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A Catholic Rebuttal
 
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Published: 16 years ago
 
This is a reply to # 630,858

A Catholic Rebuttal


http://www.cathinsight.com/apologetics/adventism/sunbursts.htm

I will not defend this article. I wanted to post it as it is a rebuttal of the baal worship article.

Of Sunbursts, Baals, and Adventist Paranoia
MARIO DERKSEN



You've probably heard of extreme Conspiracy theorists. You know, the ones who see a Conspiracy behind every rock, whether it be that Bill Gates is the Antichrist, Royal Crown Cola's "R.C." initials really stand for "Roman Catholic," or that Shell's gasoline is really gas from (s-)hell. You may laugh about this (I surely hope you do!), but there are people who really believe this with all seriousness. This is not to discredit all Conspiracy theories, since some are probably true, but we must evaluate them on their own merits using some simple research and our God-given common sense. And I think everyone has enough common sense to recognize when a conspiracy theory is plausible and when it's plainly ridiculous.

A very notorious idea some Seventh-Day Adventists have is that Catholicism promotes sun-worship, and this conviction has so deeply penetrated their consciousness that any time they see anything resembling a circle in Catholicism, they immediately believe this to be yet another shred of evidence that the Catholic Church (more or less secretly) promotes the ancient pagan practice of worshipping the sun.

The "evidence" these Adventists come up with is quite astonishing, reaching from rather ridiculous to plain untrue. For instance, Michael Scheifler of the Bible Light Home Page has the following quote in one of his essays on sun worship from the book The Paganism in Our Christianity by Arthur Weigall: "The Church made a sacred day of Sunday … largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun," so Weigall claims. However, this is simply not true; it is a lie, as the Seventh-Day Adventist minister D. M. Canright had to find out as he interviewed historians from the British Museum in London, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin, and Harvard University in Cambridge. The pagans did not have a weekly festival day for the sun; rather, the the significance of naming days for planets (such as Sunday for the sun, Monday for the moon, Saturday for Saturn, etc.), as the Pagans did, was astrological, but not religious. The evidence and the exact statements of the interviewees can be found in Ralph Woodrow's February 1999 newsletter, Did Sunday Worship Come From Paganism?. Is it any wonder that D. M. Canright left Seventh-Day Adventism as he saw through the myths and lies that had been propagated by the Adventist cult? His entire conversion story is now online. Click here to view it. (Beware, though, as both Woodrow and Canright are/were Protestant.)

Besides, the term "Sunday" is only used in languages such as German, Dutch, and English, whereas Latin-based languages, such as Spanish, Italian, and French use a derivative of the Latin word "Dominica," literally "Lord's Day." So the very notion of the first day of the week having something to do with the sun depends on the language you speak.

As far as the biblical evidence concerning the Sabbath is concerned, Bob Stanley has put together a nice potpourri of Scripture verses demonstrating the foreshadowing of a new Sabbath in the New Covenant and other biblical evidence for Sunday being the Sabbath of the New Covenant. You can view Stanley's article here.

Also, there is a Protestant essay concerning Sunday over Saturday located here. Being Protestant, it contains some snippets here and there offensive to Catholic ears, but I think much of the content is good information concerning the SDA insistence on a Saturday-Sabbath.

Now, the accusation of "sun worship" does not only have to do with the Sabbath having been transferred from Saturday to Sunday, of course. Actually, most of the "fodder" comes from what Adventists perceive to be sun symbols in Catholicism, sun symbols reminiscent, so they argue, of Paganism. Michael Scheifler, a premier advocate of Seventh-Day Adventism and anti-Catholicism, has plenty of essays on his site about that. I wish to pick out some major attacks and show that they lack foundation:

In his piece Pagan Sun Worship and Catholicism, Scheifler argues that the Catholic Church endorses worship of the sun. He opens his piece by insisting that the Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday "with the assistance of Caesar." He is referring to Constantine there. But in order to evaluate the situation properly, one would have to (1) observe that, Latin being the official language of the Roman Empire, the Latin word for "Sunday" is "Dominica," which literally translates as "Lord's Day," and, this being so, does not have any connection with the sun, and (2) ask the question, Why would Constantine, having become a Christian, wish to endorse Sunday as the Sabbath of the New Covenant? There is, in my view, only one sane explanation: because he knew the Christians were keeping Sunday holy as their Sabbath (and not Saturday), and so, having become a Christian now, he wanted to make that a mandatory day of rest throughout the Roman Empire!

So does the Constantine argument prove anything for the Adventists? On the contrary! Constantine enforced Sunday observance because that's what the Christians were already keeping as their Sabbath and so, being now converted, he wanted to accomodate that and make it obligatory for all of his empire! So by quoting Constantine's promulagation of Sunday as an official day of rest, the Adventist actually supports the Catholic case.

Next, Scheifler claims that "many pagan sunburst images [are] used by the Catholic Church in various forms of art." We can admit that the Church does have some sunburst images in her artwork, but we absolutely deny that these are pagan. You may wonder: why in the world would the Catholic Church use sunbursts in her artwork? Quite simply, because God is often depicted as a sun in Holy Scripture, or even a morning star. The glory of Christ is compared to that of a sun or of a great light. At various times do the Scriptures use such images as "sun" and "moon," etc., to refer to important truths about our Lord. So let's look at some quotes here:

Psalm 19:1,4-5


The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork . . . . In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

Psalm 84:11
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. . . .

Did you read that?? "The Lord God is a sun"! Imagine what these Adventists would say if this came out of a Catholic mouth! Yet, it is thoroughly biblical! The Lord identifies Himself as a sun; what a fitting symbol it is!


Isaiah 19:18-19
In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt which speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of the Sun. In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border.

Could you imagine anti-Catholic Adventist reaction if the Catholic Church referred to the Vatican as the "City of the Sun"?? And yet, Isaiah refers to a city which is a stronghold of the faithful of the Lord as the "City of the Sun." In fact, the passage also talks about a "pillar to the Lord." Reminds me of an obelisk in the Vatican--which is one thing the Adventists have condemned the Church for, because, so they say, it's pagan! But here Isaiah mentions it as a "pillar to the Lord"! This flies directly into the face of the SDA accusations. Is Isaiah prophesying the Catholic Church here? Looks like it to me.... But there's more:

Daniel 12:3
And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Malachi 4:2 / 3:20
But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.

Matthew 13:43
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 17:2
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.

And right here we find a connection to the monstrance! Far from trying to depict a pagan sun god, the monstrance actually is meant to reveal to us the glory of Christ as He was transfigured and His face shone like the sun!

Acts 26:13
At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me.

The context reveals that this "light from heaven" was our Blessed Lord. Now, the book of Revelation, which is Adventists' favorite book, is full of sun/moon/star imagery:

Revelation 1:16
In his right hand [Christ] held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Revelation 10:1
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire.

Revelation 12:1
And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. . . .

The Scriptures also clearly use the imagery of the sun as a sign of God's power, the intercession of His angels, and as a beacon to summon the faithful to the Supper of the Lord:

Revelation 19:17
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God. . . ."

Now that we've seen quite a few verse demonstrating that the sun is a commonly-used biblical symbol standing for all sorts of things (rather than having anything to do with some pagan god), let us also remember that the sun has especially been a symbol for Christ Himself, who is the true Light from the East:

John 8:12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 12:46
I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Matthew 17:2
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.

Revelation 22:16
“I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”

To sum up:
The Bible is full of sun, moon, light, and star imagery, applying it either to the Lord God Himself, or to His greatness, or likening it to His presence, etc. While the Adventists are out there trying to find connections in Catholicism with a pagan sun god, we Catholics are there with our Bibles, worshipping the one only True God who made the sun and saw that it was good. Catholicism is rich in biblical symbolism, but due to their prejudice and paranoia, Adventists waste their time in trying to establish pagan connections with the Catholic Church, instead of adoring the God of Heaven and Earth.


Images of the sun or the moon, etc., are not evil. It depends on how we use them. Obviously, if they are meant to depict pagan gods or are used for idolatrous purposes, that's wrong and sinful. But if they are used to represent biblical symbols and have a biblical connection, there's nothing wrong with that.

The following quotes from the Church Fathers (that is, the early Christians) show that we Christians can use images of the sun, moon, etc., as long as they are presented in a Christian context and have no connection to paganism or idolatry:

http://www.cathinsight.com/apologetics/adventism/sunbursts.htm

 

 
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