Lutheranism & the Antichrist

The teaching that got Michele Bachmann into trouble–that the papacy is the antichrist– and made her leave Lutheranism in order to be a creditable presidential candidate (see the other post for today) is not limited to the Wisconsin Synod.  It is a tenet of the Lutheran Confessions, serving as the climax of Melanchthon’s Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (41-42) and affirmed throughout the Smalcald Articles.  This, however, is not in the sense of the premillennialist understanding of the Antichrist, as in the Left Behind series or in the various historical figures from Napoleon to Henry Kissinger who have been given this label.  Rather, it is in this sense, as explained in another one of those confessions, referring to the notion that humanly devised ritual, rather than the Gospel, confer saving power:

If the adversaries defend these human services as meriting justification, grace, and the remission of sins, they simply establish the kingdom of Antichrist. For the kingdom of Antichrist is a new service of God, devised by human authority rejecting Christ, just as the kingdom of Mahomet has services and works through which it wishes to be justified before God; nor does it hold that men are gratuitously justified before God by faith, for Christ’s sake. Thus the Papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it thus defends human services as justifying.  Apology of the Augsburg Confession XV. 18.

Now Lutherans are not alone in this.  Reformed confessions say the same thing in the Westminster Confession, Chap. 25, Art. 6, though conservative Calvinists in the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have apparently repudiated that section. (Perhaps someone from one of those traditions could explain how it is  possible to be a confessional body, as these groups claim to be, while rejecting part of the confession.)  The Reformed Baptists also associate the pope with anti-christ in their statement of faith.  (See this Catholic site, which keeps track of such things.)

Perhaps a better question could be asked by reporters to ferret out “anti-Catholicism” with an even broader application:  “Do you consider Roman Catholics to be Christians?”   Many, if not most, evangelicals will say, “no.”  Lutherans, on the other hand, including those who believe the pope to be antichrist will say, “yes.”   The Church of Rome is still part of the church, since it retains the Word and Sacraments, which are the marks of the Church, and the Gospel is still present in its liturgy and in the teachings of many of its pastors and theologians.  A major argument that Roman Catholics are part of the true church is precisely that, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, the antichrist will arise in the true church!  Lutherans, unlike many other conservative Protestants, do affirm that Roman Catholics may well and often do have saving faith in Christ.

These theological subtleties, of course, will go over the head of most reporters and other outside observers.  Does that mean it would be impossible for a confessional Lutheran–or a Calvinist who confesses the whole Westminster Confession or an Evangelical open about his or her beliefs about who is a true Christian–to win the Catholic vote and thus win national office?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    My take is that whenever a church deviates from the Word regarding salvation, the leaders of that church have become antichrists. I would, however, differ with an interpretation that suggests that the leader of one church as become THE antichrist. THE Antichrist has some properties which differ from those of the Pope, to put it mildly.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    My take is that whenever a church deviates from the Word regarding salvation, the leaders of that church have become antichrists. I would, however, differ with an interpretation that suggests that the leader of one church as become THE antichrist. THE Antichrist has some properties which differ from those of the Pope, to put it mildly.

  • Larry Wilson

    In answer to your question, the Presbyterian Church in the USA amended the Westminster Confession in 1788 — specifically on two points: that the church is to be established by the state, and that the pope is THE antichrist — and adopted it in its amended form. According to that Confession, Scripture alone is the primary standard of the church that is unamendable. When they were formed, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America adopted the Confession in that American form. (If anyone is interested, I’m sure they can find more information at those denominations’ websites). Whether or not they should have done that is another question; my point is that it is not accurate to say that they *reject* part of their Confession.

    You might be interested to know that an earlier English Presbyterian, Richard Baxter (1615-1691), began his answer to the question, “Is the Pope the Antichrist?” with this: “If he is not, then he has the bad luck to look so much like him.”

  • Larry Wilson

    In answer to your question, the Presbyterian Church in the USA amended the Westminster Confession in 1788 — specifically on two points: that the church is to be established by the state, and that the pope is THE antichrist — and adopted it in its amended form. According to that Confession, Scripture alone is the primary standard of the church that is unamendable. When they were formed, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America adopted the Confession in that American form. (If anyone is interested, I’m sure they can find more information at those denominations’ websites). Whether or not they should have done that is another question; my point is that it is not accurate to say that they *reject* part of their Confession.

    You might be interested to know that an earlier English Presbyterian, Richard Baxter (1615-1691), began his answer to the question, “Is the Pope the Antichrist?” with this: “If he is not, then he has the bad luck to look so much like him.”

  • Richard

    Dr. Veith,
    The American Presbyterians revised the Westminster Confession in 1789 to delete the reference to the equation of the Papacy with the Anti-Christ and to reflect American church-state relations instead of a European one of state-established churches. This is the only revision the PCA and OPC accepts–I wouldn’t call this a “repudiation” of the Confession, though, but a revision based on different American historical circumstances.

  • Richard

    Dr. Veith,
    The American Presbyterians revised the Westminster Confession in 1789 to delete the reference to the equation of the Papacy with the Anti-Christ and to reflect American church-state relations instead of a European one of state-established churches. This is the only revision the PCA and OPC accepts–I wouldn’t call this a “repudiation” of the Confession, though, but a revision based on different American historical circumstances.

  • DonS

    Perhaps someone from one of those traditions could explain how it is possible to be a confessional body, as these groups claim to be, while rejecting part of the confession.

    I’m not from one of those traditions, but I don’t believe that being confessional means that you equate the confession with Scripture. If you find that your confession deviates from Scripture, then a revision is necessary. So, it is fairer to say that what you are confessing has been revised, rather than that you are rejecting a part of YOUR confession.

    Of course, the key is that the revision was made based on a better understanding of Scripture, rather than because of some kind of human cultural influence. That is the rub.

    Perhaps a better question could be asked by reporters to ferret out “anti-Catholicism” with an even broader application: “Do you consider Roman Catholics to be Christians?” Many, if not most, evangelicals will say, “no.”

    I don’t think this statement is any longer true, nor has it been for decades.

  • DonS

    Perhaps someone from one of those traditions could explain how it is possible to be a confessional body, as these groups claim to be, while rejecting part of the confession.

    I’m not from one of those traditions, but I don’t believe that being confessional means that you equate the confession with Scripture. If you find that your confession deviates from Scripture, then a revision is necessary. So, it is fairer to say that what you are confessing has been revised, rather than that you are rejecting a part of YOUR confession.

    Of course, the key is that the revision was made based on a better understanding of Scripture, rather than because of some kind of human cultural influence. That is the rub.

    Perhaps a better question could be asked by reporters to ferret out “anti-Catholicism” with an even broader application: “Do you consider Roman Catholics to be Christians?” Many, if not most, evangelicals will say, “no.”

    I don’t think this statement is any longer true, nor has it been for decades.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike,
    As a Lutheran, who who does believe the papacy is the office of the antichrist, and yet still kind of like the current pope, I’d be interested in these characteristics of the AntiChrist that doesn’t fit the pope.
    That said, based on the first half of what you said in your post, you will not object to me thinking of your church leaders as antichrists now will you.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike,
    As a Lutheran, who who does believe the papacy is the office of the antichrist, and yet still kind of like the current pope, I’d be interested in these characteristics of the AntiChrist that doesn’t fit the pope.
    That said, based on the first half of what you said in your post, you will not object to me thinking of your church leaders as antichrists now will you.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    News Flash, Protestants disagree with Catholics and don’t like the pope….. Really? This is news?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    News Flash, Protestants disagree with Catholics and don’t like the pope….. Really? This is news?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “These theological subtleties, of course, will go over the head of most reporters and other outside observers.”

    Maybe, but it doesn’t matter since they are not interested. This is a straightforward divide and conquer angle. Divide Christians and any other groups as much as possible.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “These theological subtleties, of course, will go over the head of most reporters and other outside observers.”

    Maybe, but it doesn’t matter since they are not interested. This is a straightforward divide and conquer angle. Divide Christians and any other groups as much as possible.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Well, Bror, for starters, 2 Thess 2 notes that the antichrist–or man of sin–will sit as God in the temple of God, and Vatican City isn’t even in Jerusalem. The book of Daniel notes this as well. In the same passage, there is a note that the man of sin has not yet been revealed, and that he will be revealed in the end times.

    So unless one spiritualizes Rome as Jerusalem, you’ve got some difficulties with that eschatology, to put it mildly. There are also some things in Revelation that simply don’t fit the Popes.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Well, Bror, for starters, 2 Thess 2 notes that the antichrist–or man of sin–will sit as God in the temple of God, and Vatican City isn’t even in Jerusalem. The book of Daniel notes this as well. In the same passage, there is a note that the man of sin has not yet been revealed, and that he will be revealed in the end times.

    So unless one spiritualizes Rome as Jerusalem, you’ve got some difficulties with that eschatology, to put it mildly. There are also some things in Revelation that simply don’t fit the Popes.

  • Grace

    Bike @8

    I agree with you. I was in the midst of finishing this post, when I checked back and read yours.

    There are more than a few who believe that the antichrist is either the Pope or from Rome. The Scripture is clear regarding the antichrist. The Jews will not accept a Gentile Messiah, even though they did not accept Christ when HE was born in Bethlehem. The point being, even though the antichrist is a counterfeit, the Jews would still make the distinction of the seed of David being paramount to the Messiah.

    Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? John 7:32

    But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2

    And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of these shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Matthew 2:6

    Do you see the antichrist as the Pope, and a Jew from the seed of David?

    The antichrist which is spoken of in 2 Thessalonians is the one which will sit in the temple, pretending, as the counterfeit that he is god.

    3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

    4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2

  • Grace

    Bike @8

    I agree with you. I was in the midst of finishing this post, when I checked back and read yours.

    There are more than a few who believe that the antichrist is either the Pope or from Rome. The Scripture is clear regarding the antichrist. The Jews will not accept a Gentile Messiah, even though they did not accept Christ when HE was born in Bethlehem. The point being, even though the antichrist is a counterfeit, the Jews would still make the distinction of the seed of David being paramount to the Messiah.

    Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? John 7:32

    But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2

    And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of these shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Matthew 2:6

    Do you see the antichrist as the Pope, and a Jew from the seed of David?

    The antichrist which is spoken of in 2 Thessalonians is the one which will sit in the temple, pretending, as the counterfeit that he is god.

    3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

    4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike, Silly me, but I thought the church was now the temple of God, as in the Body of believers, at least that seems to be what the New Testament says in numerous places. And there is that bit where Jesus is talking in John 4, that sort of discounts the temple as being operative.
    1 Cor. 3:16-17 (ESV)
    Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? [17] If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

    2 Cor. 6:16 (ESV)
    What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

    “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.

    Ephes. 2:21 (ESV)
    in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

    So I don’t have to spiritualize Rome or the Vatican, All I have to do is read the Bible you claim to believe in. In fact, it is that verse of Second Thessalonians, upon which we make our case that it is the Pope, and not the Prophet of salt Lake who is the anti christ.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike, Silly me, but I thought the church was now the temple of God, as in the Body of believers, at least that seems to be what the New Testament says in numerous places. And there is that bit where Jesus is talking in John 4, that sort of discounts the temple as being operative.
    1 Cor. 3:16-17 (ESV)
    Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? [17] If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

    2 Cor. 6:16 (ESV)
    What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

    “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.

    Ephes. 2:21 (ESV)
    in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

    So I don’t have to spiritualize Rome or the Vatican, All I have to do is read the Bible you claim to believe in. In fact, it is that verse of Second Thessalonians, upon which we make our case that it is the Pope, and not the Prophet of salt Lake who is the anti christ.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror, the passage states that Antichrist/man of sin will sit as God IN the Temple of God. Now, if indeed the Church consists of believers and not buildings, we would have to assume that this means that Antichrist will indwell the hearts of believers in the same way the Spirit does today.

    Ahem, no. I’m going with a physical building here, as the Prophets seem to indicate that a third Temple will be built. Yes, one of rebellion, one where the truly horrific rebellion of the man of sin will be revealed.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Bror, the passage states that Antichrist/man of sin will sit as God IN the Temple of God. Now, if indeed the Church consists of believers and not buildings, we would have to assume that this means that Antichrist will indwell the hearts of believers in the same way the Spirit does today.

    Ahem, no. I’m going with a physical building here, as the Prophets seem to indicate that a third Temple will be built. Yes, one of rebellion, one where the truly horrific rebellion of the man of sin will be revealed.

  • steve

    Part of me thinks it’s useless. Unless a confessional Christian can distill the entirety of his confession onto a bumper-sticker, this type of idiocy will continue. I would have respected Bachmann more if she’d simply replied, “Why don’t you print out a copy of each of the candidates respective statement of faith and we’ll go through them line-by-line to see what people find objectionable. While you’re at it, why don’t you bring along a copy of the current Presidents best-selling book and we’ll see which parts of that people find objectionable. Until then, I have no comment.”

  • steve

    Part of me thinks it’s useless. Unless a confessional Christian can distill the entirety of his confession onto a bumper-sticker, this type of idiocy will continue. I would have respected Bachmann more if she’d simply replied, “Why don’t you print out a copy of each of the candidates respective statement of faith and we’ll go through them line-by-line to see what people find objectionable. While you’re at it, why don’t you bring along a copy of the current Presidents best-selling book and we’ll see which parts of that people find objectionable. Until then, I have no comment.”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike, to regard the temple, the body of chirst, the believers, the church as the temple, which is the clear teaching of the new testament, which builds on the prophets of the old testament, especially ezekiel, does not then require the anti christ to indwell in the hearts of believers as does the holy spirit, but merely requires him to set up shop in the church and to make himself an authority within the church, while supplanting christ. This the Pope does.
    On the other hand, and this is wwhere you and your theory run into trouble, is there can only be one temple of God. it is either the body of believers, or it is a building. Jesus in john four and elsewhere makes it apparent that the building in jerusalem will no longer be the temple of God, bit that it will be supplanted by his death and resurrection. And to make matters worse, your own theory doesn’t allow the temple building , a third one? Really?, to be a temple of God, but a temple of rebellion and lawlessness. It can’t be both a temple of god and a temple of rebellion. If god is not there, and if god is not worshipped there then it is not a temple of God. If christ is denied there, which every building claiming to be a temple is a denial of christ, then god is not honored or worshiped there.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Bike, to regard the temple, the body of chirst, the believers, the church as the temple, which is the clear teaching of the new testament, which builds on the prophets of the old testament, especially ezekiel, does not then require the anti christ to indwell in the hearts of believers as does the holy spirit, but merely requires him to set up shop in the church and to make himself an authority within the church, while supplanting christ. This the Pope does.
    On the other hand, and this is wwhere you and your theory run into trouble, is there can only be one temple of God. it is either the body of believers, or it is a building. Jesus in john four and elsewhere makes it apparent that the building in jerusalem will no longer be the temple of God, bit that it will be supplanted by his death and resurrection. And to make matters worse, your own theory doesn’t allow the temple building , a third one? Really?, to be a temple of God, but a temple of rebellion and lawlessness. It can’t be both a temple of god and a temple of rebellion. If god is not there, and if god is not worshipped there then it is not a temple of God. If christ is denied there, which every building claiming to be a temple is a denial of christ, then god is not honored or worshiped there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Not only that, Bror (@13), but Bubba’s reading of a physical temple in Jerusalem also creates a problematic end-times timeline, in which, rather than always being on guard for Christ’s second return (as Scripture urges us), we Christians need not worry about Christ coming back any time soon, because a “third temple” is required to be built before the Antichrist can even show up, and obviously one hasn’t even been built right now (nor does that look at all likely any time soon).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Not only that, Bror (@13), but Bubba’s reading of a physical temple in Jerusalem also creates a problematic end-times timeline, in which, rather than always being on guard for Christ’s second return (as Scripture urges us), we Christians need not worry about Christ coming back any time soon, because a “third temple” is required to be built before the Antichrist can even show up, and obviously one hasn’t even been built right now (nor does that look at all likely any time soon).

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well yes tODD, that is the over all problem with this scie fi fantasy that passes for an eschatology in american evangelical circles these days. Thoroughly antichristian, and a false gospel to boot.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well yes tODD, that is the over all problem with this scie fi fantasy that passes for an eschatology in american evangelical circles these days. Thoroughly antichristian, and a false gospel to boot.

  • michael

    What I don’t get about Lutheranism’s view of the papacy is how can can there be an office of the antichrist? I know Lutherans who believe that the office of the papacy is the office of the antichrist but that it’s possible for an individual pope to be a Christian. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Where is “office” of the antichrist in the Bible?
    Christ is a person, wouldn’t the antichrist also be a person, not an office?
    Also, I’m aware that there are many antichrists and THE antichrist. but all of those are persons, not offices of antichrists.

  • michael

    What I don’t get about Lutheranism’s view of the papacy is how can can there be an office of the antichrist? I know Lutherans who believe that the office of the papacy is the office of the antichrist but that it’s possible for an individual pope to be a Christian. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Where is “office” of the antichrist in the Bible?
    Christ is a person, wouldn’t the antichrist also be a person, not an office?
    Also, I’m aware that there are many antichrists and THE antichrist. but all of those are persons, not offices of antichrists.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael,
    That’s easy, the authority of the pope is authority attributed to him by the roman catholic chirch on account of the office he holds. It is the claim to this authority that makes him the anti christ, and whoever holds his office thereby claims the same authority. Hence office of the anti christ.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael,
    That’s easy, the authority of the pope is authority attributed to him by the roman catholic chirch on account of the office he holds. It is the claim to this authority that makes him the anti christ, and whoever holds his office thereby claims the same authority. Hence office of the anti christ.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    I think Calvin is an Antichrist.

    In terms of confessions and Calvinism I read this the other day.

    In keeping with this view, Calvin sees no need for a common confession of faith for all the Reformed churches. It belongs to the authority of each individual church to formulate its doctrine and order its life according to biblical precepts. In his view the universal church is a kind of federation of confessions. However much the churches have to agree in the essential affirmations of the faith, the confession of each individual church nonetheless retains its specific emphasis.24 Exchange remains an urgent task, as genuine consentire in diversity will only be possible if churches are open to one another and prepared to give account of their affirmations.

    I wondered if that is a true and fair statement. But it seems to be since the Pope can be considered Antichrist in Europe but not necessarily in America! ?

    Above quote comes from here: http://www.warc.ch/dt/erl3/12.html

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    I think Calvin is an Antichrist.

    In terms of confessions and Calvinism I read this the other day.

    In keeping with this view, Calvin sees no need for a common confession of faith for all the Reformed churches. It belongs to the authority of each individual church to formulate its doctrine and order its life according to biblical precepts. In his view the universal church is a kind of federation of confessions. However much the churches have to agree in the essential affirmations of the faith, the confession of each individual church nonetheless retains its specific emphasis.24 Exchange remains an urgent task, as genuine consentire in diversity will only be possible if churches are open to one another and prepared to give account of their affirmations.

    I wondered if that is a true and fair statement. But it seems to be since the Pope can be considered Antichrist in Europe but not necessarily in America! ?

    Above quote comes from here: http://www.warc.ch/dt/erl3/12.html

  • Grace

    Brigitte @18

    Looking further, —- the site you give, and your blogspot are the ones proclaiming this contribution by John Calvin to be FACT. Where did you find the EXACT QUOTE?

    What you’re doing Brigitte, is ad-libbing for Calvin, to suit your claim or argument?

    No one knows who the antichrist is, not you, myself, or anyone else. Since the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah, {because it was foretold in the Old Testament that they would not} …. it would be nonsense to believe they would accept a Gentile Pope as their Messiah, from Rome no less.

  • Grace

    Brigitte @18

    Looking further, —- the site you give, and your blogspot are the ones proclaiming this contribution by John Calvin to be FACT. Where did you find the EXACT QUOTE?

    What you’re doing Brigitte, is ad-libbing for Calvin, to suit your claim or argument?

    No one knows who the antichrist is, not you, myself, or anyone else. Since the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah, {because it was foretold in the Old Testament that they would not} …. it would be nonsense to believe they would accept a Gentile Pope as their Messiah, from Rome no less.

  • michael

    Bror,

    I appreciate your answer, I understand the logic you presented I just don’t agree with the logic, so one last attempt at a question.

    The Bible only ever mentions antichrist or antichrists as persons, it never says “An office will established and whoever holds that office will be the antichrist”. It warns against people who deny that Jesus is the Christ, not about an office and those who hold that office.

    Like I said, Lutherans tend to be rather explicit in saying that the office is the antichrist BUT the person holding that office may well in fact be a Christian. How can someone simultaneously be the antichrist and a Christian? This goes beyond being simul justus et peccator (sic).

    If Lutherans were explicit and said “Every pope is the antichrist” “Benedict XVI is the antichrist” I wouldn’t have a problem (although I don’t think I would agree) because it identifies the antichrist as a person and not some empty concept of “office” when the Bible is clear that it is a person.

    Ok, that’s it. I’m not trying to debate, I just really can’t wrap my head around the idea that a concept is the antichrist and not a person, or rather, how Lutherans fit these two together.

    Or am I wrong and do Lutherans believe Benedict XVI is the antichrist?

  • michael

    Bror,

    I appreciate your answer, I understand the logic you presented I just don’t agree with the logic, so one last attempt at a question.

    The Bible only ever mentions antichrist or antichrists as persons, it never says “An office will established and whoever holds that office will be the antichrist”. It warns against people who deny that Jesus is the Christ, not about an office and those who hold that office.

    Like I said, Lutherans tend to be rather explicit in saying that the office is the antichrist BUT the person holding that office may well in fact be a Christian. How can someone simultaneously be the antichrist and a Christian? This goes beyond being simul justus et peccator (sic).

    If Lutherans were explicit and said “Every pope is the antichrist” “Benedict XVI is the antichrist” I wouldn’t have a problem (although I don’t think I would agree) because it identifies the antichrist as a person and not some empty concept of “office” when the Bible is clear that it is a person.

    Ok, that’s it. I’m not trying to debate, I just really can’t wrap my head around the idea that a concept is the antichrist and not a person, or rather, how Lutherans fit these two together.

    Or am I wrong and do Lutherans believe Benedict XVI is the antichrist?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@19):

    No one knows who the antichrist is, not you, myself, or anyone else.

    Sorry, but that’s a statement of willful ignorance in contrast to what the Bible does teach us about the Antichrist. God clearly wants us to be able to identify the Antichrist, or else he wouldn’t tell us about him and give us ways to recognize him. Why should we ignore what God tells us to look out for?

    Since the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah, … it would be nonsense to believe they would accept a Gentile Pope as their Messiah

    That statement makes no sense to me. Are you referring to a particular Biblical prophecy? If so, please make clear which one.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@19):

    No one knows who the antichrist is, not you, myself, or anyone else.

    Sorry, but that’s a statement of willful ignorance in contrast to what the Bible does teach us about the Antichrist. God clearly wants us to be able to identify the Antichrist, or else he wouldn’t tell us about him and give us ways to recognize him. Why should we ignore what God tells us to look out for?

    Since the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah, … it would be nonsense to believe they would accept a Gentile Pope as their Messiah

    That statement makes no sense to me. Are you referring to a particular Biblical prophecy? If so, please make clear which one.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Also, Grace, I just said that I would like to find out if this statement about confessions in Calvinism is fair. If you have some information please share it. The link I have given you also. You may critique it. I am interested to know.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Also, Grace, I just said that I would like to find out if this statement about confessions in Calvinism is fair. If you have some information please share it. The link I have given you also. You may critique it. I am interested to know.

  • Grace

    Brigitte @ 22

    I don’t have information, and that is because I doubt it exists!

  • Grace

    Brigitte @ 22

    I don’t have information, and that is because I doubt it exists!

  • Grace

    tODD 21

    I WROTE: “Since the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah, … it would be nonsense to believe they would accept a Gentile Pope as their Messiah “

    YOU WROTE: @21: “That statement makes no sense to me. Are you referring to a particular Biblical prophecy? If so, please make clear which one.”

    Be happy to. ——— There is prophecy in the OT that declares that Jesus will not be accepted as Messiah, Isaiah 53 is a clear example:

    Chapter 53

    1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealded? John 12:38 Rom 10:16

    2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

    3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    4 Surely he hat borne our griefs, and carried our sorrow: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Matthew 8;17

    5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 1 Pet 2:24

    The above from Isaiah 53

  • Grace

    tODD 21

    I WROTE: “Since the Jews did not accept Christ as the Messiah, … it would be nonsense to believe they would accept a Gentile Pope as their Messiah “

    YOU WROTE: @21: “That statement makes no sense to me. Are you referring to a particular Biblical prophecy? If so, please make clear which one.”

    Be happy to. ——— There is prophecy in the OT that declares that Jesus will not be accepted as Messiah, Isaiah 53 is a clear example:

    Chapter 53

    1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealded? John 12:38 Rom 10:16

    2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

    3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    4 Surely he hat borne our griefs, and carried our sorrow: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Matthew 8;17

    5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 1 Pet 2:24

    The above from Isaiah 53

  • steve

    It must be late because I can’t see the connection between the quoted test in post #18 with the Antichrist.

  • steve

    It must be late because I can’t see the connection between the quoted test in post #18 with the Antichrist.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@24), what does Isaiah 53 have to do with the Antichrist? It’s a prophecy of the Christ.

    Again, your point (@19) appears to have been that there is some Biblical prophecy stating that the Jews will “accept” the Antichrist as “their Messiah”. But you have yet to show this from Scripture.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@24), what does Isaiah 53 have to do with the Antichrist? It’s a prophecy of the Christ.

    Again, your point (@19) appears to have been that there is some Biblical prophecy stating that the Jews will “accept” the Antichrist as “their Messiah”. But you have yet to show this from Scripture.

  • SKPeterson

    Important note. Bror and Michael are teasing this point out, but… the Lutheran conception of “Anti-Christ” is vastly different from the modern, premillenial tribulation, evangecostal conception. Getting into a proof-text throwdown isn’t going to alter the fact that fundamental eschatological and soteriological differences exist. Here we may now reference all of the previous threads where the Lutherans attempt to educate our benighted fellows on the errors of their ways on anthropology, the nature of sin, Baptism, the Eucharist, the office and work of Christ (I used the word office! Jesus must be an institution!), et cetera, et cetera (preferably read in a Yul Brynner accent).

  • SKPeterson

    Important note. Bror and Michael are teasing this point out, but… the Lutheran conception of “Anti-Christ” is vastly different from the modern, premillenial tribulation, evangecostal conception. Getting into a proof-text throwdown isn’t going to alter the fact that fundamental eschatological and soteriological differences exist. Here we may now reference all of the previous threads where the Lutherans attempt to educate our benighted fellows on the errors of their ways on anthropology, the nature of sin, Baptism, the Eucharist, the office and work of Christ (I used the word office! Jesus must be an institution!), et cetera, et cetera (preferably read in a Yul Brynner accent).

  • larry

    “Many, if not most, evangelicals will say, “no.” Lutherans, on the other hand, including those who believe the pope to be antichrist will say, “yes.”” – to “are Catholics christians”.

    This is indeed the GREAT irony of Bachman’s move from her confession to attending a general evangelical church. Lutheranism which gets berated all the time on her doctrine says the office of the pope is antichrist while individuals within are in fact and can still be, though under great danger all their lives (their faith under that doctrine), Christians. Yet, most evangelicals don’t believe catholics are, or at best “highly suspicious” and needing to be rebaptized. This is what we were taught to believe church after church.

    A point of clarity to the press might help because “left behind” and all the other millennial teachings, along with Hollywood, have painted a false picture of what the term “antichrist” really means. Most understand that in ignorance, I did. Antichrist does not primarily mean “against Christ”, though it is, but primarily “in the place of Christ”. That subtle shift in meaning makes a BIG difference between seeing the claim of the office of the Pope as antichrist in being this fanged, horns under hat, pointy tail hidden to “what do you mean in Christ’s place”, i.e. that is he and the doctrines replace grace alone faith alone, etc…

    It’s like the Pharisees, thanks to Hollywood and much bad teaching out there, they are more or less as seen as these “smoky back room plotters wringing their hands like Darth Syth maliciously plotting” as opposed to “the nice religious Christian deacon that’s a swell fellow and great guy, helps everyone every time yet who nonetheless believes many antichristic doctrines to be true.”

    Due to Hollywood many see the “antichrist”, to borrow Luther’s terminology, as the “black devil” (something akin to the exorcist and Damien), as opposed to the white devil (in the place of Christ).

    As to Ms. Bachman, politics in particular aside, it is NEVER a small issue to deny one’s confession of faith publically for ANY reason, it is spiritually dangerous to one’s soul. That’s not to say that we ALL can suffer many “Peter” moments and tuck our tails and run when we should not and yet fight under our own steam when we also should not (I for myself must confess this weakness).

  • larry

    “Many, if not most, evangelicals will say, “no.” Lutherans, on the other hand, including those who believe the pope to be antichrist will say, “yes.”” – to “are Catholics christians”.

    This is indeed the GREAT irony of Bachman’s move from her confession to attending a general evangelical church. Lutheranism which gets berated all the time on her doctrine says the office of the pope is antichrist while individuals within are in fact and can still be, though under great danger all their lives (their faith under that doctrine), Christians. Yet, most evangelicals don’t believe catholics are, or at best “highly suspicious” and needing to be rebaptized. This is what we were taught to believe church after church.

    A point of clarity to the press might help because “left behind” and all the other millennial teachings, along with Hollywood, have painted a false picture of what the term “antichrist” really means. Most understand that in ignorance, I did. Antichrist does not primarily mean “against Christ”, though it is, but primarily “in the place of Christ”. That subtle shift in meaning makes a BIG difference between seeing the claim of the office of the Pope as antichrist in being this fanged, horns under hat, pointy tail hidden to “what do you mean in Christ’s place”, i.e. that is he and the doctrines replace grace alone faith alone, etc…

    It’s like the Pharisees, thanks to Hollywood and much bad teaching out there, they are more or less as seen as these “smoky back room plotters wringing their hands like Darth Syth maliciously plotting” as opposed to “the nice religious Christian deacon that’s a swell fellow and great guy, helps everyone every time yet who nonetheless believes many antichristic doctrines to be true.”

    Due to Hollywood many see the “antichrist”, to borrow Luther’s terminology, as the “black devil” (something akin to the exorcist and Damien), as opposed to the white devil (in the place of Christ).

    As to Ms. Bachman, politics in particular aside, it is NEVER a small issue to deny one’s confession of faith publically for ANY reason, it is spiritually dangerous to one’s soul. That’s not to say that we ALL can suffer many “Peter” moments and tuck our tails and run when we should not and yet fight under our own steam when we also should not (I for myself must confess this weakness).

  • larry

    Another way to look at this, Bachman’s leaving her Lutheran church/confession and the associated press due to it, is to answer the question “Where Are All The Lutherans?” A “postitive spin” if you will:

    Well, now we are getting more visible public press outside of Lutheran circles than in anytime in my recent yet poor memory.

    So now a “cult” is defined as a group that confesses one truth, one way, one life to God. That makes Christianity a cult ironically (I’m being tongue and cheek of course).

  • larry

    Another way to look at this, Bachman’s leaving her Lutheran church/confession and the associated press due to it, is to answer the question “Where Are All The Lutherans?” A “postitive spin” if you will:

    Well, now we are getting more visible public press outside of Lutheran circles than in anytime in my recent yet poor memory.

    So now a “cult” is defined as a group that confesses one truth, one way, one life to God. That makes Christianity a cult ironically (I’m being tongue and cheek of course).

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael,
    Have you made an attempt to understand the concept you are criticizing? I’m trying to be patient here with you, but you come criticizing, not asking and it becomes apparent that you have made no effort to understand what you are criticizing.
    The idea that the office of the papacy is the office of the anti Christ, is to say who ever is pope is the anti-Christ by virtue of them holding that office which makes the claims to authority that only the anti-Christ would make. So unless Pope Benedict the XVI has repudiated the claims surrounding his office, he is the anti-Christ in our day. Who ever holds that office is the anti-Christ.
    And what the Bible says on the issue is rather explicit, but even though it doesn’t say anything about an office, does it say an office won’t be set up? Does it say the anti-Christ can’t be associated with an office?
    And how do you know it goes beyond simul iustus et peccattor?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael,
    Have you made an attempt to understand the concept you are criticizing? I’m trying to be patient here with you, but you come criticizing, not asking and it becomes apparent that you have made no effort to understand what you are criticizing.
    The idea that the office of the papacy is the office of the anti Christ, is to say who ever is pope is the anti-Christ by virtue of them holding that office which makes the claims to authority that only the anti-Christ would make. So unless Pope Benedict the XVI has repudiated the claims surrounding his office, he is the anti-Christ in our day. Who ever holds that office is the anti-Christ.
    And what the Bible says on the issue is rather explicit, but even though it doesn’t say anything about an office, does it say an office won’t be set up? Does it say the anti-Christ can’t be associated with an office?
    And how do you know it goes beyond simul iustus et peccattor?

  • Richard

    Brigitte,

    Your statement about confessions in Reformed churches is not accurate. Teaching and ruling elders in the churches are required to subscribe to the Reformed Confessions–either the Westminster Standards, or the Three Forms of Unity (for the Continental Reformed).

  • Richard

    Brigitte,

    Your statement about confessions in Reformed churches is not accurate. Teaching and ruling elders in the churches are required to subscribe to the Reformed Confessions–either the Westminster Standards, or the Three Forms of Unity (for the Continental Reformed).

  • Michael Z.

    Bror,
    Honest question to help clarify:
    In the Lutheran understanding of “antichrist,” Is the Pope (or the office thereof) THE “antichrist”/beast/man of sin referenced in Daniel, Revelation, and 2 Thessalonians, or is he/it just AN antichrist in the 1 John 2 sense of the term?

    Thanks

  • Michael Z.

    Bror,
    Honest question to help clarify:
    In the Lutheran understanding of “antichrist,” Is the Pope (or the office thereof) THE “antichrist”/beast/man of sin referenced in Daniel, Revelation, and 2 Thessalonians, or is he/it just AN antichrist in the 1 John 2 sense of the term?

    Thanks

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Richard, thank you for trying to clarify. I am still wondering why there are so many Calvinist confessions then, and whether we Lutherans have a very different idea of what it means to be confessional.

    As to my no-doubt strident sounding comment about Calvin being Antichrist: he also is firmly established in the church as an authority, and while many adherents are truly believers in Christ (as in the RC church), the effect of Calvin’s teaching is to look back at yourself for assurance of salvation instead of the clear word of God and sacrament. And in effect many adherents go to great lengths to ridicule and make a work-righteousness out of “sacramentalism” (we had this here the other day) misrepresenting what we are teaching about sacraments and how the gospel is proclaimed. Christ is obscured by this. It is not so very dissimilar to the Pope.

    I have asked several Calvinists now if the know that they themselves have a “gracious God”, as in the question that haunted Luther. They could not make a statement about this grace of God that included themselves and then they protested about me trying to look into their heart, as if this were a transgression. It’s not about our heart. Our hearts are wicked. It is about whether God is gracious and whether he is gracious to such as me or you, who have this wicked heart. And the answer is simply: “Yes. I have his promise. He is also gracious to me the wretched, stupid way I am.” If I have a hard time believing that look at the length he went to try and make clear his love to us. He is not out to get us in a bad way but a good way. And YOU also have this promise. The promise is for you and your children and ALL those who are far off. If you heard the message, you have been called.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Richard, thank you for trying to clarify. I am still wondering why there are so many Calvinist confessions then, and whether we Lutherans have a very different idea of what it means to be confessional.

    As to my no-doubt strident sounding comment about Calvin being Antichrist: he also is firmly established in the church as an authority, and while many adherents are truly believers in Christ (as in the RC church), the effect of Calvin’s teaching is to look back at yourself for assurance of salvation instead of the clear word of God and sacrament. And in effect many adherents go to great lengths to ridicule and make a work-righteousness out of “sacramentalism” (we had this here the other day) misrepresenting what we are teaching about sacraments and how the gospel is proclaimed. Christ is obscured by this. It is not so very dissimilar to the Pope.

    I have asked several Calvinists now if the know that they themselves have a “gracious God”, as in the question that haunted Luther. They could not make a statement about this grace of God that included themselves and then they protested about me trying to look into their heart, as if this were a transgression. It’s not about our heart. Our hearts are wicked. It is about whether God is gracious and whether he is gracious to such as me or you, who have this wicked heart. And the answer is simply: “Yes. I have his promise. He is also gracious to me the wretched, stupid way I am.” If I have a hard time believing that look at the length he went to try and make clear his love to us. He is not out to get us in a bad way but a good way. And YOU also have this promise. The promise is for you and your children and ALL those who are far off. If you heard the message, you have been called.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael, I suppose one could look up the confessions and read them for one’s self to find out what they say. It has been a year or so since I?e read through any of these sections, perhaps I’ll do so later today. But since the whole argument for the popoe being the anti-christ rests on our interpretation of 2 thess. I am guessing you could figure out for yourself that we mean “the” and not “an”. Here.Just a thought.j

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael, I suppose one could look up the confessions and read them for one’s self to find out what they say. It has been a year or so since I?e read through any of these sections, perhaps I’ll do so later today. But since the whole argument for the popoe being the anti-christ rests on our interpretation of 2 thess. I am guessing you could figure out for yourself that we mean “the” and not “an”. Here.Just a thought.j

  • Michael Z.

    Bror,
    I think I found it in the Smalcald Articles. Thanks to the WELS website.
    http://bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php#part2.4.10
    “This teaching shows forcefully that 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.”
    the Articles reference 2 Thess. 2:4 here.
    So Luther is saying that the Pope is THE “Man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians that must come before the Day of the Lord can come. Interesting. Especially since this would allow us to say that Christ could return tomorrow, or even today.

  • Michael Z.

    Bror,
    I think I found it in the Smalcald Articles. Thanks to the WELS website.
    http://bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php#part2.4.10
    “This teaching shows forcefully that 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.”
    the Articles reference 2 Thess. 2:4 here.
    So Luther is saying that the Pope is THE “Man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians that must come before the Day of the Lord can come. Interesting. Especially since this would allow us to say that Christ could return tomorrow, or even today.

  • michael

    Thank you Bror,
    I realize that I’m more polemical than I pretend to be, sorry. I also realized I said I wouldn’t say any more, but I feel like I’m getting there.

    You said something that is exactly the point of my confusion.
    “who ever is pope is the anti-Christ by virtue of them holding that office” and “Who ever holds that office is the anti-Christ.”

    To me, this is different from:
    “The LCMS does not teach, nor has it ever taught, that any individual Pope AS A PERSON (emph mine), is to be identified with the Antichrist…we affirm the Lutheran Confessions’ identification of the Antichrist with the OFFICE (emph mine) of the papacy.” from http://cyberbrethren.com/2008/07/27/the-papacy%E2%80%94why-the-lutheran-confessions-assert-it-is-antichrist/

    You say that the PERSON who holds the office is the antichrist. That makes sense to me. However, the FAQ says that Lutheranism has never identified a particular PERSON as the antichrist, only the office.

    Maybe to you (and to Lutherans) the difference between office and the person holding that office doesn’t matter. But to me it does. And maybe we’ve reached an impasse and that’s fine.

    But do you see a discrepancy between what you said and what the LC-MS says? If not, that’s fine.

    Ok, I’ll probably stop this time.

  • michael

    Thank you Bror,
    I realize that I’m more polemical than I pretend to be, sorry. I also realized I said I wouldn’t say any more, but I feel like I’m getting there.

    You said something that is exactly the point of my confusion.
    “who ever is pope is the anti-Christ by virtue of them holding that office” and “Who ever holds that office is the anti-Christ.”

    To me, this is different from:
    “The LCMS does not teach, nor has it ever taught, that any individual Pope AS A PERSON (emph mine), is to be identified with the Antichrist…we affirm the Lutheran Confessions’ identification of the Antichrist with the OFFICE (emph mine) of the papacy.” from http://cyberbrethren.com/2008/07/27/the-papacy%E2%80%94why-the-lutheran-confessions-assert-it-is-antichrist/

    You say that the PERSON who holds the office is the antichrist. That makes sense to me. However, the FAQ says that Lutheranism has never identified a particular PERSON as the antichrist, only the office.

    Maybe to you (and to Lutherans) the difference between office and the person holding that office doesn’t matter. But to me it does. And maybe we’ve reached an impasse and that’s fine.

    But do you see a discrepancy between what you said and what the LC-MS says? If not, that’s fine.

    Ok, I’ll probably stop this time.

  • Michael Z.

    Having two “Michaels” is confusing. For the record, I have a “Z” in my name…

  • Michael Z.

    Having two “Michaels” is confusing. For the record, I have a “Z” in my name…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael said (@35):

    Interesting. Especially since this would allow us to say that Christ could return tomorrow, or even today.

    Well, yes. You have noticed that there’s a bit of a theme running through Scripture about this, haven’t you? Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, Matthew 25:1-13, 2 Peter 3:1-10, etc.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael said (@35):

    Interesting. Especially since this would allow us to say that Christ could return tomorrow, or even today.

    Well, yes. You have noticed that there’s a bit of a theme running through Scripture about this, haven’t you? Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, Matthew 25:1-13, 2 Peter 3:1-10, etc.

  • Michael Z.

    tODD that is what I was referring to. :-) and it is a problem I have seen with that passage in 2 Thessalonians and those passages you mentioned. Since Paul basically tells the Thessalonians, “hey don’t freak out, Jesus won’t come back until you see this guy” which seems to contradict those passages (which were written before the rise of the pope, BTW).

    I am also a little confused as to how the Papacy fits the bill for all of the bad stuff that Daniel and Revelation talks about THE antichrist doing.

  • Michael Z.

    tODD that is what I was referring to. :-) and it is a problem I have seen with that passage in 2 Thessalonians and those passages you mentioned. Since Paul basically tells the Thessalonians, “hey don’t freak out, Jesus won’t come back until you see this guy” which seems to contradict those passages (which were written before the rise of the pope, BTW).

    I am also a little confused as to how the Papacy fits the bill for all of the bad stuff that Daniel and Revelation talks about THE antichrist doing.

  • larry

    Brigitte,

    Having been a member in those churches myself, you are more accurate concerning Calvinist elders than Calvinist elders, in theory, today, pretend to be. They “loosely” are required to prescribe to the WCF or the three forms of unity, usually one or the other and never both (which is a disconnect in itself that speaks VOLUMES about who is and what is “reformed”). Secondly, they can descent from certain articles. Thirdly, in practice, however, they compromise pretty much what they say the confess too. Example, in our form very conservative PCA church they allowed as active members baptistic members and to communion who would not baptize their children IN SPITE of the WCF which identifies such as a GREAT sin, the supporting text is of course the event of Moses refusing to circumcise his son and God pursuing to kill him (which puts a LOT of weight on that article as not “eehhh, unessential”. Fourthly, within our church they allowed as TEACHING materials, encouraged congregants to read all sorts of baptist (TULIP loving baptist) materials (e.g. Piper, MacArthur, Mohler). Fifthly, it is not at all uncommon for them to surrender the pulpits to the more conservative reformedish Calvinist baptist pastors.

    What you will be publically told is “We confess WCF or the three forms of unity”. But what you will REALLY find upon visiting and joining is “Eeehhh those are more loose pliable guidelines in which we may insert all sorts of other doctrines as long as they are relatively conservative in nature”. And that is as they say the facts on the ground in the trenches.

    The accusation that you are “looking into their hearts”. Ironic is it not! Because that’s what they tell everyone else to do by the doctrine, but if you press them, well its “back off jack”. Yet, you are not, as a Lutheran asking, “how do you know” as in “their hearts” are you. You are asking “how do you know objectively”.

    Do you know why they fling that objection into your face? It proves their doctrine in spite of all the huff puff they give, that it is ENTIRELY internalized. They say that because they know they cannot hand you the objective sacraments or John 3:16, so they cannot, by their doctrine answer your question. Thus, they default to precisely what you are NOT asking, within, because intuitively their doctrine is WITHIN their hearts that’s how they think they know. They know they cannot give as the objective reality baptism, the LS or John 3:16 because the doctrine ultimately prevents it, so they think you are asking them in Calvinistic fashion, “how do you know”, meaning inwardly, their hearts. The reality is they don’t know at all objectively due to the doctrine for Calvin himself comments on Hebrews 11 that one can have a fake faith that trusts for a while, takes the sacraments, etc…and is convinced of its faith and salvation only to find in the end they never where.

    Bringing it back around, Calvin differs when all is said and done from the Pope none whatsoever. Upon visiting our first Lutheran church we noted, as other protestants years ago, that, “Boy those Lutherans sure ‘look’ Roman Catholic”, but what they say is in direct opposition to it. We also noted that though our baptist churches and PCA church did visually look at all like Rome, our doctrines where in line with Rome just slightly reworded a lot. Our baptist family members that visited a year ago noted the same thing, the visual look was very “roman catholic” to their eyes but their commentary at the end was a shocking, “You know, though, all I heard was Gospel from start to finish and the forgiveness of sins”.

  • larry

    Brigitte,

    Having been a member in those churches myself, you are more accurate concerning Calvinist elders than Calvinist elders, in theory, today, pretend to be. They “loosely” are required to prescribe to the WCF or the three forms of unity, usually one or the other and never both (which is a disconnect in itself that speaks VOLUMES about who is and what is “reformed”). Secondly, they can descent from certain articles. Thirdly, in practice, however, they compromise pretty much what they say the confess too. Example, in our form very conservative PCA church they allowed as active members baptistic members and to communion who would not baptize their children IN SPITE of the WCF which identifies such as a GREAT sin, the supporting text is of course the event of Moses refusing to circumcise his son and God pursuing to kill him (which puts a LOT of weight on that article as not “eehhh, unessential”. Fourthly, within our church they allowed as TEACHING materials, encouraged congregants to read all sorts of baptist (TULIP loving baptist) materials (e.g. Piper, MacArthur, Mohler). Fifthly, it is not at all uncommon for them to surrender the pulpits to the more conservative reformedish Calvinist baptist pastors.

    What you will be publically told is “We confess WCF or the three forms of unity”. But what you will REALLY find upon visiting and joining is “Eeehhh those are more loose pliable guidelines in which we may insert all sorts of other doctrines as long as they are relatively conservative in nature”. And that is as they say the facts on the ground in the trenches.

    The accusation that you are “looking into their hearts”. Ironic is it not! Because that’s what they tell everyone else to do by the doctrine, but if you press them, well its “back off jack”. Yet, you are not, as a Lutheran asking, “how do you know” as in “their hearts” are you. You are asking “how do you know objectively”.

    Do you know why they fling that objection into your face? It proves their doctrine in spite of all the huff puff they give, that it is ENTIRELY internalized. They say that because they know they cannot hand you the objective sacraments or John 3:16, so they cannot, by their doctrine answer your question. Thus, they default to precisely what you are NOT asking, within, because intuitively their doctrine is WITHIN their hearts that’s how they think they know. They know they cannot give as the objective reality baptism, the LS or John 3:16 because the doctrine ultimately prevents it, so they think you are asking them in Calvinistic fashion, “how do you know”, meaning inwardly, their hearts. The reality is they don’t know at all objectively due to the doctrine for Calvin himself comments on Hebrews 11 that one can have a fake faith that trusts for a while, takes the sacraments, etc…and is convinced of its faith and salvation only to find in the end they never where.

    Bringing it back around, Calvin differs when all is said and done from the Pope none whatsoever. Upon visiting our first Lutheran church we noted, as other protestants years ago, that, “Boy those Lutherans sure ‘look’ Roman Catholic”, but what they say is in direct opposition to it. We also noted that though our baptist churches and PCA church did visually look at all like Rome, our doctrines where in line with Rome just slightly reworded a lot. Our baptist family members that visited a year ago noted the same thing, the visual look was very “roman catholic” to their eyes but their commentary at the end was a shocking, “You know, though, all I heard was Gospel from start to finish and the forgiveness of sins”.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael,
    First I quit reading cyberbrethren years ago, and take anything off that blog with a grain of salt or two, I often do the same with LCMS.org. I made a vow to the confessions, and I do love missouri, or is it misery, but I have been around long enough to know synod doesn’t always get it right. In love we keep ourselves open to reproof from both scas itheriputre and the confessions. Second, I don’t, nor does it seem luther or melenchthon did see any discrpency between those statements, as what you even quote states the pope is the very antichrist, pope refers to a person, not an office. And don’t apologize for being polemical, just be honest about it, gets better traction with me.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael,
    First I quit reading cyberbrethren years ago, and take anything off that blog with a grain of salt or two, I often do the same with LCMS.org. I made a vow to the confessions, and I do love missouri, or is it misery, but I have been around long enough to know synod doesn’t always get it right. In love we keep ourselves open to reproof from both scas itheriputre and the confessions. Second, I don’t, nor does it seem luther or melenchthon did see any discrpency between those statements, as what you even quote states the pope is the very antichrist, pope refers to a person, not an office. And don’t apologize for being polemical, just be honest about it, gets better traction with me.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Thanks, Larry, this has been agitating me.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Thanks, Larry, this has been agitating me.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael Z,
    In lutheranism we reconcile the less clear to the clear, rather than the other way around. But taken on as a whole, paul gives the impression inmost of his letters that he expects the immanent return of christ now, aas even within his day. I don’t think it is any different when he is speaking in Thess. Perhaps he saw James as the anti christ… ;) but yes before the pope, I’ve had those thoughts too on occasion. I reconcile it to the fact that, he may have had different form earlier, but has cemented it in the papacy. It is interesting though that throughout the history of the church there have been those trying to make the same claims as the pope.
    The other thought is that we recognize the anti chris, the man of lawlessness, as the papacy now, doesn’t mean that that was the only form he could have taken, and the peopel of paul’s day would not have been so concerned with looking for him as premillenialists these days are. As paul really wasn’t saying hold on you need to see this happen first, as hey it hasn’t happened yet, that was the fear, that they had been left behind as it were, paul is saying no chance, oh and see these other things here haven’t happened yet… And paul leaves the interpretation of those things open enough that they could have been interpreted any number of ways, but then in retrospect, I see the reformation answer as hitting it on the head. Just to say it would not have stopped the thessalonians from expecting imminent return as christ urges.
    As for revelation, well there are many ways of interpreting what it says, but there is a reason the early church through it into the cat of antilegoumena, and the eo don’t touch it with a ten foot pole. If your interpretation of it is leading to discrepancies with the clear passages, go back to the drawing board, or take luther’s advice and skip it. As for daniel, again there are ways of reconciling, and the devil does appear as an angel of light.
    Sorry, I’m typing on my BB so not able to edit well.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Michael Z,
    In lutheranism we reconcile the less clear to the clear, rather than the other way around. But taken on as a whole, paul gives the impression inmost of his letters that he expects the immanent return of christ now, aas even within his day. I don’t think it is any different when he is speaking in Thess. Perhaps he saw James as the anti christ… ;) but yes before the pope, I’ve had those thoughts too on occasion. I reconcile it to the fact that, he may have had different form earlier, but has cemented it in the papacy. It is interesting though that throughout the history of the church there have been those trying to make the same claims as the pope.
    The other thought is that we recognize the anti chris, the man of lawlessness, as the papacy now, doesn’t mean that that was the only form he could have taken, and the peopel of paul’s day would not have been so concerned with looking for him as premillenialists these days are. As paul really wasn’t saying hold on you need to see this happen first, as hey it hasn’t happened yet, that was the fear, that they had been left behind as it were, paul is saying no chance, oh and see these other things here haven’t happened yet… And paul leaves the interpretation of those things open enough that they could have been interpreted any number of ways, but then in retrospect, I see the reformation answer as hitting it on the head. Just to say it would not have stopped the thessalonians from expecting imminent return as christ urges.
    As for revelation, well there are many ways of interpreting what it says, but there is a reason the early church through it into the cat of antilegoumena, and the eo don’t touch it with a ten foot pole. If your interpretation of it is leading to discrepancies with the clear passages, go back to the drawing board, or take luther’s advice and skip it. As for daniel, again there are ways of reconciling, and the devil does appear as an angel of light.
    Sorry, I’m typing on my BB so not able to edit well.

  • Michael Z.

    @ Bror,
    Ok, that makes sense. Wait, you typed all that on your BB!? Your poor thumbs…
    I can see how the Lutheran church, (and protestants in general) can condemn the papacy as antichrist because of the claims that it makes to speak for God etc.
    I guess a lot of the opposition from non-Lutherans about the papacy being THE antichrist is that we don’t see the Roman Catholic church having the threatening power associated with THE antichrist in Scripture anymore. So we see Luther’s attack on the papacy as simply another accusation thrown from one religious leader at a rival religion/system. However, if the RC church were to gain new power and become intolerant of protestants again, I am sure that the idea that the papacy is THE antichrist would come back in vogue among Christians.

  • Michael Z.

    @ Bror,
    Ok, that makes sense. Wait, you typed all that on your BB!? Your poor thumbs…
    I can see how the Lutheran church, (and protestants in general) can condemn the papacy as antichrist because of the claims that it makes to speak for God etc.
    I guess a lot of the opposition from non-Lutherans about the papacy being THE antichrist is that we don’t see the Roman Catholic church having the threatening power associated with THE antichrist in Scripture anymore. So we see Luther’s attack on the papacy as simply another accusation thrown from one religious leader at a rival religion/system. However, if the RC church were to gain new power and become intolerant of protestants again, I am sure that the idea that the papacy is THE antichrist would come back in vogue among Christians.

  • michael

    Thanks Bror,
    That was the explanation I was looking for!

  • michael

    Thanks Bror,
    That was the explanation I was looking for!

  • Pingback: On the Pope as Antichrist « Insomniac memos

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  • John Doherty

    Let me get this straight. You are trying to decide if the Papacy is the anti-Christ? So Christ lied to us and the Church he established was incorrect for 15 centuries until a vulgar, disgruntled monk abandoned his vows and claimed that he was divinely inspired while taking a dump? If you really believe the Papacy is the anti-Christ then you are as ignorant as the statement I just made. Stop being stupid.

  • John Doherty

    Let me get this straight. You are trying to decide if the Papacy is the anti-Christ? So Christ lied to us and the Church he established was incorrect for 15 centuries until a vulgar, disgruntled monk abandoned his vows and claimed that he was divinely inspired while taking a dump? If you really believe the Papacy is the anti-Christ then you are as ignorant as the statement I just made. Stop being stupid.

  • Pingback: Piling on the Pope « Trinity Lutheran Church

  • http://trinitymemphis.org David Brugge

    > No longer do we talk about the Pope as the antichrist.*
    This comment has an asterisk. The footnote below points out that it is STILL official Lutheran policy that the OFFICE of the pope is the antichrist, not the individual holding the office. This is also the stance of other protestant denominations as well.
    I didn’t want to get too wordy in the footnote. I am working of an entire article explaining this much misunderstood and controversial policy (controversial from the sense that it creates agitation and misunderstandings) I would also point out that we Lutherans are not as bombastic as Martin Luther was centuries ago and that we officially disavow much of his teaching and writings.
    In saying “we no longer talk about the Pope as antichrist” I was referring to the fact that with the exceptions of some dark corners, the days of Catholic bashing are over. The move now, is to focus on the things that unit us rather than the things that push us apart. The fact that we still have this policy often comes as a shock to the laity because it just isn’t something that is taught or dwelt on for the most part.


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