During the debate with protestant reformer Martin Luther, the Vatican’s defender Dr John Eck gave some interesting facts about the change of the Sabbath. In this video, Dr Dwight Nelson, Senior Pastor of Pioneer Memorial SDA Church at Andrews University USA gives his take on this.
“The Sabbath (5): The Case of Dr. Eck”
- The heart of the Leipzig debate (July, 1519) between Johannes Eck and Martin Luther was over sola scriptura—“ Only Holy Scripture.”
- Eck championed the authority and primacy of the church through councils and popes: “I venerate the Roman pontiff as Christ’s vicar.”
- Luther defended the authority and primacy of the Scriptures through study and prayer: “For the sake of Scripture we should reject pope and councils.”
- Thus the die was cast and the gauntlet thrown down—sola scriptura vs church tradition.
- Eck’s stunning rebuttal to sola scriptura:
- “If, however, the [Roman] Church has had power to change the Sabbath of the Bible into Sunday and to command Sunday keeping, why should it not have this power concerning other [holy] days….? If you omit the latter [liturgical holy days], and turn from the Church to the Scriptures alone, then you must keep the Sabbath with the Jews, which has been kept from the beginning of the world.” (Enchridion 78, 79)
- His point: If sola scriptura is your Reformation cry, you must return to the Bible Sabbath, or you must reject sola scriptura and accept Rome’s claim to determine divine truth, evidenced by her power to change the Sabbath to Sunday.
- In response to Martin Luther and the rapidly spreading Protestant Reformation, Rome convened the Council of Trent (1545 – 1564).
- To a council deadlocked over the place of Holy Scripture and church tradition, Archbishop Gaspar del Fosso delivered the convincing logic: “‘Such is the condition of the heretics today that they appeal to no other matter more than that they, under the pretense of the Word of God, overthrow the [Roman] Church….. Ye[t], the authority of the Church is most gloriously set forth by the Scriptures; for while on the one hand she recommends them . . . on the other hand, the legal precepts of the Lord contained in them have ceased by virtue of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed to the Lord’s [day]…. by virtue of the authority of the Church. Should this authority cease (which would surely please the heretics), who would then witness for truth and confound the obstinacy of the heretics?’” (In Robert Odom, Sunday in Roman Paganism, p 247)
- At the Council of Trent sola scriptura was finally and officially superceded by church tradition.
- Eight references to the “first day” of the week in the New Testament:
- Six of them refer to Jesus’ resurrection and events clustered around that glorious day (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2, 9; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1, 19).
- One describes a Saturday night (the dark part of the first day) gathering of Christians with Paul in Troas (Acts 20:7).
- And one is Paul’s appeal to the Christians in Corinth to take financial stock every “first day” in order to set money aside at home for famine relief aid for Christians in Jerusalem (I Corinthians 16:1).
- And not one of these eight even remotely suggests God changed his mind and his seventh-day Sabbath.
- The only remaining reason for keeping Sunday instead of Sabbath is to accept the authority claimed by the Roman Church.
- Mark 7:1-13
- “The washing here referred to was strictly ritualistic, not sanitary. This rite is said to have consisted of pouring a small quantity of water upon the fingers and palm of first one hand and then the other with the hand tilted so that the water ran from the palm to the wrist, but no farther (all the time care being taken lest the water run back into the palm), and then alternately rubbing one hand with the palm of the other hand. The minimum amount of water prescribed was that which could be contained in one and a half egg shells. It seems, however, that where water was not available a dry ablution was permitted in which a person would simply go through the motions of washing his hands in the prescribed manner.” (5BC 622)
- “You reject the [fourth] commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”
- Thus “in vain [you] worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
- It is as if Jesus were directly addressing Dr. Eck, the archbishop and the tradition of Rome and Protestants: “You have made the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down” (v 13).
- Regarding the day of worship, there are only two possible responses . . .
“Here I stand—
I can do no other—
So help me God. Amen.”