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How to Answer Protestants Forum: Sun Worship

by Catherine Frakas 23 Jul 2002

Sun Worship QUESTION from Wesley Wayne on November 27, 2002 To me, the round shape of sacrament symbols has nothing to do with sun worship. However, Easter sunrise services and worship on Sunday, the venerable day of the sun, do constitute sun worship on the part of either Catholics or Protestants. What about this quote from Faith of Our Fathers, by James Cardinal Gibbons, first published in 1876: 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.
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on December 21, 2002 Dear Wayne:
It is important that we don't confuse the use of the sun (or any other object)as a symbol with worshipping the sun. Throughout human history, the sun has symbolized many things: life, rebirth, power, purity, etc.
Of course, Cardinal Gibbons is correct -- there is no directive in Scripture commanding Sunday worship. But we have records from the earliest times showing that the Lord's Day as the day of worship (see Rev. 1:10) was the first day of the week, Sunday.
How could this change from the Old Testament Sabbath (Saturday) to the Lord's Day without a command from Jesus written in Scripture? This issue brings to light the flaw of Sola Scriptura (the Protestant tradition that Scripture alone is the only rule of faith) in that the Church of the Apostles had the authority to decide that the proper day for Christian worship was Sunday.
Of course, the choice of Sunday was neither arbitrary nor based on Sun worship. Rather, a quick study of the Gospel accounts of Jesus' Resurrection and subsequent appearances clearly show that Jesus emphasized the first day of the week. When the Gospel writers give the day of a post-Resurrection appearance, it is always Sunday (see Luke 24:1, 13, 36; John 20:1, 19, 26).
As for Easter Sunrise services, to claim then to be based on sun worship is to be ignorant of the Scriptures. You have only to read Matthew's account to understand why it if appropriate for Christians to gather on Easter and celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord at sunrise:
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' Matthew 28:1-7

To try to make the claim that Christian worship on Sunday is a pagan influence is not only illogical (thousands of Christians died in the first four centuries of Christianity rather than perform pagan worship), but it also is without even the slightest hint of historical support. Not a single writer in the early Church records even one objection to Sunday worship nor do any protest at the Church's decision to make celebratoin on the Lord's Day mandatory. If this had been an introduction of a pagan belief, certainly at least one writer within the Church would have protested or at least one of the Church's enemies would have recorded the inconsistancy in the Church's practices. Those who make such accusations against the Church today have no evidence that the lies they tell ever happened.
The Christian Church has always worshipped on Sunday as a celebration of Jesus' Resurrection. To claim that Christians worshipping on Sunday is Sun worship is like claiming the Jews worship Saturn since they worship on Saturday. Both claims are ridiculous.
May the Peace of the Resurrected Lord be with you today and every Lord's Day.
Pax Christi, Troy
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