(Necessita ser traduzido. Logo o faremos.)
IS THE MINISTERIAL ASSOCIATION PROMOTING SUNDAY WORSHIP?
A brother came to our booth during the GC session, exclaiming: "Dr. Bacchiocchi, did you know that the General Conference Ministerial Association is selling a book that promotes Sunday observance?" "It cannot be. You must be joking," I replied. "Come with me," he said. I followed him to the booth of the Ministerial Association, where he picked up a copy of the book Confessions of a Nomad: What We Learned in Sinaiís Shadow, authored by Carolyn Shealy Self and William L. Self, and asked me to read the following two paragraphs from page 118:
"The early Christians were obsesses with the fact that they came out of a Jewish background. Yet God did something new and real for them in the Easter experience, so they would have the Sabbath, and they would gather together as the Christian sect on Sunday morning and celebrate the resurrection.
"But there is a difference between the Sabbath and Sunday. You work until the Sabbath, and then you rest. Sunday is the day that gives you strength to work the six days in front of you. The Sabbath is the end of the week; Sunday is the beginning. The Sabbath is from sundown to sundown, but Sunday is from midnight to midnight. The Sabbath is a day of rest, but Sunday is a day of worship. The Sabbath has a penalty to it, if you break it; Sunday has no penalty, except that you shortchange yourself."
Similar ideas are expresses on pages 31, 75, and 86 of the book, which is largely a meditation on the Ten Commandments. Overall the book does contain some insightful concepts on the Decalogue, but the authors are grossly mistaken about the origin of Sunday and the relationship between Sabbath and Sunday.
The early Jewish Christians were not "were obsesses with the fact that they came out of a Jewish background," because they viewed themselves as believing Jews who were "zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20). They did not come together early Sunday morning to celebrate Christís resurrection. There are ample evidences that Jewish Christians continued in the observance of the Sabbath until the fourth centuries, as attested by the Palestinian Historian Epiphanius (A. D. 350). The first reference to early Sunday morning gatherings refers to Gentile Christians and comes to us from I Apology 67 of Justin Martyr, who wrote from Rome, Italy, about A. D. 150.
Twice Justin underlines that the assembly of Gentile Christians took place "on the day of the Sun." "On the day which is called Day of the Sun (te tou eliou legomene hemera) we have a common assembly of all who live in the cities or in the outlying districts, and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the Prophets are read, as long as there is time. The Day of the Sun indeed, is the day on which we all hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, transforming the darkness and prime matter, created the world; and our Savior Jesus Christ arose from the dead on the same day (I Apology 67:3-5).
Gentile, rather than Jewish Christians, assembled early on the Day of the Sun, to show to the Roman authorities their identification with pagan Sun-worship and their distinction from the Jews, at a time when Judaism in general and Sabbathkeeping in particular were proscribed by Roman law. The first reason given for such Sunday gathering is the creation of the light on the first day of creation week. This question is discussed at great length in my dissertation From Sabbath to Sunday.
Contrary to what the Selfs wrote, Sunday did not originate as a "DAY of worship." Instead, it began as an HOUR of worship. In spite of the efforts made by Constantine (A. D. 321 Sunday Law), church councils, Popes, and Puritans, Sunday has largely remained an hour of worship followed by secular activities. The recognition of this historical reality has led the Catholic Church to introduce the Saturday evening Mass for those who cannot make it to church on Sunday. Over 10,000 Protestant churches have already adopted the same practice, including the Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, which has two Saturday evening services for those who find it inconvenient to go to church on Sunday.
The attempt of the Selfs to differentiate between the Sabbath as a day of rest and Sunday as a day of worship, is based on the ignorance of the fact that in the Bible the act of resting on the Sabbath is an act of worship, because the Sabbath rest is not self-centered, but God-centered. We do not rest unto ourselves, but "unto the Lord." We stop our work to allow God to work in us more fully and freely (Heb 4:10). It is the act of resting unto the Lord that makes the worship experience possible.
Much more could be said to expose the senselessness of what the Selfs wrote about the Sabbath, but what concerns me at this juncture is the fact that the book has a 1998 copyright by the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Originally the book was published in 1983 by the Peachtree Publishers. Apparently the Ministerial Association received the permission to reprint it, with editorial modifications, because its says: "All copy has been reset and repaginated. Several short portions have been edited to conserve space" (p. 2).
Frankly, I wish that the Ministerial Association would have edited the portions of the books which promote Sunday observance. At least they could have put a disclaimer in the introduction saying something like this: "The Ministerial Association does not endorse the authors defense of Sunday observance, which is based on mistaken interpretations of biblical and historical data. The decision to sponsor this book rests on the belief that there are sufficient good thoughts in the book to offset the erroneous comments about Sunday observance."
Undoubtedly the Ministerial Association will let us know the reasons why they have sponsored this devotional book, in spite of its negation of the validity and value of the Sabbath. On my part I will be sure to pass on to you whatever information I receive. -- Samuel Bacchiocchi.