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Christopher Clinesmith wrote:

Dear CPATS,

I'm not quite sure of what I am getting myself into at this time but I hope that you can help me out.

I am 20 years old, and a devout Catholic with a deep knowledge of the Catholic faith (at least in comparison to many Catholics my age). I am currently attending a private (non-Catholic) college in Northern Iowa and I have many non-Catholic acquaintances.

I have one friend, in particular, who has brought several arguments against the Catholic faith. This young lady is a freshman and a Seventh Day Adventist.

Her biggest argument against Catholicism (and other Christian Churches) is that we fail to observe the required Sabbath observance of rest and worship. I have found numerous reasons why we observe Sunday, in place of the Sabbath, but I am unable to convince her because she says there is no Biblical proof that the day of worship was changed to Sunday.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this subject and whether you have any information that I can use to find a definite answer to my friends charges against my faith.

Please let me know.

Sincerely,

Chris

  { Can you help me defend how Catholics still observe the Sabbath day and show its biblical basis? }

John replied:

Dear Chris,

Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) are not only a Protestant sect, but by conventional Protestant standards, it is cult-like or, at the very least, aberrational. The problem here is that your friend does not understand the authority of the Church to change the day of worship or any other disciplines for that matter. Such authority is found Acts 15. There we see the authority given the Church by Jesus in Matthew chapters 16 and 18. In these chapters, Jesus gives first to Peter, then to his Apostles, the authority to bind and to loose teachings and disciplines.

This is a Rabbinic expression which means the authority to forgive sin, discern doctrine and set discipline. In Acts 15, the Apostles dogmatically declare that gentiles need not become Jews first to enter the Church. Then they add a pastoral discipline forbidding certain meats. Later, Paul lifts this restriction, but the point here is that the Church has authority to set things like this.
That would include days of worship.

Your friend insists on biblical proof.

  • Well, where is her biblical proof that biblical proof is required?

The Bible doesn't teach that it is the final authority! It says it is useful and inspired, but it does not claim sole authority.

  • Further, where is your friend's biblical proof of what books should be in the Bible?

The Bible does not have an inspired table of contents. No, in fact the Church, using Her
Christ-given biblical authority to "bind and to loose", told us which books belong and which books do not. So by definition, this idea of the Bible being the sole source of authority is itself refuting and unbiblical!

For more information on the SDA's and this specific issue, check out some web pages from our colleagues at Catholic Answers.

They have a set of tracts on-line that deals with SDA's and Sunday worship.

God Bless,

John DiMascio

Bob replied:

Chris,

Thanks for the question.

Your argument with your friend relates ultimately to authority. You both agree that the Bible is authoritative, but you both have made an underlying assumption in that assertion. The only reason you have a Bible to argue from, is because the Catholic Church gave us the Bible.

  • Ask your friend how she determines what is the authentic word of God, and where she got the criteria for making such a determination?
  • Where did her source acquire their authority?

If you become familiar with the arguments related to the canon of Scripture, you will be able to show her the folly of trying to come up with an authoritative Bible apart from the Catholic Church.

She will likely not admit that tradition can be and is authoritative, but that is where your point must go. This is what you must understand.

Ask her where the Bible teaches monogamy. It does not.

Every instance she will cite can be interpreted differently. We rely on oral tradition and the Magisterium of the Church for many teaching that aren't completely obvious from Scripture alone.

Ask her:

  • How many will's does Christ have?
  • What the nature of the Trinity is?, or
  • What the Bible says on:
    • predestination
    • birth control
    • abortion. etc.

The Church is a living body of Christ and hasn't been asleep for 2,000 years. All the time, through the power of the Holy Spirit we have been discerning the Word of God as revealed in Christ.

Learn how to articulate the teaching on tradition well and you will do well. While there is far too much to give you in one letter, go read the first few verses of Matthew 23 and see what you discover.

  • What are the implications of Jesus' statement?
  • Where does Scripture mention a "seat of Moses"?
  • Was this seat binding, authoritative?

Ponder on these things.

Good luck,

Bob K.

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