What was the Council of Nicea About?

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Perhaps no other council in church history has been as misrepresented as the Council of Nicea. Most people who have a problem with the Bible seem to love the party line: “Your Bible was made up at the Council of Nicea.”

New Ager, Shirley MacLaine, in her book, Out on a Limb says: “The theory of reincarnation is recorded in the Bible. But the proper interpretation were struck from it during … the Council of Nicaea.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim this council “laid the groundwork for later Trinitarian theology.”

Dan Brown, in The Davinci Code lurched even higher in his fancies:

Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea … until that moment in history Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet … a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal” (p. 233).

It’s often tragic to find otherwise smart people parroting Dan Brown’s remarks mindlessly. Personally, once a person makes such remarks about Nicea, it sets off a tripwire alarm in me to dismiss all their arguments as irrelevant.

Nothing damages one’s credibility more than trotting out a patently false and ignorant argument – especially in an age when knowledge is at one’s fingertips.

Thus, this piece intends to look at what really happened at the Council of Nicea and the significance it holds in church history.

The Arian Controversy

The Council of Nicea was held between May to July 325 AD, which was about 14 years after the persecution Galerius meted out on the church ended.

Many of the bishops had been exiled and tortured and still bore the scars when they attended the council. It was also the first time in church history that an emperor called a council.

The council was summoned because of a Christological heresy by an aged presbyter named Arius (250-336 AD). He taught that:

“The Father alone is without a beginning. The Son (or Logos) had a beginning; God created Logos in order that He might create the world” (Harry Bower, A Short History of the Early Church, 1976, p. 112).

Arius began teaching this heresy in Alexandria (Egypt), saying that Jesus was a created being and not eternal as the Bible says.

Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria held a Synod in 320 which denounced and excommunicated Arius. After this, he went to the East to popularise his teachings where he gained much support and followers. Alexander wrote letters to the Eastern churches warning them against the Arians.

This led to a controversy that almost divided the church. Constantine, the emperor, saw that this could threaten the unity of the empire so he called for the Council of Nicaea to deal with the problem.

According to tradition, 318 bishops were in attendance at the council, most of which were from the East. However, they were in three parties:

  1. The Arian party consisting of Arius, Theonas, Socundus (bishops from Egypt), and Eusebius of Nicomedia who led them. They held to the view that Jesus was a creature and of a different substance from the Father.
  2. The “orthodox” (or middle) party led by bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. They held to the view that Jesus was of a similar substance (Gr: homoiousios) to the Father. They used this term to avoid stating that Jesus and the Father were one person.
  3. The Alexandrian party which consisted of Athanasius, bishop Ossius and Alexander of Alexandria. They held to the view that Christ is not merely like the Father, but is of the same substance (Gr: homo-ousios) as God the Father. Thus, Jesus has the same essence as God.

The dispute with Arius concerns the use of these two words: homoousios (“of the same nature”) and homoiousios (“of a similar nature”).

As a scholar notes, “Arius was happy to say that Christ was a supernatural heavenly being and that he was created by God before the creation of the rest of the universe, and even that he was “similar” to God in his nature. Thus, Arius would agree to the word homoiosios” (Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press, England, 1999, p. 114).

Athanasius however, indicated the desire of the bishops to express their faith Scripturally with the term – homoousios – which would be antithetical to the Arian heresy by emphasizing that Jesus is fully God and at the same time not drift into modalist heresy.

Though the council of Nicea condemned Arius and his followers as heretics, it was the council of Constantinople in 381 AD that finally put the “nature” debate to rest by decreeing that Jesus had the same nature (homoousios) as God the Father. The resulting Nicene creed says in part:

“We believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance [homoousion] with the Father, through whom all things came to be, those things that are in heaven and those things that are on earth, who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and was made man…”

The Moody Handbook of Theology points out that the terms “God from God” and “true God from true God” further stressed the deity of Christ. At the same time “begotten, not made” and “came down” stressed His eternality (p. 448).

What Role did Constantine Play?

Many cults that reject the deity of Christ claim that Constantine somehow “enforced” his views on the council to accept that Jesus has the same nature as God. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In their booklet, Should You Believe in the Trinity? the Watchtower Society distorts a quote (on pg. 8) from a source to promote this theory:

“Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed (no doubt on Ossius’ prompting) the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father’ (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1976, 6:386).

The part appearing in bold was omitted and the volume and page number of the source was not given (so that readers would not discover their slyness).

Ossius was the bishop of Cordoba and an ecclesiastical adviser to Constantine. He was the one who prompted him on which steps to take.

Constantine was a politician, not a theologian, and was ready to agree with whatever party for peace to reign in his empire.

“Constantine had basically no understanding whatsoever of the questions that were being asked in Greek theology” (Bernard Lohse, A Short History of Christian Doctrine, 1966, p. 51).

Unfortunately, Dan Brown relied on much personal imaginations in his novel:

Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier [Gnostic] gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned” (The Davinci Code, p. 234).

There is no evidence that Constantine commissioned any Bible nor ordered the burning of any Gnostic gospels. What were burned were Arian papers found by the council to be heretical.

It must also be noted that the Nicene council did not address the issue of the Bible canon (only regional councils of Hippo in 393 and Carthage in 397 did).

The New Testament canon was already recognized by the church. Other matters discussed at the council “included the consideration of the Melitian schism, the settlement of the controversial date of Easter celebration and the promulgation of 26 disciplinary canons” (Samson Fatokun, History and Doctrine of the Early Church, Crownfit, 1999, p. 80).

The canon 6 issued at the council also reflects the pattern of church government at the time:

“Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges” (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1983, II, XIV:15).

This, with other data of evidence, show us that at this time, the idea of a single universal head exercising jurisdiction over the whole church was unknown.

The bishop of Rome had no jurisdiction over the entire church. He was only regarded as the leader of the most influential church in the West.

Since the Nicene church did not look up to one individual or a church as their final authority, the idea that the Catholic Church (or Constantine) conspired in the 4th century to “force” the deity of Christ or the Trinity on Christians is a poorly concocted fiction.

Another proof that Constantine had little influence on the decisions taken at Nicaea can be seen in how he later succumbed to Arian and semi-Arian heresies:

“The Arian party grew, and years afterwards influenced Constantine, and especially his son the emperor Constantius. The emperors interfered more and more in the church, deposing and exiling whichever bishops did not affirm the doctrine of those who had the emperor’s ear” (John Hunt, Concise Church History, AMG Publishers, 2008, p. 128).

Arian heresies gained an upper hand after the Nicene council such that the Council of Jerusalem in 335 AD, cleared Arius of all the charges of heresies previously levied on him.

Regional councils met at Sirminum (351), Arelate (353) and Milan (355) and the resulting Arian and semi-Arian creeds from them were forced on the Western church.

Athanasius was condemned as a troublemaker and stripped of his bishopric. All the bishops who resisted them were banished. Even Liberius, the bishop of Rome and Ossius were forced to accept Arianism.

Athanasius however, persisted in standing for the homoousios clause because he believed in the sufficiency of the Scriptures – until it was affirmed by the Council of Constantinople.

It must also be noted that the term “homoousios” was not “the invention of the council of Nicea, still less of Constantine, but had previously arisen in theological language, and occurs even in Origen [185-254 AD] and among the Gnostics” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:628).

The Evidence of Scripture and History

Christians today believe in the Deity of Christ, not because a Council or an emperor forced it on us, but because it’s a clear teaching of the inspired apostles of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14; Rom. 9:6; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-17; 2 Peter 1:1, Titus 2:13 etc).

The writings of the early church fathers (and early church documents) are also historical evidence that the Deity of Christ had been a well-established doctrine long before Nicea. For example:

I. Ignatius (died c. 108 AD): “There is only one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God, first passable and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ephesians 7, The Apostolic Fathers, J. B. Lightfoot, 1984, 139)

II. Aristides (140 AD): “[Christians] are they who, above every people of the Earth have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the creator and maker of all things in the only begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” (Apology, 16).

III. Justin Martyr (150 AD): “The Father of the universe has a Son, who along being the first begotten Word of God is even God” (First Apology, ch. 63).

IV. Tatian the Syrian (170 AD): “We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we report that God was born in form of a man” (Address to the Greeks, 21).

V. Melito of Sardis (c. 170-180 AD): “But listen, as you tremble in the face of him on whose account the earth trembled. He who hung the earth in place is hanged. He who fixed the heaven in place is fixed in place. He who made all things fast is made fast on the tree. The Master is insulted. God is murdered. The king of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand” (A Homily on the Passover Sect, 96-96).

VI. Athenagoras (177 AD): “The Son of God is the Word of the Father in thought and actuality. By him and through him all things were made, the Father and the Son being one” (Plea for the Christians, 10:2-4).

VII. Theophilus of Antioch (180 AD): “In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries, are types of the Trinity; of God, and His Word, and His Wisdom” (Of the Fourth Day, To Autolycus, 2:15).

VIII. Ireneaus (185 AD): “Christ Jesus is our Lord, and God and Saviour and King” (Against Heresies, bk. 1, ch. 10, sec. 1).

IX. Clement of Alexandria (190 AD): “[Jesus is] the Expiator, the Saviour, the Soother, the Divine Word, he that is quite evidently the true God, he that is put on a level with the Lord of the universe because he was his Son” (Exhortation to the Greeks, 10:110).

X. Tertullian (200 AD): “All Scriptures give clear proof of the Trinity. Thus the connotation of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produce three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another” (Against Praxeas, 24).

The Nicene creed prevailed eventually, not because of the authority of a pope or the council itself, but the authority of Scripture and the evidence of history.

Why then, did Arianism hold sway over the people later in spite of these?

“It was instrumental in the ‘conversion’ of many of the barbaric tribes” says a church historian. “It lowered the barriers between Christianity and the dominant Neoplatonist form of paganism, by emphasizing the oneness of God and representing the Son and the Spirit as high creatures. It brought Christianity closer to the normal polytheism that the barbarian tribes were accustomed to” (Concise Church History, 2008, AGM Publishers, p. 129).

The bold stand of theologians like Athanasius in the face of surging heresies is commendable. The church today still needs men and women who will stand up for the truths of Scripture – no matter how unpopular they may be.

Superstitions and the spirit of Error

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Superstitions have moulded the thinking of many people for centuries. In the West, breaking a mirror, seeing a black cat or Friday the 13th, are all linked with bad luck.

In Japan, houses are built without doors or windows facing the northeast because of the belief that demons from that direction won’t find the entrance.

In the Philippines, shoes are placed beside the dead before burial so that “St.” Peter will welcome them.

In some parts of Nigeria, months ending with “ember” are often linked with tragic events or ill-luck. These are superstitious beliefs rooted in fear and ignorance. Thankfully, science has helped dispel some of them.

During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church used “bleeding wafers” to fool people into believing that they are changing into the real flesh of Christ.

But when microscopes were invented, the supposed “blood” on wafers was found to be red pigment produced by a bacterium (Serratia marcenscens) which grows on wafers kept in damp places.

In Acts 17 when Paul visited Athens, Greece, he saw that the whole city was given to idolatry. Verse 21 described their lifestyle:

For the Athenians and foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing“.

Apostle Paul said to them: “in all things you are very religious” (v. 22).

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that the Greek word rendered as “religious” is deisidaimon which also means “superstitious.” It refers to fear of the supernatural; a practice that was all-embracing and non-discerning, with a reference for all kinds of deities, religious notions, religious fads and religious claims.

The Athenian culture was a system of mindless reverence and mindless religion with a love for newness and novelty. Their religion ministered to art and amusement, and was entirely destitute of moral power. Taste and excitement alone were gratified.

The Christian world today resembles Athens where people chase after novelties and religious fads. These are like “bandwagons” many jump on and circulate all through the Body of Christ until it crashes into a ravine or a more exciting wagon rolls in. If you are in doubt, just read through five popular Christian magazines.

Truth has been sacrificed for what is sensational and exciting. Will it sell? Publish it. Is it groovy? Bring it on. Will it appeal to people’s superstitious mindset? Say it and call it “revelation knowledge.”

All through church history, this weapon diverts people from the simplicity that is in Christ. “Christian” superstition come in different forms:

1. Prophetic manipulation

This is when people are made to comply with a certain belief or act because it’s coming from a prophet/teacher who must never be questioned. This trumps out Biblical discernment and breeds superstition and mind blindness.

In 2014, pastor Daniel Lesego of South Africa ordered his congregation to feast on grasses like a bunch of cows.

Video footage later show Lesego walking on the bodies of his members like doormats and ordering them to drink fuel allegedly turned to apple juice. They all happily obeyed. If his members are not under a spell, they are close to it.

Manipulative folks usually have a ready-made answer to every criticism of their awkward and cruel dictates: “The Holy Spirit told me to say/do it.”

Many Christian ladies in their gullibility have allowed fake pastors and seers to sexually assault them because “the holy spirit” told him that’s the only way such prayers can be effective.

Any gathering where you are being told to wave your underwear to the Lord or allow “the prophet” to kiss you, bathe you at a stream or caress your body parts in the name of “prayer” is not a true Christian gathering.

2. An obsession with supernatural revelations

This is when every spiritual experience or information from the spirit realm is dogmatically accepted as divine and sometimes as the only yardstick of authenticity.

Whether it’s Mr. Bunick who wrote in The Messengers that angels visited him to tell him he is the reincarnation of Apostle Paul or Prophet Hinn who tells his audience of how he received directions for his ministry from a dead Mrs Khulman in a vision, these experiences are never tested, but blindly followed.

In fact, once some Christians hear the word “visions” or “revelations” they are ready to swallow whatever they hear without considering that spiritual revelations can be fabricated by individuals or counterfeited by the enemy.

One of the ways superstitious ideas flow into the church is by interrogating demons speaking through people during deliverance.

One thing I must let you know is that demons are liars and it’s dangerous to believe everything they say. We don’t need to rely on them for knowledge when we have the all-knowing Spirit of God who can tell us what we need to know.

Interestingly, there are some churches today that adhere to certain doctrines on the basis of someone’s vision or a demonic confession without a shred of Biblical or historical authority.

3. Reliance on tokens and talisman

This is a dependence on physical objects or amulet for spiritual protection. Some Christians put their faith in crosses, aprons, “holy” rings, medals, or rosaries believing these will protect them from danger or enemies.

Some drink or bathe with perfumed water; others use pictures of “saints,” “Jesus,” angels or a clove of garlic to supposedly ward off evil spirits.

There are Christians who also place a baby’s head on an opened Bible and pray “to God” with candles or incense.

There are some churches that bury the dead with crucifixes and bibles. A member of such a church said to my hearing, “We bury the dead with bible so that he/she can read it on his/her way to heaven.” The ignorance packed in this statement is huge enough to choke a horse.

The whole idea of using crosses or crucifixes for protection is quite old. It came about when Constantine’s mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326 A.D. and found three crosses alleged to be those of Christ and the two thieves. The cross of Christ was supposedly identified when it worked miracles.

But here’s the problem: it’s very doubtful Helena would have found the “real” cross of Christ in Jerusalem after 3 centuries because the Jewish law required crosses to be burnt after its use for hanging criminals.

The Encyclopedia of Religion says that while Helena’s pilgrimage was historically correct, her discovery of the ‘original cross’ and the alleged miracle were legendary additions because these details didn’t appear until 440 A.D. (14 years after the event).

It was this fairy tale that made the Roman church endorse the use of crosses in churches and homes in the 6th century.

Since then, many people have looked up to crosses as sources of miracles and talisman to ward off bad luck and evil spirits. Even today, some Christians still place crosses on their lintels for these purposes without knowing the true origin of this superstitious idea.

The New Testament clearly shows that Jesus’ apostles didn’t hang crosses around their necks or carry it in their hands (like those priests in vampire movies). They saw it as a device of death and shame. Their faith was not in a wooden or iron cross, but in Christ and His work accomplished on the cross (1 Cor. 1:17-18).

4. Following weird traditions based on omens and “signs”

Many Christians are programmed to attribute certain things to either good luck or bad luck e.g itching hands, sighting wall geckos, spiders, black cats etc.

Some are taught to avoid clothing with certain colours on certain days or abstain from cooked meat or fish during Easter.

I once read a piece where pastor said if one finds a strand of human hair or an insect in a food, it’s demonic. Some Christians will in fact, reject anything offered to them with a left hand. These are superstitious ideas.

There is no such thing as “good luck” or “bad luck” in Scripture. What the Bible teaches is blessings and curses. The former proceeds from obedience to God and the latter from disobedience.

There is no “neutrality” of luck attached to an omen or “sign”. Just as belief in the truth of God’s Word is necessary to set us free, belief in the lies of the enemy is necessary to enslave (Jn. 8:32).

Satan enslaves people with fear which brings torment and it robs many Believers of their joy.

Once the devil makes you believe you will die because an owl is hooting on your roof at night, he knows that fear can open the door to the demon of death or sickness. But as a believer, when you stand on the promises of God’s Word, you will be victorious.

5. Strange religious practices

These are certain practices – most are blatantly occultic – which are taught in some churches in a bid to “receive miracles” from God.

These include: standing on a Bible during prayer, candle magick, prayers involving rubbing eggs on the body of the candidates and breaking it afterwards, praying nude, placing “prayer water” out in the morning dew for certain days and drinking it as a ritual, weird “prayer postures,” and ceremonial visits to “holy lands,” special mountains or “sacred rivers.”

Some folks will tell you that your prayers can’t be effective unless you visit a mountain. That is an error. God is not limited by geographical location. You don’t need to visit any “holy” mountain or valley or some cave before you can receive from God.

I’ve seen Christians gleefully rolling in and drinking from dirty “sacred” streams at certain locations all because of desperation for miracles! May God cure them of this willful ignorance.

Other examples include: pouring of libation on new cars (an old pagan rite to honour earth deities); prayers with table salt or crystals plus strange usage of the Psalms; wild dances leading to trances, sexually suggestive body contacts (a “prophet” telling you to put your hands around his waist or fondling you during “prayer”); snake handling, spectres of people howling like wolves, purring like 600 pound cats, laughing hysterically like hyenas or braying like donkeys and attributing them to “the Holy Spirit.”

When these practices start creeping in a church or are utilized by individuals in the name of “the Lord made me do it” or “that’s our tradition”, or “an angel told us so” etc., take note: what you have there are “Christian” superstitions and the door is wide open to the demon of error.

How can this issue be addressed?

I. Faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith should be in Jesus and His perfect work on the cross, not in physical objects (Rom. 9:33).

A solid faith in the name and blood of Jesus Christ dispels fear of the unknown; fear of witches and demons (Prov. 18:10). It is faith in Christ that sustains a Christian in the time of trouble, not a chill in his spine or signs in the moon.

II. Faith in God’s Word. Our faith should not be based on our spiritual experiences or a human personality. You can’t be immune to deception if you exalt visions and dreams above Scripture. We have to stop venerating human personalities. God can use an ordinary church worker to minister to you just as much as a world famous prophet. “He sent out His Word and healed them and delivered them from destruction” (Ps. 107:20). God didn’t send out a personality.

III. Imbibe sound Bible doctrines. The Bible warns us to “teach no other doctrine. Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies which minister questions…” (1 Tim. 1:3-4) “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13) “Take heed unto thy self and unto the doctrine; continue in them” (1 Tim. 4:16). The antidote to falsehood is presenting the truth.

Show me a church that is not rooted in the truth of God’s Word and I will show you a church that be will be run over by human philosophies and demonic superstitions. It’s only a matter of time. Sadly, many Christians today crave after emotional experiences and ear-tickling messages instead of doctrinal solidity.

IV. Walk in discernment. No teaching or prophecy of a teacher or prophet should be blindly followed unless what he says or writes is in harmony with Scripture and the witness of the Holy Spirit in your spirit. You need to judge what people say: “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” (1 Cor. 14:9; Gal. 1:8).

Not every vision, miracle or supernatural experience is from God and every doctrine or spiritual experience that is not from the Spirit of truth is from the spirit of error (1 John 4:6).

The Sabbath Controversy (1)

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The observance of the Saturday sabbath is a core belief of Seventh Day Adventists and some other religious sects. Considering the level of indoctrination and confusion disseminated by sabbatarians, this issue needs to be addressed.

When a lie is being repeated over and over again, it becomes very believable, most especially when those teaching the lie succeed in poisoning the minds of their listeners against those who disagree.

Before venturing into what Scripture says about the sabbath at all (that will be in Part 2), there is a need to first refute some blatantly false claims or premises planted into the minds of Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs).

They hold Ellen White’s writings as “a continuing and an authoritative source of truth.” Granted, the moment one accepts her visions and teachings as authoritative, one embraces sabbath-keeping as well therefore her claims demands scrutiny.

1. The Sabbath is the Mark of the True Church

She wrote:

I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers, and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear waiting saints” (Early Writings, 1963, p. 33).

This is predicated on the error that the church has replaced Israel, and by implication, what applied to Israel now applies to the church (Replacement theology). This is incorrect.

While Israel consists of one nationality, the church consists of every tongue, tribe and nation. Israel was given a land with specific promises attached, but the church is not restricted to a geographical location.

Her statement also reflects the typical we-vs-them mentality. She calls Adventists the “true Israel” while non-Adventists are labelled as “unbelievers.”

SDAs believe that keeping the 7th day sabbath was “not a new truth discovered by Adventists, but a truth that was taught by Christ, and the apostles and by the church in the wilderness, a truth finally recaptured and proclaimed once again by the remnant” (Prophecy Seminar # 26).

But SDAs didn’t exist until the 19th century and there wasn’t a single Christian group that kept the sabbath until then.

Either true Christians missed this vital truth for 18 centuries or this was a tragic drawback into the bondage of the Law after 18 centuries.

2. The Early Christians Kept the Sabbath

In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians… [until] the early part of the fourth century [when] the emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire” (The Great Controversy, 52)

This is historically false. There is no evidence that all the early Christians kept the sabbath for centuries. This can be seen from the writings of early church leaders before Constantine:

Ignatius of Antioch (30-107): “Those who were brought up in the ancient order of things [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, 9)

Epistle of Barnabas (ascribed to Paul’s companion by Clement):
“He says to them. ‘Your new moons and your sabbaths I cannot endure’ (Isa. 1:13). Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present sabbaths are not acceptable to me…I will make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead.”

Justin Martyr (100-165 AD): “How is it, Typho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us – I speak of fleshy circumcision, and sabbaths, and feasts?… God enjoined you to keep the Sabbath and imposed on you other precepts for a sign … The Gentiles, who have believed in Him, and who have repented from their sins … shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs … even although they neither keep the sabbath, nor are circumcised nor observe the feasts …Christ is useless to those who observe the law” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 18, 21).

“But Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead” (1 Apology, 67, 6).

Tertullian (b 145): “The Holy Spirit upbraids the Jews for their holy days. ‘Your sabbaths, and new moons, and ceremonies my soul hateth … By us [Christians], to whom sabbaths are strange… to the heathen each festive day occurs but once annually; you [Christians] have a festive day every eighth day.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers 3:70)

Ireneaus (b 178): “The mystery of the Lord’s resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s day and on this alone should we observe the breaking of the Paschal Feast … Pentecost fell on the first day of the week, and was therefore associated with the Lord’s day” (ANF VII, 447)

3. Constantine made Sunday the Day of Worship

It was on behalf of Sunday that popery first asserted its arrogant claims; and its first resort to the power of the state to compel the observance of Sunday as ‘the Lord Day‘” (GC p 447)

This claim is devoid of truth. The Edict of Laodicea issued in AD 321 didn’t impose Sunday as the Lord’s Day, rather it made it a civil holiday. Sunday had been a day of worship for Christians for 3 centuries before.

The edict was majorly directed at pagan business men who felt everyday should be a business day. The church of Rome didn’t even have the power at that time to enforce any laws.

SDA theologian, Dr Samuele Bacchiochi admitted this glaring error in Mrs White’s book:

“But at this time, the Bishop of Rome could not call upon ‘the power of the state’ to compel the observance of Sunday as the Lord’s day, because in the eyes of the Romans, Christianity was still a suspicious religion to be suppressed, rather than to be supported” (Endtime Issues, 87, Par. 1).

4. Sunday is a Pagan Day

As support, SDAs quote from 19th century anti-Christian works that attempt to link everything in Christianity with paganism. For example, they quote from Arthur Weigall’s The Paganism in Our Christianity:

“But, as a solar festival, Sunday was the sacred day of Mithra … The Lord’s day [Sunday] is of Pagan origin..” (pp. 136, 210)

What SDA leaders hide from their followers is that this is a thoroughly anti-Christian work that also states:
i- The 27 books of the New Testament are false (p. 37)
ii-The account of Jesus’ birth is pagan (p. 52)
iii-The 12 disciples of Christ are from the 12 zodiac signs. (p. 25)
iv- The virgin birth is pagan (p. 44)
v- The miracles of Christ are of pagan origin (p. 58)
vi- The crucifixion account is pagan (p. 69)
vii- The ascension of Christ is of pagan origin (p. 100)
viii- Both the Jewish sabbath and Sunday the Lord’s day are pagan days. Let me quote this:

The origin of the seven-day week which was used by the Jews and certain peoples, but not till later by Greeks or Romans is to be sought in some primitive worship of the moon, for the keeping the day of the new moon as festivals which is widely found in antiquity… the institution is obviously derived from moon worship...” (pp. 209-211)

Using SDA logic, Sunday came from pagan sun worship while the sabbath came from pagan moon worship!

The fact is, almost every day of the week can be linked to paganism – if one decides to live in that cave. These works are too biased to be quoted as authorities. Their theories have been refuted by modern scholars.

Not only are SDAs appealing to books authored by Bible-haters, they are also being dishonest in their citations because their conclusions refute their own position.

5. Sunday is a Man-made institution

Vast councils were held from time to time, in which the dignitaries of the church convened from all the world. In nearly every council, the Sabbath which God has instituted was pressed down a little lower, while the Sunday was correspondingly exalted” (GC, 53).

The councils being referred to are the ecumenical councils. The first seven of them are the Council of Nicaea (325), Constantinople I (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553), Constantinople III (680) and Nicaea II (787).

In all these councils, there is not a single one in which the issue of Sabbath/Sunday was ever debated. One doesn’t need to be receiving “angelic visions” to know this simple fact.

6. Sunday-Keepers will receive the Mark of the Beast

When the test comes, it will be clearly shown what the mark of the beast is. It is the keeping of Sunday.” (SDA Bible Commentary, 7:980)

By what criterion will one receive this mark? In 1897, she wrote: “When you obey the decree that commands you to cease from labor on Sunday and worship God … you consent to receive the Mark of the Beast” (Review and Herald)

Another early SDA leader wrote: “It is very clear therefore, that in order to keep the sabbath day according to the commandments we must not only rest on the seventh day, but we must also habitually treat all other days of the week as working days” (E. J. Waggoner, Review and Sabbath Herald, April 16, 1895).

In other words, SDAs must labour and never worship on Sunday or they will receive the mark of the beast. Yet in utter contradiction we read later:

And never must we say to them, ‘You must work on Sunday’ … Give Sunday to the Lord as a day for doing missionary work. Take the student out to hold meetings in different places, and do medical missionary work” (The General Conference Bulletin, April 14, 1903).

One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realises the wisdom of keeping peace by refraining from work that gives offence. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done.Whenever its possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 9, 232-33).

So it was now acceptable to conduct missionary works, do works “that gives no offense,” hold religious services, assemble with other Christians and sing hymns on Sunday.

We need to ask, who changed the criteria? Why the blowing hot and cold and flip-flop laws? If this prophetess couldn’t get her criteria of the “mark of the beast” straight why take the rest of her claims about it as truth?

6. Christians in the Dark Ages kept the Sabbath

Through the ages of darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome … rejected image worship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempest of oppositions they maintained their faith” (GC, 65)

What a ridiculous statement. There is absolutely no historical evidence to support the idea that the Waldenses kept the sabbath or were persecuted for not giving it up.

It seems Mrs White was confused about the nickname “insabbati” which the Waldenses were called, but this word has nothing to do with sabbath-keeping. The word is derived from “sabbatum” the Latin word for sandals, and the term “insabbati” was used to mock the Waldenses because of the sandals they were known to wear.

Mrs White was obviously trying to make up a quasi history to fill up the 15 century gap of “Christian sabbath keepers” – as if it wasn’t a 19th century innovation.

But such a fancy claim militates against her alleged heavenly visions. Having rebutted the arguments used to cloud the minds of SDAs, let’s now proceed to the Bible’s view of the sabbath.