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Is the Papacy the Antichrist?

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  • shepherdsword
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    *MOD NOTE* Please read the rules of this forum:

    We do not allow speculation as to whether a specific, real person is the Anti-Christ or related eschatological figurees/figurines. This applies mainly to living people....but could be extended.......
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  • Dave L
    started a topic Is the Papacy the Antichrist?

    Is the Papacy the Antichrist?


    The first written history suggests Arnulf, the archbishop of Reims in the 10th century identified the Papacy as the Antichrist. Later Joachim of Fiore in the 12th century preached the Papacy was the Antichrist. And the archbishop Eberhard II in 1240 also related the papacy to the Antichrist. This led to the martyrdom of many Albigenses, Anabaptists, and others who in part embraced his views. Synopsis of the End Times; A look at the popular beliefs of today by Mike Morrill.

    Here’s an idea I find interesting. Augustine (354 - 430 AD) mentioned about who the coming Antichrist might be. Where Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:4;

    “[Man of sin] Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in [Greek = as] the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) (KJV 1900)

    Instead of the man of sin sitting in the temple of God, he would sit as the temple of God. Which of course is what the Papacy claims for itself. The Papacy claims to be the one true church. The Church = God’s temple in the NT.

    Says Augustine; “Antichrist means not the prince himself alone, but his whole body, that is, the mass of men who adhere to him, along with him their prince; and they also think that we should render the Greek more exactly were we to read, not “in the temple of God,” but “for” or “as the temple of God,” as if he himself were the temple of God, the Church.1405” NPNF1-02. St. Augustine’s City of God and Christian Doctrine - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    All of the Reformers believed the Papacy is the Antichrist of Scripture. Following is a list of Reformation-era creeds and others who provide evidence of this.

    “The Antichrist and the Reformation”

    During the time of the Reformation and following, Christians in every Anabaptist, English-Baptist, Lutheran or Protestant and Reformed Church, believed the Papacy was the Antichrist. This fact remains embedded in the books and creeds of Christendom to this day. Several examples follow;


    From The Westminster Confession which also with some adjustments became the 1st and 2nd London Baptist Confessions.
    Chapter XXV

    Of the Church
    VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof. but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.

    And from the preface to the Canons of Dort;

    For this Church being by God’s mighty hand set free from the tyranny of the Romish Antichrist, & from the fearful idolatry of Popery.....

    Martin Luther declared, “We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist.” (Aug. 18, 1520). According to The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by LeRoy Froom. Vol. 2., pg. 121.

    I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.” According to Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin.

    John Knox concluded that the Papacy was “the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks.” The Zurich Letters, by John Knox, pg. 199.

    “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.)

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


    “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 (II Thess. 2).

    Roger Williams (1603-1683) (First Baptist Pastor in America):” The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, by Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52.


    Cotton Mather (1663-1728) (Congregational Theologian): “The oracles of God foretold the rising of an Antichrist in the Christian Church: and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that Antichrist are so marvelously answered that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness upon them.” According to The Fall of Babylon by Cotton Mather in Froom’s book, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 3, pg. 113.

    John Wesley (1703-1791) (Methodist): Speaking of the Papacy, John Wesley wrote, “He is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers... He it is...that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped...claiming the highest power, and highest honour...claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.” Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms, by John Wesley, pg. 110.

    A Great Cloud of Witnesses: “Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer; in the seventeenth century, Bunyan, the translators of the King James Bible and the men who published the Westminster and Baptist confessions of Faith; Sir Isaac Newton, Wesley, Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards; and more recently Spurgeon, Bishop J.C. Ryle and Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones; these men among countless others, all saw the office of the Papacy as the antichrist.” According to All Roads Lead to Rome, by Michael de Semlyen. Dorchestor House Publications, p. 205. 1991.

    “The Antichrist and the Counter-Reformation”

    To stifle this, the Roman Catholic Church produced a Counter-Reformation during the Council of Trent (1545–1563), which in turn produced two prophetic doctrines in a try to relieve the Papacy of the charge of Antichrist. Even though the two contradicted each other, the Papacy affirmed both to be true.

    One treatise titled In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij, published about the year 1590, authored by Jesuit Francisco Ribera (1537–1591) placed the Antichrist in the future, in a rebuilt temple in Israel. This teaching became popular in the last two centuries through the Plymouth Brethren movement and the Scofield Reference Bible notes. Today, movies, scores of Pop-Prophecy Books, and TV Preachers trumpet this teaching unaware of or possibly approving its origin. Mind you any return to animal sacrifices is an unforgivable sin Hebrews 6:ff

    Clarence Larkin (1850 – 1924), author of “Dispensational Truth” and fixed as a pillar in some Evangelical and modern Baptist circles, admits;

    Pertaining to the ‘Pre-Trib Rapture position of the last 175 years” he says the “Futurist School ….. In its present form it may be said to have originated at the end of the Sixteenth Century, with the Jesuit Ribera, who actuated by the same motive as the Jesuit Alcazar, sought to rid the Papacy of the stigma of being called the “Antichrist,” and so referred the prophecies of the Apocalypse to the distant future. This view was accepted by the Roman Catholic Church and was for a long time confined to it, but, strange to say, it has wonderfully revived since the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, and among Protestants . . . .”; found on page 5 of his book Dispensational Truth, Forty-Sixth Printing. Some of the other printings have it on page 4).

    The other less popular teaching by the Spanish Jesuit Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613) who wrote Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse, today represented by the Preterist School, he originally stated that all prophecy became fulfilled during the first 600 years of Church history. In its most recent form however, Full Preterists believe all prophecy, including the end of the world (yes, the end of the world) received fulfillment before 70 AD.

    Again, in Clarence Larkin’s view as a skeptic and an outsider;

    The “Preterist School” originated with the Jesuit Alcazar. His view was first put forth as a complete scheme in his work on the Apocalypse, published in A.D.1614. It limits the scope of the apocalypse to the events of the Apostle John’s life, and affirms that the whole prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the subsequent fall of the persecuting Roman Empire, thus making the Emperor Nero the “Antichrist.” The purpose of the scheme was transparent; it was to relieve the Papal Church from the stigma of being called the “Harlot Church” and the Pope from being called the Antichrist…”

    In either case, the Antichrist could not be the Pope if he were past or future. To the Preterist, the Antichrist would now be Nero who also had a 666 numerical attached to his name. To the Futurist, He would now be some political figure, or a Pope, or even a giant computer with microchipped followers. But the great deception worked. Neither the Preterist nor the Futurist Schools of Eschatology have room for the present Papacy being the kingdom of Antichrist.

    So what exactly did the persecuted church believe? Again, Larkin gives an objective outsider’s view of the matter. You cannot have a more objective view than one coming from an honest enemy. He writes;

    The “Historical School. . . interprets the Apocalypse as a series of prophecies predicting the events that were to happen in the world and in the Church from John’s day to the end of time. The advocates of the School interpret the symbols of the Book of Revelation as referring to certain historical events that have and are happening in the world. They claim that “Antichrist” is a “System” rather than a “Person,” and is represented by the Harlot Church of Rome. They interpret the “Time Element” in the Book on the “Year Day Scale.” This school has had some very able and ingenious advocates. This view, like the preceding, was unknown to the early church. It appeared about the middle of the Twelfth Century and was systematized at the beginning of the Third Century by the Abbot Joachim.

    Subsequently, it was adopted and applied to the Pope by the forerunners and leaders of the Reformation, and may be said to have reached its zenith in Mr. Elliott’s “Horae Apocalypticae.” It is frequently called the Protestant interpretation because it regards Popery as exhausting all that has been predicted of the Antichristian power. It was a powerful and formidable weapon in the hands of the leaders of the Reformation, and the conviction of its truthfulness nerved them to “love not their lives unto the death.” It was the secret of the martyr heroism of the Sixteenth Century. (Emphasis added).


    Points to note: 1) The Reformation era churches identified the Papacy as Antichrist. 2) The Jesuits created the Futuristic School which today is Dispensationalism. 3) It modifies Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy to relate to the future instead of being fulfilled and written for the first century. 4) The purpose is to remove the Papacy from the time when Antichrist would succeed the Roman Empire, to a point in time far beyond question and never having to be proved.
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