Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another One Crosses The Tiber

There is hardly a more clearly stated and argued belief among all the Reformers than that the Pope is antichrist. Even the most cursory glance at the writings of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, (the list could go on for pages) and one will see repeated and sustained references to this belief. They all held it unwaveringly and taught it unequivocally that the Pope of Rome is in very fact Antichrist.

This is the view which obtained in all the churches of the Reformation. However this view has fallen on hard times. There are a number of reasons why this has happened, but none of them have anything to do with the facts. It is very hip in Reformed circles to speak of the need for constant theological reassessment of our positions and not relying on the Reformers as if everything they wrote was infallible. This ostensible attempt at humility, while appearing to run counter to the Romish doctrine of papal infallibility, actual produces quite Romish results.

For starters, this Reformed distinctive (that the Pope is the antichrist), falling on hard times as it has, creates a very lenient view of error in the circles of its adherents. Affirm that the Reformers were wrong, or at least unfairly biased on this count, and you have undermined much of the Reformation itself. The whole purpose in founding Reformed congregations was because Rome is a false church: an Anti-church, if you will. It is led by a man who claims to be God’s stand-in here on earth vested with all the authority of the Almighty. The title he goes by, vicar of Christ, actually means “one who is in Christ’s place.” The Greek prefix anti does not mean “against” as it does in English; it means “in the place of.” Hence the Pope’s very title means antichrist. You would have thought that someone would have suggested something a little less obvious.

As for the religion itself, it really is antichristian in the truest sense of the word. John says that a defining trait of antichrist is the denial that Christ has come in the flesh. Of course, very few (except, of course, the Jesus Seminar) are so bold as to deny the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. But denying that he came in the flesh does not necessarily mean denying that Jesus was a historical figure, nor does it have to be a retreat into Docetism. Popery denies Christ came in the flesh in a much more concrete, yet subtle way. What does that mean? Surely I can’t mean that they deny the Incarnation? No, not on paper they don’t. But in actions, they do. The entirety of their religion is a reversion to pre-Incarnation ritual and ceremony, which is in practice a denial and rejection of all that Christ accomplished. Their trademark mass is, as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.” (Q80) Denying the sacrifice and sufferings of Christ is tantamount to denying that He came in the flesh, for these were the reasons why he came in the flesh!

No less authority than the Apostle John, (inspired by God, thus no less authority than God Himself) asserts plainly and unequivocally that to deny Christ came in the flesh is the hallmark of Antichrist.

I went into that rather verbose digression to explain why Evangelicals, like Jason Stellman are perverting to Rome. Rome denies outright the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. We all know that. This is, in fact, one of the reasons why the Reformers held that the Pope is the Antichrist! He sits as God over the Church when he denies that the Scripture is not sufficient for doctrine and practice and then affirms on top of this that he alone is the channel through which God interacts with the Church. This is the very essence of the spirit of antichrist. Stellman’s own words betray his Romish views: "I have begun to doubt whether the Bible alone can be said to be our only infallible authority for faith and practice…”

It is quite vogue among Reformed people to deny that the pope is the antichrist. It will be affirmed, of course, that Roman Catholicism is a false religion, but let’s not lose our heads. Whatever the other contributing factors may be to this latest defection from the truth, this weakened position regarding Rome is no doubt a significant contributor.

1 comment:

  1. Here's how to stop people from swimming the Tiber; emphasize what Cranmer emphasized.

    1. Authority: Doggedly follow the teaching and example of Scripture, the Creeds and the Articles of Religion.
    2. Transcendance: Preach the emminence of the priesthood of all believers, the imminence of Christ's second coming and immanence of the Holy Ghost.
    3. Tradition: Invent nothing new. Maintain the best of Christian traditions throughout all the ages.
    4. Legitimacy: Enforce uniformity of liturgy, practice and doctrine such that observers will think that the church is founded upon a rock rather than shifting sand.
    5. A counter-cultural faith: Set an example in church worship for expressing the cultural attitudes of the Bible rather than modern society.


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