesus assemble on Sunday to commemorate the Lord’s Supper and the one sacrifice that makes true and lasting reparation to the throne of God. The Sunday Eucharist, not temple sacrifice or synagogue service, is the foretaste of the “good things” offered by our Savior.

“Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:23-26).

The coming of Christ has changed many things. God, who is Spirit, is reflected in the face of Jesus Christ. This ushers in a new age regarding the economy of images. Thus, the early Christians developed religious art and statuary to convey their faith and devotion. Christian faith in Jesus is paramount and the Sunday observance of his resurrection becomes an element of the new law over the old.

“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’; but the law does not rest on faith, for ‘He who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us— for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree’ – that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-13).

The law was the Hebrew elaboration upon the Ten Commandments and the various ancient divine mandates. While the commandments retain their binding force, it is in light of Christ’s two-fold commandment to love God and neighbor. The old law is reinterpreted in light of the Christ-event and the lived-situation of converts for whom the “eighth day” was the principal occasion for celebrating their faith and their spiritual adoption.

“For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified” (Romans 10:4).

This confirms the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 5:17-18. Heaven and earth, as we knew it, has indeed passed away.

There are various Scriptures that place the spirit of the law over the letter. This might also be applied to the Christian Sunday since believers taking a day to praise and honor God will surely please our Lord. I can just see Lou now with his Seventh Day Adventist proclivities, banging his feet and shouting at God: “That’s not fair, God! They did not keep the right day! They had no right to single out Sunday as a day to commemorate Christ’s resurrection and to assemble. It is Saturday or nothing! They should be punished, not rewarded for remembering and loving you!”

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our sufficiency is from God, who has qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, NOT IN A WRITTEN CODE BUT IN SPIRIT; for the written code kills, BUT THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE. Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as this was, will not the DISPENSATION OF THE SPIRIT BE ATTENDED WITH GREATER SPLENDOR? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor. Since we have such a hope, WE ARE VERY BOLD . . .” (2 Corinthians 3:5-12).

Our Lord is alive in his Church, making his presence and authority available. When Christ’s disciples were condemned by the Pharisees for plucking and eating the ears of grain on the Sabbath, our Lord defended them, saying, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. FOR THE SON OF MAN IS LORD OF THE SABBATH” (Matthew 12:7-8). The rabid imitation of SDA faith that Lou promotes makes him an heir to the Pharisees. Lou witnesses this attitude on a viciously anti-Catholic website operated by his partner in crime Nicholas.  Dispersions against those who worship God on Sunday (and not a pagan deity either) fall upon men and women who act in good faith. Instead of supporting their efforts to bring Jesus Christ back into people’s lives, they ridicule those who want a restoration of blue laws as pawns of the anti-Christ and associates of the Whore of Babylon.

There is a real sickness in their polemics. We need to pray for them.

Furthermore, the law of God mandated circumcision, and yet through the intervention of St. Paul, and the acceptance of St. Peter at the Council of Jerusalem, the Church abrogated that which was a major sign of membership in the People of God. One would not have to become Jewish before becoming a Christian. The matter of transferring the Sabbath to the day that commemorated Christ’s resurrection would seem a far easier matter and there is no critical debate among believers. “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal” (Romans 2:29). Of course, up until modern times, many Christians, and Catholics in particular, took both Saturday and Sunday as special days of rest to be with family and to reaffirm their commitment to God. Many Catholics attend the Saturday night anticipatory Mass for Sunday. The Neocatechumenal Way, a religious association in the Church for post-baptismal catechesis, celebrates its liturgies ONLY on the Saturday Hebrew Sabbath. A menorah candle burns on the altar and the congregation dances the Jewish Mishnah around the altar at the end of the liturgy. They pledge obedience to the Pope and function entirely within the good graces of the Roman Catholic Church. They have so many vocations that they operate a number of their own seminaries, including a notable one in New Jersey. Thus, one could say that there is a growing restoration of the ancient Hebrew elements and the significance of the Jewish Sabbath, particularly as blended to the resurrection theme so very important on Sunday.

The Great Saturday or Sunday Sabbath Debate #1

This post is the start of an argument about the Hebrew Saturday sabbath over the Christian Sunday observance.  Nicholas and Lou, two of the Internet’s more offensive anti-Catholics, attacked the Christian practice of Sunday observance.  I have not saved here the website post from Nicholas that was the catalyst for this discussion.  Lou is the visible point-man for the pseudo-SDA view in this debate.

Cathy writes:

First, I would like to make one important clarification: I do not believe God “changed” the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. I believe that the Saturday Sabbath has “passed away” and is not included in the NEW Covenant. Rather, we have the Lord’s Day, Sunday, on which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. (See Revelation 1:10)

Lou writes:

So, you say that you don’t believe that God “changed” the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. But you believe that the *Saturday* Sabbath has “passed away.” That is a direct contradiction of the Lord Jesus’ words. For Jesus says:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).

For as long as the heavens and the earth remain, God’s law, including His Sabbath, will also remain. That means forever! The text in Revelation 1:10 is not a reference to Sunday, but to the Sabbath day, of which Jesus proclaimed He is “Lord.”

Father Joe responds:

I think what Cathy is trying to say is that there was no singularly recorded moment wherein God spoke from heaven, declaring that the Jewish Sabbath would be transferred to Sunday. She is correct in this sense, although Lou is not far from the truth when he argues that the Catholic Church moved the obligation, or at least the center of gravity, from Saturday to Sunday, the so-called “eighth day” in Patristic testimony. We must remember that Lou and his friend Nicholas are biblical fundamentalists (at least of a sort). Lou might ask for evidence of the Sunday Sabbath before 100 AD, but he really does not mean it, at least if the testimony is extra-biblical (outside the literal Scriptural testimony). He is quick to mimic the bad scholarship that would dismiss other ancient Christian documents as spurious. It is as if the Bible emerges from some nebulous vacuum, and not from a teaching Church or from a canon negotiated by bishops, albeit under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is what makes debate with his likes so very difficult. He is the supreme interpreter of Holy Writ. The Church and all her traditions are as weeds to be burned. History and truth becomes subjective with any facts to the contrary ignored or twisted to fit a preconceived bigotry. As for the topic at hand, the evidence seems to indicate that the shift did not happen all at once. The first Christians were Jewish and maintained their synagogue participation on the Sabbath. However, as the Church added to her numbers many Gentile converts, the Hebrew customs and rituals decreased in value. The expulsion of the Christian Jews from the synagogue and the subsequent persecution would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Christians were also gathering on Sunday for the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper (tied to an agape or love-feast). Every Sunday was seen as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Cathy has all this quite right.

As for Revelation 1:10, this is part of a late document, between 90 and 120 AD. It is the last book of the New Testament to be written. Lou is very wrong in saying that “the Lord’s day” in this text refers to the Saturday “Jewish” Sabbath. The phrase “the Lord’s day” was a code word universally used by Christians to signify Sunday. Lou is guilty of bad scholarship here and ignorance of God’s Word. John writes: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying . . .” The trumpet imagery is borrowed from the Sinai theophany in Exodus and in other eschatological situations. The day that commemorated our Lord’s resurrection is tied in with his Second Coming and the Judgment. The Hebrew Sabbath, while important to the early Jewish Christians, did not have the devotional weight of the Christian Sunday because the resurrection of Jesus was seen as a new creative event, the proof of our redemption and hope for eternal life in Christ. John sees all time after the resurrection as End-Times. The victory is already won in Christ. We are merely awaiting the final consummation in the Lord.

Let us turn to the Scripture that Lou cites, Matthew 5:17-18. Again, he displays his ignorance of the Word of God and his troubled use of isolated passages as proof texts. He interprets these verses as evidence that the Hebrew Saturday Sabbath is a permanent affair. However, Christians have never understood this text in this way. The assertion “Till heaven and earth pass (away)” does not necessarily mean the end of the world. Rather, it means the PASSING AWAY of the world, as we knew it. Regarding the matter of the Sabbath, it is, as Cathy would have us understand, the transition from the Saturday to the Sunday holy day. Of course, the text is saying a great deal more. Jesus has come to fulfill the law and the prophets. The ancient law and traditions bind them “till heaven and earth pass away” and “until all is accomplished.” This occurs with the revelatory event of Christ’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and resurrection.

John’s Gospel makes this delineation clear from the mouth of Jesus on the Cross: “After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28). The Gospel is addressed to those in the final age, the age foretold by Isaiah of “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). However, during Jesus’ public ministry, they are still living in the setting of the old law, anticipating what would come.