THE CONDEMNATION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
by Pat Goltz
Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, reprinted from Bible Lectures by permission of Pacific Press Publishing Association, owners of the copyright; Washington, DC, Hagerstown, MD, Review and Herald Publishing Association.
This booklet is being circulated in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a clear explanation of a Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, namely, that people who worship on Sunday have The Mark of the Beast of Revelation, and will be lost eternally. Hereby, the Seventh-day Adventist Church sets herself apart and makes the claim that only she contains true Christians. It is therefore an important booklet, and if it can be refuted, then several of the Seventh-day Adventist positions and doctrines fall.
"The third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Quoted from Revelation 14:9-11. Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, p. 3-4. Emphasis added.
This passage is quoted three times in this lecture. It is a clear refutation of another doctrinal position held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is that the wicked are utterly destroyed and cease to exist. Clearly John is stating that their torment is for eternity.
"If we turn to the book of Luke, where the story of Christ's birth is told, we shall find in the second chapter and the first verse that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be taxed, showing that Caesar Augustus was supreme ruler of the then-civilized world. And since Caesar Augustus was emperor of pagan Rome, then pagan Rome is represented here in the second chapter of Luke as ruling the whole world." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, pp. 12-13.
The author is correct that Luke says that Caesar said that the whole world was to be taxed. What he then did is to make a leap in logic that because Luke indicated the whole world, and that Caesar Augustus was emperor of the "civilized world", therefore, the Roman Empire fulfills the Revelation prophecy of the beast, which ruled the entire world. The historical facts show that there were countries, peoples, and governments outside of Rome, such as the ones in the far East, including China, India, and Japan, most of the continent of Africa, and both American continents, and so in actual fact, Caesar Augustus did not rule the entire world. I think it is obvious that what Luke is really saying is that Caesar Augustus claimed in his decree that he was going to tax the entire world. This claim was demonstrably false, but such things do not stop rulers with delusions of grandeur from making such claims. To jump then from the conclusion that Caesar Augustus claimed to be ruler of the entire world to the conclusion that he was, in actual fact, ruler of the entire world, is clearly fallacious, and provides no basis for the claim that this made the Roman Empire the beast of Revelation.
"I suppose you know that when Constantine moved out of Rome he gave his seat to the pontiff. And the Bible says that pagan Rome would give her seat of government to the beast." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, p. 14.
This passage establishes an important link in the chain of reasoning that the Seventh-day Adventist Church uses to "prove" its claim that Sunday worshipers have the mark of the beast, and are therefore condemned to eternal death. It clearly establishes the belief that the political power of Rome passed from the Caesars to the Roman Catholic Church during the reign of Constantine. Constantine had also decreed that Sunday was to be the official day of rest. This happened in 321 AD:
"On 3 March, A.D. 321 the emperor Constantine promulgated a law requiring a total, public rest from work 'on the most honourable day of the Sun.'" Carson, D.A., editor, From Sabbath to Lord's Day, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Academie Books: 1982.
This clearly establshes when Constantine did these things, and since Everson claims that this is when the political power passed from the Roman Empire to the Roman Catholic Church, it clearly establishes a beginning. Prior to this, the Roman Catholic Church was not the universal church of the Christian world, and in fact, never became the universal church of the Christian world, a fact even established in the (plagiarized) writings of Ellen White herself, in that most famous of books, The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, where she gives an extensive history of the Albigenses and Waldenses, who were rival Christian groups persecuted by Rome well before the Reformation. Additional evidence that the Roman Catholic Church was never the universal church of the Christian world is given by the Bible itself, when it describes the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8. The eunuch went back to Ethiopia to establish a Christian church there, which has been in continuous existence from that time to the present. In fact, most of the victims of the Ethiopian famine of modern day are Ethiopian Christians, and the reason for their status as victims is because of their Christianity! In other words, they are being persecuted by the government, which is withholding available food. There is further historical evidence that the Roman Catholic Church was never the universal church of the Christian world in the fact that in the very beginning, there was a contest for the top position of authority between the bishops of Constantinople and Rome, and the fact that both of these bishops maintained a line of succession. In other words, the Eastern Orthodox Church had never been under Rome, and has continuously existed from the time that Rome declared itself the head of the Christian world to the present. History shows that it was the rule of the emperor Constantine that established what we now know as the Roman Catholic Church, and that all doctrinal aberrations of that church took place after emperor Constantine.
The fact that Everson further claims that it is the emperor Constantine and his successor, the pontiff of Rome, that establishes Sunday as the day of worship and rest, as borne out by the text of his message in its entirety, clearly establishes that if it can be shown that Christians observed Sunday in any great numbers prior to the beginning of the fourth century, that the Roman Catholic Church is not the founder of Sunday worship, all of its claims otherwise notwithstanding!
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." Acts 20:7.
"Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by in in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." I Corinthians 16:2
Sunday was also known as the Lord's Day:
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet," Revelation 1:10
The Lord's Day was Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the dead, and the day the church was established at Pentecost. The early Christians worshipped on the Lord's Day to commemmorate Jesus' resurrection and the founding of the church.
The fact that Christians worshipped on the Lord's Day is also noted in early Christian writings:
"And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure." Didache 14:1, also known as The Teachings of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles.
The Didache was an early catechism. "While some of the material might go back before the year 100, the current form of the document is probably mid-second century at earliest." Guide to Early Church Documents.
"Finally He saith to them; Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot away with. Ye see what is His meaning; it is not your present Sabbaths that are acceptable [unto Me], but the Sabbath which I have made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world. Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens." Epistle of Barnabas 15:8-9. "[ca 130] This letter, probably not authored by the NT Barnabas, repudiates the claims of Jewish Christians at the time who advocated adhering to observance of the Mosiac Law. Argued that Christ provided salvation and man is no longer bound by the Law." Ibid.
"8. Do not he led astray by those erroneous teachings and ancient fables which are utterly worthless. Indeed, if at this date we still conform to Judaism, then we own that we have not received grace. Why, the Prophets, those men so very near to God, lived in conformity with Christ Jesus. This, too, was the reason why they were persecuted, inspired as they were by His grace to bring full conviction to an unbelieving world that there is one God, who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ, His Son--who, being His Word, came forth out of the silence into the world and won the full approval of Him whose Ambassador He was.
"9. Consequently, if the people who were given to obsolete practices faced the hope of a new life, and if these no longer observe the Sabbath, but regulate their calendar by the Lord's Day, the day, too, on which our Life rose by His power and through the medium of His death--though some deny this; and if to this mystery we owe our faith and because of it submit to sufferings to prove ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Teacher: how, then, can we possibly live apart from Him of whom, by the working of the Spirit, even the Prophets were disciples and to whom they looked forward as their Teacher? And so He, for whom they rightly waited, came and raised them from the dead." Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians. "Bishop of Antioch in Syria [ca 1-2 century] martyred in Rome by beasts (ca 105-116). On his way to Rome, he visits and then writes to various churches, warning and exhorting them." Ibid.
Effectively, Ignatius is saying that if we observe the Sabbath and otherwise keep the practices of Judaism, we deny salvation by grace, and further, we deny Jesus' resurrection, which the Apostle Paul made clear is the primary doctrine of Christianity: that because of Jesus' resurrection, we also shall rise to be united with God in heaven. This is very serious business, folks!
Thus, the common practice of keeping Sunday, the Lord's Day, clearly predates Constantine by centuries! This is no edict of the Roman church!
Observance of the Sabbath was a mark of being a member of the Hebrews, or God's people of the Old Testament. It was directed to the people God brought out of Egypt, not to other people who were never enslaved in Egypt:
"Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall shurely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the chidren of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." Exodus 31:13-17.
"I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage...Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labor, and do all thy work: 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, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day." Deuteronomy 5:6, 12-15.
Please note that the penalty for failure to keep the Sabbath is to be put to death. Specifically, the penalty is death by stoning. See Numbers 15:32, 35. Do Seventh-day Adventists stone people for breaking the Sabbath? If not, then I claim that they are not keeping the Sabbath!
"That was in the days when Martin Luther stepped out of the Church of Rome." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, p. 20.
Everson plays fast and loose with history in general. Here is another example. This is a common misconception, but it is historically inaccurate just the same. Luther tried to reform the Roman Catholic Church, hence the name Reformation given to this period of history. He had no intentions of leaving at all, and was excommunicated. So Luther did not "step out" of the Church of Rome.
"'Finally, at the last opening [session] on the eighteenth of January, 1562 [in the Council of Trent], their last scruple was set aside; the Archbishop of Reggio made a speech in which he openly declared that tradition stood above Scripture. The authority of the church could therefore not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the church had changed Sabbath into Sunday, not by the command of Christ but by its own authority. With this, to be sure, the last illusion was destroyed, and it was declared that tradition does not signify antiquity, but continual inspiration.'--J. H. HOLTZMAN, Canon and Tradition, p. 263." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, p. 23.
This is one of several quotations from Catholic sources that Everson uses to "prove" that the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for moving the Christian day of worship and rest from the sabbath to Sunday. None of these quotations prove his case, because all of them are mere claims by Roman Catholics that that church is responsible for moving the day of worship and rest. This claim, as I have already demonstrated, is false. It does, however, fit in with another claim that the Roman Catholic Church was and remains the only true Christian church from the time of the Apostles onward, a position I have already refuted. Most Catholics will repeat that claim. This quotation and the other ones that Everson uses do not prove that the Roman Catholic Church was the author of Christian Sunday worship, but merely that it claims to be.
We have now broken two links in the chain of reasoning Everson uses to support the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine. The first is the claim that the Roman Catholic Church was the ruler of the entire Christian world, and the second is that the Roman Catholic Church was the only Christian church from the time of the Apostles.
"No wonder the Bible calls the change of the Sabbath on the part of the Papacy the mark of her authority!
"In fact, we have the Catholic Church's own statement calling it "a mark." Here is a statement taken from the CATHOLIC MIRROR, the official organ of Cardinal Gibbons, under the date of September 23, 1893.
"'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.'" Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, pp. 24-25.
Everson here reaches a conclusion unwarranted by the facts, and the evidence he has presented. The quotation does not refute my earlier position that the Roman Catholic Church did not establish Sunday as the day of worship, because it was established by Christians prior to Constantine, and because the first Protestant existed during the fifteenth century, and Constantine lived in the fourth century. The conclusion presented at the begininng of this quotation is clearly false, and represents a leap of logic. The leap is the conclusion that the Bible "calls the change of the Sabbath on the part of the Papacy the mark of her authority". The Bible does no such thing. Everson can reach this conclusion only by ignoring the context of his biblical quotations. In Revelation 13:16-18 (of which Everson quotes only verse 16 on page 37), it says,
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
Now, it is obvious from this passage that the mark of the beast means something very different from what Everson says. It is equally obvious why Everson didn't quote the entire passage. The following can be gleaned from this passage: First of all, a person has to receive the mark to buy or sell. Ask yourself a question: do people, Seventh-day Adventists included, have trouble buying or selling if they never worship on Sunday? Of course not! Seventh-day Adventists can get jobs, they can buy groceries and homes and cars, they have no trouble buying and selling at all! The second thing we can glean is that the mark of the beast is a number, 666. This fact is simply ignored by Everson. He doesn't explain why or how worshiping on Sunday has any relationship to the number 666. The fact is, if there is such a relationship, it is so obscure that there is no way you can reconcile the two. In fact, I can make a case for the opposite: that this means you better not worship on Friday, the sixth day of the week! Do you see how silly this is? The final thing to notice is that in order to have the mark of the beast, it must be in the right hand or the forehead. Everson makes this symbolic. I see no warrant for this. The passage does not indicate a symbolic meaning. Everson doesn't explain how Sunday worship results in a literal mark on either the forehead or the hand. Certainly there is no warrant for assuming a mental exercise, namely worshiping, can be a mark in the hand.
"In Daniel the seventh chapter and the twenty-fifth verse it says: "He [the papal power] shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High [that is, in the time of the great persecution], and think to change times and laws [that is, the times of God's law]." There is only one commandment in the Decalogue that speaks about time, and that is the fourth commandment, since it is founded upon time." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, pp. 28-29.
Everson has inserted several additional phrases in the quoted verse by placing them in square brackets. These phrases are his interpolations, and there is no basis in fact for any of them. He has made several leaps in logic in doing so. He has not proven that the verse refers to the papal power. He has not proven that the wearing out of the saints will be confined to the time of the great persecution. He has not justified his change in the grammar when he says that changing times and laws is the same as changing the times of God's law. If he feels the context of this verse warrants these insertions, he has a duty to read the verse in context, and show why the context supports his interpretation. The final logical leap he makes is assuming that the verse is speaking about the Decalogue, because it refers to laws. The laws are not equated with the Decalogue, which is only a portion of the laws.
"Take worshipers of the sun, for instance." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, p. 30.
Everson here discusses sun worshipers. This is an obvious reference to the idea, which he expresses earlier, that the purpose of Sunday is to worship the sun, that this is why Constantine made a decree in favor of Sunday. What Everson fails to mention is that Saturday is for the worship of Saturn. the ancient Roman god of seed sowing, whose festival was a time of debauchery. One cannot cite evidence of the pagan meaning of a day in order to condemn it as a day of worship for Christians, who in any case did not do things in order to appeal to pagans, but on the contrary, tried to set themselves apart from pagans.
"As you are seriously considering this great decision that involves eternal life and eternal death, I shall read the solemn warning of the Book again, and I am sure it will lead you to decide quickly on the side of truth." Everson, Charles T., The Mark of the Beast, p. 41.
Everson then quotes Revelation 14:9-11 the second time.
Having failed to prove his case, Everson explicitly states his position again, leaving absolutely no doubt that he teaches that a person who worships on Sunday will be eternally lost, and not saved. Such a person, he says, will not gain heaven. Thereby he condemns all Christians who ever worshiped on Sunday, from the time of the Apostles all the way down to the present day, except for a handful of Christians who worship on Saturday, and have never worshiped on Sunday. This doctrine is being promoted in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is repulsive to all Christians who worship on Sunday. It is a position of work righteousness, that there is something a Christian must do in order to be saved, and that faith in Jesus Christ is not enough. It takes the attention away from Jesus Christ and diverts it to a work. It puts Jesus Christ out of the center, and pushes Him off to the side. And it is one of the major reasons why many Protestant Christians do not recognize the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a legitimate Protestant Christian denomination. The animosity of Christians in general is the fault of the Seventh-day Adventist Church itself, which must take the blame. It is a violation of Paul's plain words:
"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of [for] you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." Galatians 4:9-11.
"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth...One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it...For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Romans 14:4-10.
Thus, we have here a church that condemns those who regard a different day, or no day at all, in plain violation of Paul's words, and a church that urges or requires its members to return to the weak and beggarly elements. I find no justification for either of these, and cannot accept them. It distresses me very much that there are Christians who will do these things, and most especially it distresses me to be put into the position of having to accept the fact that one of my very dear children joined such a church, where he was taught to condemn me and the other members of our family for doing exactly what Paul says the Christian has the freedom and the right to do.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, by teaching this doctrine, is creating schisms among Christians, who should love one another as Christ commands. All the efforts of the members to show love are done within the context of the church. The Bible speaks plainly against any practice that creates schisms among Christians. I can only conclude that in this point, the extreme emphasis on keeping the Sabbath, we have an example of a church that has put a human work in the center, dethroned Christ, and denied the unity of the church: the Body of Christ. I am not persuaded that this is what God would have me do, nor anyone whom I have or have had the responsibility of guiding. I am persuaded that we are to avoid this, and to establish our ground clearly. There is every reason to speak out against representing to the world that we are in agreement with the practice of demanding Sabbath worship of all Christians, and condemning those who worship on Sunday to everlasting torment.