“Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist!” – 2 John 1:7, NRSV
In a theological group that I’m a part of on Facebook, Michael Ana asked a few questions about whether or not the Pope was the AntiChrist, and how we should go about addressing the issue. Here is the post he made:
Wrestling with the “pope is an anti-Christ” line in the various confessions and historic letters from the Magisterial reformers, even in Spurgeon’s sermons. Three questions:
1) On what basis do we define someone as an anti-Christ? I know of various scriptures that define a-c as someone who denies Christ came in the flesh (2 John 1:7)…so, is every Muslim an antichrist? Any secular skeptic? Or only if they teach others their views?
2) How should a church’s statement of faith, properly address antichrists?
3) Considering shifts in ecclesiastical authority, should we have a contemporary focus- affirming against…the United Church, Emergent, etc?
Thank-you for your help brothers.
Here is the answer that I gave:
Here are my thoughts:
1. The anti-Christ is anyone who actively stands against the Gospel; this can include the Pope, it can also include the “Prophet” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. John clearly stated that anti-Christ was already in the earth when he wrote his letter. The Church didn’t start recognizing the Pope as the “vicar of Christ” until Pope Innocent III, and papal infallibility wasn’t defined until the First Vatican Council in 1870. So, based on that timeline, I think it’s inconsistent to say that the Pope is THE anti-Christ. I think it’s more accurate to say that he is A anti-Christ.
I would also add that anyone who teaches that the Pope is THE Anti-Christ is teaching a reactionary theology that was leftover from the Reformation. Quite frankly, it’s a matter of Luther and Calvin being pissed at the Pope (and rightfully so); so they make outrageous statements about the Pope being the Anti-Christ and try to stretch Scriptures and make them exclusively fit the Papacy.
2. Because the view of the anti-Christ is such a widely debated topic among Christians, it might be best not to include it in a Statement of Faith. But, if you think it MUST be in the Statement of Faith then I would suggest you handle it in very simple terms. Just state what the Bible says and no more.
3. Yes. We should always be able to stand against heretical movements that deny the Gospel and that dismiss the authority of God’s Word. However, we should not do this to the point that those who see us understand what we stand against, but fail to see what we stand for.
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