Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE- Part XLVIII

 Christianity, the State, and the Sunday-sabbath


Thomas Jefferson, that “illustrious son of Virginia, who finally succeeded in separating church and state in that commonwealth and establishing religious freedom for all men, has this to say of its early history:”

     “The first settlers [of Virginia] were emigrants from England, of the English Church, just at a point of time when it was flushed with victory over the religions of all other persuasions. Possessed, as they became, of the powers of making, administering, and executing the laws, they showed equal intolerance in this country with their Presbyterian brethren who had emigrated to the northern government . . . .

     “ Several Acts of the Virginia Assembly of 1659, 1662, and 1693 had made it penal in parents to refuse to have their children baptized; had prohibited the unlawful assembling of Quakers; had made it penal for any master of a vessel to bring a Quaker into the State; had ordered those already here, and such as should come thereafter, to be imprisoned till they should abjure the country,— provided a milder penalty for the first and second return, but death for their third. If no capital executions took place here, as did in New England, it was not owing to the moderation of the church, or spirit of the legislature, as may be inferred from the law, itself, but to historical circumstances which have not been handed down to us.’- Jefferson’s ‘Notes on Virginia,’1788, p. 167; quoted in Church in Politics by Charles Longacre, Review & Herald, 1927, pp. 64, 65.

     “Here are some actual statutes which were enacted under the Episcopal church and state union in Virginia, and enforced by the civil magistrates:

          ‘Whosoever shall absent himself from divine service any Sunday, without and allowable excuse, shall forfeit a pound of tobacco, and he that absenteth himself as month shall forfeit fifty pounds of tobacco,’ – Henning’s “Statutes at Large,’ Vol. I, p. 123.

    “In 1652 the following statute was enacted and applied to all people in Virginia:

          ‘All persons inhabiting in this county, having now lawful excuse, shall every Sunday resort to their parish church or chapel, and there abide orderly during the common prayer, preaching, and divine service, upon the penalty of being fined fifty pounds of tobacco by the county court.

          ‘This Act shall not extend to Quakers or other recusants who totally absent themselves, but they shall be liable to the penalty imposed by the statute, 23 Elizabeth, viz., 20 sterling for every month’s absence.’

    “In the year 1663, the following statute shall be enacted:

         ‘If Quakers, or other Separatists whatsoever, in this colony assemble themselves together to the number of five or more, of the age of sixteen years or upwards, under the pretense of joining in a religious worship not authorized in England or this country, the parties so offending being thereof lawfully convict by verdict, confessions, or notorious evidence,, shall for the first offense forfeit 200 pounds of tobacco; for the second, 500 pounds of tobacco; and for the third offense, the following offender being convict as aforesaid, shall be banished the colony of Virginia.’

     “A little later the death penalty was added for the third offense. The following Sunday blue law is taken from the ‘Articles, Laws, and Orders, Divine, Politique, and martial, for the Colony of Virginia:’

          ‘Every man and woman shall repair in the morning to the divine service and sermons preached upon the Sabbath day [Sunday], and in the afternoon to divine service and catechizing upon pain for the first fault to lose their provision and the allowance for the whole week following; for the second, to lose the said allowance and also to be whipped; and for the third, to suffer death.’

      “Equally drastic and intolerant Sunday laws were enacted in New Jersey, New York, the Carolinas, and Georgia.   A state church was in full control in all these colonies, and everywhere religious obligations were enforced upon the dissenters, even to the death penalty, for nonconformity.” – Ibid, pp. 65, 66.

Myopic View of Religious Liberty

     “The Puritans and other religious legalists of colonial days, believed in religious liberty, only for themselves. They believed that Christianity and the Sabbath and the church would all perish, unless each had the legal [and lethal] sanction and support of the state.

     “The idea that the church and Christian institutions would prosper and maintain greater purity without state support than under a union of church and state, had never seriously entered their minds.

     “There are many modern Christians and religious ‘reformers’ [in mainstream Christianity] who still entertain this narrow view of religious liberty. It is impossible for them to think that religious liberty should be extended to anyone but members of their own church, who hold their own dogmas.

     “But the man who believes in religious liberty only for himself, and wants, by the authority of the civil magistrate, to force all of a divergent view to accept his type of religion, does not know what religious liberty is.

     “Only the man who stands ready to concede, even to his opponent, the same rights he claims for himself, knows the meaning of religious liberty. Anything less than this is not the religion of Christ, for He loved His enemies, and gave His life for them. His love included all.

      “The intolerant laws to which we have referred, beginning with Constantine’s first Sunday law, were not in harmony with the teachings of Christ. The whole system was entirely foreign to the gospel plan. In fact, Christ’s message to the churches in the book of Revelation [“the seven churches,” chapters 2, 3] is a solemn warning against any such program. The thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Revelation pronounces the most dire judgments upon all who unite church and state, or force the conscience through perversion of the commandments of God by the precepts of men.” – Ibid, pp. 66, 67.

How the Papacy views American religious liberty and separation of church and state

In The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII, Benziger Bro., 1903; cited in Facts of Faith by Christian Edwardson, Southern Publishing Asso., 1943, Pope Leo said:  “The theory ‘that the church be separated from the state,’ Pope Leo XIII further calls a ‘fatal error,’ ‘a great folly, a sheer injustice,’ and a ‘shameless liberty.’—p. 257. “In his next encyclical letter, of June 20, 1888, he calls it “the fatal theory of the need of separation of church and state,” “the greatest perversion of liberty,” and “that fatal principle of separation of Church and state.”- pp. 148, 159; Ibid, p. 257.


Forged epistles: origin of Sunday being called “the Lord’s Day.” Charles Longacre, pp. 39, 40: “There is no record to be found anywhere, except in the forged writings attributed to the early church Fathers, but which were written during the fifth and sixth centuries after Christ, that the early Christians of the first three centuries observed the first day of the week as the Sabbath, or Lord’s day. The fact that only the forged epistles of the church Fathers say that the early Christians observed Sunday, is good proof that such statements are untrue. The proof had to be supplied by these pseudo-writers, who attached the names of Justin Martyr, Barnabas, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Polycarp, and others to their inventions. The testimony of many eminent historians can be adduced to prove that scores of these early epistles attributed to the church Fathers are pure fabrications, inventions of unscrupulous writers of the fifth and sixth centuries.

    “Neander, the most distinguished of church historians, says: ‘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.’ – ‘The History of the Christians Religion and Church,’ by Neander, translated by H.J. Rose, p. 186.

     “Anyone who searches the New Testament for a divine command or for apostolic teachings in favor of Sunday observance, will be unable to find a single text that authorizes the substitution of the first day of the week for the Sabbath, or Lord’s day. The first day of the week was never called the Sabbath or Lord’s day in the New Testament, nor in any of the writings of the early church Fathers, excepting in the pseudo-epistles,until we come to the year 194 A.D.

     “Sunday is frequently mentioned in many different ways by the writers of the second century, but never is it called the Sabbath or Lord’s day until we reach the writings of Clement, of Alexandria, A.D. 194, who speaks of the ‘eighth day’ as ‘the Lord’s day.’ But his eighth day is a mystical day, referring to the future state in heaven, and so proves nothing in favor of the observance of the first day of the week as the Lord’s day.

     “Tertullian, A.D. 200, is the next writer who uses the term ‘Lord’s day,’ applying it to the day of Christ’s resurrection [not the Sabbath memorial of creation]. Kitto’s ‘Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature,’ says this is ‘the earliest authentic instance’ in which the term ‘Lord’s day ‘ is thus applied, and this can readily proved by an examination of the writings of the every previous writer.

     “Origen, A.D. 231, is the third of the ancient writers who call the ‘eighth day’ the ‘Lord’s day.’ He was a disciple of Clement, and applied the term ‘eighth day’ in the same mystical way to a perpetual Lord’s day in the future state. Neither Clement, Tertullian, nor Origen, who are the first three writers to use the term’Lord’s day’ and vaguely apply it to the first day of the week, even hinted that the term was ever so applied or the day by the apostles. The apostle John, who says, ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’ (Rev/ 1: 10), does not indicated which day of the week it was. “- Ibid, p. 40.

     “The North British Review, in referring to these Christian converts from heathenism and their inclination to go back to Sunday observance, says:

           ‘The very day was the Sunday of their heathen neighbors and respective countrymen; and patriotism gladly united with expediency in making it at once their Lord’s day and their Sabbath.’ –Vol. XVIII, p. 409; Longacre, Church in Politics, pp. 42, 43.

NOTE: Patriotism is not always a virtue; when united to political expediency of the power-hungry or the “rule of the “majority,”—and truth has ever been in the minority—it tramples underfoot truth in favor of the convenience of the former.

     “Later, Constantine’s Sunday law, with certain modifications, was incorporated by the church councils, into the church ritual. The transition from the Sabbath to Sunday was very slow and gradual on the part of the church councils. The great church Council of Nicaea, convened by the emperor Constantine in 325 A.D.,legislated for the first time in favor of Sunday observance, not by requiring all Christians to observe Sunday instead of the Sabbath, which would have been too bold a step to take when the Sabbath was still quite universally observed by orthodox Christians, but by requiring all Christians for the first time to observe Easter [originally, Passover] on Sunday, instead of, as previously, on its regular anniversary day, which fell on different days of the week in different years, the same as one’s birthday does, which occurs on a fixed day of the month, but not on a fixed day of the week.”

      “The Council of Nicaea decided that Easter should be celebrated each year on the first day of the week, on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the vernal equinox.

      “This was the first official ecclesiastical deference shown to Sunday as memorial celebrating the resurrection of Christ. This ecclesiastical decree paved the way for further legislation in favor of Sunday as a holy day, and prepared the minds of the Christians for more startling innovations of the same nature.” – Ibid,p. 43.

(Continued next week)