July 10, 2016

Answering Protestant Assertions That the Papacy is the Antichrist

Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom
The following Protestant leaders were among those who believe the Catholic Church and the papacy are the Antichrist referenced in Sacred Scripture. (See end of post for a Catholic response.)

Martin Luther (1483-1546) Lutheran

"Luther … proved, by the revelations of Daniel and St. John, by the epistles of St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. Jude, that the reign of Antichrist, predicted and described in the Bible, was the Papacy."

From History of the Reformation of the Sixteen Century, J. H. Merle D’aubigne, Book VI, Chapter XII, p. 215.

"[N]othing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist. For who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny."

From First Principles, pp. 196-197.

John Calvin (1509-1564) Presbyterian

"Though it be admitted that Rome was once the mother of all Churches, yet from the time when it began to be the seat of Antichrist it has ceased to be what it was before. Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt .. I shall briefly show that (Paul's words in 2 Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy."

From Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol.3, p.149.

John Knox (1505-1572) Scotch Presbyterian

John Knox tried to hinder "that tyranny which the pope himself has for so many ages exercised over the church." Like Luther, he eventually concluded that the Papacy was "the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks."

From The Zurich Letters, pg. 199.

"Yea, to speak it in plain words; lest that we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, for, as for your Roman kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, whereon stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the pope, to be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks."

From The History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland, p.65.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) Anglican

"Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons.” (Referring to prophecies in Revelation and Daniel.)

From Works by Cranmer, Vol. 1, pp. 6-7.

Roger Williams (1603-1683) First Baptist Pastor in America

Pastor Williams called the Pope: "the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself...speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition." (2 Thess. 2)

From The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52.

A Catholic Response

The term Antichrist has two senses. The most common sense of the word designates the anti-Christ as one opposed to Christ. A second more accurate definition of Antichrist is one who takes the place of Christ.

It is inconceivable that either the Catholic Church or the papacy, both established by Christ, could be the Antichrist. For one, the Antichrist mentioned in Scripture is expressly a political actor, not a religious one. Secondly, the Church was universally recognized as Christ's Kingdom on Earth until the Protestant Reformation whereafter, Luther, Calvin, Knox, etc. were forced to justify their break from Catholicism. Consequently, they portrayed the Church as the Whore of Babylon and the pope as the Beast/Antichrist. In "Christ's Death Redeemed Us. But Why Did Jesus Live?", we wrote (note in particular points 2 & 3):

1.) The first reason for the Incarnation of Christ is fairly obvious and requires little explanation. In His teachings and His actions, Jesus is the Exemplar, par excellence, of how we should live and what we ought to do. He also reveals our destiny, if we persevere in love.

2.) Christ assumed human flesh to establish and proclaim His Kingdom on earth. In naming the twelve Apostles, Jesus, the "new Jacob," reconstitutes the twelve tribes of Israel around Himself. Israel was supposed to be a light to the world; showing other nations how to worship the one, true God. Now, the twelve Apostles, with their privileged knowledge of Jesus Incarnate, would spread the light of Christ through His Kingdom the Church.

3.) The third reason for Christ's Incarnation was to establish the papacy. In the Old Testament, the greatest and wisest king, King Solomon, was a builder. After his wisdom, Solomon is known for constructing the magnificent First Temple in Jerusalem. Christ, the King of the universe, is also a builder. In Caesarea Philippi, following Peter's profession of faith that Jesus was the Messiah, [Matthew 16: 13-20] Christ declares to Peter:
[Y]ou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Peter is the foundation stone upon which Christ builds His Church. When Jesus gives Peter the "keys to the kingdom," He unequivocally evokes the Davidic Kingdom of Israel [Isaiah 22] wherein the prime minister had discretion to "bound and loose" in the King's absence. In the above passage, the words "Kingdom" and "Church" are synonymous. Thus, Jesus names Peter prime minister and charges him with overseeing the Church until Christ's return. Fr. Dwight Longenecker explains:
Isaiah 22 provides the Old Testament context that Jesus’ disciples would have understood completely as he quoted this particular passage in Matthew 16. When Jesus said to Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven," his disciples would recognize the passage from Isaiah. They would understand that not only was Jesus calling himself the King of his kingdom, but that he was appointing Peter as his royal steward. That John in Revelation sees the ascended and glorified Christ holding the eternal keys only confirms the intention of Jesus to delegate that power to Peter — the foundation stone of his Church.
The "keys" given to Peter represent aspects and responsibilities of the papacy. (See St. Peter, the Rock, the Keys, and the Primacy of Rome in the Early Church: Conclusion on "Keys" of Matthew 16:19 for a complete list.)

Prayer for Christian Unity

Ut unum sint (That they may be one)

Lord Jesus Christ, at your Last Supper you prayed to the Father that all should be one. Send your Holy Spirit upon all who bear your name and seek to serve you. Strengthen our faith in you, and lead us to love one another in humility. May we who have been reborn in one baptism be united in one faith under one Shepherd. Amen.

1 comment :

Jill said...

You started with Martin Luther and skipped Paul and the other apostles in the NT.

Reply if you are interested.