Monday, March 31, 2008
There are many Christians who just do not seem to understand their sin and their standing before God.
What I am getting at is their confusion about grace and works.
If a Christian who has grievously sinned against another person and feels the heat of their sin (which incidentally is not repentance) and or the repercussions of their actions and decides to call attention to the “inherent dignity” of man as a way of attempting to deflect the repercussions of their sin, then something is way wrong.
It is an attempt to yet still appeal to the flesh rather than the grace of God.
When we talk about the "inherent" dignity of man, there seems to be much confusion among Christians as to what that means.
In order to keep this post short, let me just say that the term is legitimate but misunderstood and often misapplied.
The general idea of course comes from the idea that man is made in the image of God, and therefore as a creature of His making we all have inherent dignity.
This is the general idea behind the idea of dignity in man.
At this point we could go to two extremes and many do exactly that.
1/ Like Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peal and in today’s current landscape, the likes of Joel Osteen and the centrality of the needs of "man" at the centre of the pulpit is one way to run the idea of dignity amok.
2/ Then there is the Calvinistic idea based upon Total depravity, that man is so filthy and ruined, he has no dignity whatsoever.
The balance is the reformed idea that even though man is totally depraved, in that every aspect of his nature has been corrupted by the fall, man is not inherently as bad as he can possibly be all of the time. In other words, man does not have the ability to please God, all men are not able to drag themselves up by the bootstraps and find favour with God on God's terms.
So, where does the reality that we are all depraved and yet have dignity become reconciled to one another.
Well, let me just say this.
Any Christian caught out in there sin and who has need of repentance has no real claim to dignity. If they think they do, then they are looking upon an exterior righteousness they possess by virtue of said so called inherent dignity, rather than the whole and free grace of God alone as their hope.
Imagine if the Prodigal Son, whilst in the midst of his sin, and whilst eating from the filthy trough with the pigs, decided to grab hold of his inherent dignity. Think about it!
I dare say, that in such a circumstance, his repentance may have become subverted entirely!
What dignity do we have when eating with the swine? The answer is rather obvious, not much!
And thank God that in such a circumstance we have no proper way out by looking inwardly in any way, shape or form.
It is only when we have come to see ourselves how we really are, that hope may come.
And if hope comes, it does not come by making us look to any inherent dignity at all, it comes once we realise the very opposite! That we are filthy, unclean and like pigs that by nature return to the mud.
You see, this image of God in man, which is the basis of the idea of inherent dignity, has to be viewed in light of the fall, post fall and it's consequences, and a lot of Christians are confused on the issue.
It is true that in the fall the “Imago Dei” was greatly marred and smashed, but not entirely obliterated. That is the teaching of normal Protestant Reformed Theology, but it is important to hold the balance in application under differing outcomes.
I have addressed one main outcome here, that which involves the hope of a sinner under sin, and his needed admission that dignity is not something inherent to be misapplied as some kind of justification.
It is not, and any Christian appealing to such inherent dignity is yet looking to the flesh and pride and ultimately works, which are antithetical to the free grace of God alone found in Jesus Christ.
True dignity, inherent dignity is to be found in the sinless Son of God. The second person of the Trinity who emptied Himself and was found in likeness as a man. Here is where dignity is to be found!
True Christians have been imputed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and His perfect life. His dignity becomes ours by virtue of His grace, forgiveness and reconciliation.
As Christians we would not dream of using our so called inherent dignity as a means to avert the consequences of our sins!
We would however, cling to His righteousness and we would flee sin in order to have His forgiveness and washing of our sins.
If you are a Christian and your sins find you out, do not go back to the flesh and claim human dignity as a defence against the consequences of your sins, but rather cling to the righteousness which is by faith in the dignified and suffering servant, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He alone is our righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Ps, it is interesting to note that although man is made in the image of God, we see that Post Fall, a change is made. We read that man is then made in the image of Adam. (Compare Gen 1:27 and 5:3 )
Also, when we come against Materialists and Darwinists, we are right to point out that man is not an animal and therefore has a value or inherrant dignity not shared by the animal kingdom.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Of course this is a complicated discussion that probably isn’t well conducted by blog. It involves large and difficult hermeneutical questions (e.g., how do the Old and New Testaments relate? How do we read the old relative to the new?) and questions touching eschatology, polity, and practice.
Nevertheless, difficulties acknowledged, I forge ahead.
This morning I was impressed by the flow of the narrative of Gen 17. In vv. 1-14 Yahweh institutes infant (and adult) circumcision as the sign and seal (Rom 4:11) of the promises made to him. In vv. 17-21 God tells Abraham that he (God) will not establish his covenant with Ishmael, but with Isaac. He will bless Ishmael and make of him many nations, but the line of the covenant is through Isaac (v. 21) who will be born a year later. Immediately after this announcement, in vv. 22-27 what do we see?
Gen 17: 23: Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him.
It is quite striking that, immediately after God announces that the covenant is not to be administered through and the promise is not to Ishmael but to Isaac, Abraham, in obedience to the institution of the sign and seal of initiation into the covenant community, administers circumcision to himself (at age 99!) and to his 13 year old son, Ishmael (vv.24-25) and not only they but, according to v. 27, “…all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.”
Now I have a question for you and I want you to think carefully before you answer because this is a very important question and it’s one that a great lot of well-meaning folk get wrong: To what covenant did Abraham belong?
If you’re like a lot of evangelical folk you might be tempted to say, “Why Abraham belonged to the Old Covenant, of course!”
Really? Did he really belong to the Old Covenant? Are you sure? Are you certain? “Well,” you say, “He lived before Christ. Isn’t it the case that everyone who lived before Christ lived under the Old Covenant?”
I thought that might be what you assumed, but it’s a bad assumption. Not everything or everyone before the incarnation was ipso facto old covenant.
Notice how Paul, in 2 Cor 3 speaks of the Old and New Covenants. He begins with the New Covenant. In v. 3 he describes the Corinthians as “a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God….” He establishes the parameters here within which he is going make the contrast. We, who live in this epoch of redemptive history are of one sort, and they, who lived under a different epoch are characterized differently. In vv. 4-5 Paul turns to the question of his “competence” to be a “minister,” but the question remains, a minister of what? He answers in v. 6: “ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” We cannot understand here, what he means by “New Covenant” until we understand the contrast that he is making.
From v. 7 he turns his attention to the nature of the Old Covenant and to the contrast with the New. He contrasts “the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone” with the “ministry of the Spirit” in v. 8. In v. 9 he contrasts the “ministry of condemnation” with the “ministry of righteousness.” When was the “ministry of death?” and the “ministry of condemnation”? He says (v. 7) that it came “with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ [emphasis mine - rsc] face….” In vv. 7-8 Paul clearly identifies the “ministry of death” with Moses. Thus the contrast is between Moses and the ministry of the Spirit and the ministry of righteousness. Paul continues making this contrast through v. 13. In v. 14, having pointed out that Moses covered his face with the veil Paul comments of the Jews, “For to this day, nwhen they read the old covenant [emphasis mine- rsc], that same veil remains unlifted….”
When Paul thinks of the Old Covenant, of what period in redemptive history does he think? Of everything and everyone before the incarnation? No. Not at all. He thinks of Moses and the epoch associated with him. In v. 15 he makes the association absolutely explicit: “Yes, to this day whenever Moses [emphasis mine- rsc] is read a veil lies over their hearts.”
Please notice the contrast that Paul makes in v 17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” From there in v. 18 he places his readers and hearers (the Corinthians and us) in a different state: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord….” We’re not in the Mosaic epoch. We not under the ministry of death etc. We’re not in the Old Covenant, and neither was Abraham.
In 2 Cor 3, when Paul says “Old Covenant” whom and what epoch of redemptive history does he have in mind? Moses. There is a greater contrast here, on which Calvin dwells in his commentary on this passage, i.e., the contrast between two types of speech, law and gospel, but our interest here is in the historical-redemptive contrast that Paul makes.
If the Old Covenant is identified with Moses, then the New Covenant is new relative to Moses. This is exactly how Paul uses these terms in 2 Cor 3. He does not make a universal contrast between everything before and after the incarnation. The parameters of the contrast are very specific.
This is not to say that there is no inferiority between the covenant of grace as it was administered before the incarnation and the covenant of grace as it was administered after the incarnation. The time, even under Abraham, before the incarnation was a time of types (illustrations of things to come) and shadows (hints of things to come).
In Heb 7:22, reflecting on Ps 110:1, 4, the writer calls the New Covenant a “better covenant” than that promises to David. The whole Mosaic theocracy, priesthood, and David kingship was typological and intended to be temporary, to be fulfilled by the reality: Christ, ” a Son who has been made perfect forever” (v. 28).
Heb 8:5-7 make clear the contrast between the Old, Mosaic Covenant and the New. The old priesthood served a “copy and shadow” of the heavenly reality. “For when Moses was about to erect the tent….” Notice again the contrast he makes: “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is cas much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” [emphasis mine -rsc]
Here the New Covenant is that under Christ and mediated by Christ.
“Okay,” you say, “fine, but doesn’t that strengthen the case that the New Covenant is completely different from the Old and further I don’t see Abraham mentioned anywhere.”
Good questions. What I’m doing here is trying to establish the premise that not everything that happened before Christ is, strictly speaking, “Old Covenant.” So far, from these two passages alone, I think this much is clear: that, strictly speaking, the Old Covenant describes the Mosaic epoch. I’ll answer the question about Abraham below.
We could spend a lot more time in Hebrews, but lets go to Gal 3. Here Paul is, of course–setting aside the NPP reconstruction of 2nd Temple Judaism and Paul– , debating with the Judaizers about the nature of justification but in so doing, he also explains the relations between the Old (Mosaic) covenant the the New. In v. 5 he contrasts the “works of the law,” with “hearing with faith…”
To whom does Paul appeal as the example of one who “hears by faith”? v. 6: “just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?” He elaborates this point in v. 7, but don’t miss the point. When Paul wants to illustrate the instrumental nature of faith in the declaration of justification he appeals to Abraham, but Abraham is more than a mere example, after all the writer to the Hebrews appeals to those who were indisputably “Old Covenant” people as examples of faith in Heb 11. In vv. 7-9 Paul says more.
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, l“In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Don’t miss the fundamental identification of all New Covenant believers with Abraham. “It is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” In other words, genetics means nothing — never has– ultimately. What matters is true faith, and specifically faith that inherits or receives the promise of justification sola gratia, sola fide, the same promise given to Abraham. Thus we are blessed “along with Abraham.”
Does Abraham here appear as an “Old Covenant” figure? No. Keep going in Gal 3. In v. 10 Paul contrasts “those who rely on works of the law” with (v. 11) “The righteous shall live by faith.” How does the blessing of Abraham come to anyone? In v. 14, it is “in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham” comes to “the Gentiles…..”
Here comes the clincher. In v. 15 Paul appeals to the way covenants were made in the ancient world. No one annuls a “man-made” covenant “or adds to it once it has been ratified.” This is significant because “the promises were made to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say, “And to seeds,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ.” In other words, whoever has faith in Christ has the promise, because Christ is the promise. Abraham had faith in Christ. Abraham was a Christian. Abraham is not identified with Moses, who is typically identified with the law, rather he is identified with the gospel.
In v. 17 Paul makes the point even clearer. The Mosaic covenant, the Old Covenant, came 430 years after the promise to Abraham. It was a codicil to the covenant. It didn’t change the fundamental character of the covenant of grace God made with Abraham and to his children. Why was the Mosaic, Old Covenant given? In v. 19 Paul says that it was given “because of transgressions,” i.e., it was given as a schoolmaster to drive sinners to Christ. For the rest of the chapter he elaborates on how the Old Covenant was temporary and the covenant of grace is not. Indeed, he wrote a whole the better part of an entire chapter on this very theme in Gal 4. Those who think that the Old, Mosaic, Covenant is the “real thing” are looking in the wrong direction. There are two women, Hagar and Sarah, who represent (Gal 4:24-31) two covenants. Sarah (Abraham and Isaac) represents the covenant of grace and Hagar (and Ishmael) represent the Jerusalem from below.
Again, going back to Rom 4 just briefly, how does Paul speak of Abraham? He is the “father of all who believe” (4:11), both Jew and Gentile. Abraham was justified by faith and so are we. We are under the same promises, the same grace that he was. Thus our Lord said, “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced” (John 8:56).
Abraham was a member of the very same covenant of grace of which we are members. He was a member of the covenant of grace under a different, typological administration, but it was the same covenant of grace.
To deny that is to verge toward Marcion.
From the beginning of the one covenant of grace, what did the Lord command: the initiation of heretofore uninitiated adults and their children, indeed, their whole households (Gen 17). Does Paul (and the writer to the Hebrews) think that we’re in the same covenant of grace as Abraham? Yes. Has the promise to parents and children been revoked? No. Peter, Acts 2:39, says, “the promise is to you and to your children.” That’s the language of Gen 17!
Are there differences? Yes, but the New Covenant is not wholly new or so utterly eschatological (heavenly) that its administration necessarily excludes all but those who make a profession of faith.
The New Covenant is not heaven. It is still this side of the consummation. There are still Ishmael being included in the administration of the covenant of grace, even though we live on this side of the incarnation and the fulfillment of the promises.
“What about the language of Jer 31? The picture you’re describing doesn’t sound much like Jer 31?” Says who? Who gets to say what Jer 31 says and means? I think Peter and Paul have something to say about it and it’s clear from Acts and Galatians and Hebrews 6 and 10 and elsewhere that there have always, even under the apostles, been some who are involved in the external administration of the covenant of grace who were not elect. We have to read Jer 31 through the lens of the NT. We can’t decide a priori how things ought to look in a Jer 31 church and then set out to set it up (by excluding covenant children from the administration of the covenant of grace) to make it so. That is an over-realized eschatology.
ps. I think the Baptist says that, because it is so different from Abraham, in the New Covenant, there can be no “Ishmaels.”
This position seems highly problematic from a NT point of view. Isn’t one of the great problems of the NT what to think about those who were “in” the congregations but who apostatized? It seems that the Baptists have the opposite problem of the Federal Visionists. Where the FV has the problem that every baptized person is said to be united to Christ, elect etc and has to retain all these benefits by grace and cooperation with grace, the Baptist says, “Only the believers (the elect) are in the New Covenant” so that those who are part of the administration of the covenant of grace aren’t really “in” the New Covenant.
Ironically, both the Baptists and the FV have the same problem. Neither one of them adequately recognizes the distinction between the substance or essence or benefits of the covenant of grace and its administration. Paul certainly makes this distinction in Rom 2:28 (as the Hebrew scriptures do repeatedly) between those who are in the covenant of grace “outwardly” and those who are in the covenant of grace “outwardly” and inwardly, i.e., by grace alone through faith alone.
Isn’t this the solution to the problem that the FV finds so perplexing? In Heb 6 there are apostates and the FV boys talk, like the Arminians, as if those who apostatized were elect, united to Christ etc. In other words, they set up the problem just as the Arminians did.
That’s the wrong problem. It’s possible for those who participate in the administration of the covenant of grace, in the New Covenant, to “taste of the powers of the age to come.” Sure they do. They’re baptized (1 Cor 10) and they come to the Lord’s Table. They’re in the congregation. They hear the gospel. They sing the psalms and when they leave, they “profane the blood of the covenant.” They’ve walked between the pieces, as it were, they’ve gone through the covenant cutting ritual by coming to the Lord’s Table. They’ve received baptism and come under its promises but also its jeopardy.
They’re members of the New Covenant outwardly but not inwardly. They are in the covenant of grace externally but not internally.
It’s too much to say that Ishmael wasn’t in the covenant of grace or that, a priori there can be no Ishmael’s in the New Covenant. Of course there are Ishmael’s in the New Covenant, the NT mentions several of them, e.g., “Hymenaeus and Alexander,” in 1 Tim 1:20. If there were Esaus and Ishmaels in the Abrahamic administration of the covenant of grace and there was a Hymenaeus and an Alexander (and Ananias and Sapphira) then is the New Covenant so utterly different from the covenant of grace is it was under Abraham? Different in degree, but in kind? So that children are no longer eligible to participate in the administration of the covenant of grace until they demontrate that they believe — really?
No, not if we avoid an over-realized eschatology and we distinguish between the outward and inward relations to the (new) Covenant of Grace.
Thought for the day.
Individualistic presuppositions keep Baptists from accepting paedobaptism.
Once federal (covenant) theology is seen as the basic presupposition of all covenants, new and old, the word “household” in the NT takes on a new light. Paedobaptism becomes normative.
If circumcision was a “sign” of the faith of Abraham (Rom 4:9-12) why was this “sign” of faith given to 8 day old Children?
Baptistic “individualism” is foreign to the basic premise of what a “Covenant” is, new or old.
Dr Richard Linwood Pratt, Jr. is an American Reformed theologian and author. He is the president and founder of Third Millennium Ministries and formerly chaired the Old Testament department at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Pratt transitioned in 2006 from his teaching role at RTS to work full time with Third Millennium Ministries, a move he has anticipated for many years. He is best known for his approach to Biblical hermeneutics, which places a heavy emphasis on the Kingdom of God.
31 a "The time is coming," declares the LORD,
b "when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
c and with the house of Judah.
32 a It will not be like the covenant
b I made with their forefathers
c when I took them by the hand
d to lead them out of Egypt,
e because they broke my covenant,
f though I was a husband to them,"
g declares the LORD.
33 a "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
b after that time," declares the LORD.
c "I will put my law in their minds
d and write it on their hearts.
e I will be their God,
f and they will be my people.
34 a No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
b or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
c because they will all know me,
d from the least of them to the greatest,"
e declares the LORD.
f "For I will forgive their wickedness
g and will remember their sins no more."
(Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)
Many evangelicals appeal to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 as a basis for rejecting infant baptism, but a careful examination of this passage in the light of the rest of Scripture reveals that it actually supports the historical Christian practice of infant baptism. Our study will address three main topics: 1) how Jeremiah’s prophecy is often used to argue against infant baptism; 2) the original meaning of Jeremiah’s prophecy; and 3) the New Testament’s outlook on Jeremiah’s prophecy. As we will see, Jeremiah’s prediction of the new covenant actually encourages Christians to continue the practice of infant baptism until the Lord returns.
How is the New Covenant Used against Infant Baptism?
The universally accepted designation “New Testament” is based on the terminology of “new covenant” in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Accordingly, all evangelicals agree that Jeremiah’s new covenant prediction is fulfilled in the New Testament era. Yet, opinions divide over how Jeremiah’s predictions relate to the practice of infant baptism. Many evangelicals who reject infant baptism believe that Jeremiah’s prophecy offers nearly conclusive evidence in favor of their view. We will return to these evidences below, but at this point we should summarize three ways in which Jeremiah’s prophecy is often understood in this way.
In the first place, it is thought that infant baptism is contrary to Jeremiah’s prophecy because Jeremiah declared that the new covenant couldn’t be broken. As the prophet said in Jeremiah 31:32:
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant …
In this verse, the prophet declared that the new covenant would “not be like” the old covenant in that the “forefathers … broke” the old covenant. Along with a number of other expressions, the OT uses the terms “to keep” (rmv) and “to break” (rrp) covenant to describe, respectively, the obedience and disobedience of God’s covenant people to the stipulations or regulations of their covenants. To keep covenant was to offer faithful (albeit imperfect) service in order to receive divine blessing, but to break covenant was to commit unrepentant, flagrant violation that nullified the offer of blessing and brought divine judgment.
Although Jeremiah’s words “to lead them out of Egypt” indicate that he had in mind especially a contrast between the covenant with Moses and the new covenant, a quick survey reveals that the possibility of breaking covenant and incurring divine wrath was a dimension of every major OT covenant. The covenant with Noah (Gen. 6:13-21; 8:20-9:17) focused primarily on God’s blessing of natural stability for the human race, but the threat of execution for murderers (Gen 6:9) and the severe curse on Noah’s grandson Canaan (Gen. 9:25-27) indicate that divine judgment may fall on those who rebel against God’s covenant requirements. Abraham’s covenant (Gen. 15:1-21; 17:1-21) also had much to say about divine blessing, but God explicitly warned against the judgment that would fall on those who broke this covenant (Gen. 17:14). As Jeremiah himself pointed out, the covenant with Moses repeatedly warned of the horrible curses against those who broke that covenant (see also Deut. 28:15-68; 31:16-18). The covenant with David also reflected this basic pattern (Pss. 89; 132:11-18). God stipulated to David that his descendants would sit on his throne “if your sons keep my covenant” (Ps. 132:12; cf. 2 Chr. 6:16; Ps. 89:30-31), but as Israel’s history indicates, they suffered severely for violations of the covenant (2 Sam 7:14).
Without a doubt Jeremiah distinguished the new covenant as one that would not be broken, but this aspect of Jeremiah’s prophecy poses a serious challenge for infant baptism. As all evangelicals would agree, not everyone baptized in infancy proves to be a covenant keeper. Many people who are baptized into the new covenant as infants turn away from Christ and the salvation he offers. This undeniable reality raises an important question: How can we think that infants are to be baptized into the inviolable new covenant when they often rebel against the new covenant and suffer the judgment of God?
A second feature of Jeremiah’s prophecy often used to oppose infant baptism is that the new covenant is fully internalized. Jeremiah 31:33 speaks plainly in this regard:
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.”
This feature of the new covenant demonstrates that God himself will bring about deep internal transformation in his covenant people. The words “mind” (brq) and “heart” (bl) often denotes the inner person, the deeper recesses of personality, or in contemporary parlance “the soul.” Jeremiah did not see entrance into the new covenant community as entrance into an external environment, but as undergoing a spiritual, inward change.
Jeremiah predicted that this inward change would take place as God intervened into history to inscribe his Law deep within the participants of the new covenant. Many times prior to Christ, it is apparent that the law of God regulated the lives of the people of Israel as little more than an external code. Obedience often came reluctantly and resulted from external pressures. But Jeremiah promised that the new covenant would bring this situation to an end. In this regard, Paul echoed Jeremiah’s words when he contrasted the old covenant “ministry … which was engraved in letters on stone” (2 Cor. 3:7) with the “new covenant … ministry of the Spirit…that brings righteousness” (2 Cor 3:6,8-9).
Jeremiah’s emphasis on the inward character of the new covenant also raises significant questions about the practice of infant baptism. It is common for evangelical paedobaptists to speak of baptized children as participating only in the external dimensions of the covenant, without inward transformation. Although they may not be regenerated, covenant children experience blessing because they are part of the visible church or covenant community. In fact, paedobaptists often draw parallels between the condition of baptized children in the visible church today and children in the nation of Israel during the OT.
It is not difficult to see why these outlooks raise objections. According to Jeremiah the law of God is internalized in the participants of the new covenant. They are transformed from within. How then may we baptize people into an external covenant environment apart from regeneration? Does this outlook not deny an essential feature of Jeremiah’s prophecy?
A third aspect of Jeremiah 31:31-34 that often leads to objections against infant baptism is that all participants in the new covenant are eternally redeemed. Jeremiah was emphatic in this regard.
“No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.”
In these words Jeremiah characterized the time of the new covenant as a period in which it will be entirely unnecessary for anyone to encourage other covenant people to “know the Lord.” They will already know him “from the least of them to the greatest.” The precise connotations of the expression “know the Lord” are difficult to establish. In this context the word “know” ([dy) appears to have the connotations of “acknowledge, take recognition of, be rightly and intimately aware of.” In this sense, knowing the Lord means properly acknowledging and recognizing the Lord. This is why Jeremiah 31:34 closes, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." In a word, to know God as Jeremiah spoke of it was to receive eternal salvation.
So it is that in the covenant of which Jeremiah spoke salvation would come to each participant. There would be no exceptions.
In light of Jeremiah’s stress on the distribution of salvation within the new covenant, it is no wonder that his words are used to oppose infant baptism. Evangelical paedobaptists consistently stress that baptized children are in the new covenant but that they are not automatically or necessarily saved. In effect, infant baptism introduces unregenerate, unbelieving people into the community of the new covenant. But this practice appears to contradict Jeremiah’s prophecy that salvation will be fully distributed in the new covenant. How can it be right for infants to receive the covenant sign of baptism when they often do not and may never “know the Lord”?
So we have seen at least three ways in which Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant has been used to object to the practice of infant baptism. To be sure, other facets of the passage come into view at times, but we have touched on the main ways these verses are often employed for this purpose. How can we believe in infant baptism when God himself said that the new covenant would be inviolable, internalized, and include only those who know the Lord?
What Did Jeremiah Mean?
As challenging as the preceding questions may appear, these objections against infant baptism dissipate when we consider the original meaning of Jeremiah 31:31-34. From the reference in Jeremiah 32:1-2 to “the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzer” when his armies were “besieging Jerusalem,” we can assume that the prophet’s words about the new covenant were declared during the years near Jerusalem’s fall to Babylon in 586 B.C. Jeremiah spent much time warning the people of Jerusalem and Judah that massive destruction and exile were imminent, but he also encouraged them not to lose hope that God would one day end their exile and return them to the Promised Land. Jeremiah’s new covenant prophecy was one of his words of encouragement to a people about to go into exile. We will approach Jeremiah’s words about restoration from exile from three vantage points: 1) the structure and content of the passage itself; 2) the surrounding context; and 3) the context of OT prophecy in general.
To grasp what Jeremiah had in mind as he delivered God’s promises about the New Covenant, we should begin with a more careful analysis of the structure and content passage itself. This passage may be outlined as follows:
* Negative Announcement of Covenant to Come (31:31-32)
o Declaration (31:31)
+ “declares the Lord” (31:31a)
o Denial (31:32)
+ “declares the Lord” (31:32g)
* Positive Clarification of Covenant to Come (31:33-34e)
o Declaration (31:33a,b)
+ “declares the Lord” (31:33b)
o Affirmation (31:33c-e)
+ “declares the Lord” (31:33e)
* Explanation of Covenant to Come (31:34f-g)
As the outline above suggests, Jeremiah 31:31-34 divides into two main parts followed by an explanation. The first two portions of the passage are marked by the expression “declares the Lord” at the beginning and end of each. The added explanation is marked by the introductory word “for” (yK). In effect, the prophet made one announcement of a coming covenant (31:31-32), followed it with another announcement of that covenant (31:33-34e), and explained how such a covenant could come about (31:33f-g). The first portion of this passage (31:31-32) amounts to a declaration that a new covenant is coming to Israel and Judah (31:31). It would not have been immediately apparent that this was a good thing. After all, the Mosaic covenant had brought God’s people under divine judgment. So, in order to present this new covenant as a hopeful event, Jeremiah denied that this covenant would be like the Mosaic covenant (31:32).
The second part (31:33-34e) announces the coming covenant (31:33a,b) in language recalling the opening line of 31:31. This time, however, the hopeful character of this covenant is highlighted by positive affirmations of the wondrous nature of this future covenant arrangement (31:33c-e).
The third portion (31:33f-g) explains how it is possible for such a wondrous covenant to be made with Israel. All of this is possible even for those facing exile because the Lord will one day provide radical and unchanging forgiveness of his people’s sins (31:34).
This overview of the structure of the passage allows us to summarize the passage in this way. To begin with, Jeremiah says that the Lord will make a new covenant that cannot be broken; it cannot fail to bring wondrous blessings from God. When Jeremiah spoke these words, God had already begun to punish his people with foreign oppression and exile. Soon, Jerusalem itself would fall to the Babylonians. What was so remarkable about having another covenant in the future when the great covenant with Moses had failed to bring eternal salvation? The remarkable thing was that new covenant would not end in failure.
In the second place, Jeremiah reported positive elaborations on what would happen under the administration of this new covenant (31:33-34e). The new covenant would not fail because God would do two things to ensure success. First, he would put his law in their minds and hearts (31:33c,d). The internalization of the law was God’s ideal for his people throughout OT history (e.g. Deut. 6:6; 10:16; 11:18; 30:6; Pss. 37:31; 119:34; Isa. 51:7) and was often obtained (Deut. 30:11-14; 2 Kings 23:25; 2 Chr. 31:21; Ps. 40:8; 119:11). In the new covenant, however, God would touch all his hardened and wayward people to give them hearts that loved and obeyed his law. Second, God would establish the bond of loyalty and intimacy between Himself and all of his people (31:33c-e). Unlike times before when dross corrupted the covenant community, this covenant bond would extend to every covenant person without exception. This distribution of salvation would also ensure that the new covenant could not fail.
All of these high hopes for the new covenant raised a serious question for Jeremiah and his audience: How could this be? How could such a marvelous, unfailing covenant come to people whose disloyalty had led to the judgment of exile? The explanation of this passage (33:34f,g) is that God will one day forgive their wickedness and sins forever.
With the basic structure and content of the passage itself in mind, we should look at the immediate context of Jeremiah 31. Our passage is part of the larger segment comprising Jeremiah 31:27-40. This material is separated from the surrounding context by temporal notations at the beginning (31:26) and end (32:1). Jeremiah 31:27-40 divides into three sections introduced by similar expressions: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord” (31:27); “‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord” (31:31); and “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord…” (31:38). The topics of each segment are easily discerned:
* Future Planting of God’s People in the Land (31:27-30)
* Future New Covenant with God’s People (31:31-37)
* Future Rebuilding and Permanence of the Holy City (31:38-40)
Jeremiah 31:27-30 announces that God will bring his exiled people back to their land. As surely as he watched over them to destroy them, he will watch over them to return them home. Then Jeremiah 31:31-37 announces that when the people are back in the Promised Land, a new covenant will secure the successful reception of divine blessings. This new, unfailing covenant is as sure as the divine decrees that give order to the universe (31:35-37). Finally, Jeremiah 31:38-40 announces that once the people have returned and come under the new, unfailing covenant, the entire city of Jerusalem will be restored. The entire city will be made “holy to the Lord … never again [to] be uprooted or demolished” (31:40).
From this overview of the immediate context, we see that Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant fit within a threefold scenario for the restoration of Israel after the exile. Israel would return to the Promised Land, a new unfailing covenant would be established, and a glorious, holy Jerusalem would be permanently erected.
Recognizing this context helps readers avoid removing Jeremiah’s new covenant from the context of his other predictions of the restoration of Israel after the exile. The new covenant did not stand alone in Jeremiah’s thinking. It was not a mere development from failure to success, from external to internal, nor from corruption within the covenant community to purity within the covenant community. The new covenant was part of a scenario that included a full inheritance for God’s people and the permanent establishment of the Holy City of God. In a word, the fulfillment of the new covenant depends on the fulfillment of the other predictions of chapter 31.
These observations lead to a third consideration: How does Jeremiah 31:31-34 fit within the broader context of OT prophecy? What insights may we derive from a panoramic outlook on the prophets? Simply put, we see even more clearly that Jeremiah’s concept of new covenant was part of a set of predictions about the end of Israel’s exile.
In the first place, we should see that the terminology “new covenant” (hvdx tyrIB) connects Jeremiah’s expectations to a more generic set of predictions. The terminology itself is unique to Jeremiah, but each element (“new” and “covenant”) has significant parallels to other prophetic concepts. On the one hand, the term “new” appears elsewhere in the prophetic books as a way of describing the condition of things surrounding the restoration of Israel and Judah after the exile. Ezekiel spoke of God giving his people a “new spirit” (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26) and a “new heart” (Ezek 36:26). Isaiah spoke of God’s intervention to free his people as “a new thing” (Isa 42:9; 43;19). He also described the time after the completion of the restoration from exile as the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isa 65:17; 66:22). In this sense, Jeremiah’s concept of a “new” covenant fit within the broader portrait of Israel’s restoration from exile.
On the other hand, other prophets also associated the concept of “covenant” with Israel’s restoration from exile. The expression “covenant of peace” (~lv tyrB) and similar terminology appear in Isaiah 54:10 and Ezekiel 34:25; 37:26 as descriptions of the restoration period. These covenant expressions reflected a basic theological outlook which stemmed from the days of Moses: forgiveness, refreshment, renewal and blessings come to the sinful nation of Israel only as they renew covenant (e.g. Exod. 24:7-8; 34:10ff.; Deut 29; 31; Josh. 24:1-28; 2 Kings 23:2-3; 2 Chr. 34:30-32). So, it is not surprising at all that Jeremiah spoke of the divine arrangement after exile as a new covenant.
The prophets’ emphasis on restoration after exile rested on a scenario sketched by Moses in Deuteronomy 4:25-31; 29:1-30:10). Moses wrote that if sin increased to intolerable levels in Israel, God would send his people into exile. But failure and exile would not be the end of God’s plan for his people. Instead, God also promised to return his people from exile and then to bless them more than ever before. As Moses recorded God’s promise in Deuteronomy 30:4-6:
“Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”
Time and again OT prophets reiterated this ancient promise. Even as they threatened exile, they also assured God’s people of a wondrous restoration. As we have seen, Jeremiah 31:31-34 falls into this set of expectations.
These broader connections between Jeremiah’s new covenant and the hope of restoration from exile alert us to a crucial interpretative perspective: the new covenant is not an isolated item which may be brought into Christian understanding by itself. Instead, the fulfillment of the new covenant must be understood as part of a much larger set of hopes for the way things will be when the exile is completed. Our Christian understanding of the new covenant and its bearing on the question of infant baptism must parallel our understanding of all other restoration prophecies.
How is the New Covenant Fulfilled in the Christian Faith?
With the background of the original meaning of Jeremiah 31:31-34 in mind, we are now in a position to ask how the hope of the new covenant is fulfilled in the NT era. Gaining perspective on the NT outlook will provide us with significant insight into how infant baptism fits within the new covenant.
At least three NT authors explicitly wrote that the Christian faith was the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted in whole or in part a total of seven times in the writings of Luke, Paul, and the author of Hebrews. Jesus called the cup of the last supper “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20) and Paul referred to Christ’s words (1 Cor 11:25). Paul also spoke of himself and his company as “ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor 3:6) because they proclaimed the gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit. In several ways, the writer of Hebrews pointed to the superiority of the Christian faith over OT practices by identifying Christian faith with Jeremiah’s new covenant (Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24). In one way or another, these NT passages indicate that the new covenant has become a reality through the earthly ministry of Christ.
If we were to stop our investigation of the NT at this point, it might seem that we would be fully justified in using Jeremiah 31:31-34 to oppose infant baptism. The logic is straightforward. NT writers say that the new covenant has come in Christ’s first coming; we should not introduce infants into this covenant through baptism because it would violated Jeremiah’s description of the new covenant.
Yet, we must be careful not to think that these NT references to Jeremiah 31 exhaust the NT outlooks on what God promised in this portion of Jeremiah. To develop a more adequate understanding of the NT perspective, we must remember that Jeremiah’s new covenant is inextricably enmeshed with a host of other promises about the return of Israel from exile. It is one fabric with the many OT expectations of a grand eternal future for the people of God after the exile.
It is well known that the NT teaches that Christ fulfilled OT promises about the restoration from exile. But these fulfillments take place in a manner unanticipated by OT prophets. Instead of happening completely and all at once, the restoration expectations were fulfilled and are being fulfilled over a long stretch of time. Jesus explained this process of fulfillment for the Kingdom of God after the exile in the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). He explained that the grand kingdom would begin very small, slowly grow, and finally reach full maturity. It helps to think of this NT perspective on the fulfillment of restoration prophecies in three stages: the inauguration of fulfillment in the first coming of Christ; the continuation of fulfillment between the first and second comings of Christ; and the consummation of fulfillment at the return of Christ. The NT repeatedly explains that OT predictions of the glorious state of blessing after the exile began to be fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, continue to be fulfilled in part today, and will finally be realized beyond imagination when Christ returns.
Because the NT does not explicitly apply this threefold fulfillment pattern to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant, the fulfillment of that particular prophecy is often misunderstood. Often interpreters approach this text as if the new covenant had come in its fullness when Christ first came to earth, but this is a significant error. Christ has not yet completed the restoration, and thus we have not yet obtained the promised blessings in full. The new covenant was inaugurated in Christ’s first coming; it progresses in part during the continuation of Christ’s Kingdom; but it will reach complete fulfillment only when Christ returns in the consummation of all things. We must approach Jeremiah 31:31-34 as we approach all prophesies regarding the restoration after exile: with the understanding that the restoration of the kingdom and the renewal of the covenant will not be complete until Jesus returns.
When we apply the basic pattern of NT fulfillment to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant, it becomes clear that his expectations provide no basis at all for opposing infant baptism. To illustrate that this is the case, we will return to the three common objections often raised by Jeremiah 31:31-34.
In the first place, Jeremiah announced that the new covenant couldn’t be broken. In the consummation of Christ’s Kingdom, this prediction will be completely fulfilled. Once Christ returns it will not be possible to break the new covenant and thereby to enter into another exile. Before that time, however, participants in the new covenant can break the new covenant. In addition to the numerous warnings against apostasy in the NT, we should give special attention to Hebrews 10:28-31:
“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
This passage makes it plain that until Christ returns it is possible for the new covenant to be broken. The writer of Hebrews acknowledges that covenant breakers under Moses were executed for capital offenses (Heb 10:28) and then argues, from the lesser to the greater (“how much more” [Heb 10:29]), that even more severe punishment is deserved by people who have “trampled the Son of God under foot ... treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified [them] ... and … insulted the Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29). The three objects in focus – Son of God, blood of the covenant, and Spirit of grace – are features of the new covenant. Flagrant violation of these new covenant realities is quite possible and leads to severe punishment.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews applied the warning “the Lord will judge his people” from Deuteronomy 32:36 – a warning to the covenant people under the Mosaic covenant – to this new covenant situation, thus equating the circumstance of the new covenant prior to the return of Christ to the situation Israel faced under the old covenant. Judgment was and is possible for both the old and the new covenant communities, and judgment flows only from covenant breaking, not from covenant keeping. If judgment is a possibility under the new covenant, then so is the covenant breaking that leads to that judgment.
As the NT indicates, until Christ returns it should never be thought that the new covenant cannot be broken. On the contrary, the NT expects some participants in the new covenant to break that covenant. Therefore, the rejection of infant baptism on the basis that infants may prove to be covenant breakers is not well founded.
In the second place, we have seen that the new covenant is internalized. This feature of Jeremiah’s prophecy may appear to stand against the idea of bringing infants into external blessings in the new covenant through baptism. This objection to infant baptism also falls when we think more carefully about how this expectation is fulfilled.
We can have confidence that when Christ returns in glory, everyone in the new creation after Christ’s return will have the law of God written on his or her heart. We will all love and delight in his ways, just as Christ already does (2 Cor. 3:16-18; 1 Thess. 3:11-13). In this sense, we expect Jeremiah’s prophecy to find complete fulfillment when Christ returns.
At the present time, however, this expectation is only partially fulfilled. There is a sense in which the hearts and minds of believers have been renewed by God’s grace (Rom. 12:1-2). At the same time, however, we are also commanded by NT writers to observe guidance from the Scriptures and to watch for corruption in our thinking (e.g. Rom. 1:18-2:29; Eph. 4:17-32; 2 Pet. 3:17). The NT speaks this way because the promise of complete internalization of the law of God has begun within believers, but it has not yet been completed.
For this reason, it should not surprise us to find that even in the NT some people are blessed simply to be involved in the more external dimensions of the new covenant community. This kind of circumstance occurs regularly in the NT, but a striking example appears in Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor 7:14:
“For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”
When discussing the responsibilities of believers married to unbelievers, Paul made a remarkable observation. He argued that the unbelievers (a;pistoj) are set apart from the world or sanctified (a`gia,zw) by their association with their believing spouses. This language recalls the expression of Hebrews 10:29 that one who turns from Christ “treat[s] as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him.” Sanctification in this sense parallels the OT concept of “consecration” (vdq)) which is applied both to people and things as they are set apart from ordinary life for special contact with the presence of God. These people are not necessarily “saved” or “regenerated” (to use common theological categories). The new covenant has not been internalized for them, but they are sanctified by external associations nonetheless. From Paul’s use of this language for unbelieving spouses in 1 Corinthians 7:14, we see that prior to the return of Christ, it is appropriate to speak of association with the external dimensions of the new covenant. Such association sanctifies even those who have not been transformed by God’s grace in their minds and hearts.
Interestingly enough, in 1 Corinthians 7:14 this concept of sanctification is not only applied to unbelieving spouses but also to the children of such marriages. As Paul put it, “your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” Again, applying the old covenant designation of “unclean” to indicate unacceptability within the vicinity of the holy presence of God (e.g. Lev. 10:9-10; Num. 5:2-3), Paul asserts that the sanctification of the unbelieving spouse renders even their children holy or consecrated.
Until Christ returns in glory it is not only permissible and helpful, but also necessary to speak of certain people as consecrated or sanctified to God by their close associations with the people of God and with the activities of true believers. For this reason, it is quite appropriate to speak of the children of believers as sanctified or consecrated by their involvement in the more external dimensions of life in the new covenant even though they may not be regenerated. The internalization promised in the new covenant by no means opposes to the baptism of infants.
In the third place, we saw that many evangelicals object to infant baptism because the new covenant distributes salvation to all of its participants. As with the previous objections, this point of view is correct insofar as it relates to the complete fulfillment of the new covenant in the consummation. When Christ returns he will separate the just and unjust, the sheep and the goats, true believers and unbelievers in the church. The promise that the new covenant will grant salvation to all who participate will be fulfilled by the removal of the unbelievers at the time of judgment. Only true believers will be left, and thus all who are in covenant will be saved.
Yet, prior to the judgment that Christ will render at his return, the new covenant community is not restricted to believers only. If it were, there would be no separation of people at Christ’s return. We have already mentioned Hebrews 10:28-31 which speaks of judgment coming against some who have been “sanctified by the blood of the covenant.” We should add to this passage those that warn the members of church communities (often called “brothers”) to be sure to pass the test of perseverance (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10; Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7). The familiar explanation of apostasy found in 1 John 2:19 summarizes the situation well:
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
As the parables of the Ten Virgins and Talents (Matt 25:1-30) illustrate, there are many in the new covenant community who will prove themselves not to be truly regenerate. Consequently, there is no need to withhold baptism from infants on the basis of Jeremiah’s new covenant expectations. Until the consummation the new covenant will continue to be mixed with true believers and sanctified unbelievers.
As we have seen in this study, Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 has been the basis of a number of objections to the practice of infant baptism. We have looked at this prophecy in connection with the many other OT expectations for the return from exile. Moreover, we have noted how the NT understands the fulfillment of restoration prophecies in three stages. All followers of Christ look forward to the day when this age of sin and death will be entirely replaced by the new world of blessing. At that time, there will be no bearing of children and the question of infant baptism will be moot. Yet, until that day we live in a time when the new covenant still includes people who become covenant breakers, who benefit only from the external dimensions of the new covenant, and who have never been regenerated. Until that time, we continue to have children to multiply and to fill the earth. As a result, we baptize our children as believers circumcised their sons in the OT. We baptize them as the expected heirs of the new covenant, those blessed with a heritage of faith and special privileges and responsibilities before God.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Man, what a great, simple and edifying defence of Infant Baptism and so much more!
Wish I had heard this message in the midst of my own struggles upon this issue!
I can honestly say, that this is the sermon I would preach if asked to do so upon this subject!
Friday, March 21, 2008
My Credo brother Gene Cook Jnr decided to discuss (misrepresent) some of my comments relating to the Infant Baptism issue, and in his enthusiasm he encouraged me to maybe delete my post on his blog, and stop smoking the crack pipe and maybe take up the bagpipe!
His comments run from 46minutes in, and my follow up comments are found here.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I remember one fellow who was defending the Credo position on Gene's the Narrow mind, but now he has become a Paedobaptist!
Interesting to watch the transformation, from this to this.
May the Lord lead us in His truth.
Great message from Johnny Mac, which gives me a new and fresher appreciation of the man.
You may have to sign up to view, but it is free! And I am not sure how long this video is available.
NO LONGER AVAIL FOR FREE AS AT 1 APRIL 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Antichrist Is Coming, April 15, 2008
Selected by Thomas W. Juodaitis
We want to thank Dr. Ronald Cooke for his excellent work Antichrist Exposed: The Reformed and Puritan View of the Antichrist, published by Truth International Ministries. All quotations have been updated with modern spellings. Dr. Cooke's large book is available in two volumes for $12 from Truth International Ministries, 4927 East Lee Highway, Max Meadows, Virginia 24360.
To avoid the impression that we are ignorant "Catholic-bashers," we begin with quotations from Roman Catholic scholars.
Roman Catholic Scholars on the Papacy
Acton: "The story [of the papacy] is much more abominable than we all believed.... [The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre] is the greatest crime of modern times. It was committed on the principles professed by Rome. It was approved, sanctioned, and praised by the Papacy. The Holy See went out of its way to signify to the world, by permanent and solemn acts, how entirely it admired a king who slaughtered his subjects treacherously because they were Protestants. To proclaim forever that because a man is a Protestant it is a pious deed to cut his throat in the night" (quoted by John Robbins, "Acton on the Papacy," The Trinity Review Number 89, July 1992:3).
Acton: "I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.... For many years my view of Catholic controversy has been governed by the following chain of reasoning: 1. A crime does not become a good deed by being committed for the good of a church. 2. The theorist who approves the act is no better than the culprit who commits it. 3. The divine or historian who defends the theorist incurs the same blame.... To commit murder is the mark of a moment, exceptional. To defend it is constant, and shows a more perverted conscience" (quoted by John Robbins, "Acton on the Papacy," The Trinity Review Number 89, July 1992:2).
Acton: "A man is not honest who accepts all the Papal decisions in questions of morality, for they have often been distinctly immoral; or who approves the conduct of the Popes in engrossing power, for it was stained with perfidy and falsehood; or who is ready to alter his convictions at their command, for his conscience is guided by no principle" (quoted by John Robbins, "Acton on the Papacy," The Trinity Review Number 89, July 1992:3).
Acton: "The papacy contrived murder and massacre on the largest and also on the most cruel and inhuman scale. They [the popes] were not only wholesale assassins but they made the principle of assassination a law of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation.... [The Papacy] is the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix" (quoted by John Robbins, "Acton on the Papacy," The Trinity Review Number 89, July 1992:4).
Acton: "The Inquisition was peculiarly the weapon and the work of the Popes. It stands out from all those things in which they cooperated, followed, or assented as the distinctive feature of papal Rome. It was set up, renewed, and perfected by a long series of acts emanating from the supreme authority in the Church. No other institution, no doctrine, no ceremony is so distinctly the individual creation of the Papacy, except dispensing power. It is the principal thing with which the Papacy is identified, and by which it must be judged. The principle of the Inquisition is the Pope's sovereign power over life and death. Whosoever disobeys him should be tried and tortured and burnt. If that cannot be done, formalities may be dispensed with, and the culprit may be killed like an outlaw. That is to say, the principle of the Inquisition is murderous, and a man's opinion of the Papacy is regulated and determined by his opinion of religious assassination" (Lord Acton, Letters to Mary Gladstone, 185-186).
"I am convinced that it is theologically necessary that Antichrist must be a pope.... Antichrist, the Man of Sin, Son of Perdition to deserve these titles must hold a unique office, one in which the greatest possible doctrinal, disciplinary, and moral corruption can be accomplished.... With due respect for possible non-Catholic claimants I scoff at the notion that anyone other than a pope could be the Antichrist" (W. F. Strojie, Last Days of the Catholic Church, 1978, 31).
"Papal control over the laity is not an end in itself but rather a means to attain certain goals, some of which are political and economic rather than purely and uniquely religious. Since it is unlikely the Vatican will abandon in the near future its preoccupation with economic and political power...it seems inevitable that manipulative means of control will continue to be a part of the standard operating policies of the Roman Catholic Church" (J. P. Vaillancourt, Papal Power, 1980, 175).
The American Founders and the Papacy
Sam Adams felt that "much more is to be dreaded from the growth of popery in America than from the Stamp Act." And an author of The Federalist and future Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay, did his best to deny Catholics the right of citizenship. Harvard College had the Dudleian Lectures, the fourth in each series to be devoted to "detecting, convicting, and exposing the idolatry, errors, and superstitions of the Romish Church." The Continental Congress which met at Philadelphia on September 17, 1775, took as its own by unanimous vote, the "Suffolk County Resolves," framed a week earlier in Boston, which denounced the May 20 Quebec Act, "the late act of Parliament for establishing the Roman Catholic religion in that extensive country now called Canada." This act was "dangerous in an extreme degree to the Protestant religion and to the civil rights and liberties of all Americans" (Sidney Ahlstrom, Religious History of the American People, 1972).
Tertullian on Antichrist
"And you know what detains [see 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12], that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery does already work; only he who now hinders must hinder until he be taken out of the way. What obstacle is there but the Roman State, the falling away of which by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon its ruins" (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume III, 1979, 553).
The Rise of Antichrist
"Now Antichrist is not a single person, but an order or succession of persons, occupying the same station; for Paul in his description of Antichrist asserts that the mystery of iniquity began to work in his own time, and would be completed at the end of the world.... Antichrist may be regarded in his successive stages as conceived, from the very times of the apostles, Satan even preparing the way; also in the persecutions of Nero, and during the prevalence of several heresies; as being born, and "revealed" under Boniface III, as growing up to maturity from that period to the reign of Benedict IX and Gregory VII, and from thence as flourishing in vigor to the period of the Reformation" (Benedict Pictet, Christian Theology, 1834, 440, 442-443).
"I see the great Apostasy, I see the desolation of Christendom, I see the smoking ruins, I see the reign of monsters; I see those vice-gods, that Gregory VII, that Innocent III, that Boniface VIII, that Alexander VI, that Gregory XIII, that Pius IX; I see their long succession, I hear their insufferable blasphemies, I see their abominable lives; I see them worshiped by blinded generations, bestowing hollow benedictions; bartering lying indulgences, creating a paganized Christianity; I see their liveried slaves, their shaven priests, their celibate confessors; I see the infamous confessional, the ruined women, the murdered innocents; I hear the lying absolutions, the dying groans; I hear the cries of the victims; I hear the anathemas, the curses, the thunders of the interdicts; I see the racks, the dungeons, the stakes; I see that inhuman Inquisition, those fires of Smithfield, those butcheries of St. Bartholomew, that Spanish Armada, those unspeakable dragonnades, that endless train of wars, that dreadful multitude of massacres. I see it all, and in the name of that ruin it has brought upon the Church and in the world, in the name of the truth it has denied, the temple it has defiled, the God it has blasphemed, the souls it has destroyed; in the name of the millions it has deluded; the millions it has slaughtered, the millions it has damned; with holy confessors, with noble reformers, with innumerable martyrs, with the saints of the ages, I denounce it as the masterpiece of Satan, as the body and soul and essence of Antichrist" (H. Grattan Guinness, Romanism and the Reformation, Lecture VI, 1881).
Papist Sexual Depravity "With Sergius was inaugurated what is known in history as the Pornocracy. Marozia, a licentious noblewoman, as mistress of Sergius, directed the papal government for seven years. [Sergius'] successor John X was appointed by his mistress Theodora. He led in person a successful military expedition against the Saracens, but returned to be driven into exile by Marozia. Through the influence of another licentious woman he succeeded in reinstating him-self, but through the influence of Marozia he was soon afterward strangled in a dungeon. The next three popes were creatures of Marozia, the third (John XI) her bastard son by Pope Sergius. From 936-956 a sort of Roman Republic, with Alberic at its head, prevailed.... A son of Alberic (12 or 18 years old), profligate beyond his years, succeeded his father in the civil government and moreover assumed the papal office. He was charged by his contemporaries with the violation of almost every principle of morality and religion: sacrilege, adultery, violation of widows, living with his father's mistress, invocation of Jupiter and Venus, and turning the papal palace into a brothel" (Albert Newman, Church History, Volume 1, 1931, 499-500).
"[T]o lay eyes on the woman who was the mother of a pope, whom she had conceived by another pope, and who was the aunt of a third pope, the grandmother of a fourth pope, and with the help of her own mother, the creator of nine popes in eight years, of whom two had been strangled, one suffocated with a cushion, and four deposed and disposed of in circumstances that have never come to light" (Malachi Martin, S. J., The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, 1983, 99).
Papacy: Murder and Mayhem
"Pope Lucius, the Bishop of Rome, had declared war on his own parishioners. In early 1145, in the "most-Christian" city ruled by the Vicar of the Prince of Peace, the faithful slaughtered the faithful in a bloody urban battle. Lucius' attack was eventually checked, but not before great loss of life. During the melee he was struck by several stone missiles shot from the roof of the senate building. His broken and bleeding body was carried out of Rome to the monastery of San Gregorio, where he soon died. The enemy in this case seems to have been the pope himself, who is driven out of Rome by its people.... To disagree openly with the Roman Catholic Church at this time [12th-13th centuries] could result in a quick trial and burning at the stake with no such thing as an appeal. When a certain bishop Moranis did not please Pope Gregory IX, he appointed a Dominican inquisitor to investigate the bishop and the whole diocese. Robert le Bougre took his task seriously. He went to the diocese and ended up putting the whole town on trial with the bishop. On May 29, 1239, he sent the bishop and 180 men, women, and children to the stake in a mass burning" (John Hogue, The Last Pope, 41, 68).
Words of Waldensian martyr Louis Pascale: "If I am put to death, it is not for any crime, but having confessed with truth and boldness, the doctrines of my Divine Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. As to those who hold the Pope to be God on Earth, and the Vicar of Jesus Christ, they are strangely mistaken, seeing that in everything, and every-where, he shows himself to be the mortal enemy of His doctrine and true service, and of pure religion, and by his actions that he is manifestly the real Antichrist" (Jane Louisa Willyams, The Waldensian Church, 1879, 84).
From a letter by Pope Martin V to the king of Poland: "Know that the interests of the Holy See, and those of your crown, make it a duty to exterminate the Hussites. Remember that these impious persons dare proclaim principles of equality; they maintain that all Christians are brethren and that God has not given to privileged men the right of ruling nations; they hold that Christ came on Earth to abolish slavery; they call the people to liberty, that is to the annihilation of kings and priests. While there is still time, then, turn your force against Bohemia; burn, massacre, make deserts everywhere, for nothing could be more agreeable to God, or more useful to the cause of kings, than the extermination of the Hussites" (quoted by John Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania  2006, 134).
"Was the brutality and bloodshed merely a series of haphazard and random events, which merely reflect the times, or was there a systematic plan by the Historical Antichrist to crush the faithful testimony of God's elect, many of whom paid with their very lives to maintain such a testimony? According to Rome, God's supreme concern being for the dominion of the church, He has bestowed upon Peter and his successors, the Bishops of Rome, all the power belonging to Christ if He were personally reigning on Earth. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. As perfect unity and harmony in the administration of the world are the ideal to be attained, and there can be no center of unity other than the divinely appointed Vicar of Christ, all secular rulers and all ecclesiastical rulers must submit themselves absolutely to his authority. To tolerate civil or ecclesiastical insubordination, where power to suppress it exists, would be in the highest degree blame-worthy. As the divine will is identical with the maintenance and advancement of this ecclesiastical authority, any available means may be employed to this end, even though the divine will, expressed in Scripture and in conscience, must be violated. Does heresy arise and spread? It must be rooted out, although in the process multitudes of the faith-ful themselves may be destroyed. Does a civil ruler resist the encroachment of the papal power? His throne may be declared vacant and offered to any Catholic prince who will seize it, the allegiance of the subjects forbidden, an interdict placed upon the administration of the sacraments of the Church until submission shall have been made, a deadly crusade preached against the kingdom. Everything was on principle subordinated to this one central aim of securing absolute temporal as well as absolute spiritual dominion. The Crusades in the East were fostered and forced, when need appeared, in the interest of this world dominion.... The securing of vast territorial possessions in Europe through the skillful use of advantages offered by the Crusades was in the highest degree promotive of the papal aim of universal dominion. "Here we have a theocracy of the most complete type. The Pope as the head of the theocracy occupies the place of God on Earth, and he is free, as even God is not, to make use of the most immoral means for the enforcement of his authority. The scheme is a magnificent one. It provides for the uniform administration of the world from a single center, according to a single ideal. Its advocates no doubt believed that such a government putting an end, as it would to civil and religious strife, would result in universal peace, universal goodwill, and universal righteousness. Yet it is easy to see that to realize or to perpetuate such a system, civil and religious freedoms must be remorselessly suppressed. The only freedom possible would be that enjoyed by those who were thoroughly in sympathy with the ideal of the theocracy and who found their highest delight in submission to its authority" (Albert Newman, Church History, Volume 1, 508-509).
"It has been calculated that the Popes of Rome have directly or indirectly slain on account of their faith fifty millions of martyrs; fifty millions of men and women who refused...Romish idolatries, who held the Bible to be the Word of God, and who loved not their lives unto death" (McKinley Ash, Antichrist, Past, Present, and Future, 1967, 122).
Roman Church Bars Discussion of Antichrist
"Indeed we learn much as to how far the Apocalypse had, even in these times, come to be used against the Church of Rome, from the fears of the papists themselves, which prompted the Fifth Lateran Council authoritatively to prohibit all writing or preaching on the subject of Antichrist, and all speculating regarding the time of the expected evils" (Albert Barnes, Commentary, Volume XI, 1979, xiv).
"The Decree, Supreme Majestatis Praesidio of the Fifth Lateran Council, adopted on December 19, 1516, condemned all attempts to fix the time of Antichrist's coming and the end of the world. The irony in this was that within a decade many in Europe would be convinced that there was indeed no need at all to speculate about when Antichrist would come - he was already present in the papacy.... Many still think that the notion of a pope as Antichrist was the creation of Martin Luther and was spread by the Reformation. But the connection between the papacy and Antichrist was of long standing, being rooted in the Son of Perdition of 2 Thessalonians 2, who takes up his blasphemous position in the temple.... If Anti-Christ is to be the most deceptive of humans, the one who will put on the best counterfeit of holiness to perform the worst evil, what position would he most likely occupy than that of the spiritual leader of Christendom? From before the year 1000 such fears had been growing, but it was only in this [the pre-Reformation] period that they had reached full flowering" (Bernard McGinn, Antichrist, 1999, 187, 172).
"[The Vaudois' teaching] treats of Antichrist as the whole anti-Christian principle concealing itself under the guise of Christianity.... The system of iniquity thus completed with its ministers, great and small.... This is the congregation taken together that comprises what is called Antichrist or Babylon.... It originated in the times of the Apostles, but by gaining power and worldly influence it reached its climax in the corruption of the Papal Church" (McClintock and Strong, Encyclopedia of Biblical and Theological Literature, Volume 1, 1981, 257).
The Cathari or Albigensian view of the Roman Church: "The fruit of the Roman Church is evil. Since the fruit of the Roman Church is evil, its faith is evil.... Ten parts or more of the Roman Church are evil; therefore, it ought to be called the church of the devil rather than of God.... The Church should suffer persecution in the world, not practice it on others. But the Roman Church persecutes others while itself remaining free from persecution" (Walter Wakefield and Austin Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages, 1969, 324-326).
John Wyclif on Antichrist "Because a good shepherd should keep his sheep from the wolves, and defend them from the scabs and from rending; therefore, Christ bade Peter thrice that he should keep his sheep. Christ taught not his shepherd to raise a crusade and kill his sheep, with his lambs, and spoil their goods; but this is Antichrist's teaching, that the fiend has now brought in, and by this is it known that these are not Peter's vicars" (W. L. Watkinson, John Wyclif, 121-122).
"Also worldly prelates and clerks drawing out the money of the land waste the church's goods to sustain pride, gluttony, lechery, and other vanities. For they have been procurators or treasurers of poor men in taking offerings, and they might as well take it out of their purses openly and devour it, as just to get it by extortion, wrong customs, and Antichrist's censures" (Select English Works of John Wyclif, Volume 3, 1871, 250).
"Now in our days out of the nest of Antichrist is come a hard commandment and says to men in sentence that whoso confirms Antichrist's ordinance and hinders Christ's ordinance he will go straight to Heaven without pain in purgatory. And whoever holds to Christ's side he is deeply cursed and pursued by Antichrist's [clergy]" (246).
The pope should leave his "fiendish pride and Antichrist's tyranny and open treason and blasphemy against God and His Vicar the King" (315).
"Depending on the way of life of Christ and the way of life of the pope, it will appear to the knowledgeable faithful that the pope is the evident Antichrist, not just the individual person who sets up more laws that are against Christ's law, but the multitude of popes from the time of the church's endowment - and of cardinals, bishops, and their other accomplices. The person of Antichrist is a monstrous composite one" (Bernard McGinn, Antichrist, 182).
The Reformation and Antichrist
"The Reformers left no unified testimony on other unful-filled prophecy, with one exception. The exception was the unanimous belief that the Papal system is both the "man of sin" and the Babylonian whore of which the Scripture forewarns. In the conviction of sixteenth-century Protest-ants, Rome was the great Antichrist and so firmly did this belief become established that it was not until the nineteenth century that it was seriously questioned by evangelicals" (Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, 1971, 41).
"At the same time, the just conclusion seems to be that Antichrist is not to be contained to any single person, or power, but is essentially a great principle or system of falsehood, having various manifestations, forms of working, and degrees, as especially exemplified in Antiochus Epiphanes, Jewish bigotry, and pagan intolerance; while it is undeniable that later Romanism exhibits some of the most prominent characteristics of Antichrist in a manner so striking and peculiar as to assure us that the system is not only one among many species of Antichrist, but that it stands in the forefront, and is pointed at by the finger of prophecy as no other form of Antichrist is!" (McClintock and Strong, Encyclopedia of Biblical and Theological Literature, Volume 1, 259).
Luther on Antichrist
"I for one will clear my skirts and salve my conscience by bringing this charge against the pope and all the papists: Unless they will abolish their laws and traditions, and restore to Christ's churches their liberty and have it taught among them, they are guilty of all the souls that perish under this miserable captivity, and the papacy is of a truth the kingdom of Babylon, yea, of very Antichrist! For who is the 'man of sin' and the 'son of perdition' but he that with his doctrines and his laws increases sins and the perdition of souls in the Church, while he sits in the Church as if he were God? All this the papal tyranny has fulfilled, these many centuries; it has extinguished faith, obscured the sacraments, and oppressed the Gospel; but its own laws, which are not only impious and sacrilegious, but even barbarous and foolish, it has enjoined and multiplied world without end" (The Works of Martin Luther, Volume 2, 1982, 235-236).
They "take from Christ the heavenly form of ruler and give it to the pope, leaving the form of a servant to perish utterly. He might also be the Counter-Christ whom the Scriptures call Antichrist, for all his nature, works, and doings are against Christ, for the destruction of Christ's Nature and Work. Such extravagant, over-presumptuous, and more than wicked doings of the popes have been devised by the Devil, in order that under their cover he may in time bring in Antichrist and raise the Pope above God as many are already doing and have done" (The Works of Martin Luther, Volume 2, 109).
"If you do not contend with your whole heart against the impious government of the Pope, you cannot be saved. Whoever takes delight in the religion and worship of popery, will be eternally lost in the world to come. If you reject it, you must expect to incur every kind of danger, and even to lose your lives. But it is better to be exposed to such perils in this world than to keep silence! So long as I live I will denounce to my brethren the sore plague of Babylon, for fear that many who are with us should fall back like the rest into the bottomless pit" (quoted by J. Merle D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation, 1843, 208).
"When something over and above God's Word is put forth, it is surely a seductive, un-Christian error, a lie and a cheat.... This is the reason Paul calls Antichrist the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition because...he shall retain the name and appearance of Christ and call himself Sanctissimus and Vicarius Dei and Caput Ecclesiae ["Most Holy," "Vicar of God," "Head of the Church"] and persecute all who will not obey him. It is easily recognized that the Pope more than fits this description" (The Works of Martin Luther, Volume 3, 368).
Calvin on Antichrist
"Shall we recognize the Apostolic See where we see nothing but horrible apostasy? Shall he be the vicar of Christ who, by his furious efforts in persecuting the Gospel plainly declares himself to be Antichrist? Shall he be the successor of Peter, who goes about with fire and sword demolishing everything that Peter built? Shall he be the head of the Church who, after dissevering the Church from Christ, her only true Head, tears and lacerates her members? Rome, indeed, was once the mother of all the churches, but since she began to be the seat of Antichrist she ceased to be what she was" (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV: Chapter VII: Paragraph 24).
"[T]o some we seem slanderers and railers when we call the Roman Pontiff 'Antichrist.' Those who think so do not realize they are accusing Paul of intemperate language, after whom we speak. Lest anyone object that we wickedly twist Paul's words against the Roman Pontiff, I shall briefly show that these cannot be understood otherwise than of the papacy. Paul writes that Antichrist will sit in God's temple...in another place, also, the Spirit, describing his image in the person of Antiochus, shows that his kingdom will consist in boasting and blaspheming God. Hence we infer that his is a tyranny more over souls than over bodies" (Institutes, IV: VII: 25).
"To recognize Antichrist we must see him in diametrical opposition to Christ.... The name Antichrist does not designate a single individual, but a single kingdom, which extends throughout many generations" (Commentary on 2 Thessalonians, 400, 403-404).
"[The Letter of Pope Paul III to the Emperor Charles V proves the Pope] to be Antichrist, the head of all the wicked" (Tracts, Volume 1, 263).
"Antichrist...has now for ages exercised dominion in God's sanctuary" (Commentary on Joel, 138).
"The Papists have imagined an Antichrist who is to harass the Church for three and a half years. All the marks by which the Spirit of God has pointed out Antichrist appear clearly in the Pope; but their triennial Antichrist has such a hold on the foolish Papists that seeing they do not see. Therefore, let us remember that Antichrist has not only been indicated by God's Spirit, but that the marks by which he may be discerned have also been ascribed to him.... Properly speaking, Antichrist was not yet in existence, but the mystery of his ungodliness was working secretly. But John uses this name that he might the more stir up the care and anxiety of the godly to repel deceits. But if the Spirit of God even then commanded believers to be on their guard when they saw only distant signs of the coming enemy, much less is it now a time for sleeping, when he holds the church oppressed under his cruel tyranny and openly triumphs over Christ" (Commentaries on the New Testament, Volume 5, 256-257).
Bucer and Bullinger on the Papacy Bucer: "The most difficult time of the church, through which it still passes on in so many nations, was when it was oppressed for so many centuries in the service of Antichrist, as can be seen in so many nations of Europe today. For the antichrists, the pseudobishops, and the clergy, following their head, the Supreme Antichrist, first horribly corrupted the teaching of the Gospel.... Truly, therefore, the churches of Europe never were in worse condition than after the Roman Antichrist established over so many Christian peoples the tyranny in which he maintains himself today with the support of so many monarchs and nations" (quoted by Wilhelm Pauck, editor, Melanchthon and Bucer, 1969, 209-211).
Bullinger: "Now if He [Christ] be present with His church, she has no need of a vicar; for the vicar supplies the place of him that is absent. Wheresoever, therefore, Christ's vicar is acknowledged, there is no Christ, and therefore there reigns Antichrist" (The Decades of Heinrich Bullinger, Volume 4, 85).
John Knox on the Papacy
"We must define the Church by the right notes given to us in God's Scriptures. We must discern the immaculate Spouse of Jesus Christ from the Mother of Confusion, Spiritual Babylon, lest that imprudently we embrace a harlot instead of a chaste spouse - yea to speak plain words, lest we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ. As for your Roman Kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, wherein 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, than I doubt that Jesus Christ suffered by the procurement of the visible church of Jerusalem. Yea, I offer myself, by words or writ, to prove the Roman Church this day farther degenerate from the purity which was in the days of Apostles than was the church of the Jews from the ordinance given by Moses when they consented to the innocent death of Jesus Christ" (The History of the Reformation in Scotland, 1982, 73-74).
English Reformers on the Papacy
Tyndale: "[They] have withdrawn from the lay-men counting them viler than dogs; and have set up that great idol, the Whore of Babylon, Antichrist of Rome, whom they call the pope; and have conspired against all commonwealths, and have made them several kingdoms, wherein it is lawful [and] unpunished to work all abomination" (The Works of William Tyndale, Volume 1, 1848, 191).
Ridley: "Sir, considering the state of chivalry and warfare, wherein I doubt not but we be set to fight under Christ's banner and His cross against our...enemy the devil...methinks I perceive two things to be his most perilous and most dangerous engines which he has to impugn Christ's verity, His Gospel, His faith; and the same two also to be his most massy posts and most mighty pillars, whereby he maintains and upholds his Satanical synagogue. These two, sir,...in my judgment are...his false doctrine...of the Lord's Supper; and...the wicked and abominable usurpation of the primacy of the See of Rome.... These two poison[ous] rotten posts he has painted with such pretense and color of religion, of the unity of Christ's church, of the catholic faith, and such like, that the wily serpent is able to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect of God" (The Works of Nicholas Ridley, 1841, 366).
Bradford: "O merciful Lord, suffer not the enemy of your Son Christ, the Romish Antichrist, thus wretchedly to delude and draw from you our poor brethren, for whom your Son once died, that by his cruelty, after so clear light, they should be made captives to dumb idols and devilish inventions of popish ceremonies.... Suffer him not to seduce the simple sort with his fond opinion that his false gods, blind mumbling, feigned religion, or foolish superstition, does give him such conquests, such victories, such triumph, and so high handed over us" (The Writings of John Bradford, Volume 1, 224).
Hooper: "This is true: The See of Rome is not only a tyranny and pestilence of body and soul, but the nest of all abomination. This beast is preached unto the people to be a man that cannot err, his authority to be above God and his laws, and to be the prince of all princes of the world that uphold his abomination.... And is this first-begotten of Antichrist, the Bishop of Rome, without sin, that changes not only the person in a sentence, but the whole sentence, yea, the whole law of God, and of man? So that he reigns in the conscience above the law of God, and will save him that God has damned, and damn him that God has saved; yet this person and Man of Sin cannot err!" (The Early Writings of John Hooper, 1843, 22-23).
Cranmer: "The Romish Antichrist, to deface this great benefit of Christ, has taught that his sacrifice upon the cross is not sufficient hereunto [unless he adds] another sacrifice devised by him, made by a priest...to supply Christ's imperfection; and that Christian people cannot apply to themselves the benefits of Christ's passion.... "O wicked abomination in the temple of God! O pride intolerable of Antichrist, and most manifest token of the Son of Perdition, extolling himself above God, and with Lucifer exalting his seat and power above the throne of God! For the one who presumes to supply that which Christ lacks must needs make himself above Christ, and so very Antichrist" (Writings and Disputations of Thomas Cranmer, 1844, 5, 6).
Bale: "Briefly to conclude the whole of this matter, the gorgeous appareled woman, or glittering church of Antichrist, which you saw here of late in mystery, is also in resemblance the great city Babylon, the mother of all spiritual abominations and idolatries done upon the Earth. For like as from Sion has the law come forth, and the Word of God from Jerusalem, so has issued forth from this Babylonish Rome such a false religion into emperors, princes, and people, as with filthy superstitions has poisoned all the world. For kingdom she had over the kings or noble governors of the Earth, and false power, a usurped authority, and a seat of very pestilence. Alas for pity, that so worthy potentates should be in subjection to so stinking a whore, to so vile a harlot, being so the servants of sin and captive slaves to all wickedness; from which the Lord once deliver them! Amen" (John Bale, The Image of the Two Churches, 1849, 511).
Turretin on the Papacy
"Baronius [a Roman Catholic scholar] laments, beginning approximately with the year A. D. 900, in which the harlots Theodora and Marozia actually ruled the impotent church, thrusting monsters into the Pontifical Seat (Chronicles, book 5), 'For nearly 150 years, about fifty Pontiffs, from John VIII until Leo IX, were found gravely wanting in sharing the virtuous nature of their ancestors, themselves Apostles of apostasy rather than Apostles of the apostolic succession'" (Francis Turretin, Seventh Disputation,  1990, 90).
"When the seat of Antichrist is said to be the Church, this must not be understood in a general composite sense, as if by the term Church we are to understand to mean that it is at one and the same time the Church of Christ and of Antichrist, which is inconsistent. Rather, we are to understand it in a specific particular sense, whereby we are to look to a seat which had once been the Church of Christ, but which has now been made the seat of Antichrist. It is stated in this manner by Isaiah (1:21), The faithful city is now called a harlot because what had once been faithful became a prostitute through apostasy. "The specific place is Babylon, the great seven-hilled city, which in John's day held power over the kings of the Earth, and which, by her cup of fornications, was destined to inebriate all people, intoxicating them with the blood of the saints. By using the preceding argument this is proved to be a fitting description for Rome alone - not Pagan Rome (which could not slide back into heathenism), but for Christian Rome, which fell into Apostasy" (Seventh Disputation, 16-17).
"He must be an enemy of Christ, who attacks his doctrine, but not as a public and open enemy, naked and undisguised...but rather, he is to be disguised and hidden [acting by stealth and subterfuge]. He accomplishes this while professing to be for Christ, but in truth, shows himself to be against Christ, Anti-Christon. Under the pretext of a vicar, he usurps the authority of the Lord, casting Him from his rightful throne. Hence this apostasy is called, Musterion tes Anomias - the Mystery of Iniquity - and on the forehead of the Babylonian harlot is inscribed the name MYSTERY (Revelation 17:5), because the impiety of the Antichrist must be mystical, that is, clad with the name of piety as the language well maintains. For this reason the Antichrist must creep into the Church through underground passages, and in this way, by the specious pretense of religion and godliness, establish his dominion. On this account the Antichrist, under the subtle pretext of piety, certainly views the gold cup of the Babylonian whore, (by which she makes men drunk), as the opportunity to prescribe superstitions to the drunken - superstitions which he renders attractive under the name of mysteries. Therefore is he proclaimed as coming "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness," or seducing iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:10). In the same manner the Antichrist is presented as Deceiver, Imposter, and Seducer (2 John 7), who certainly could deceive the most keen sighted, who must seduce the inhabitants of the Earth (Revelation 13:14), who speaks lies in hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:2), and who by cunning pretense of piety in conjunction with a profession of (orthodox) Christianity, is able to more adroitly seduce men, leading them away from Christ. For, if the Antichrist were able to attack Christ in open war, who, then, would not be able to discern the enemy of Christ? Therefore, tell me please, what mystery would there be, and what wisdom would be needed to recognize such an Antichrist?" (Seventh Disputation, 49-50).
"Glossa of Canon Law Extr. John 22 expressly calls the Pope our Lord God. Pope Nicholas, as cited by Gratian (Dist. 69, chapter 7) says, 'It is manifestly and satisfactorily shown that the Pope can neither be bound by the secular power nor loosed by it, since it is self-evident that God cannot be judged by men.'... Stapleton (in Preface to Gregory, chapter 16, Principal Doctrines), names the Pope 'the best, the greatest, and most supreme Spirit on Earth.' ... P. Blond, (1.3 To a Restored Rome) said, 'All leaders of the world honor and worship Pope as the highest God.' ... Whence according to Canon Law, throughout we find these impious words, 'Because the opinion of the Pope and the opinion of God is one opinion, there is but one tribunal between God and the Pope. And because no one has authority from God apart from that bestowed in the Pope, there is but one court of God and of the Pope, for the Pope judges as if he were God. Therefore, his opinion may be opposed by no one'" (Seventh Disputation, 57).
John Bunyan on the Papacy
"Antichrist is the adversary of Christ - an adversary really, a friend pretendedly; so then Antichrist is one that is against Christ, one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to Him - and this is that mystery of iniquity. Against Him in deed, for Him in word, and contrary to Him in practice" (Complete Works of John Bunyan, Volume 4, 1968, 140-141).
"[The false Church] blasphemes the Holy Ghost in accusing and condemning the Holy Scriptures of insufficiency, for that she says, though as a rule, yet but imperfect one; one deficient, one that is not able to make the man of God perfect in all things, without traditions, inventions, and blasphemous helps of anti-Christian wisdom" (Complete Works of John Bunyan, Volume 4, 151).
"Antichrist must be destroyed because he has set himself against the Son of God; against the Father, and against the Son.... That he has set himself against the Son of God is also evident; for he has endeavored to take from Him His headship over, and His offices for and in the Church, which is His body.... And has attempted to be head in His stead, so to be king, priest, and prophet.... He has attempted to wrest his scepter and kingdom from Him, and that he has endeavored to thrust himself into His throne, which is the heart and conscience of His people. The heart and conscience is that which Christ claims for His own proper and peculiar seat: 'My son, give me your heart.' 'That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.' In this therefore the Church is not from another man, so will He be for her; but this throne Antichrist has lusted for, attempted to take, and made war with Christ and His Church" (Complete Works of John Bunyan, Volume 4, 169).
Puritans on the Antichrist
Whitaker: "If it is true that Antichrist must present himself above everything that is called God or spirit; and if it is true that the Antichrist must introduce apostasy into the Church; and if it is true that the Antichrist must sit in the temple of God; and if it is true that the Antichrist must show himself to be God; and if it is true that the Antichrist must seize tyrannical power from the overthrown Roman Italian Empire by assuming the role of monarch; and if it is true that the Antichrist must have precursors who began soon after the ascent of Christ; and if it is true that the Antichrist must continue until the end of the world; and if it is true that the Antichrist must work the works of Satan; and if it is true that the Antichrist must boast of working signs and lying wonders; and if it is true that the Antichrist must feign him-self like unto a lamb; and if it is true that the Antichrist must restore the image of the prior beast; and if it is true that the Antichrist must in every way be the Latin ruler, Lateinos, who occupies Rome, Mystery, Musterion, Babylon; and if it is true that the Antichrist must rule from a seven-mountain city, which is known for its purple color; and if it is true that that city must also be known as a woman and a harlot; and if it is true that the Antichrist must have all these identifying marks as described so clearly and precisely in the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit; then, unless we ascribe a deficiency to the Holy Spirit's description of Antichrist, we must acknowledge and believe to the unavoidable conclusion drawn from overwhelming evidence: The Roman Pontiff is the Antichrist and there can be no other. Truly it can be said, without contradiction, that he came before and will follow after" (William Whitaker, The Roman Pontiff is that Antichrist whose presence Scripture Prophesied, 2001, 25-27).
Ussher: "Antichrist is the one who under a color of being for Christ, and under title of His Viceregent, exalts himself above, and against Christ; opposing himself unto Him in all his offices, and ordinances, both in Church and Commonwealth. This Antichrist rules over the City of seven hills which did bear rule over the nations, and put our Lord to death. He is that Man of Sin, a harlot Mother of spiritual fornications...a child of perdition, and a destroyer; establishing himself by lying miracles, and false wonders. All which marks together do agree with none but the Pope of Rome" (James Ussher, A Body of Divinity, 1653, 438).
Owen: "Was it a few Jesuits only who approved the murder of two kings in France, one after another, and the massacre of 100,000 Protestants? Who designed and blessed all the preparations for the murder of Elizabeth, with the unjust invasion of this nation in 1588? Was it not the Church itself in its head the Pope and the horns the Cardinals at Rome?" (The Works of John Owen, Volume 14, 610).
"They ceased not until they had utterly destroyed all the order, rule, and government of the church of Christ, yea, the very nature of it, and introduced into its rooms a carnal, worldly church-state and rule, suited unto the interests of covetous, ambitious, and tyrannical prelates. The most of them, indeed, knew not for whom they wrought in providing materials for that of Babel...for after they were hewed and carved, shaped, formed, and gilded, the Pope appeared in the head of it, as it were, with these words in his mouth: 'Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" (The Works of John Owen, Volume 15, 238).
Durham: "We think that conceit or dream of the papists all so literally of an Antichrist who shall come of the Tribe of Dan, and that shall reign just three and a half years, sitting in Jerusalem, and building that Temple.... This dream invented by them to keep their pope from being apprehended as the true Antichrist, this I say is not worth the insisting on to refute, as being contrary to the frame of the prophecy past, and also of that which follows concerning the Beast (Revelation 13), for certainly this trail being so long, as the great part of Revelation is spent on it, and so many things to be done under it, it cannot be performed in so short a time" (James Durham, The Revelation, 693).
Justification and the Papacy
"These are the great centuries of justification by faith in Christ alone, succeeding a period in which salvation had been obtained through the ceremonies and sacraments of the church, succeeded by a period in which works, morality, were to be re-emphasized as against the justifying faith alone. Historically the belief in Antichrist was strongest among those Protestants who most strongly emphasized justification by faith and were most hostile to the ecclesiastical establishment and its ceremonies" (Christopher Hill, Antichrist in Seventeenth Century England, 1990, 159).
Reformed Presbyterians on the Papacy
"To any one acquainted with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, nothing can be more manifest than the correspondence of the facts of history respecting the rise of the papacy, and the statement of the Apostle Paul here [2 Thessalonians 2]. The simple facts are these: (1) There were early corruptions in the church at Rome, as there were elsewhere, but particularly there, as Rome was the seat of philosophy and power. (2) There were great efforts made by the Bishop of Rome to increase his authority, and there was a steady approximation to what he subsequently claimed - that of being universal bishop. (3) There was a constant tendency to yield to him deference and respect in all matters. (4) This was kept in check as long as Rome was the seat of Imperial power. Had that power remained there, it would have been impossible for the Roman bishop ever to have obtained the civil and ecclesiastical eminence which he ultimately did. Rome could not have had two heads, both claiming and exercising supreme power; and there could never have been a 'revelation of the man of sin.' (5) Constantine removed the seat of the empire to Constantinople; and this removal or 'taking away' of the only restraint on the ambitious projects of the Roman bishops gave all opportunity which could be desired for the growth of papal power. In all history there cannot, probably, be found a series of events corresponding more accurately with the prophetic statement than this; and there is every evidence, therefore, that these are the events to which the Spirit of inspiration referred" (Albert Barnes, Commentaries, Volume 13, 1979, 87-88).
"The twelfth century, according to Mr. Gibbon, [was] the meridian of papal greatness. [The Paulicians, the Waldenses, the Vaudois, and other bodies of true Christians] proclaimed [the papacy] as we have seen, to be the Antichrist of Scripture, the Harlot of the Apocalypse. Then was war waged against them, with all the power of apostate Rome, to silence and destroy them. This war was commenced in the edicts of the councils, which stigmatized the pure doctrines of the Bible, and branded [those who held them] as heretics.... The confessors of truth were denied these natural and civil rights...their lands given to those able to seize them.... At length a crusade was proclaimed against them. The Pope wrote to all princes exhorting them to earn their pardon and win Heaven by bearing the cross against the heretics.
"The peaceful valleys of the Vaudois were invaded and speedily devastated with fire and sword; their towns were burnt; while not one individual, in many cases, escaped to carry the tidings to the next valley. To all the cruelties of these wars, and to all the open persecutions which were waged, are added the horrors of the Inquisition.... Calculations, more or less accurate, have been made of the numbers Popery has slain.... From the year 1540 to the year 1570...no fewer than nine hundred thousand Protestants were put to death by the papists in different countries in Europe. During the short pontificate of Paul IV, which lasted only four years (1555-1559), the Inquisition alone, on the testimony of Bergerius, destroyed one hundred and fifty thousand.... Those who perished in Germany during the wars of Charles V, and in Flanders, under the infamous Duke of Alva, are reckoned in the hundreds of thousands. In France, several million were destroyed in the innumerable massacres that took place in that kingdom. It has been computed that since the rise of the papacy, not fewer than fifty millions of persons have been put to death on account of religion..." (Albert Barnes, Commentaries, Volume 11, 289-290).
"The common opinion, however, among Protestants is that the prophecies concerning Antichrist have special reference to the papacy. This conviction is founded principally on the remarkable prediction contained in Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians. "His coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders. This is not the way in which worldly potentates gain their power; they rely on force. But this is the way, as though traced by the pen of history rather than by the pencil of prophecy, in which the papacy has attained and maintained its fearful ascendancy in the world. Its power has been achieved mainly by fraud, by the deceivableness of unrighteousness.... It is the false claim of the papacy to have supreme authority over the faith of men, to decide for them what they must believe on the pain of eternal perdition, that is the most fearful power ever assumed by sinful men. "Antichrist is to be a persecuting power. Is not this true of the papacy? It has been drunk with the blood of the saints. It not only persecutes, but it justifies persecution, and avows to this day its purpose to enforce its dominion by the rack and the stake wherever it has the power.... The Thirty Years' War in Germany; the persistent attempts to exterminate the Piedmontese; the massacres by the Duke of Alva in the Netherlands; the horrors of the Inquisition in Spain; the dragonnades and the massacre of St. Bartholomew in France, over which Te deums were sung in Rome, show that the people of God can hardly have more to suffer under any future Antichrist than they have already suffered, and perhaps have yet to suffer under the papacy" (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, [1871-1873] 1989, 813).
"John Henry Newman in an essay written before his formal adhesion to the church of Rome uses such language as the following.... Not even Daniel's prophecies are more exact to the letter than those which invest the Church with the powers which Protestants consider Babylonish. Nay, holy Daniel himself is in no small measure employed on this very subject. He it is who announces a fifth kingdom, like a stone cut out without hands, which 'broke in pieces and consumed' all former kingdoms, but was itself to stand 'forever,' and to become a 'great mountain,' and to 'fill the whole Earth.' He it is also who prophesies that 'the Saints of the most high shall take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever.'...Now Christ himself was to depart from the Earth. He could not then in his own person be intended in these great prophecies: If He acted it must be by delegacy. According to Romanists, therefore, these prophecies relating to Christ and his kingdom, refer to the papacy. It is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which is to break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms; which is to stand forever; which is to fill the whole Earth; to which is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve. If this is not to put itself in the place of God, it is hard to see how the prophecies concerning Antichrist can ever be fulfilled. "No more conclusive argument to prove that the papacy is Antichrist could be constructed than that furnished by Dr. Newman, himself a Romanist. According to him, the prophecies respecting the glory, the exaltation, the power, and the universal dominion of Christ have their fulfillment in the popes. But who is Antichrist, but the man who puts himself in the place of Christ; claiming the honor and the power which belong to God manifest in the flesh, for himself? Whosoever does this is Antichrist, in the highest form in which he can appear. Another argument to prove that the Antichrist described by the Apostle is an ecclesiastical power is that his appearance is the consequence of a great apostasy.... "According to Paul's account, Antichrist was to arise in the Church. He was to put forth the most exorbitant claims: exalt himself above all human authority; assume to himself the prerogatives of God, demanding a submission due only to God, and virtually setting aside the authority of God, and substituting his own in its place. These assumptions were to be sustained by all manner of unrighteous deceits, by signs, and lying wonders. This portrait suits the papacy so exactly, that Protestants at least have rarely doubted that it is the Antichrist which the Apostle intended to describe" (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 818).
"Hence the woman appeared also 'drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.' This explains why the prophet wondered at the spectacle even with a great admiration! Had it been merely a heathen power...there had been no great reason for astonishment; the ungodliness, corruption, and persecuting violence exhibited were precisely what might have been expected. But such a transformation - a power spiritual in its origin, and claiming by its appearance still to possess a spiritual character - for such a power to have sunk so low, and come to act so atrocious a part, might well make the most profound astonishment...the symbolical designation forces on us the conclusion, that it is a fallen and degenerate church which is delineated - a power claiming the character, but opposed to the spirit and interests of the real church - worldly, temporizing, persecuting. Not only so; but it was to be also a power most extensive in its dominion, and preponderating in its influence.... It is the great apostasy of Paul come to its perfection, the Antichrist in its full development, and well-nigh total possession of the Earth which is the inheritance of Christ and his church. It is itself the church become worldly... presenting to them (those who belong to it) not the Lord's cup of manifold temptations and resistance unto blood against sin; but the golden cup of fleshly indulgence and foul abominations.... [I]f it be asked, where such a church is to be found? we cannot hesitate to reply, in that church, which in the nature and extent of its power and influence became in the course of a few generations after the apostle's time the city in another form which reigned over the kings of the Earth - in the church preeminently of Papal Rome" (Patrick Fairbairn, Prophecy, 1976, 374-375).
Protestant Confessions on the Papacy
"The Church can have no other head than Christ. He is the one universal pastor of all His flock, and has promised His presence to the end of the world. He needs, therefore, no vicar; for this would imply His absence. We reject the Romish fiction concerning an official head and title of the servant of servants of Christ; for experience proves that this is an empty boast, and that the Pope makes himself an enemy of Christ, and exalts himself above God, sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself that he is God" (Helvetic Confession of 1566).
"And therefore we abhor and detest all contrary religion and doctrine, but chiefly all kind of papistry in general and particular heads, even as they are damned and confuted by the Word of God and Kirk of Scotland. But in special, we detest and refuse the usurped authority of that Roman Antichrist upon the Scriptures of God, upon the Kirk, the civil magistrate, and consciences of men; all his tyrannous laws made upon indifferent things against our Christian liberty. His erroneous doctrine against the sufficiency of the written Word, the perfection of the law, the office of Christ, and His blessed Evangel" (The Second Scotch Confession and National Covenant, 1580).
"Since the Roman Bishop sets himself up as a monarch of the world-wide Christian Church, appropriating to himself the supremacy over all churches and pastors, and because his insolence and pride are such that he calls himself God; and that he wishes to be worshiped; and that he apportions all power to himself in Heaven and in Earth; and that he disposes of all ecclesiastical matters without restraint, as he wills; and that he establishes the articles of faith as he wills; and the authority of Scripture is subservient to his authority; and that their interpretation is his to give without restraint, as he wills; and that he exercises the traffic in souls; and that he releases as free, men bound by vows and oaths; and that he institutes new cults in the worship of God; and that pertaining to civil matters, he tramples the legitimate authority of magistrates by giving, taking, and transferring kingdoms - we believe and assert that he is the true and real Antichrist, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3), foretold in the Word of God.... The Whore clad in purple (Revelation 17:1), sitting on seven hills in the great city (Revelation 17:9), firmly holding authority over the rulers of the Earth (Revelation 17:18), and wait expectantly for God, when according to His promise (which has already begun), finally destroys him, broken and conquered by the Breath of His mouth and by the glory of His coming" (French Confession of Faith, 1604).
"The Bishop of Rome is so far from being the supreme head of the universal Church of Christ, that his works and doctrine do plainly discover him to be that Man of Sin, foretold in the Holy Scriptures, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and abolish with the brightness of His coming" (Irish Articles of Religion, 1615).
"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" (Westminster Confession of Faith 25:6, 1648).
"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, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (Savoy Declaration, Article IV, 1658).
"Neither can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head [of the Church] thereof, but is no other than Antichrist, that Man of Sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself above all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (Baptist Confession of 1688).
Jonathan Edwards on the Papacy
"There have been innumerable schemes secretly laid for the overthrow of the Protestant religion; one of the most likely to have taken effect was that in the time of King James II of England. There was at that time a strong conspiracy between the king of England and Louis XIV of France, who were both papists, to extirpate the Northern Heresy, as they called the Protestant religion, not only out of England, but out of all Europe.... They looked upon it, that if the Reformed religion were suppressed in the British realms, and in the Netherlands, which were the strongest part, and chief defense of the Protestant interest, they should have easy work with the rest.... Satan has opposed the Reformation with cruel persecutions. The persecutions with which the Protestants have been harassed by the church of Rome, have in many respects been far beyond any of the heathen persecutions. So that Antichrist has proved the greatest and most cruel enemy to the church of Christ that ever was in the world" (Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, 598).
"The other remarkable instance is, the fulfillment of Scripture prophecy concerning Antichrist. The way that this Antichrist should arise, is foretold, viz., by the falling away of the Christian church into a corrupt state: 'For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition' (2 Thessalonians 2:3). And it is prophesied, that this man of sin should set himself up in the temple or visible church, as head of the church, (verse 4). And all this is exactly come to pass in the church of Rome.... How literally has this come to pass with respect to the church of Rome! I might mention many other things which are foretold of Antichrist, and show that they were fulfilled most exactly in the pope and church of Rome. How strong an argument is this, that the Scriptures are the Word of God" (Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, 603-604).
John Wesley on the Papacy
"And the whole Earth wondered after the wild beast - that is, followed him with wonder in his councils, his crusades, and his jubilees. And they worshiped the dragon - even in worshiping the beast, although they knew it not, and worshiped the wild beast - paying him such honor as was not paid to any merely secular potentate. That very title: 'Our most holy Lord,' was never given to any other monarch on Earth.... Nothing greater, nothing more blasphemous can be conceived than what the popes have said of themselves, especially before the Reformation. "To blaspheme His Name - which many of the popes have done explicitly, and in the most dreadful manner...and it was given him - that is, God permitted him, to make war with the saints - with the Waldenses and Albigenses.... that no man might buy or sell - such edicts have been published long since against the poor Vaudois.... The name of the beast is that which he bears through his whole duration, viz., that of Papa or Pope.... The whole succession of popes from Gregory VII, are undoubtedly Antichrist. Yet this hinders not, but that the last pope in this succession will be more eminently the Antichrist, the Man of Sin; adding to that of his predecessors a peculiar degree of wickedness from the bottomless pit. This individual person, as a pope, is the seventh head of the beast; as the Man of Sin, he is the eighth, or the beast himself. "And in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints - there is no city under the Sun which has a title to Catholic-blood-guiltiness as Rome. The guilt of the blood shed under the heathen emperors has not been removed under the popes, but hugely multiplied. Nor is Rome accountable only for that which has been shed in the city, but for that shed in all the Earth. For at Rome, under the pope...were the bloody orders given; and wherever the blood of holy men was shed, there were the grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood have been shed by her agents! Charles IX of France, in his letter to Gregory XIII, boasts, that in, and not long after, the massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Huguenots. Some have computed, that from the year 1518 to 1548, fifteen millions of Protestants have perished by the war and the inquisition! This may be overcharged; but certainly the number of them in these thirty years, as well as since, is almost incredible. To these we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia" (Explanatory Notes on the New Testament, 719).
Modern Misapprehension of Antichrist
"How does it then come about that men are today disinclined to recognize the pope as the Antichrist? Whence this strange and deplorable fact that nearly all late 'believing' theologians hunt about for the Antichrist while he does his great and mighty work in the church right before their eyes? They are not established in the living knowledge of the doctrine of justification and in the importance of this doctrine for the church. From my own experience I must confess that in my own conscience I was not vitally convinced that the pope is the Antichrist until, on the one hand, I realized what the doctrine of justification is and what its significance is for the church, and, on the other hand, that the papacy has its real essence in denying and cursing the doctrine of justification, and by its show of piety and its claims to be the only saving church binds to itself men's consciences" (R. C. H. Lenski, Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles, 1937, 434-435).
The Papacy and the Worship of Corpses
Richard Owen ("Times," March 3, 2008)
San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy - The body of St. Padre Pio, one of Italy's most popular saints, was exhumed last night to be prepared for public veneration next month marking the 40th anniversary of his death and the 90th anniversary of the first appearance of stigmata on his hands and feet.
Capuchin friars at the sanctuary at San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy, where Padre Pio's tomb is visited by seven million pilgrims annually, said that "parts of the body" had been found to be "intact." Archbishop D'Ambrosio said the body was in "surprisingly good condition. As soon as we got inside the tomb we could clearly make out the beard. The top part of the skull is partly skeletal but the chin is perfect and the rest of the body is well preserved. The knees, hands, mittens and nails are clearly visible.... If Padre Pio allows me, I might say he looks as though he just had a manicure." The body would be placed in a glass covered coffin for veneration on 24 April for a period of "several months."
The exhumation - the first time the tomb had been opened since Padre Pio's death in 1968 - was approved by the Vatican despite opposition from some of the saint's most ardent followers. Padre Pio's relatives had threatened to take the local archbishop to court if the corpse was exhumed, and a group of devotees had also threatened legal action.
Padre Pio was canonised by the late Pope John Paul II in 2002. His image is displayed in piazzas, homes, shops, garages and vehicles throughout Italy....
The exhumation of the saint, who was credited with over a thousand miraculous cures, had been approved by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Congregation's Prefect, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, noted that the body of Pope John XXIII, who died in 1963, had also been exhumed when he was beatified, the step before sainthood. The body was found to be unusually well preserved....
Followers of Padre Pio believe he exuded "the odour of sanctity," had the gift of bilocation (being in two places at once), healed the sick, and could prophesy the future.
Italian reports said the exhumation had been carried out in the middle of the night to avoid possible protests and disruptions. The saint's body had then been taken to a "secret location" to protect it both from protesters trying to retrieve it, and from "unscrupulous relic hunters."