Friday, August 20, 2010

Sunday "Pagan" Worship

Sunday "Pagan" Worship

The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. – John 4:19-24
If the hour was coming, and now is, that people would be worshiping God in Spirit and in truth, then it was not happening prior to that time. Prior to this time/era the Jews worshiped God, but according to a formula of worship that included the details of when and where and how.

The Jews had to conform to this standard, and it became little more than religion by the numbers; a ritual followed where one's heart wasn't necessarily in it. The people would have been just going through the motions, fulfilling their religious obligations.

The new covenant swept all this away. Instead of worshiping God because one was required to do so, now people worshiped God because they truly wanted to. The formula prescribed by the old covenant law was no longer a standard that had to be followed. There is a freedom; a “Liberty” that Christians have in regards to their worship. No longer was the worship of God restricted to location, time, and form. Christians are free to worship God whenever and wherever and however they so desire.

Unfortunately, there are those who would restrict Christian's liberties and freedoms found in Christ. There are those who would insist on returning to at least some of the form of old covenant worship, while doing whatever they can think of to disparage people's new-found liberties in regards to worship. This is an attack on several fronts, and I will address each attack and expose them for what they are; shameless ridicule and an arrogance unbecoming of those who would call themselves Christian.

I will break down what they teach into claims so as to better define the issue at hand, and thereby show the fallacies behind their claims.

Claim: Sunday was/is a pagan day of the worship of the Sun. Therefore, Christians should not worship on that day. To do so is to partake in the incursion of pagan practices into Christianity.

This is an example of a class of fallacies known as: “fallacy of relevance”. One of the more common names for this particular fallacy is: “Poisoning the Well”.

There are associated claims.

Claim: Christianity adopted Sunday worship in an attempt to transfer their formerly pagan observance of Sunday to Christianity.

Furthermore, they claim early Christians were gathering on sabbaths for corporate worship, and that the move away from the sabbath and the embracing of corporate worship on Sundays constituted the apostasy of mainstream Christianity.

Claims are supposed to be accompanied by evidence. These claims are left standing alone, without Biblical support by those who espouse them. Their hope is that the claim, in and of itself, is sufficient to cast a shadow of doubt upon those who attend corporate worship on Sundays.

Claim: Sunday was/is a pagan day of the worship of the Sun. Therefore, Christians should not worship on that day. To do so is to partake in the incursion of pagan practices into Christianity.

“Sun” day is the name assigned to the first day of the week of our present calendar. We could just as easily refer to it as the “first” day of the week, or the next day after the sabbath, or, as became customary, the “Lord's day” based upon Rev. 1:10. Whether John here means the first day of the week, or the Lord's day eschatalogically is unimportant, as many early Christians made the association between the first day of the week and that day being the Lord's day, regardless of the reasoning and whether that reasoning was valid or not.

That pagans worshiped the sun is not in question. The pagan world worshiped the creation to the exclusion of the Creator. What is of note is that the pagan nations did not have a standardized calendar, let alone a standardized week. It was not until 46 B.C. that the Romans adopted a more “modern” calendar that incorporated a 7 day week. Prior to this time, the Romans had an 8 day week, and the day apparently dedicated to the worship of the sun was the second day. These two methods or forms of weeks continued side-by-side until Constantine in 321 made the 7 day week the “official” week. So, if the pagan Romans continued their pagan religious practices in relation to their 8 day week, our Sunday and the “Sunday” of the earlier, nundinal cycle week would match up only once every 8 weeks. Likewise, this “Sunday” would line up with the 7th day of the week with the same frequency; the 7th day being the sabbath.

This claim then that the first day of the week of the seven day weekly cycle was the “Sunday” of pagan sun worship loses credibility when you realize that the weekly sabbath fell on this day with the same frequency as the first day of the week did.

In the English language however, the first day of the week is named Sunday, as well as the rest of the days of the week receiving an association with paganistic deities also.

This brings us to the second claim we are covering:

Claim: Christianity adopted Sunday worship in an attempt to transfer their formerly pagan observance of Sunday to Christianity.

Kerry Wynne, in his book “Lying for God” covers this issue in great detail. This book can be accessed at: He shows that even Dr. Bacchiocchi could not make such a claim “stick” seeing as Christians were gathering together for communal worship way too early for there to be any validity to the theory Christians were abandoning sabbath keeping in favor of pagan days and festivals.

Early Christians were gathering on Sundays for communal worship and prayers as a matter of convenience as well as the prevailing belief that, seeing as Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, and there was an association in Scripture with the Son of God and the sun, with the attendant analogies of light in relation to that day from creation, this scenario is much more believable than a conclusion the Gentile Christians in their new-found faith would be so willing to sneak back to pagan days and rituals.

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. – Malachi 4:2

This whole argument that Sunday is unsuitable for Christian worship hangs on two assumptions:

1. That Christians should be gathering together on sabbaths for the purpose of communal worship, and:

2. Sundays were stolen or misappropriated by heathens for the purpose of pagan sun worship.

I would remind sabbatarian readers that the sabbath was a commanded day of rest and not corporate worship. In Leviticus chapter 23, the sabbath is referred to as a “holy convocation” however it is assumptive on the part of sabbatarians to conclude this refers to corporate worship, contrary to the context:
Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. – Leviticus 23:3
An holy convocation is a condition where the people come before God. In this case, the individual or his family are seen as being in the presence of God on that day, all day, in relation to being in their dwellings. It was time owed to God.

In the new covenant, the Christian is seen as being in God's presence always, being in receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Item 2 above unveils the nature of the claims against Sunday worship. They are accusations more than legitimate claims. They seek to sour Sunday as a corporate day of worship through a false association between Christianity and paganism solely based on a day that is a day of God's creation. God created the days, and the days are His. Neither paganism or the devil is capable of stealing a day from God and making the day contemptible for Christians or God's use. God did not relinquish His sovereignty over His creation. Even if that were possible, Jesus has already defeated Satan.

If these arguments had any real validity, what then of the sabbath? The “pagan” name associated with the sabbath is Saturn. This would imply the day was set aside for the worship of Saturn, would it not? And using the same (flawed) logic used to sour Sunday worship, could we not use the same argument to make Saturdays unsuitable for corporate worship? Indeed, no day would be suitable!

In the old covenant law, sacrifices were required of the people. But the pagans in the pagan nations practiced sacrifices also. Their sacrifices were performed for demons; they sacrificed to demons. Did pagan sacrifices result in the Israelites abandoning sacrifices because the pagans sacrificed to demons? No, yet this is precisely the same form of argument people use to claim Sundays are inappropriate for Christian corporate worship.

Those who would dare bring these false associations up in accusative claims are those who are quick to judge the intent of heart of others; something God DOES address. We are not to judge others and their relationship with God for we all have one judge we will stand before in the end.

Those who would judge others according to the day they worship God need to read through Romans chapter 14 with this in mind.

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )
Acts 17:11



xHWA said...

"If the hour was coming, and now is, that people would be worshiping God in Spirit and in truth, then it was not happening prior to that time" -B

(JON. 1: 17) For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

xHWA said...

I am glad to know that you understand what I've been doing, Bill. I've been showing for two years that it's OK to go to a worship service on Sunday without being a "pagan". While, at the same time, I have not said that Sunday is in any way required.
Just like you've done here.

Glad we see eye to eye on this.

Bill said...

The only issue I had was in understanding the "day of the Lord" in Revelation and the lack of evidence then and there to equate this "day" with a day of the week. That later writers equated the statement with Sunday does not validate it as so. Taken in context, understanding the eschatalogical nature of Revelations, it makes more sense to conclude it has to do with the time of Jesus' return to the earth.

Bill said...

Maybe you need to restate the issue then.

xHWA said...

Let's focus on where we agree.

Sunday is not the Sabbath of the New Covenant.

Sunday is as fine a day to worship the Lord as any other day. And it does not make a person a pagan should they choose Sunday.

Neither interpretation, "Day of the Lord" or "Lord's Day," affects the gospel in the least.

Neither interpretation is a slam dunk.

I completely agree with you in all four of these areas. If you can find more, that's great.

Bill said...

I am not saying the "Lord's Day" interpretation is a slam dunk. I am, however, saying that neither is "Day of the Lord".

This is exactly what I have been trying to get at. I have tried to say, and refined what I have said, in order to say what you have now said. It is not a slam dunk. I was just about to ask you if you were claiming then that the phrase "Lord's day" had to mean Sunday and could not possibly mean the day of the Lord in an eschatalogical setting. It seems that you are agreeing with me now, instead of me "softening" my position.

Perhaps you are 90% sure it means Sunday in Revelations, whereas I stated it was a coin toss; 50%.

I'll be happy to wait and ask John later what he meant. Then we can all have a drink.

xHWA said...

I'm glad you see this as a compromise. I never tried to change your mind, I just wanted people to see there is genuine evidence for the alternative.

I'm still not quite certain how you see it as 50/50 when you made it pretty clear that there is little to no evidence for the "Lord's Day" interpretation -- hence why I was adamant that there was evidence-a-plenty hanging low on the vine. So, perhaps you would excuse me for initially taking phrases like "lack of evidence" as meaning they were not 50/50. I mean, if one has lacking evidence, and they are both 50/50, then the other has lacking evidence. But now that you say plainly that it could be either one, I will take you at your word.

I would say that I am about 80% convinced that it is "Lord's Day." Still I like to keep the door open to alternatives unless I find new convincing evidence later and myself on the proverbial Little Bighorn. But having looked at the "Day of the Lord" interpretation now these past 30 years, I am no longer convinced of it.

Bill said...

The "lack of evidence" does not mean there is no evidence, and it does not mean I dismissed the Didache out of hand. It's just probable it was written later than John's Revelations, and probable the author of Didache borrowed the phrase from John, and assigned "Sunday" to it.

Also, there is the wording in Scripture, "the Lord's supper" following that pattern, which would tend to support "Sunday", but again, maybe.

Having seen this "borrowing" words and phrases from Scripture before, and seeing how people indeed have tried to prove a meaning to a unique word as a result (sabbatismos), this is what makes me resist accepting the phrase from the Didache.

Let's move on. We are straining at the proverbial gnat and swallowing the camel.

Bill said...

I'm researching now the "Eternally Secure" versus "Conditionally Secure" issues. I believe I have discovered that the "conditionally" secure argument actually boils down to "Eternally insecure."

xHWA said...

"the 'conditionally' secure argument actually boils down to 'Eternally insecure.'"

I would agree with that completely.