NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW

Present Truth or Distraction?

(Revised 3/20/11)

Comments followed by:

Parts One and Two of Wm. H. Grotheer's A National Sunday Law - PAST? PRESENT? FUTURE?  Elder Grotheer's analysis is that of a highly skilled expositor, and is exhaustive.  It will be convincing to the unbiased mind.  There are timely warnings that should not be ignored.

THE USE OF THE TESTIMONIES In the words of Ellen G. White herself, "Regarding the testimonies, nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered. Nothing must be done untimely. . . "  This counsel is evidently ignored by those who are agitating a National Sunday Law as the sign that the Second coming of Jesus Christ is near. It is interesting to note that the term "National Sunday law" can nowhere be found in the Writings of Ellen White. It is a gloss on what she wrote during a period of intense pressure on the U.S. Congress to pass a Sunday law in the late 1800s.  It was not until 1946 that The Ellen G. White Publications published a compilation of statements by Ellen White in a pamphlet titled Country Living, in which a national Sunday law was presented as the signal to move out of the cities.  Section V of the pamphlet was titled "Preparing for the Sunday Law Crisis."  In these present times this pamphlet continues to be regarded as the blueprint for action by a multitude of earnest believers within the corporate body of Seventh-day Adventists as well as among Independents.  The most sensationalist publications do not mention Country Living, and represent that "Revelation 13 is revealing to us the astonishing fact that Protestant America will cause all to worship the Papacy and receive its “mark” by passing a national Sunday law."  However, it is probably safe to say that among the vast majority of Seventh-day Adventists the belief that a national Sunday law will be passed in the United States is based on Country Living.  Thus we have those who entertain the dangerous deception that receiving the Mark of the Beast is a simple matter of submitting to a national Sunday law.  Some think that there is plenty of time to move out of the cities and become settled in the country - because the National Sunday Law is yet future.  This is a sad and tragic misinterpretation of the Testimonies.

THE HISTORY OF THE LATE 1800s -  Ellen White's references to the oppressive enforcement of the false sabbath are so numerous that it is not easy to pinpoint time and place.  Nevertheless, the law which she mentioned as the signal to move out of the cities can be placed with certainty in the year 1885.  She wrote:

It is no time now for God's people to be fixing their affections or laying up their treasure in the world. The time is not far distant, when, like the early disciples, we shall be forced to seek a refuge in desolate and solitary places. As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation, in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath, will be a warning to us. It will then be time to leave the large cities, preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains. And now, instead of seeking expensive dwellings here, we should be preparing to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Instead of spending our means in self-gratification, we should be studying to economize.-- Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 464, 465. (Emphasis added.)

Interestingly, there were at least two earlier statements (1876 & 1882) in which she recommended country living to "avoid many evils and close the door against a flood of temptations which threaten to overpower the minds of your children" (1876.)  In 1882 she specifically mentioned the habits of vice and dissipation acquired in the cities.  Credit must be given to "Back to Enoch Ministries" (hereinafter BEM) for revising Country Living to arrange its quotations from the Writings in chronological order.  From this chronological arrangement it becomes apparent that she did not mention the decree enforcing the papal sabbath as the signal to move out of the cities after that one statement in 1885.

It becomes apparent from the revised Country Living that Ellen White must have perceived the passing of a decree enforcing the papal Sabbath before the end of the 19th century.  This is contrary to the conclusion drawn by BEM under the heading "Purpose of this Edition" that focuses attention on the "Blair Amendment" which was not enacted.  Oddly, BEM states "Ellen White recognized that this signal had come" (to move out of the cities;) but sees this as analogous to the first encirclement of Jerusalem by the Romans under Cestius Gallus in AD 66.  BEM further states, "The national Sunday law issue subsided, and God's people have had more than a century to act on the His (sic) counsel. Now we hear rumblings of a return of the Roman armies. It is time to act!"  This overlooks the fact that the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem was the only sign to flee.  There would be no repetition.  Contextually, by Ellen White's recognition that the signal had come to move out of the cities, the linkage between a Sunday law and country living was broken.  She continued to urge believers to move out of the cities, without mentioning a Sunday law.

The statement of Ellen White which implies a recognition that the Sunday decree had been passed is as follows:

The Protestant world have set up an idol sabbath in the place where God's Sabbath should be, and they are treading in the footsteps of the Papacy. For this reason I see the necessity of the people of God moving out of the cities into retired country [places,] where they may cultivate the land and raise their own produce. (Letter 90, 1897)  (Emphasis added)  

Not only is there this clear implication in Ellen White's statement; but A. T. Jones, who was the leading authority on the issue of religious liberty in the Church, and instrumental in the defeat of the "Blair Amendment," also recognized that a sufficiently significant law had been passed by the U.S. Congress:

Well, let us see whether we are right.  Testimony 32, page 207 (Vol. 5, page 45):--

"To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for Sunday law."

Will they-- They have done it.  Is that fulfilled?  [Congregation:  "Yes."]  That has been fulfilled.  They have done it, and they have done it so certainly that they themselves have publicly said that they did do it for that purpose.  The evidence, more than we have had at any other time, is in this little pamphlet-- "The Captivity of the Republic."  It is a report of the hearing before the Committee on the World's Fair Sunday Closing Bill, an account of which I gave here in my second talk.  This is now being printed and coming from the press.  It is entitled "The Captivity of the Republic."  And the idea is that the Churches have captured the republic and hold it in the captivity in which they have taken it, and the quotations there from congressmen themselves, lately, not simply those of Hiscock and Hawley, and those of last summer, but those of the very latest -- members of that Committee which heard our arguments and refused to hear what they would not hear willingly, but which they had to hear-- statements from these very men saying that they must not go any further in that direction for fear of the damage to the Fair and country at large, that the church element would do.  You have it over and over there in several different ways; so there is further evidence than that which we had last summer; but they keep on saying that they did it then, for that reason, and they still maintain it for the same reason.  So that is fulfilled over and over, if anybody wants evidence on that point. (From a sermon delivered by Elder A. T. Jones, in the Tabernacle at Battle Creek, Mich., Sunday evening, March 5, 1893.)

The significance of the World's Fair Closing Bill is confirmed by contemporary reports :

DATELINE SUNDAY

CHICAGO IS DISCOURAGED; NO SUNDAY OPENINGS . . .

As Ellen White continued to urge church members to get out of the cities without connecting this to the signal of a Sunday law, so she continued to write about a law enforcing the false sabbath with no connection to moving out of the cities.  In statement after statement she made it clear that the enforcement of the papal sabbath will be a worldwide event.  Here is one particularly telling description of the event:

History will be repeated. False religion will be exalted. The first day of the week, a common working day, possessing no sanctity whatever, will be set up as was the image at Babylon. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath. This is Satan's plan to make of no account the day instituted by God, and given to the world as a memorial of creation.

The decree enforcing the worship of this day is to go forth to all the world. In a limited degree, it has already gone forth. In several places the civil power is speaking with the voice of a dragon, just as the heathen king spoke to the Hebrew captives.

Trial and persecution will come to all who, in obedience to the Word of God, refuse to worship this false sabbath. Force is the last resort of every false religion. At first it tries attraction, as the king of Babylon tried the power of music and outward show. If these attractions, invented by men inspired by Satan, failed to make men worship the image, the hungry flames of the furnace were ready to consume them. So it will be now. The papacy has exercised her power to compel men to obey her, and she will continue to do so. We need the same spirit that was manifested by God's servants in the conflict with paganism (ST May 6, 1897).

Here is another pointer to the time of the decree enforcing the false sabbath:

The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided. . . . [Revelation 13:11-17 quoted.] . . .

This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed. All who proved their loyalty to God by observing His law, and refusing to accept a spurious sabbath, will rank under the banner of the Lord God Jehovah, and will receive the seal of the living God. Those who yield the truth of heavenly origin and accept the Sunday sabbath, will receive the mark of the beast . . . (Letter 11, 1890).

It is clear that the Sunday law will be decreed and enforced so near to the very end of time that very few of the multitude who have resisted Present Truth (if any at all) will be able to escape the strong delusions that already hold the world captive. (Cf.  2 Thess. 2:10-12, which is contextually linked to the papacy.)

A NEW SIGNAL - Ellen White never mentioned the decree enforcing the papal sabbath after 1885.  She did however specify another signal unrelated to Sunday legislation.  This is a signal which she said would mark the beginning of the closing movements of earth's history:

A Message for Frequent Appearance.--In the twenty-first chapter of Luke Christ foretold what was to come upon Jerusalem, and with it He connected the scenes which were to take place in the history of this world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Mark the words: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

 This is a warning to those who claim to be Christians. Those who have had light upon the important, testing truths for this time, and yet are not making ready for the coming of the Son of man, are not taking heed. "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." There is no period of time when spiritual slothfulness is excusable.

     Only by being clothed with the robe of Christ's righteousness can we escape the judgments that are coming upon the earth. Let all remember that these words were among the last that Christ gave His disciples. If this instruction were often repeated in our papers and publications, and less space were taken for matter which is not one hundredth part so important, it would be more appropriate. In these sacred, solemn warnings the danger signal is lifted. It is this instruction that church members and the people of the world need; for it is present truth. Letter 20, 1901 (CW 23-25)

It is a simple exercise to single out the prophecy of Jesus that Ellen White was identifying.  Only in verse 24 of the 21st chapter of Luke is there a prophecy that appears in none of the other Gospels.  The disciples had unwittingly posed a dual question, and Jesus gave a dual answer.  The first part appears in the earlier verses of Luke 21, and in the other Gospels.  The second part appears in Luke 21:24.  What Jesus stated in verse 32 applies to both parts of the dual question.  In other words, we are warned that within a generation from the end of the times of the Gentiles Jesus will return – no date setting here, but a definite time frame within which the closing events of earth’s history are now happening.  (Cf.  Jesus' Own Prophecy)

ELDER WM. H. GROTHEER'S CONTRIBUTION - Elder Grotheer was a Seventh-day Adventist Bible expositor who applied the view of the Church dating back to James Edson White, that the fulfillment of Luke 21:24 would mark the completion of the preaching of the gospel to the nations of the world.  He demonstrated exegetically, with particular reference to the antitypical Day of Atonement, that this signaled the completion of the judgment of corporate bodies in the Holy Place of the heavenly Sanctuary.  (Cf. TA HAGIA ) The word translated "gentiles" is more appropriately translated "nations."  Nations are corporate bodies, and you will find instances where the Church is called a "nation" in the Bible.  Elder Grotheer's exegesis confronts the Church with the reality that the commission to preach the gospel to the nations ended in 1980.  Neither the Corporate Body of the Church nor Independents are willing to accept that fact, or the prophetic warning that we are very, very close to the end in the stream of time.  The National Sunday Law expectation stretches the prospect of time beyond the limit predicted by the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Elder Grotheer brought together the issue of Luke 21:24 versus the National Sunday Law in a series of three articles in  Watchman, What of the Night? dated 6-8(89).  The first two are excerpted below:

A NATIONAL SUNDAY LAW
PAST? PRESENT? FUTURE?
Parts 1&2 Excerpted from WWN June-July 1989
Part One

In 1873, a Mr. McCoy moved from Louisville, Ky., to Arkansas. He served as constable for seven years, and two terms as Justice of the Peace in Hot Spring County. In 1884, he became a Seventh-day Adventist. At the August, 1885, term of the Circuit Court of that county, he was indicted for Sabbath breaking being charged with plowing his field on Sunday.

In 1884, Mr. J. L. Shockey, a Seventh-day Adventist, moved from Ohio and settled on a piece of railroad land six miles north of Malvern, the seat of Hot Spring County. On September 14, 1885, he was arrested for having been seen plowing his field on Sunday the previous Spring. He gave bond for his appearance before the February term of the Circuit Court in Malvern. (See The Two Republics, pp. 879-880)

This year, on March 9, now over 100 years later in an adjoining county - Garland - the citizens of Hot Springs, Arkansas in a public referendum by an almost 2 to 1 margin voted to legalize horse racing on Sunday with its pari-mutuel betting.

During the recent American national election in November, of last year, both in Maryland and in Arkansas, municipalities overturned "blue laws." Mandatory Sunday closing statutes were repealed in Maryland, and in Arkansas, two communities approved Sunday alcohol sales. In Little Rock, the capitol and one of the communities to so decide, the vote was 65% for and 35% against. All of these expressions at the voting booth reflect the pluralistic and changing attitude of American society.

Not only here in America is this change visible, but the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also noted this change in Canada. In a release, "The Meaning of Sunday in a Pluralistic Society" (September, 1986), the bishops cited a need to review the place of Sunday in a secular society. While they noted that "most Christians" celebrate Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, they observed, "however, that in our multicultural and pluralistic society there are others who do not share this belief. They honor a different day of worship or see no need at all for setting aside a day of praise and thanksgiving to God. Given the change in our society, it is no longer appropriate to protect Sunday closing laws on the basis that most Christians hold it to be the Day of the Lord."

This does not mean that the Bishops are planning to abandon Sunday legislation. Citing Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on human work, that all have a "right to rest," they declare that "this right includes at least one regular weekly day of rest." Their perceptions and solutions are interesting. They write:

 In our pluralistic society, the choice of Sunday as the day of renewal for all is rooted more in tradition than religious conviction. Many groups, especially the labor movement, have emphasized repeatedly that Sundays are our traditional days of pause. In our society, the observance of Sunday as a holiday is more firmly entrenched in people's habits than any other day of the week. Sunday's off are a part of our culture, a culture that Christians have shaped in the past and in which they continue to take their rightful place in full and free cooperation with people of other religions and world views.

Maintaining Sunday as our common day of rest does not exclude special respect and consideration for people who wish to celebrate another day as their day of spiritual and physical renewal. We should be able to devise laws that will not penalize people with different beliefs as long as these laws protect the shared experience of leisure and rest for the majority. It should also be possible to devise shopping regulations that permit the purchase of basic necessities without destroying Sunday's emphasis on people and playfulness.

Finally, it is clear that there will always be some members of the workforce who will have to work on Sunday to provide essential services for the public. They deserve our understanding and appreciation for their contribution to the common good. However, even for these workers, employees or professionals, we should carefully protect and respect their right to enjoy the full benefits of Sundays, at least on an alternating basis.

These pastoral reflections of the Canadian bishops of the Roman Catholic Church should be noted carefully. The goal is to have a "Protected Sunday" for the majority without a "penalty" on the minority. However, this "protected Sunday" would fall short of forbidding all Sunday business and would not interfere with sports ("playfulness").

The impact of a pluralistic society seems to be recognized by all except some Seventh-day Adventists who wish to make capital of the Sunday Law issue for their own ends. There is no question but that the subject of Sunday laws catches Adventist attention. The experience of the past as noted above, not only that which occurred in Arkansas, but also in Tennessee, arouses deep emotions. Besides this, various quotations can be marshaled from the Writings to sustain the emphasis. But it is over the misapplication of the Ellen G. White Writings that has led to this blind spot in our evaluation of the present. This is compounded by the fact that we are not willing to apply the rules which Ellen White gave for the study of her Writings.

The Rules

Ellen G. White wrote that "the testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given, as scripture is explained by scripture." (SM, bk i, p. 42) A second rule states - "Regarding the testimonies; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered." (Ibid., p. 57; emphasis supplied.)

A failure to follow these simple rules has led to a jangling jungle of voices on the periphery of the Adventist Community. Each voice claims to have discovered some new way to attain perfection by human endeavor. These siren calls come from persons with varied backgrounds of experience, some from the drug culture, and some with no other objective than personal gain. Each call regardless of motive takes some statement or statements from the testimonies, related or unrelated, and builds upon this a theory of salvation through human works. These verily make of non-effect the Writings.

Interestingly, Ellen G. White in setting forth the rules noted above, warned that there would be those "who would search for new and strange doctrines, for something odd and sensational to present to the people. They will bring in all conceivable fallacies, and will present them as coming from Mrs. White, that they may beguile souls." These "will misinterpret the messages that God has given, in accordance with their personal blindness." (Ibid., p. 41)

If we would compare testimony with testimony as we do (or should do) the Scriptures, taking time to note in regard to these testimonies "time and place," we would have a clear line of truth which would be in harmony with Bible truth arrived at in the same way. For example, if in our studying from the Bible the basic doctrine of the state of man after death and eternal rewards, we accepted as literal the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, and set forth as cardinal teaching the conclusions to be thus drawn, what would we believe? This same approach is being made in the study of the Writings with only those segments of the Writings being compiled which support some preconceived theory to appeal to the human desire for something sensational or something which will sustain their ego.

Application

When we apply the two simple rules to the question of a "National Sunday Law" and start comparing testimony with testimony, the first thing we discover is that this phrase is not found in the Writings. The application of "time and place" to that which has been written in regard to a Sunday Law could be divided into pre and post 1900.

At the very time - 1885 - the incidents which we cited on page 1 were taking place in Arkansas, Ellen G. White was emphasizing two things. Starting in 1878 and continuing through 1886 she wrote:

We are now upon the very borders of the eternal world. (4T:306)

The end of all things is at hand. (5T:16)

Brethren, I have been shown that we are standing upon the threshold of the eternal world. (5T:18)

We are standing, as it were, upon the borders of the eternal world. (5T:382)

We are standing upon the very verge of the eternal world. (5T:460)

Eternity stretches before us. The curtain is about to be lifted. (5T:464)

In connection with this emphasis on the nearness of the end, she wrote also about a Sunday Law and its significance. Her words are:

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. (5T, 451)

This "decree enforcing" the papal Sabbath is noted as a "warning" signal "to leave the larger cities" with the ultimate objective of "retired homes in secluded places among the mountains." (5T:464-465)

In 1889, Ellen White would write:

Events which for more than forty years we have, upon the authority of the prophetic word, declared to be impending, are now taking place before our eyes. Already the question of an amendment to the Constitution restricting liberty of conscience, has been urged upon the legislators of the nation. The question of enforcing Sunday observance has become one of national interest and importance. (5T:711; emphasis mine)

This was a true evaluation of what was then taking place. On May 21, 1888, Senator H. W. Blair introduced a National Sunday-Rest Bill into Congress. It was opposition to this and subsequent religious legislation which catapulted A. T. Jones to the forefront of Adventism. However, out of this agitation for Sunday legislation, Congress finally voted into an appropriations bill for the Columbian Exposition of 1892, a Sunday closing amendment which was signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison on August 5, 1892.

Rightly or wrongly, A. T. Jones perceived this law as giving life to the image of the beast of Revelation 13, and that the mark of the beast had been established. Coupling this Congressional action with the Message of 1888, Ellen G. White could write  "The time of test is just before us" indicating that God's people had reached the time for the fulfillment of Revelation 18; and "the loud cry of the third angel had already begun." (R&H, Nov. 22, 1892)

During this final decade of the 19th Century, there was constant agitation over the Sunday question which presented an unparalleled opportunity for the Adventist to witness to the Sabbath truth. Major statements concerning Sunday, its origin as a day of worship, were made which were used and have been used by Adventist evangelists in the decades since then. (See end of Part One)

Since 1900

Counsel to get out of the cities continued to come from the pen of Ellen G. White. In 1906, she wrote "'Out of the cities; out of the cities!' this is the message the Lord has been giving me." (Life Sketches, p. 409).

But the "message" was not connected with the Sunday Law as a sign to leave the cities. Instead, she declared - "On these cities, God's judgments will fall." (Letter 158, 1902) In 1905, she indicated the global extent of the message to get out of the cities, by writing - "The world over, cities are becoming hot beds of vice." (Ministry of Healing, p. 363) Then in 1907, the warning came - "Our cities are increasing in wickedness, and it is becoming more and more evident that those who remain in them unnecessarily do so at the peril of their soul's salvation." (Ms. 115, 1907)

By comparing testimony with testimony, there is revealed a broadening of the issues which will bring about the same ends had the objectives of the Sunday Law issue of the final decade of the 19th Century been realized. Observe these two statements written with a 22 year time gap, but with the same end result:

1888 -- A time is coming when the law of God is, in a special sense, to be made void in our land. The rulers of our nation will, by legislative enactments, enforce the Sunday law, and thus God's people will be brought into great peril. When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of man in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. (R&H, Dec. 18, 1888; 7BC:977) 1910 -- When the Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power to sustain a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution; when the state shall use its power to enforce the decrees and sustain the institutions of the church - then will Protestant America have formed an image to the papacy, and there will be a national apostasy which will end only in national ruin. (ST, March 22, 1910; 7BC:976)

You will observe that these two quotations are connected by the end result - national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. But in 1910, the base has been widened from a single issue of a law "enforcing Sunday observance" to the exercise of the power of the state "to enforce the decrees" of the church and to sustain their "institutions." The picture calls for a union "with the secular power to sustain a false religion."

Why is this change of means indicated for the accomplishment of the same ends? Again it must be remembered that in 1901, Ellen White wrote:

We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel, but for Christ's sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action. (Ms. 184, 1901)

To this might be added that because we have been in this world "many more years," we should now compound our present predicament by wrongly comparing "testimony with testimony" and giving a perverted picture of the Sunday Law question to further personal ends? God has given in the same Testimonies a sign to look for, and He has clearly indicated the nature of a Sunday Law which will indeed be oppressive. Besides this, there is clearly suggested the fact that all will not be so apparent to perceive as we would hope, but rather will be more deceptive and far more difficult to combat.

Tragically, when the full force of the reality will become apparent, too many will be caught totally unprepared because they have been lulled into a fatal delusion by a misinterpretation of the Testimonies. Surface reading plus the siren calls of false "watchmen" will have produced tragic consequences. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6;) but it is knowledge they could have had if they would have but followed the rules given for understanding the Writings.

SABBATH QUESTION AGITATION - 1889-1905

1889

T. Enright of the Redemptorist Fathers - Industrial American, Harlan, Iowa:

The Bible says; "Remember the Sabbath day. to keep it holy," but the Catholic Church says: "No, keep the first day of the week," and all the world bows in obedience. (January 19, 1889)

1893

The Christian Sabbath, (2nd Ed.; Baltimore: The Catholic Mirror [Official Organ of Cardinal Gibbons]):

The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. (p. 29)

Dr. E. T. Hiscox, Baptist Clergyman and Author of the Baptist Manual in a paper read August 20, 1893 at Saratoga, NY, at a Baptist Minister's Meeting:

Of course I quite wall know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of Paganism, and Christened with the name of the Sun-god. Then adopted and sanctified by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestanism, and the Christian world.

1894

The Catholic World, a magazine of General Literature and Science, March, 1894:

The church took the pagan philosophy and made it the buckler of faith against the heathen. She took the Roman Pantheon, temple of all the gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs; so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sunday.

The sun was the foremost god with heathendom ... Hence the church in these countries would seem to have said, "Keep that old, pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified." And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder [White God of the Scandinavians], became the Christian Sunday sacred to Jesus. (p.809)

1895

A Letter from the Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons to J. F. Snyder of Bloomington, Illinois, Nov. 11, 1895:

Of course the Catholic Church claims the change was her act. It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical without her. And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters.

1897

John Milner, a Roman Catholic Divine, to James Brown, a member of a Protestant Religious Society, Letter #11 in The End of Religious Controversy (New York: P.J. Kenedy) [After reviewing the history of the Sabbath from Creation through the life of Christ, Milner drew the following conclusion in his letter]:

Yet with all of this weight of Scripture authority for keeping the Sabbath or seventh day holy, Protestants, of all denominations, make this a profane day and transfer the obligation of it to the first day of the week, or the Sunday. Now what authority have they for doing this? None at all, but the unwritten Word, or tradition of the Catholic church, ... (p. 89, Emphasis his)

1899

T Enright CssR, Kansas City, MO, June 16, 1899:

I hereby offer $1000, to anyone who can prove to me, from the Bible alone, that I am bound, under pain of grievous sin, to keep Sunday holy.

1902

Letter from T. Enright, dated April 26, 1902 from Detroit, MI:

I still offer $1000 to any one who can prove to me, from the Bible alone, that I am bound under pain of grievous sin, to keep Sunday holy. We keep Sunday in obedience to the law of the Catholic Church. The church made this law long after the Bible was written; hence the law is not in the Bible. The Catholic church abolished not only the Sabbath, but all the other Jewish Festivals.

1905

Letter from T. Enright, dated June, 1905 from St Louis, MO:

I have offered and still offer $1000 to any one who can prove to me from the Bible alone, that I am bound, under grievous sin. to keep Sunday holy. It was the Catholic Church which made the law obliging us to keep Sunday holy. The church made this law long after the Bible was written. Hence said law is not in the Bible. Christ, our Lord empowered his church to make laws binding in conscience.

The four articles in The Catholic Mirror demonstrated from the Bible that Adventists were the only consistent Protestants since the Bible provided no justification for Sunday observance. These articles challenged Protestants either to admit their debt to the Roman Catholic Church or to keep the Bible Sabbath. The Adventists had these articles published in a booklet - Rome's Challenge to Protestants. It was given wide circulation and used effectively by their evangelists.

Part Two

During the crucial years of 1901-1903, Ellen G. White introduced three factors into the events of the last days. Not only did she indicate that we would have to remain many more years in this world because of insubordination (Ms. 184, 1901), but she also wrote immediately following the 1903 General Conference session that - "In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to weighed." (8T:247) In simple terms this was telling the Church, that it, too, as a corporate entity had to pass the review of the Judgment. The Church could not take for granted that its status, as the recipient in trust of "the last warning message for a perishing world" (9T:19), would place it beyond accountability as to how it ministered that sacred trust. If it did not prove true to that trust, it would be "found wanting." (8T:247)

Further, in 1902, Ellen White wrote - "All need wisdom to carefully search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this world's history." (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 118) The working of "the mystery of iniquity" in the final affairs is not going to be as simple as 2+2=4, but must be "carefully searched out." Simply printing a national Sunday Law booklet and urging its distribution is not searching out "the mystery of iniquity," but is rather lulling the unsuspected into a fatal delusion that the final issues will be very obvious. While it is true that "the day of the Lord" is not to overtake us "as a thief in the night," it is conditioned upon the premise that we must be "children of the light." (I Thess.5:1-6) One cannot be a child of the light, following the principles set forth to understand that light - "time and place;" and yet be the devotees of the hawkers of the sensational who are soliciting through that means a "fast buck." Not only did Ellen G. White call attention to the  working of "the mystery of iniquity;" but in 1901, she observed that Christ connected specific historical events with the scenes that were to take place "just prior" to His return a second time. It would be a new "signal" as the Sunday Law was intended to be in the preceding decade. She wrote:

In the twenty-first chapter of Luke, Christ foretold what was to come upon Jerusalem and with it He connected the scenes which were to take place in the history of this world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 23-24, emphasis mine)

By specifying Luke 21, rather than Matthew 24 or Mark 13 which are parallel chapters, Ellen G. White was focusing on a specific prophecy in Luke concerning Jerusalem which the other two gospel writers did not. All the synoptic writers - Matthew, Mark and Luke - call attention to the prophetic sign Jesus gave in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but only Luke records that Jesus also said - "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles (nations) until the times of the Gentiles (nations) be fulfilled" (21:24) This Ellen White wrote would signal the time "just prior" to Christ's return. This time we have reached. It is the "now" time for us!

This factor does not exclude an "oppressive" Sunday Law, but it does place it as an "International Sunday Law" rather than the emphasis on a "National" Sunday Law. In the same year - 1901 - Ellen White wrote:

The substitution of the false for the true is the last act of the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. When the laws of men are exalted above the laws of God, when the powers of earth try to force men to keep the first day of the week, know that the time has come for God to work. He will arise in majesty, and will shake terribly the earth. (R&H. April 23, 1901)

Observe this statement carefully. Note and retain in memory the words - "exalted" and "substitution." We will see them again in use. Carefully consider that the final issue is not some "Sunday Closing Law" but a forcing by law the observance of "the first day of the week." At that point in time, God "will arise in majesty, and shake terribly the earth."

What persuasive power will overcome all "pluralistic" factors which now stand as a barrier to "oppressive" religious legislation? Observe carefully this paragraph from a letter written in 1893: 

Fallen angels upon earth form confederations with evil man. In this age antichrist will appear as the true Christ, and then the law of God will be fully made void in the nations of our world. Rebellion against God's holy law will be fully ripe. But the true leader of all this rebellion is Satan clothed as an angel of light. Men will be deceived and will exalt him to the place of God. and deify him. But Omnipotence will interpose, and to the apostate churches that unite in the exaltation of Satan, the sentence will go forth, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning. and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 62)

It should be obvious that these two quotations - one written in 1901, and the other in 1893 following "a national Sunday Law" - end with a focus on the same point of time, a time when God "will arise in majesty" thus interposing His "Omnipotence." The future "oppressive" Sunday Law coincides with the deification of Satan by the "apostate churches." In the final drama, it is to be a universal Sunday Law originating at the instigation of Satan as "an angel of light."

[In this schema of events as portrayed by Ellen G. White, one obtains the answer as to the decision made in the Sanctuary when the Church was weighed in the balances. For many it will be too late. She wrote commenting on Ezekiel 9 - "Here we see that the church - the Lord's sanctuary - was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God." (5T:211) The "first stroke" is upon those that "had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image." (Rev. 16:2)

The issue is far more than "a national Sunday Law" for many of those "who profess to keep the Sabbath" will not be "sealed." (5T:213-214) And if one is not sealed with the seal of God, with what is he marked? But today, Satan is using his agents to profiteer and to deceive concerned Adventists in agitation over a National Sunday Law issue instead of studying the Writings as to "time and place."]

Interestingly, Ellen G. White places the setting of the "oppressive" Sunday law in the context of Luke 21:24. She wrote:

After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations [in other words, the times of the nations was fulfilled], every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, "Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there. This is the truth, I have a message from God. He has sent me with great light." Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God himself by supplanting the day He has blessed and sanctified. This false Sabbath is to be enforced by an oppressive law. (R&H, Dec. 13, 1892)

This prophetic warning, again written after a National Sunday Law, can serve several purposes. It not only tells us about the nature of the coming "oppressive" Sunday Law, but also alerts sincere seekers of truth as to what they face in this "now" time of the fulfilled prophecy of Luke 21:24.

First, let us note in passing the "red" alert this warning gives. One has only to mark the date of the complete fulfillment of Luke 21:24 in 1980 when Jerusalem was proclaimed by the Knesset of Israel to be the Capital of its government, to see that after that date there came on the periphery of Adventism, the "many voices" as foretold. Ellen G. White indicated these "voices" would be confusing voices which would deceive. Ask yourself when you listen to tapes sent to you, when did that voice begin its ministry, or when you receive a newsletter, check the date of first publication of that journal or paper, and you will have a key that will keep you from deception no matter how good it looks or sounds.

We need to consider next the implications of the words describing the nature of the "oppressive" Sunday Law which is to occur in this "now" time. It states that there will be a "more decided effort to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God Himself by supplanting the day He blessed and sanctified." Now go back to the reference from the Review & Herald, April 23, 1901, (p. 2) and compare these same words, and the synonym used for "supplanting" - "substitution." It should be obvious that these two quotations are referring to the same Sabbath law that is to be enacted.

While we do not believe in verbal inspiration, nevertheless words give thought as perceived by the writer. In the paragraph preceding the one quoted from the Review and Herald, Dec. 13, 1892, Ellen G. White speaks of -Sunday as a "rival Sabbath," a "spurious Sabbath." But "after" the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all "nations," this rival and spurious Sabbath is "exalted" and made to "supplant" the true in seeking to cast contempt upon God. Supplant means "to take the place of and serve as a substitute for especially by reason of superior excellence of power." Thus the exaltation leads to supplanting. There is an interesting calendar in use today in various parts of the world which alters the arrangement of the week, and gives to Sunday the place which God assigned for the true Sabbath - the seventh day.

The details of the future are not open before us, and will be known only as the scroll unfolds. Today, we can see only the broad outlines. However, one has only to do a minimum of thinking to grasp the implications if this calendar form should become universal, and a world-wide law were enacted enforcing the observance of the seventh-day as outlined in this calendar. Do not forget there are forces within society today who would return to such "Sabbath regulations." See WWN XX-6; "Now You Can Hear the Thunder".

The concept from Puritanism giving to Sunday the status of the seventh-day Sabbath and robing "the Lord's day" with the sanctity of the Sabbath is firmly held by the Lord Day Alliance. The cover of Sunday (Jan./March, 1989), the official organ of the LDA in the United States, reads - "May God's JOY of the Sabbath Enter Your Heart THIS SUNDAY!" Of import is the theology of Pope John Paul II on this point. During his 1987 visit to the United States, the Pope observed concerning Sunday:

Today is Sunday: the Lord's Day. Today is like the "seventh day" about which the Book of Genesis says that "God rested from all the work he had undertaken." (Gn 2:2) Having completed the work of creation, he "rested." God rejoiced in his work; he "looked at everything that he had made, and found it very good." (Gn 1:31) So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3).

On this day we are called to reflect more deeply on the mystery of creation, and therefore our own lives. We are called to "rest" in God, the Creator of the universe. Our duty is to praise him: "My soul, give thanks to the Lord ... Give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings." (Ps. 102 (103):1-2) Quoted in Sunday, op. cit, p.23) . . .

Elder Grotheer wrote these articles in 1989, just over twenty years ago.  Jesus said in relation to the prophecies of Luke 21, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."  (Vs. 32)  Taking a biblical generation to be approximately forty years, nearly thirty years have passed since 1980.  Romans 9:28 states, "For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth."  Ellen White predicted that the final movements will be rapid ones (9T 11.)  Referring to the fulfillment of Luke 21:24, Elder Grotheer stated in 1989, "It is the "now" time for us!How much more is it the now time at the end of 2009!  Truly, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2b.)  Now is the time to give diligence to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10.)  Now is the time to search the Scriptures diligently before it is too late, following the counsel of Ellen White:

Do not trust to the wisdom of any man, or to the investigations of any man. Go to the Scriptures for yourselves, search the inspired word with humble hearts, lay aside your preconceived opinions; for you will obtain no benefit unless you come as children to the word of God. You should say, "If God has anything for me, I want it. If God has given evidence from his word to this or that brother that a certain thing is truth, he will give it to me. I can find that evidence if I search the Scriptures with constant prayer, and I can know that I do know what is truth." You need not preach the truth as the product of another man's mind, you must make it your own.  (RH, March 25, 1890; emphasis added)

SOME THINGS NEED TO BE SAID
(About the use of the Writings)

END TIME LINE RE-SURVEYED
(A Critically Important Sermon)

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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  John 8:32