The "Bible Answer Man" on the Keeping of Sunday.

On his nationally broadcast Bible Answer Man radio program on October 1st, 1998 Hank Hanegraaff was asked the following question by a caller: ( Listen with RealPlayer)

Caller — My sister-in-law read a book called The National Sunday Law, and now she is convinced that we are all worshipping on the wrong day, and I was wondering what you thought I could tell her as far as what the Sabbath is?

Hank — Well, I think very important question, because they, of course, believe that if in fact you worship on Sunday, that is tantamount to have taken on the Mark of the Beast, and nothing could be farther from the truth. The reason that we worship on Sunday is because we are celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which is the capstone in the arch of Christianity. And we are following a precedent that was set by the early Christian Church because this is the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. And this is not at all unique, because you see that the Sabbath was always a cycle: you have six days of work, one day of rest, and the day is not the issue. It is that by resting you are saying that God owns all of me, my time, talents and treasure. And so in Genesis the cycle was celebrated as a result of God's work in creation. In Exodus the sabbath was a reflection or a celebration of God's deliverance from the rule of Egypt. And as I said, the New Testament is a celebration of the most momentous event in the history of Christianity, and that is the resurrection from the dead. And Paul says "Without this we have no hope for among all men most miserable we are still dead in our sins." I'd also point this out, because I think this is important, Sabbath observance was associated, by Moses the lawgiver, with the concept of redemption, and that redemption of course comes through Jesus Christ. So, what we have is the Sabbath as a shadow of the redemption that we would eventually have through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what had happened, it was a momentous occasion that changed the day of worship. But the real issue was not the day you worship.

Caller — It is just that you do it?

Hank — Yes!

Caller — OK. OK. So when it is referring to the Sabbath it is not referring to a day, it is just saying,  just worship a day, and take a day of rest.

Hank — Yeah, and again, I don't have any problem what-so-ever with someone celebrating Saturday rather than Sunday. The real issue is if you are celebrating on Saturday like the Jews are, because they think Jesus Christ has not yet come, then you have a problem. But if it is a celebration of His coming, and then His resurrection from the dead, then that's completely biblical.

Caller — O.K. Is this book The National Sunday Law pretty much a fluke then?

Hank — Oh, its not only poorly written, and sensationalistic, I mean you have probably seen it haven't you?

Caller — I have, you know, on the internet. She actually got one in the mail and read it and so she is, you know, totally convinced now, and I am trying to help her.

Hank — Well you can help her by giving her that information and also reading her the passage in 2nd  Colossians, I think its Chapter 2 verse 16, where it says don't let anybody judge you by what you eat or drink or with regards to a religious festival, or a new moon celebration, or a sabbath day, these are a shadow of the things to come, the reality however is found in Christ. And that of course is what we are worshipping on Sunday.

Bible Answer Man programs are produced and copyrighted by the Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-7000.

So let us analyze what Hank Hanegraaff has said. He suggests to the caller, that the Sabbath was merely a cycle of six days of work and one day of rest, and that the particular day the New Testament Christian worships is not an issue, not as long as one day in seven is observed. It is not the day that matters, according to Hank, it is the cycle that is important, and keeping the Sunday in honor of the resurrection fulfils this cyclical obligation.

Let's review God's commandment on this matter:

Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Exo 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

The Commandment says the seventh day is the Sabbath, yet some may read the commandment and still think that only a seven day cycle was instituted by God and the Church was authorized to decide which day would be kept. This argument is also made by Catholic apologists:

"God did not give Moses a calendar, and say, 'Here is where I want the counting of the days to begin.' No, God left that for His authorized agents to determine. The day on which the counting of the seven days began is immaterial, provided the selection was made by an authority that functioned by divine will."

Source: Catholic Dispatch, letter 34 on the Sabbath.

Such a claim is has simply no basis in scripture, in fact, it blatantly contradicts scripture:

Exo 16:23 And he [Moses] said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD:bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
Exo 16:24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
Exo 16:25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
Exo 16:27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
Exo 16:28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
Exo 16:29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
Exo 16:30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

According to the Bible, for 40 years a double portion of manna fell on Friday, and no manna fell on the Sabbath day. Note that this began BEFORE the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Sinai. The manna continued until the Israelites entered the promised land (Exodus 16:35, Joshua 5:12). With 52 weeks a year, that means God made the seventh day Sabbath plain to them for over 2000 weeks. No one was ever given a choice as to which day they would observe as the weekly day of rest. It was a day specified and declared by God as a Commandment - "the LORD hath given you the sabbath" — Moses was not given any choice in selecting the Sabbath day. A specific day was instituted by God at creation (Gen 2:2-3), is was not merely a cycle of rest every seventh day as suggested by Hank Hanegraaff and Roman Catholics.

Num 15:32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
Num 15:33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
Num 15:34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
Num 15:35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
Num 15:36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Violation of God's specified Sabbath was punished by the Lord by a death sentence! No one had the right to neglect or change the law of God and so break His Sabbath.

Now, according to Hank, just who authorized the change from Saturday to Sunday?

" ... we are following a precedent that was set by the early Christian Church because this is the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead."

So Hank actually recognizes, not the Bible, but Catholic Tradition and the authority of the Catholic Church to abolish the keeping of the Saturday Sabbath of God, specified in His commandment law, and instead substitute Sunday in its place. The Catholic Church surely must applaud Hank in his recognition of their presumed authority and Catholic Tradition. He might just as well have quoted from the Roman Catholic Catechism from the Council of Trent of the 16th century:


   But the Church of God has thought it well to transfer the celebration and observance of the Sabbath to Sunday.

   For, as on that day light first shone on the world, so by the Resurrection of our Redeemer on the same day, by whom was thrown open to us the gate to eternal life, we were called out of darkness into light; and hence the Apostles would have it called the Lord's day.
   We also learn from the Sacred Scriptures that the first day of the week was held sacred because on that day the work of creation commenced, and on that day the Holy Ghost was given to the Apostles.

Source: The Roman (TRENT) Catechism, Issued by order of Pope Pius V, published by TAN Books and Publishers, INC., Copyright 1982, ISBN: 0-89555-185-3, pages 402, 403

The Bible Answer Man is in full agreement with the Catholic Council of Trent on this matter. Now note how this matter is discussed in another Roman Catholic Catechism from the 17th century:

The Third Commandment Expounded.

    Q. WHAT is the third commandment?
    A. Remember that thou keepest holy the sabbath day.
    Q. When did the Sabbath begin to be kept?
    A. From the very creation of the world; for then God blessed the seventh day, and rested on it from all His works. Gen. ii. 2.
    Q. When was this commandment renewed?

[pg. 58]

    A. In the Old Law; when God gave the commandments to Moses on mount Sinai, written with his own finger in two tables of stone, Exod. xx. 1, &c. xxxi. 18.
    Q. Why was the Jewish Sabbath changed into the Sunday?
    A. Because Christ was born upon a Sunday, arose from the dead upon a Sunday, and sent down the Holy Ghost on a Sunday: works not inferior to the creation of the world.
    Q. By whom was it changed?
    A. By the Governors of the Church, the Apostles, who also kept it; for St. John was in spirit on the Lord’s day (which was Sunday.) Apoc. i. 10.
    Q. How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holydays?
    A. By the very act of changing the sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church.
    Q. How prove you that?
    A. Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the Church's power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin; and by not keeping the rest by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power.

Source: The Douay Catechism (An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine) of 1649, by Henry Tuberville, D.D., published by P. J. Kenedy, Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 5 Barclay Street, New York, approved and recommended for his diocese by the Right Rev. Benedict, Bishop of Boston, April 24th, 1833, pages 57, 58.

And then there is this from a Roman Catholic Catechism of the 19th century:

[pg. 174]

    Q. Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
    A. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.

[pg. 181]

    Q. In what manner can we show a Protestant, that he speaks unreasonably against fasts and abstinences?
    A. Ask him why he keeps Sunday, and not Saturday, as his day of rest, since he is unwilling either to fast or to abstain. If he reply, that the Scripture orders him to keep the Sunday, but says nothing as to fasting and abstinence, tell him the Scripture speaks of Saturday or the Sabbath, but gives no command anywhere regarding Sunday or the first day of the week. If, then, he neglects Saturday as a day of rest and holiness, and substitutes Sunday in its place, and this merely because such was the usage of the ancient Church, should he not, if he wishes to act consistently, observe fasting and abstinence, because the ancient Church so ordained?

Source: A Doctrinal Catechism by Stephen Keenan, Imprimatur by John Cardinal McCloskey, Archbishop of New York, Copyright 1876 by T. W. Strong, pages 174, 181.

The Catholics point to the Sunday keeping Protestants and accuse them of blatant contradiction. The Protestant, they claim, has no more than the Catholic Church on which to base Sunday keeping, as it is not something found in Scripture. So what of the Protestants claim of Sola Scriptura, the Bible as the only ruler for doctrine? The Catholic must laugh at such a preposterous claim from the Protestant Sunday keeper. Note this from a Roman Catholic Catechism of the 20th century:

If we would consult the Bible only, without Tradition, we ought, for instance, still to keep holy the Saturday with the Jews, instead of Sunday ...

Source: Deharbe's Catechism, A Complete Catechism of the Catholic Religion, translated by Rev. John Fander, published by Schwartz, Kirwin & Fauss, 53 Park Place, New York, Sixth American Edition, Copyright 1912, 1919, 1924, page 81.

If you, Mr. Bible Answer Man, or any Protestant, wish to truly adhere to Sola Scriptura, the Bible only as your ruler for faith and doctrine, then you must clearly give up the proprietary Catholic ground of Sunday keeping, their claimed "mark" of authority over the Bible, and retire to the Lord's Saturday Sabbath according to His Commandment. On this point, the Roman Catholic Church is entirely correct:

    Now in the matter of Sabbath observance the Protestant rule of Faith is utterly unable to explain the substitution of the Christian Sunday for the Jewish Saturday. It has been changed. The Bible still teaches that the Sabbath or Saturday should be kept holy. There is no authority in the New Testament for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday. Surely it is an important matter. It stands there in the Bible as one of the Ten Commandments of God. There is no authority in the Bible for abrogating this Commandment, or for transferring its observance to another day of the week.

    For Catholics it is not the slightest difficulty. "All power is given Me in heaven and on earth; as the Father sent Me so I also send you," said our Divine Lord in giving His tremendous commission to His Apostles. "He that heareth you heareth Me." We have in the authoritative voice of the Church the voice of Christ Himself. The Church is above the Bible; and this transference of Sabbath observance to Sunday is proof positive of that fact. Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third — Protestant Fourth — Commandment of God.

Source: The Catholic Record, London, Ontario Canada, September 1, 1923, Diocese of Bishop Most Rev. Michael F. Fallon, D.D., LL.D.

    Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. "The Day of the Lord" (dies Dominica) was chosen, not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church's sense of its own power. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.

Source: The Pastor's page of the Sentinel, Saint Catherine Catholic Church, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995.

I can state the case no better that the Catholics themselves have above. Their point is unimpeachable, and for that reason, because the Bible alone is indeed my ruler for faith and doctrine, and not Catholic Tradition, I am a Seventh Day Adventist today, and keep the Sabbath of the Lord on Saturday according to the Commandment of God.

See also:

Rome's Challenge ... Why do Protestants keep Sunday?
The Seal of God and The Mark of the Beast.
Sunday is NOT the biblical Sabbath day.
Did the Apostles keep Sunday?
The Shadow Sabbaths of Colossians 2:17