Skip to comments.(WELS Lutheran) STATEMENT ON THE ANTICHRIST (Open)
Posted on 07/07/2008 6:33:25 AM PDT by markomalley
. . . we accept the historical judgment of Luther in the Smalcald Articles . . . that the Pope is the Antichrist . . . because among all the antichristian manifestations in the history of the world and the Church that lie behind us in the past there is none that fits the description given in 2 Thess. 2 better than the Papacy . . .
The answer to the question whether in the future that is still before us, prior to the return of Christ, a special unfolding and a personal concentration of the antichristian power already present now, and thus a still more comprehensive fulfillment of 2 Thess. 2 may occur, we leave to the Lord and Ruler of Church and world history (VI, B, 1).
This teaching that the Papacy is the Antichrist is not a fundamental article of faith. . . . It is not an article on which saving faith rests, with which Christianity stands or falls. We cannot and do not deny the Christianity of a person who cannot see the truth that the Pope is the Antichrist.
Yet it is an important article and should not be side-stepped or slighted. It is clearly revealed in the divine word, and there is nothing needless and useless in the Bible; God wants us to know about the Antichrist. . . . This article is clearly expressed in the Lutheran Confessions; whoever denies it does not stand in one faith with his fathers; he is not a confessional Lutheran. A Lutheran preacher should know, believe, and teach this article or frankly confess that he no longer subscribes to the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. If we value the saving doctrine of the vicarious atonement through the blood of Jesus Christ, the God-man, in these latter days of the world, we shall do well to keep the facts concerning the Antichrist well in mind (The Scriptural Doctrine of the Antichrist, Our Great Heritage, Vol. 3, pp. 601,602).
Da 11:36-38; Mt 24:22-25; 1 Ti 4:1-3; 2 Ti 3:1-9; 1 Jn 2:18-22 compare the whole passage, 18-23; 1 Jn 4:1-6; 2 Jn 7; 2 Th 2:1-12, compare also 13-17.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Dont let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in Gods temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Dont you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, who the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
And what need is there of words on a subject so manifest? 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 Christs sake. Thus the Papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it thus defends human services as justifying. For the honor is taken away from Christ when they teach that we are not justified gratuitously by faith, for Christs sake, but by such services; especially when they teach that such services are not only useful for justification, but are also necessary, as they hold above in Art. VII, where they condemn us for saying that unto true unity of the Church it is not necessary that rites instituted by men should everywhere be alike. Daniel 11:38 indicates that new human services will be the very form and constitution of the kingdom of Antichrist. For he says thus: But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold and silver and precious stones.
Carnal men cannot endure that alone to the sacrifice of Christ the honor is ascribed that it is a propitiation, because they do not understand the righteousness of faith, but ascribe equal honor to the rest of the services and sacrifices. Just as, therefore, in Judah among the godless priests a false opinion concerning sacrifices inhered; just as in Israel, Baalitic services continued, and nevertheless, a Church of God was there which disapproved of godless services, so Baalitic worship inheres in the domain of the Pope, namely, the abuse of the Mass, which they apply, that by it they may merit for the unrighteous the remission of guilt and punishment. [And yet, as God still kept His Church, i.e., some saints, in Israel and Judah, so God still preserved His Church, i.e., some saints, under the Papacy, so that the Christian Church has not entirely perished.] And it seems that this Baalitic worship will endure as long as the reign of the Pope, until Christ will come to judge, and by the glory of His advent destroy the reign of Antichrist.
The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of Antichrist conflicting with the chief article, and destroys the knowledge of Christ. Neither is it commanded nor counseled, nor has it any example [or testimony] in Scripture, and even though it were a precious thing, as it is not [while, on the contrary, it is a most harmful thing], in Christ we have everything a thousandfold better [and surer, so that we are not in need of calling upon the saints].
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. This is, properly speaking, to exalt himself above all that is called God, as Paul says (2 Th 2:4). Even the Turks or the Tartars, great enemies of Christians as they are, do not do this, but they allow whoever wishes to believe in Christ, and take bodily tribute and obedience from Christians.
The Pope, however, prohibits this faith, saying that to be saved a person must obey him. This we are unwilling to do, even though on this account we must die in Gods name. This all proceeds from the fact that the Pope has wished to be called the supreme head of the Christian Church by divine right. Accordingly he had to make himself equal and superior to Christ, and had to cause himself to be proclaimed the head and then the lord of the Church, and finally of the whole world, and simply God on earth, until he has dared to issue commands even to the angels in heaven. And when we distinguish the Popes teaching from, or measure and hold it against, Holy Scripture, it is found [it appears plainly] that the Popes teaching, where it is best, has been taken from the imperial and heathen law, and treats of political matters and decisions or rights as the Decretals show; furthermore, it teaches of ceremonies concerning churches, garments, food, persons and (similar) puerile, theatrical, and comical things without measure, but in all these things nothing at all of Christ, faith, and the commandments of God. Lastly, it is nothing else than the devil himself, because above and against God he urges [and disseminates] his [papal] falsehoods concerning masses, purgatory, the monastic life, ones own works and [fictitious] divine worship (for this is the very Papacy) [upon each of which the Papacy is altogether founded and is standing,] and condemns, murders and tortures all Christians who do not exalt and honor these abominations [of the Pope] above all things. 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, as I have very clearly shown in many books.
Now, it is manifest that the Roman pontiffs, with their adherents, defend [and practice] godless doctrines and godless services. And the marks [all the vices] of Antichrist plainly agree with the kingdom of the Pope and his adherents. For Paul, 2 Th 2:3, in describing to the Thessalonians Antichrist, calls him an adversary of Christ, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God. He speaks therefore of one ruling in the Church, not of heathen kings, and he calls this one the adversary of Christ, because he will devise doctrine conflicting with the Gospel and will assume to himself divine authority.
Moreover, it is manifest, in the first place, that the Pope rules in the Church, and by the pretext of ecclesiastical authority and of the ministry has established for himself this kingdom. For he assigns as a pretext these words: I will give to thee the keys. Secondly, the doctrine of the Pope conflicts in many ways with the Gospel, and [thirdly] the Pope assumes to himself divine authority in a threefold manner. First, because he takes to himself the right to change the doctrine of Christ and services instituted by God, and wants his own doctrine and his own services to be observed as divine; secondly, because he takes to himself the power not only of binding and loosing in this life, but also the jurisdiction over souls after this life; thirdly, because the Pope does not want to be judged by the Church or by anyone, and puts his own authority ahead of the decision of Councils and the entire Church. But to be unwilling to be judged by the Church or by anyone is to make oneself God. Lastly, these errors so horrible, and this impiety, he defends with the greatest cruelty, and puts to death those dissenting.
This being the case, all Christians ought to beware of becoming partakers of the godless doctrine, blasphemies, and unjust cruelty of the Pope. On this account they ought to desert and execrate the Pope with his adherents as the kingdom of Antichrist; just as Christ has commanded, Mt 7:15: Beware of false prophets. And Paul commands that godless teachers should be avoided and execrated as cursed, Gal 1:8; Tit 3:10; and in 2 Co 6:14 he says: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: For what communion hath light with darkness?
Therefore, even though the bishop of Rome had the primacy by divine right, yet since he defends godless services and doctrine conflicting with the Gospel, obedience is not due him; yea, it is necessary to resist him as Antichrist. The errors of the Pope are manifest and not trifling.
Is the above article still an accurate statement of Lutheran belief on the papacy in general? Or just the WELS?
(Believe it or not, I'm just trying to find out the above answers...not trying to stir up a hornet's nest)
Yes... the papist hornets on this website are also awaiting a response.
I gotta disagree with Luther on this one. Obama is the antichrist.
I believe you are quite right.
You may have WELS confused with another group.
Isn’t a deceiver supposed to precede the antichrist?
We are seeing a world class deceiver on stage, running for leader of the free world. I think he’s even managed to deceive himself.
Well, in the book of Revelation, the two beasts are described like the Roman emperor and the high priest of the emperor cult. Furthermore, the “number of the beast”, 666, corresponds to the title “Nero Ceasar”.
That does not mean that a preterist interpretation is the only valid one-—it may mean John was saying that history will repeat itself again with the same emperor/imperial cult motif surfacing to persecute the people of God, like it repeated itself with the Roman empire.
From what I have been told by Lutherans, the WELS (third largest group after ELCA and LCMS) is considered a bit radical. I believe they also dropped James from the NT (or some other such book that Luther didn’t like but left in).
I would say this is a very accurate statement of belief for the WELS but not Lutherans in General.
I would suspect the “open question” theory would be how it is treated among some of the more traditionally minded Lutherans.
As far as I know, the ELCA considers both the Bible and the Book of Concord as historical documents with only elements of truth.
In the LCMS, we consider Luther's belief as only having elements of truth.
Interestingly, the pastors in the LCMS are required to believe the Book of Concord is in complete agreement with the Bible, but this is not required of the congregation.
I think I'll mail the author a copy of my tagline.
When all is said and done, it's really nothing more than pride and presumption, allied to an absence of the virtue of prudence, which underlies writing like this.
St. Peter, in his second letter, when referring to the writings of St. Paul, says that parts of Paul's writings are difficult to understand and that they are often twisted by those who wish to use them for their own purposes. You'd think that an admonition from Scripture itself, that certain parts of Scripture are difficult to understand, would give pause to the headstrong and foolhardy. Apparently not.
Aside from that, I'd just draw attention to the scripturally unsound belief that the Antichrist is an office and not a man ("the Papacy is the Antichrist"). That logically implies that the role of Antichrist is an elected post and that the present Pope was not the Antichrist before he was elected in 2005. Not solid Scriptural scholarship nor even good English.
Let "the Bible sez" crowd continue to argue amongst themselves and tie themselves up in knots about their personal takes on Sacred Scripture.
LOL!!! i only clicked on this article because i was just sure the Lutherans and proclaimed Obama as the antichrist. Especially in light of his 75,000 strong audience of adoring fans for his acceptance of the nomination. that screams out antichrist right there.
As a WELS member, I can you tell 100% that statement is false. We have not dropped any books from the NT.
Thinking of converting there Mark? ;-)
1 John 4:1 do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God
If the early Church had the authority to test the spirit, then the modern Church should as well.
An individual man or institution as an infallible interpretor is not an Apostolic Teaching. It is a human rationalization for the power of Rome.
With the Holy Spirit, if they listen and submit, truth will win. Otherwise their works will burn up and they'll be left naked before God.
**We identify the Antichrist as the Papacy. **
I find it difficult to believe that Lutherans actually believe this.
I’m sure it is a surprise to Pope Benedict XVI.
Just Catholic Bashing nonsense, in my opinion.
The Pope has no power of his own. He cannot (in his own name) excommunicate any person, revise the liturgy, or force anyone to do anything. He does possess the authority to teach, but this only in Christ's name; should any teaching of a given pope contradict that which Christ taught, whether directly or through the mouths of previous popes, he would cease to be pope. In other words, no pope can ever teach (for example) that abortion is not a sin or that one can attain eternal life by means other than Jesus Christ; were a given pope to do so, he would prove himself an antipope by definition.
Here is an interesting tidbit...at the time the bible was assembled, the capital of the roman empire was the city of seven hills, more commonly known as Constantinople(Constantinople was actually built on top of seven hills, and the structure to this day still supports the city )this city is located in turkey, and today is known as Istanbul. Could the antichrist originate in this city? Does that mean the antichrist is muslim?