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Tradition and Custom

Tradition and Custom
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) has recently renewed its effort to “incorporate decent working hours and the right to a common weekly day of rest.” The rationale for such a move has been “the economic and financial crisis” that has “shaken the firm belief of Europe growing together.”

COMECE is an association of Catholic Church episcopal conferences in member states of the European Union. It monitors political processes and communicates opinions and views about European integration in light of Catholic social teaching. The organization has been pressing for a European Pillar of Social Rights for many years.

It is certainly biblical to combat poor working conditions and encourage an end to poverty and an unstable economy. But to institute Sunday as a weekly day of rest not only defies the concept of religious liberty—since there is no provision for those who keep an alternate day—it certainly is not based on Bible teaching. The document states, “This day should be in principal the Sunday, which is recognized by tradition and custom in most of the member states.”

What was the custom of Jesus for worship? “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16). The apostle Paul kept the same custom. “Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2).

God did not set aside Sunday as a day of rest and worship. The fourth commandment identifies which day of the week is actually sacred: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8–10, emphasis added). This holy day was set aside at creation for all mankind, regardless of nationality (see Genesis 2:1–3).

The custom of Sunday keeping is based on human tradition, not divine law. The Roman emperor Constantine made one of the first recorded Christian Sunday laws in the fourth century. In contrast to pagan Rome worshiping the sun on the first day of the week, Christians worshiped God on the seventh-day Sabbath. When Constantine professed conversion to Christianity, he left the door open to pagans to continue their Sunday worship—and he asked Christians to join them. Papal church councils strengthened that law until it became firmly entrenched in Christianity and the world.

No question—Christians should encourage everyone to enjoy worship and rest. However, to enforce Sunday as a civil-backed holy day is a violation of religious freedom and against biblical principles. But the story of Sunday and pagan worship goes even deeper. Read this free online book—“The Beast, the Dragon and the Woman”—to find out more.
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