Reformed Baptist Fellowship

The Ascent of the Antichrist

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 19, 2013 at 11:04 am

Pope Francis

In what can only be called a strange sign of the times in which we live, Evangelical reaction to the election of a new Roman Pontiff ranges from mildly encouraged to wildly enthusiastic.  Perhaps this only reflects the effete civility of our day.  Perhaps it means that American Christians have entirely abandoned theology for politics.  Or perhaps it certifies that Protestantism is dead.  Whatever the reason, when a few have dared mention what was for centuries the settled opinion of the entire Protestant world – that any “Pope” is and must be Antichrist – many within their own ranks have cried foul.

Insults, Lies & Evaluations

If I call the Pope the Antichrist, do I insult him?  After all, it’s not as though I said the Pope’s mother wears combat boots; I am making a more subtle and significant point.  An accusation of “insult” requires definition.  What is an insult, and is it always wrong?

Some have hurled cruel curses against the Popes, but to the Christian, such language is unworthy.  Others paint all Catholic clergy as sexual deviants, which is simply “false witness,” and yes, there is a commandment against it.

Sometimes, though, what sounds like an insult is actually a carefully reasoned evaluation.  It is normally an insult to call someone a “Nazi,” but some historians have called Sir Oswald Mosley – the English fascist sympathizer – a “Nazi.”  They are not insulting him so much as evaluating him.  Similarly, Protestants have called the Pope the “Antichrist.”  Is this insult or evaluation?


I suppose many Catholics see evangelicals as a pack of “Left Behind” watching fanatics who imagine the Antichrist as a futuristic horned monster who runs around eating children and slapping barcodes on everyone’s forehead.  Goodness knows too many evangelicals are exactly that; maybe this accounts for some of the concern that we are being a little unfair with the Pope.

But this is a recent delusion.  For most of history, Protestant Evangelicals have understood antichrist as a character and a concept best described by the Apostle Paul in II Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Here is the text:

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.  Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.  Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?  And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.  The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

We may summarize four descriptives of the Antichrist:

  1. He will seek to enforce faith in himself on the whole earth.
  2. He will call himself God.
  3. He will promote himself with counterfeit miracles.
  4. He will deceive men into believing a lie which condemns rather than saves.

American Evangelicals now look for one great Antichrist figure at the end of the age whose temporary ascendency will be the harbinger of Christ’s return, but this is something of a contemporary anomaly.  Historically Protestants considered the words of I John 2:18 – there are “…many antichrists…” – and concluded that the spirit of antichrist is greater than any one person or even institution, but that with the passage of history one central Antichrist could be expected to rise.  The consensus position was that this has been fulfilled in the institution of the papacy.  Is that an insult, or a reasonable exegetical conclusion?

Popish Abominations

Our confession summarizes the case against the Pope by repeating the Protestant consensus: he is the Antichrist.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Second London Confession of Faith, Chapter XXVI, Paragraph 4

Does this evaluation square with II Thessalonians 2?

1. The Antichrist will “exalt himself against every so-called god or object of worship.”   In other words, he will be the head of a megalomaniacal religion.  He will not replace the worship of false gods with the worship of the true God, but rather with the worship of himself.  Today’s Catholics argue their own relevance by citing more than a billion adherents worldwide.  In so doing, they only highlight their leader’s compliance with the first descriptive of the Antichrist.  Priests have not brought the gospel, but the sword, the inquisition, and the invented terrors of purgatory – only to say, “Look to us, and we will save you from it all.”  Even in our age, when papal ambition wears a cloak of civility, the grand celebrations and claims of vast influence are a very visible form of self-exaltation.

2. The Antichrist will “take his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”  Ever since Wednesday evening we have been hearing what a humble man Pope Francis is, but his supposed humility is undercut by the titles he has assumed.  He has allowed himself to be called “Holy Father.”  Of course Jesus Himself told us (in Matthew 23:9) to call no man “Father” because God in Heaven is our Father.  Moreover, in Colossians 1:18 and elsewhere we are told that Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, yet the Pope assumes this title as well.  Finally, when Jesus was preparing to leave He promised to send another to stand in His place, namely the Spirit of Truth. (John 14:17)  So the Holy Father, the Head of the Church, and the Vicar (one who stands in the place of) of Christ are none other than God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  What exactly are we to think of a man who assumes all three titles to Himself?  Has he not proclaimed himself God?

3.  The Antichrist will come with “all power and false signs and wonders.”  American Catholics don’t like to talk about it, but the first purveyors of fake miracles were not Pentecostal frauds but Roman Catholic frauds.  The system of “sainthood” is based upon fraudulent wonders, as is the false sacrament of the mass.  The priest supposedly performs a miraculous transformation of bread and wine into the dead body and blood of Someone who is at the same time risen and seated in heaven.  The net effect of this counterfeit supernaturalism is to leave the common adherent in awe, unwilling to question the priests who hold the keys to heaven and hell.  Yet not only is none of it verifiable, none of it is remotely consistent with the teaching of Scripture.  The pope is the great beneficiary of this grand confidence scheme – the recipient of the loyal adulation of the superstitious.

4. The Antichrist will “delude” men into “believing what is false,” with the result that they are “condemned.”  As a prop to their ambition the Popes have denied the transaction which sits at the very heart of the gospel: the imputation of Christ’s righteousness fully and freely to everyone who believes.  In its place they have erected a monstrosity – a false gospel in which grace has been conferred by God to the Pope, who distributes it wherever he wills – forgiving sins, but always at a price.  Catholics are taught that the church, through its sacraments, will grant them just enough grace to avoid damnation, but this is an abominable lie.  It turns the hearts and eyes of men away from the freely offered grace of Christ and toward men.  Those who die trusting in this false gospel will be dragged down to hell alongside the Popes who have invented it.

So our Baptist forefathers, together with all other Protestants, were onto something when they identified the Pope as the great Antichrist.  Certainly every Pope has met the description offered by the Apostle, and no other man or institution has ever come close to matching them.

What Should We Say?

But is it insulting?  Is it hopelessly mean to call the head of someone else’s faith “the Antichrist”?  Would it not be more civilized to smile and say what a nice, humble man he is and how glad we are that he supports traditional marriage and opposes abortion?

If the Apostles are an example to us, we ought to realize that part of the task of proclaiming the good news is to oppose heresy in every form.  That is why Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

Wasn’t Paul being horribly impolite?  Of course he was, but he was willing to accept the scorn consequently heaped upon his words. As he said in the very next verse, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servantof Christ.”

As servants of Christ, faithful pastors have no choice but to identify the Antichrist whenever he exalts himself.  This is no “anti-Catholicism.”  We love our Catholic neighbors; we love them so much that we would rather they not go to hell!  To that end, every faithful minister of the gospel must speak the truth.  Pope Francis is the Antichrist.  He is the man of sin and the son of perdition, and one day he will be destroyed by the brightness of the coming of the Lord.

Tom Chantry, Pastor
Christ Reformed Baptist Church
  1. Amen! This article is very timely, thank you.

  2. Thank you Pr. Chantry. May God deliver multitudes from Roman Catholicism, “the devil’s greatest masterpiece” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones).

  3. Thank you and well said! This new pope is being portrayed in the media as “the pope of the people”. As such, he will be just as dangerous or even more so as any who have gone before.

  4. Thank you Pastor Chantry! Exceedingly well said. As a former Roman Catholic, I can personally attest to the truth of all you have said; you have represented the reality of who and what the Pope in fact is to the man in the pew, and as to what the Pope represents himself to be in the official church documents.

    Pope Leo the 13th (1878-1903) stated regarding himself and the other popes: “We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty” (Encyclical letter, June 20, 1894)

    If that is not an Antichrist, I do not know what is.

  5. […] The Ascent of the Antichrist | Reformed Baptist Fellowship […]

  6. Pardon me, but let me play devil’s advocate (pardon the pun) if I may. I am a former Baptist-turned Catholic

    1) The Pope is our Peter, not our Jesus. Jesus is head of our church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 669). Our Pope is just the Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor. As Christians, we respect Peter and the Pope in a similar fashion, but do not worship him

    2) Jesus Christ is the head of our Church (see 1), however Jesus chose to build the church upon Peter Matthew 16:18. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I challenge you to give me an example of another institution that has lasted as long as the Catholic Church has. It seems like the church has survived despite man. The reasons behind calling the Pope “Holy Father” can be found here

    3) All early Christians believed in the Real Presence of Christ at the Eucharist. I am surprised that you haven’t in a similar matter gone after Greek Orthodox, Coptic Christians, Russian Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans. I have found through my study that most objections do not come from the idea that Christ is in the Eucharist, but the fact that a Priest is the one consecrating it. If we look at Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 11:23-29, Christ IS saying that it is his body and blood, and to do it in remembrance of him.

    4) Again, Matthew 16:18. Jesus either meant it or he didn’t. If the Pope is the antichrist, then the gates of hell did prevail upon it. Jesus intended for that Church to be his bride Ephesians 5:23-24. Jesus meant for one Church, and it is the Church that he built upon Peter, the Rock, not for us to reinterpret his word and set up 40,000 denominations in his name, nor did he say that his Church would be founded 1,500 years after.

    That being said, we are all still brothers in Christ, albeit separated brethren. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate!

    Yours in Christ

    Nicholas T.
    Plano, TX

  7. Pastor your bravery and courage amaze me to call it like the bible says. It is so wonderful to hear the Pope called what the heck he is, considering the history of souls sent to hell because pastors like you wouldn’t stand up and tell their folks how evil and seducing the Pope can be. Your changing lives, bless you!

  8. Nicholas, that article only explains the “holy” part, not the “father.”

  9. Reblogged this on The Sovereign Logos and commented:
    “So the Holy Father, the Head of the Church, and the Vicar (one who stands in the place of) of Christ are none other than God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. What exactly are we to think of a man who assumes all three titles to Himself? Has he not proclaimed himself God?”

  10. Nicholas,

    Last Wednesday it was not expected that a Pope would be elected. All indications were that a long conclave was in the offing. Yet as evening fell thousands of Catholic faithful stood in the rain waiting – just in case. Why?

    The answer was found in the new Pope’s plenary indulgence. He offered forgiveness to the sins of those who cheered him. Now if I did not know that God has already forgiven my sins in Christ, and if I thought a man could offer me true absolution, I would stand in the rain also. But this is rank idolatry. The very idea that the Pope can forgive sins is heresy, and it gives the lie to your assertion that you do not worship the pope. Call it what you will, but waiting on a man to give you absolution for your sins is worship.

    It is idolatry, and it damns the soul. Nicholas, God has offered salvation fully and freely in Christ, and the rituals of your church cannot add to it, but only obscure the good news. It is out of true love for you and concern for your eternal soul that we say this: do not put your trust in men, for men fail. Put your trust in God, and turn away from false worship.

  11. Thank you, Tom! Will post at Proclaiming the Gospel’s FB page.

    I hope you all get to see or hear MacArthur’s brave and clear message from his St Patrick’s Day evening service, “Welcoming a New Antichrist,” which MacDaddy did in pure Protestant style (as you have, Tom!).

  12. From Dr M. LUTHER: “…the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God. This is, properly speaking to exalt himself above all that is called God as Paul says, 2 Thes. 2:4.

    “…Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to lie and to kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein his papal government really consists.”

  13. More from Luther and others on the papacy @

    From Lord Acton — “The papacy contrived murder and massacre on the largest and also on the most cruel and inhuman scale. They [the popes] were not only wholesale assassins but they made the principle of assassination a law of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation…. [The Papacy] is the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix.”

  14. Betrayers’ names are to be named. To wit: Colson, Packer, Warren, and Gary Bauer*:

    “Doctrinal differences remain, of course, but the Catholic-evangelical alliance has reshaped American politics. . . We do not agree on every issue. But on the essential ones — those both faiths consider “non-negotiables” — Catholics and evangelicals are allied.”

    * “Why Evangelicals Should Care About New Pope — Catholics are our best allies in important cultural and political battles” ~ Bauer is the president of American Values, and the chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.

  15. Jolly Old St Nick,

    We DO “go after” (in love) the Orthodox, Copts, Anglicans, and Lutherans! 🙂 But here the focus is on your guy who says he’s God’s “vicar” is a false prophet w/o peer.

    As heinous as the aforementioned can be at times, they are tyros compared to the head of your Mother of Harlots Fellowship.

    No Patriarch, Archbishop, or Pastor to my knowledge has ever said outrageously blasphemous hooey akin to that of your man in the Vatican.

    You have fallen from grace, Nicholas, and been deceived by the father of Romanism (John 8:44). Come out of her, and touch not the unclean thing. Receive the true Christ who effectually saves by grace alone through faith alone in him alone, or you’ll be damned, man.

  16. Wow, it’s refreshing to hear a “modern” church leader who does not hold back like those weak on their knees evangelical pastors that don’t call heresy, Heresy and don’t “offend” anybody all in the “Efforts to reach out to the community”. You just keep telling the hard truth to keep your followers from falling away to the growing Catholic church corporation. Stay pure, avoiding the wrong kind of growth and outreach of compromise. It takes a hard head and resolute intellect. You can Do It!

  17. Nicholas,

    As a former Roman Catholic who became a Baptist, I have made the opposite journey that you have. Your third point, that the eucharist IS the real body and blood of Jesus, was pivotal in my rejection of Romanism and its teaching.

    Please listen to my reasoning on this issue in a sermon I preached:

    The mass is the biggest fraud of false miracle working that has ever been perpetrated on the human race. The real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the elements is a lie.

  18. MAXimum! 🙂

    To follow up, St Nick, note John 6:35 & 47f. These explain Jesus’ cryptic cannibalistic language.

    I am the bread of life.
    He who comes to Me shall never hunger,
    and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

    Verily, verily, I say to you,
    he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
    I am the bread of life.

    We all know he wasn’t telling his Jewish audience to literally eat his literal flesh.

    He was saying, “Believe on me.” That is eating him. Whosoever does so will be saved.

    Your side says he meant, “Eat a consecrated wafer transubstantiated into my flesh by a priest, and you’ll be given some grace that might save you if you cooperate properly.”

  19. It seems like in today’s world it takes extraordinary guts to speak against falsehood…or deep conviction. Thanks

  20. Pastor Chantry,
    I think you did a great job with this article, but can I ask just one question? I know you mentioned it in passing, but how does this idea that The Pope is the man of sin jive with the concurrent teaching that there were “many anti-Christ’s” gone out in the world? and with John’s statement that “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1Jn 4:3). I am not trying to be critical of your article, and I realize it is the historic reformed viewpoint, but I am having a problem in my mind reconciling this idea that the Pope is “the Anti-Christ” with the idea that there are “many anti-Christ’s”. If there are many, shouldn’t we be exposing all of them? If there are many shouldn’t we be asking if there are some of them lurking even in our Reformed communities? If there are many, are we justified in pointing the finger only to Rome? What about “The church of Satan” started by Levey? isn’t he also an anti-Christ? What about the Jehovah’s witnesses? Don’t they also deny the Father and The Son? I don’t disagree with your article, and I know you are trying to speak to the moment since a New Pope was just installed, But are we calling attention to one “anti-Christ”, because of news media hype, and in doing so, may we failing to call attention to the many other anti-Christ’s which seem to be all around us. In my way of thinking any spirit of anti-Christ, is just as bad as the Roman pontiff one. He is certainly blatant and overtly not ashamed of His anti-Christ status, and He has done nothing in centuries to counteract or change that status, or even deny it. But is he the only one, just because He is the most overt and visual one? I doubt it, and for that reason, I wonder how much good an article like this can actually do? Will it change Rome? No. Will it prevent some people from joining her abominations? Perhaps? But is it the really pressing problem for us as Reformed Baptist’s to be grappling with? I don’t think so. That’s just my opinion. I respect you and your dad, and I pray for your ministry. If nothing else this article certainly Got me to do some thinking, and I’m sure it did so for others, and I thank God for that. Thank’s and God Bless.

  21. “Historically Protestants considered the words of I John 2:18 – there are ‘…many antichrists…’ – and concluded that the spirit of antichrist is greater than any one person or even institution, but that with the passage of history one central Antichrist could be expected to rise. The consensus position was that this has been fulfilled in the institution of the papacy.”

  22. @ ejack,

    That is a very legitimate question. Patrick has already quoted the salient portion of my article. Of course John does speak of “many antichrists,” but at the same time Scripture seems to point to one who is greater in influence than the many. The Protestant consensus – which I hold – was that this one is actually a reference to the Roman Papacy.

    The other examples you cited are certainly examples of false teachers, and certainly the spirit of antichrist is among them. None of them, to my knowledge, exemplify every trait of antichrist to anything near the degree that the Pope of Rome does. To understand the biblical teaching on antichrist, we must reconcile the one with the many. I find the Protestant consensus compelling; not all do.

    As for its usefulness, if the Antichrist has appeared and is evident to us, then an examination of the Papacy can help us drive out the spirit of antichrist from our own midst. When I preached on the headship of Christ, I defended the confessional stance and preached about the Pope, but my concluding application was “Beware of Protestant Popes!” Holding the light of Scripture to the error of Rome can tell us what to watch out for similar error in our own midst.

    Beyond this, we live in a day when evangelicals all around us have grown chummy with Rome. Our people face many influences which urge them to consider Catholics their brothers and sisters in Christ – not lost souls in need of the gospel but Christian allies in the culture war. In Milwaukee, where I minister, the problem is acute. The running joke here is that 50% of the city is Lutheran, 55% is Catholic, and everyone else is trying to figure out which to be. Half of my congregation was saved out of Catholicism; they must constantly deal with friends and family members who try to entice them back. They need to know this. Further, the confusion of conservatism with the gospel makes this an important issue. Every major conservative talk show host in Milwaukee (and we have two stations!) is a Catholic. Arguments like Gary Bauer’s are seductive here, and they turn the church’s eyes from the gospel.

    I do not believe that we should do nothing but hammer on Rome. I understand that some of the Puritans were too quick to find a pope lurking under every rock. But it is an important issue, and if I and nearly all Protestants in history are right about the papacy, then its identity as Antichrist is something which must be taught.

  23. Thanks pastor Chantry,
    I especially like the part of your reply about bewaring of the “Protestant Popes”, I have known a few of those in my day, and I feel your answer is a fair and valid response to my question, and it is in fact exactly what I expected. I too share the belief that there is one Anti-Christ who is of greater influence and greater importance in the Biblical material. I’m just not absolutely certain He is the Pope. The verses say he is “the man of lawlessness”. How do you associate that with Rome? “who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship” this seems to indicate that he is “irreligious, non-religious, or atheistic”. He is opposed to “every so-called god”. The pope certainly promotes religion and the worship of at least some sort of “god”. What do you do with that? Like I said, I’m not trying to be negative, or throw any sort of kink in your article or position. In fact I put a link on my blog to it, because I think it is a great discussion. I’m just trying to reconcile all the pieces of it. The references to “many”, and this idea of “lawlessness” and godlessness. But thanks for your answer, it was indeed helpful.

  24. ejack95108, someone else, like Nero Caesar? Which isn’t to deny that the pope is certainly a false shepherd and false teacher!

  25. ejack,

    Your questions regarding how the Pope meets the description to the 2 Thess. passage are legitimate, and while I don’t claim to have “the” answer for you, consider this:

    The Roman Catholic church is full of a patronage that lead lives of debauchery and lasciviousness with clear consciences because they “go to confession”, or attend the mass, etc. (of course we have similarly erroneous excuses in our baptist churches, “I walked the isle”, or “I have my spiritual birth certificate”). They lead lawless lives because of the heresy of the Roman (false) church. In this way we can consider the Pope to be “the man of lawlessness” – his followers are made to be comfortable in their sin (lawlessness) by a false doctrine of salvation and assurance.

    Opposing and exalting himself against every so-called god, can be simply a way of explaining the claim that their is no other but him. Christ rightfully proclaimed that He is the way, the truth and the life, but does not the Pope even oppose this and exalt himself to be the one mediator (vicar) on the earth. He opposes every religion that is false according to his definition, this would include the true church in Christ, because we come to the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit without any permission from the Pope in Rome. The Pope has even, through the centuries, warred against and killed those in religious opposition to Rome (we are still required today to defend Christianity from those that accuse it of war and atrocities because of association with the wickedness of the Roman Catholic Church).

    I don’t have exegetical answers to your questions (and I share them with you), but I believe by good and necessary consequence, we can infer that the pope does indeed “fit the bill”. Sure, we can certainly see examples and effects of other forces of darkness (the possibilities are endless and conspiracy theories abound in every age), but none, as much as the pope, wears the shoes with such pomp and circumstance.

  26. @ ejack,

    Sorry for the slow response.

    “Lawlessness” means the abandonment of the law of God. Idolatry is sufficient to earn this rebuke, and in that sense, the Pope is without question at least a man of lawlessness.

    There are at least two exegetical approaches to II Thessalonians 2 which account for your second question. Calvin understood “everything that is called god” to mean “everything by which God is known, and he argues that the Pope appropriates not only the titles of God, but also the whole language of Christian religion, so that by these things men know not God, but rather the Pope.

    Another approach is to recognize that Catholicism is exclusive and requires the abandonment of other false religion, although it replaces all the elements of false religion with itself. (Shrines to Pagan deities are replaced by shrines to the saints, e.g.) In this sense the Pope does exalt himself against every so-called ‘god’ – exalts not the true God, but himself in their place.

    Either is possible. Understand that the key element in II Thessalonians 2 which makes us look to the Pope is this: “…he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” It is in his subtle falsifying of true religion and directing the worship of men away from Christ and towards himself that the Pope (every Pope) stands out above all other proposed antichrists – no one has ever done this as thoroughly or as effectively as have the Popes.

  27. Thanks AJ and Pastor Chantry, both your answers are very helpful. Appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns.

  28. My copy of the Confession does not indicate antichrist with a capital “A” – does that matter?

  29. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was a friend and disciple of St. John the evangelist, the bishop of Antioch and a martyr for the faith had this to say:
    “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer,(7) because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death(11) in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect,(13) that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that ye should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of(15) them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion[of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved.(16) But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.”

    Jesus was always clear about his teachings; if someone didn’t understand something in parable form, he’d go back and explain.

    He did not do so when he told his disciples that they were to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood. Many of them left because they did not believe His teaching of the real Presence in the Bread and Wine.
    (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans)

  30. Tony,

    “Jesus was always clear about his teachings; if someone didn’t understand something in parable form, he’d go back and explain.”

    He was particularly clear when he said, in Mark 4,

    “10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that

    ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
    And hearing they may hear and not understand;
    Lest they should turn,
    And their sins be forgiven them.’””

    I agree with Ignatius regarding those who abstain from the Eucharist and prayer.

  31. Tony,
    Iggy played guitar.

  32. Good article, where it deals with the abominable and heretical nature of the Roman Catholic institution and the papacy, and the certainty of God’s judgement on both. I have always appreciated the historic Protestant rejection of the papacy, our confessional condemnation of Roman Catholicism and their “head bishop”, and the affirmation that the pope is antichrist. Solid and strong job of dropping the veil on the monster behind.

    I believe, though, that the identification of the pope as “the antichrist” is exegetically groundless and seems to be born out of a reading of the relevant texts through the lens of ~1400 years of history, rather than on a straight-forward, unhindered interpretation of those relevant texts (other hermeneutical baggage may precede the false conclusions). In fact, though the error on their side of the following comparison is considerably more serious, the conclusion that the pope is the antichrist is a protestant equivalent of the Roman Catholic conclusion of Petrine primacy and inaugural papacy from Matthew 16:18 – only at the point of projecting an “after-the-fact” article of confessionalism, or tradition, back upon the text and saying: “there…you see?”. Among many other things it is false association to write-in an equal sign between the 1 & 2 John antichrist and the man of sin from 2 Thessalonians. There is “intra-Johannine” self-interpretation of antichrist that precludes the possibility of personalizing it, and stretching it beyond the tight confines of the heretical Christology it is describing and warning against (I like Warfield on this). In addition, I have always thought it an unfortunate exercise of anachronic exegesis to transport the meaning and application of texts from the contemporaneous to the distant future, which is what many do with the 2 Thessalonians text. Like Christ speaking to the audience in Matthew 24, and John writing in Revelation to the seven churches in Asia minor, Paul is writing with a primary, contemporary, audience in view and for their immediate instruction, comfort and admonition. Perhaps it is not a short-coming that marks your hermeneutical process, but the first-century significance of things – let alone the first-century exclusive fulfilment of things – is very often a casualty of our chronological or presuppositional myopia. 😉

    As a former Roman Catholic saved by victorious grace, and now a Reformed Baptist, I have a particular zeal for wanting Christians to know how bad Roman Catholic theology is, how historically and perpetually abominable their system of religion and the institution of the papacy are. However horrible the institution and her “head bishop” are, though, I think the battle against Rome needs to be waged *generally* on the fronts of Romans 8:1, Galatians 2:16, and 2 Timothy 3:16, and *specifically* against the papacy at relevant texts where legitimate application can be drawn, and by a wholesome use of the “necessarily contained principle”, but not where questionable conclusions, bad connections, and Reformed non-consensus dwell. The pope is antichrist and thus condemned; he does stand under the wrath of God; he is a man of sin who will be destroyed by the brightness of the coming of Christ; – but he is not *the* 1 & 2 John/2 Thessalonian direct object of apostolic warning.

    Disagreements notwithstanding, keep up the good fight against “his hellishness”. 😉

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