The Antichrist: Were the Protestant Reformers Correct?
[su_note note_color=”#c5e1f4″]Note from Steve Wohlberg:
This is a guest article written by Woodrow W. Whidden.[/su_note]
The Antichrist: Were the Protestant Reformers Correct?
by Woodrow W. Whidden
(Revised Version of An Article originally published on May 25, 2000)
Emeritus Professor of Religion
In this age of ecumenical calls for the unity of all Christians, when all professed Christians are supposed to see what they can do to find common ground and show both personal and theological charity to others not of their particular tradition of belief, the traditional Historicist interpretation of the Antichrist (also espoused by White Horse Media) as being fulfilled by the Roman Papal Church has been called into question.1
Should The Traditional Papal Interpretation Change?
What is to be made of this delicate situation? Has the Roman Catholic church (the Papacy) changed to the point that Historicist interpreters and their respective ministries need to seriously reconsider their traditional position that this largest of Christian bodies is the antichrist portrayed in the prophetic imagery of the “little horns” of Daniel 7 and 8, “the man of sin” of 2 Thess.2 and the Leopard-like, or sea beast of Rev. 13? In all of the changes that have occurred since Catholicism’s Vatican Council II of the early 1960s, has such change been sufficient to suggest that traditional Historicist expositions of prophecy should seriously modify or even jettison its standard antichrist interpretation?
Reaffirmation of Core Prophetic Positions
The approach taken in this article begins with a clear re-affirmation of the core of the “Historicist” prophetic interpretations: the papacy is the power pointed to in the antichrist imagery of the above named passages. I will not go over that ground again.2 What is suggested in support of the traditional, historical position follows in this article:
A Suggested Approach
First, before any bible-believing Christian, Historicist or otherwise, proceeds in their prophetic expositions of the Antichrist symbols in the Bible, it is absolutely necessary to be very clear what the core issues are regarding the nature and character of any such antichristian power. In other words, before any bible student attempts an interpretive identification of this power, it must be made clear what the characteristics of such a system are.
For instance, if you are going to declare “pandas” to be bears, you must know what the characteristics of the bear family are. Although we have popularly referred to “pandas” as bears, these winsome creatures were once thought to be more closely related to the raccoon family than the bear clan. Naturalists have carefully studied their nature and characteristics and have sought thereby to clarify which family they appropriately belong to.
Once more, the real question is this: what is the nature of the antichrist symbols which would merit the identification of any Biblical expression (such as the “man of sin”) as an “antichrist animal”? In other words, what is the very core nature of the teachings and actions of any power which would qualify it as a candidate for identification as an antichrist?
Second, there is the need to honestly confront a second question: has Papal Rome really changed its essential religious nature enough over the past five plus decades to demand that Historicist interpreters and desist from their long-held prophetic interpretations? In all of the changes that have taken place, has the previously alleged Papal “leopard-like beast” of Revelation 13 now evolved into a domesticated, declawed, gospel preaching, and law abiding Christian “cat”—some sort of leonine Aslan of the New Israel?3
Rome Has Changed: Let’s Face up to the Positive Facts!
Before these questions are answered there is a pressing need for Historicists, or any prophetic interpreter(s), to forthrightly affirm the many positive things that have taken place in Roman Catholicism. The great progress made on issues such as religious liberty, emphasis on Bible study (both lay and scholarly), its role in the fall of communism, opposition to abortion on demand, the strong calls for social justice and obedience to moral law are all truly commendable. At bare minimum, Christian honesty and charity demands that Historic interpreters and their outreach ministries should commend the Papacy for these very encouraging and courageous stands.
Furthermore we should all praise God for His providential leading in these developments which have been a blessing to millions. At bare minimum, lay and full-time evangelists (working in the Historicist tradition) should greatly rejoice that it is now much easier to engage our Roman Catholic friends in Bible study than it was fifty to sixty years ago. The Catholic position on religious liberty has certainly helped to open the way for Protestant gospel proclamation in formerly repressive Catholic countries where the more evangelical denominations had previously found the going very tough (such as the South American country of Columbia in the mid-20th Century).
Has Rome Had a Truly Biblical Change?
Such progress should be acknowledged (even celebrated), but are these the core issues that would enable us to identify any antichrist person or power? Once again, the nagging question rears its wondering head: Has the very nature of the alleged Papal “beast” of Bible prophecy changed to the point that we can now say that we are dealing with a truly Bible-based and renewed “gospel” church?
The Biblical Litmus Tests
To get a solid Biblical answer to the previous question, the following collective thesis (in the form of probing Biblical tests) is proposed as the true, collective litmus test for any would-be candidate for the dubious office of antichrist: what makes any power by nature an “antichrist” is when it either denies or opposes the following:
1) The eternal authority of the ten commandment law as an unchanging expression of the nature and will of God (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:17; 13; 14:12; II Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7, 8).
2) The Gospel of justification by grace through faith alone, not by works of the law (Revelation 14:6, 7; Romans 1:16,17 and Galatians 1:8, 9; 2:16; 3:1–14).
3) The centrality of Jesus Christ as the only “mediator” between God and Man (Daniel 8:9-14, 25; 9:24-27; Revelation 13:6; I Timothy 2:5 and Heb. 9:15).
4) And, finally, when such a power denies these three previously listed great truths, it will ultimately seek to gain adherents by either “false miracles” (II Thessalonians 2:7–12; Revelation 13:11–14 and 16:12–15) or through compulsory force—normally employing both strategies (Daniel 7:21, 25; 8:9, 10, 23–25; Revelation 13:7–10, 15–17).
On these four key points, it must be asked: Has the Roman Church really experienced a genuine, biblically inspired religious conversion?
The issue being dealt with in this instance needs to be clearly drawn: before Historic interpreters (or any person or ministry) can continue to identify the Papacy as the antichrist, such should be able to clearly identify the eternal authority of the law of God as binding on all professed believers and define the Gospel of salvation by faith alone through the work of Christ as the believer’s one and only Savior and Mediator. Only then can the “lawless one” be identified and credible predictions be made that any such persons or powers who deny these great truths will use miracles and coercive force to gain adherents to their false laws, Gospel, and human mediators.
Doctrine Is the Primary Litmus Test, Not Good Behavior
Before elaborating on these crucial doctrinal issues and assessing how Papal Rome relates to them, it must be made very clear that the way Historicist interpreters have normally identified the antichrist has never been based primarily on the alleged moral failures and corruptions of any religious organization (all religious movements have their failing Peters and betraying Judas figures). They have consistently held that the teachings about Christ as saving mediator and the closely related issues of the holy law of God and the “everlasting Gospel” of Christ are at the core of the issue.
The Roman Papacy, like any human organization is a mixed bag morally and ethically. There have been good popes and bad ones (and the present pontiff, Frances, certainly gives the distinct impression that he is a man we would very much enjoy having as a next door neighbor—especially if we are among the poor), along with great saints and sinners.
The moral or ethical practice of any religion is not the central issue for the Historicist prophetic interpreters. All human organizations (including our own “feeble and defective” tradition and its supporting ministries) are sadly sinful and fallible to one degree or another. Furthermore, neither was moral perfection the issue for the Protestant Reformers and their successors who quite consistently identified the Papacy as an antichristian organization.
I vividly recall an incident when I was a graduate student at an ecumenically oriented, mainline Protestant seminary. The occasion was a class session during a seminar on the thought of 18th Century American Protestant (Calvinist) theologian and revivalists Jonathan Edwards. This particular day was devoted to a discussion of Edwards’ anti-Catholic writings. The very liberal and ecumenically oriented professor walked into the seminar room and laid out a folder full of rather sensationalist Revelation Seminar brochures that had been written from the Historicist perspective. To my dismay he promptly proceeded to call Edwards an anti-Catholic bigot because his position on the antichrist was very similar to that espoused in the colorfully illustrated, Historicist-inspired brochures.
I calmly suggested to him that if he was going to call Edwards a bigot, he must do the same to me. I then went on to remind him that what drives purported “cranks” like Edwards and Adventists is not prejudicial bigotry and religious hatred but a deep concern for the issues of law, salvation and the centrality of Christ as interceding High Priest. I don’t know that I convinced him, but I would like to try to convince Bible believing and prophecy loving Christians that the latter issues are what should compel any sincere Christian to reluctantly identify any anti-Christian elements that would effectively pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ—especially as it emerges from the pages of the Bible.
The Bible, Rome and the Law
It is very clear from the Biblical passages which describe the antichrist of prophetic history that this power has sought and continues to seek to do violence to the law of God, especially the law which deals with “time” and clearly identifies Christ as the great Creator/Redeemer God (Daniel 7:25; II Thess. 2; Revelation 12:17 and chapter 13).
Why is the Biblical law, especially the ten commandments of Exodus 20, so important to Historicist prophetic interpreters? Simply because the Bible is very clear that without this holy moral law the world is hopelessly prone to moral anarchy and any genuine experience of personal salvation is then terribly jeopardized.
The last point of the previous paragraph is very simple: Where there is no law, there is no sin and if there is no sin there is no need of a divine Savior. The flip side of this issue is that if there is only a human law, then all one needs is a human “savior” to save from something less than real sin.
For Historicist thinkers, the only way that Jesus can truly be exalted is through the darkness of our desperately sinful situation which our exposure to the searching claims of the law of Christ has spotlighted. Furthermore, what seem to be in the “cross hairs” of the antichrist revealed in the Bible are those commandments of the law that more especially have to do with the proper worship of God. When one carefully ponders what is going on in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, it is abundantly evident that the following issue is spotlighted: will Christians worship the Creator/Redeemer God or worship the beast(s) of Revelation 13. Furthermore, all of the beast powers described in Revelation 13 (the Beast, the Dragon and the Lamb-like beast) are all clearly making war on the first four commandments—the very ones which regulate and define the worship of the true God.4
Now, how does Papal Rome measure up to this first litmus test? The evidence is simply overwhelming–this greatest of all Christian Churches is a vast engine of earnest, but truly real opposition to the sacred unity and wholeness of God’s law and has especially centered its attack on the laws of the first table of the Ten Commandments.
This anti-law stance is certainly evident in the older Roman Catholic catechisms, but can it still be said that this is also true of post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism? The answer is simply and unequivocally, yes! All one has to do is consult the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1994), pp. 498–611 and the recent “Apostolic Letter, `Dies Domini’ of the Holy Father John Paul II, To the Bishops, Clergy, and Faithful of the Catholic Church on Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy” (issued from the Vatican on May 31, 1998).5
When one simply reads these straight forward messages from the Papal voice of the Vatican it is abundantly evident that Rome retained “ten commandments,” but they are not the “Ten” of Exodus 20 and the “Ten” which Jesus and Paul discoursed on—the very “Ten” which Jesus died to vindicate. Based on the most authoritative documents available from the Roman Church, it can be safely affirmed that this great church has not changed.
Now before proceeding any further, we want to clarify an issue of authority. When we cite documentary proof we want the reader to know that our major source is the new Catechism of the Catholic Church referred to in the previous paragraphs.
This important work is not just any old Catholic “catechism,” but is the Papal catechism developed under the direction of the late (and now “canonized”—made an official Saint) Pope John Paul II. Furthermore, in the very words of this beloved Pope himself
“it can be said that this Catechism is the result of the collaboration of the whole Episcopate of the Catholic Church” and “reflects the collegial nature of the Episcopate; it testifies to the Church’s catholicity.”6
Justification by Grace Through Faith Alone and Rome
Why is this doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone so important in these considerations? First of all it must be pointed out that the Protestant Reformation was not originally or ultimately about the issue of the Bible and the Bible Alone principle (sola Scriptura); while the Reformers did clearly affirm this great principle (along with sola Fide–Faith Alone; sola Christi—Christ Alone; and sola Gratiae –Grace Alone), they were more especially concerned with how a person is reconciled to God. Furthermore, the major reason why Luther originally began to call Papal Rome the antichrist is that the path to justification prescribed by the Papacy was deemed to be not only unbiblical, but also was declared to inherently destructive of any personal Christian peace and security.7
The Roman Catholic way of justification, which became clearly articulated at the Council of Trent (the source of the great 16th Century Roman Catholic Church’s definitive response to the theological challenges of the Protestant Reformers), went essentially like the following:
A person was certainly justified through the grace of God. It was, however, the sanctifying grace of God infused into the believer through the sacraments of the church which produced an inner (or subjective) manifestation of the righteousness of Christ. It was this inner, grace infused righteousness which then effectively formed the meritorious basis of the penitent believer’s justification.
In other words, Papal Rome supplants justification by faith alone, which accounts or reckons the sinner as righteous for Christ’s sake, with a justification which makes a sinner righteous through an inner, sanctifying or transforming grace. And through this inner righteousness, the sinner is declared to be justified. Justification by grace through faith alone is hopelessly confused with and swallowed up by an inner, sanctifying grace. Put still another way: it is on the basis of what grace does through the believer in producing righteous merit that the sinner is justified.
The most pressing problem which Luther confronted in his personal search for spiritual and ethical peace of mind was this: because of his sinful nature, he could never be sure that he had manifested enough good works to merit salvation. His troubled conscience, provoked by his sensitivity to the remnants of sin left in his corrupt, depraved nature, was not pacified by any of his acts of obedience accomplished through an alleged infusion of sanctifying grace. Thus the great battle cry of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century became “justification by faith alone, not by works of the law” (sola fide).
Let’s be very transparent about what the Protestant Reformers meant. They were not saying that the law was done away with by grace or that sanctification was irrelevant to Christian experience.8 They were simply declaring that the only way for a person to be truly justified was not by works of obedience to the law, but by faith in the imputed, accounted merits of Christ’s righteous obedience which were mediated to the believer by Christ Himself in heaven. This justifying righteousness is reckoned to the believer’s account; thus the believer stands forgiven and accepted for Christ’s sake and has a new objective legal standing as sinless before God.
The Reformers felt that this was the great teaching of not only Christ and Paul, but also the great prophets of the Old Testament (see especially Romans 3 and 4 and Galatians 2 and 3). Most clearly, sanctifying or transforming grace was not denied. Rather, it was held to be the inevitable result of receiving Christ by faith–a fruit of the justifying root of Christ’s imputed righteousness.
Once again, the question needs to be confronted: what is so crucial about this issue?
First of all, along with Luther, it has been the overwhelming testimony of those who believe in Christ that if justification is the result of sanctification (faith plus works, as contrasted to a faith that works), how would any sensitive soul ever be sure if his/her obedience and good works would be sufficient to satisfy the infinite justice of God?
The usual, baleful fruits of such a concept are twofold and closely related:
1) For those with very sensitive consciences, without the assuring knowledge of objective righteousness imputed, or accounted to their records in heaven, the end result will be despair. The fruit of unrelieved despair brings about a strange destruction of the law: the despairing believer, without a clear grasp of Christ’s imputed or forgiving righteousness, simply throws in the towel and practically does away with the law. Soon is heard the plaintive cry—“Who is sufficient for such a righteousness, let’s give up and `eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.’ Since the law cannot be perfectly obeyed, just give into your lusts and get as much as you can out of life before one sinks into an eternity of oblivion.”
2) The second terrible condition which can be produced by salvation through sanctifying grace (as the meritorious basis of any person’s salvation) is the Pharisaic approach to religion. The dynamics of this latter, tragic state of mind work like this: since sinners realize quite instinctively that they are never in full conformity with the law of God, what one has to do is slice the law down to size and make it so that sinful humans can convince themselves that they have now met its scaled-down demands.
This “pharisaic” route to justification is the most subtle way of degrading the law of God and easily leads to attitudes of self-righteousness. If the basketball basket were only seven feet high, I could probably become a pretty good “slam dunk” artist!In addition to lowering the moral bar (standard) of true righteousness, such a method of salvation also involves the sad phenomenon of “externalism.” By “externalism” is meant the approach to righteousness which is preoccupied with meeting the mere “letter” of the law in a sterile, mechanical obedience. Not realizing the infinite nature of the righteousness of the Law of Christ, one can easily convince his/her desperate soul that the law’s demands have been met. In actual fact, all such sinners have done is to go through the motions of a Christless self-deception.9
What is truly ironic about these two sad conditions is that they seem to be just the opposite of what the average person thinks would happen. Since the time of Jesus and Paul, those who have proclaimed justification by grace through faith alone, not by works of the law, have been consistently accused of doing away with the law (see especially Romans 3:31). Yet it is only when the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone is clearly understood that true believers can have a sure cure for the curses of moral despair, self-righteousness and doing away with the holy law of God as the standard of true righteousness.
Now, what about Papal Rome? Does it still hold to justification through sanctification by grace? And the sad response is a reluctant, but emphatic Yes– it most certainly does. The canons (conclusions that were approved) of the Council of Trent are still the theological standards cited by the new Catechism. The official Papal way of justification is still one grand system of works righteousness!!10
Many have suggested that Rome has now changed. The major evidence cited for this alleged transformation has been the highly publicized “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church. Space does not permit a detailed analysis of this important document, but a few brief observations are in order.
First of all, it should be pointed out that while this document has some very traditionally Lutheran sounding language, it is abundantly clear that Rome has not renounced its classic positions as outlined above. Nothing in this “Joint Declaration” denies the theology of justification by faith voted at the Council of Trent or as re-presented in the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church (both clearly teaching justification as the result of sanctification).
Second, the “Joint Declaration” is a classic example of ecumenical diplomacy where the participants seek to find vague agreement, without really facing the nasty realities of clearly discernible disagreement. Professor Douglass Sweeney was quite correct when he perceptively pointed out that what the Catholic Church has done is to now
affirm (for the first time ever) that its condemnations at the Council Trent of the Lutheran doctrine of justification are no longer valid . . . the Catholic Church now concedes that, as far as justification is concerned, the Lutheran position is acceptable and not a church-dividing doctrine.
This does not mean that Roman Catholics have now adopted the Lutheran position. They have only condoned it and will likely continue to articulate their own view of justification in fairly traditional Catholic terms. The joint declaration does not accomplish all that its framers seem to claim and certainly not all that other eager proponents have been suggesting. Truth be told, the Joint Declaration is full of the kind of vague theological language that so often characterizes even the best work of the modern ecumenical movement.11
One could only wish that the Roman Catholic Church has truly embraced the great biblically informed Lutheran/Protestant understanding of justification. The inescapable conclusion seems to be the following: when, and only when, the Roman Church repudiates the Canons of the Council of Trent on justification by faith alone, as essentially reaffirmed and articulated in its new Catechism, will we then be able to celebrate a truly substantive ecumenical breakthrough regarding the issues of personal salvation!!
Is Papal Rome still carrying on its subtle opposition to Biblical justification? It certainly appears to be doing such, based on the evidence found in its most authoritative documents.
Jesus the Only Mediator and Rome
The Roman Catholic way of salvation not only collapses justification into sanctification, but it also tends to deny the centrality of Christ as the saving Mediator. Thus the Catholic way of salvation is a vast sacramental system which sees grace as being mediated through the sacraments administered by its properly ordained priests. The sacraments and the human priests (vicars–those who represent the Pope, the “Vicar of Christ” on earth) are the channels of saving grace.
The most important sacraments are the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) and Penance.
The emblems of the Lord’s broken body and shed blood are not merely signs suffused with the spiritual presence of Jesus; through the words (“this is my body”) of the officiating vicar/priest! They are seen to be “hosts” that become the very substantive body and blood of Jesus. And in partaking of these, communicants partake of Jesus and His saving grace.
Regarding the sacrament of penance, Roman Catholicism lays out the following rationale: When one goes to confession, the penitent communicant receives absolution (forgiveness) of sins from the priest/confessor. And thus the guilt of sin and its “eternal” penalties are absolved (remitted) by the priest. But, the so-called “temporal” penalties are not. These latter penalties must be satisfied, or worked off through indulgences. These indulgences draw upon the so-called “Treasury of merit.” This “treasury” is set forth as a vast reservoir of excess merit which Jesus and the saints have gained through their righteous lives (called the merit of supererogation). Access to this treasury is the unique prerogative of the Roman Catholic Church and is obtained by the faithful penitents through various actions and observances, including financial purchases. What is to be made of all of this?12
First of all, the New Testament knows nothing about any such unique human priesthood of sacramental intercession (including Mary, the mother of Jesus). The Bible is quite clear that all penitents may by faith “come boldly to the throne of grace” through the intercessions of Christ–“the one mediator between God and man” (Hebrews 4:16; I Timothy 2:5).
In other words, this vast, complicated system has totally taken the focus off of Christ’s mediation in the heavenly sanctuary and has placed it on earthly sacrifices and mediators. And such sacrifices, which are “created” by an earthly, human priesthood that draws on (at least in part) the merit of human accomplishment to produce a human righteousness, which is the fruit of an infused grace (sanctification), which then becomes the subjective, justifying merit that saves the human communicant.
When Rome fully repudiates this unbiblical sacramental understanding of saving grace, so closely bound up with human merit, then we can be quite sure that we are on the way to a truly Biblical, Christ-centered ecumenical breakthrough.
Miracles, Religious Liberty and Rome
The final litmus test that can aid any earnest Bible-believing student in the identification of the essential credentials of any antichrist has to do with persuasion by miracles and the use of the power of governmental laws and police action to forcefully bring about religious adherence and moral conformity. It is certainly true that Rome is not now the persecuting power it used to be. The real question is this: can we still believe the Bible when it foretells the following about the “sea Beast” of Revelation 13 that received power “to make war with the saints” (vs. 7) and then does so by going on to kill “with the sword” (vs. 10)?
Most clearly, the historical record informs us that the Roman Papal power has persecuted many who have conscientiously challenged its teachings in the past. The very pertinent question then arises: will it do so again? And according to Revelation 13, it will once again embark on campaign of persecution in the future, only with the caveat that at that terrible time it will carry out such persecutions in conjunction with the “earth” beast, a power described has having “two horns like a lamb” and speaking “like a dragon” (vs 11). And clearly, such speaking will then be translated into actions that will “cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (vs. 15).
Does Rome change? Of course she does. Is this change, however, only peripheral or is it really a substantive change in its most basic religious nature? Is it really possible that Rome will once more return to her past tactics of physical and mental persecution?
The following observation is cautiously suggested about miracles and persecution:
Rome is certainly using false miracles to gain adherents. One only has to take note of the numerous reports of the sightings of the Virgin Mary and the allegation of miracles performed by her throughout the world. This is nothing but a type of spiritualism dressed up in the garb of popular Roman Catholic piety that has long been manifested in the cult of Mary. Quite obviously, from the biblical perspective, Mary is neither a mediator nor even alive. She is dead and the rumors of her appearances are either fraudulent, human trickery, subtle self-deception, or a Demonic miracle. Yet multitudes are awed by numerous reports of appearances and miracles supposedly wrought out by the mother of Jesus.
Now let’s return to the question of persecution. While it is true that the Papacy is not presently engaged in any reported persecutions, the following principle invites careful reflection: anytime any earthly power, be it political, religious or religio/political, does not have the love of God (as both the root and fruit of justifying grace by faith alone) serving as the motive power for obedience, it will inevitably have to resort to force to bring about the desired conformity with its beliefs and practices. Two very instructive Biblical examples come immediately to mind:
1)When Cain’s false, bloodless sacrifice was rejected (in contrast to the blood sacrifice offered by Abel), Cain resorted to force.
2)The Jews of Christ’s day, who had played loose and fast with the sacredness of God’s law (Mark 7:7-13) and salvation by grace through faith alone, ultimately put to death the very One Who was the Author of both the holy law of God and the plan of salvation. And what was the core of Christ’s way of salvation? It was based solely on His own law and merits—not the laws and merit of human beings.
Once more, the following key issue needs to be kept firmly in our minds: the identification of any possible antichrist power has to do with the core issues involved with saving grace and the holy law of God. When the law of God is distorted, the grace of Jesus is then transformed into human merit, and the unique mediation of Jesus is supplanted by human mediators. Furthermore, in the wake of such perversions, one can be assuredly forewarned that false miracles and governmental power to enforce compliance are just around the corner.
When these four key tests are applied to the Roman Catholic religious system, the sad, but inescapable conclusion emerges that Papal Rome is still the best candidate to fulfill the prophecy of the great power(s) envisioned in Daniel 7 and 8, II Thess. 2 and Revelation 13. Clearly, we put forward this thesis with no sense of triumphalism or glee. This is truly an extremely sad and sobering portrait which Bible prophecy paints.
The key question is not whether Bible-believing Christians should now mount a fresh campaign to figure out new and inventive ways to give the Papal ‘beast” a good roasting. Rather, the challenge for any Bible-based prophetic movement is to earnestly pray and study new ways to exalt Jesus, His law and gracious salvation as we have never done before.
If we have not clearly presented the “good news,” I fear that our Roman Catholic friends will not be able to receive, in good grace, the bad (and sad) news about the antichrist. And this is the ultimate core issue for all peoples–be they non-Christians, Catholic Christians (both Greek and Latin), Protestants, and Historicist prophetic interpreters: do we love the “only Mediator,” Saviour and law “Giver” enough that we would die for those who are caught up in any antichristian system!!!
Our objective should not be to win a debate over who is the antichrist, but that our witness to Jesus and for His marvelous plan of salvation would effectually call honest-hearted seekers out of any “Babylonian” Antichristian system. If we lovingly witness for Jesus and His “once for all” sacrifice for sin, the antichrists will be effectually exposed as never before.
- “Adventism and Catholicism,” Spectrum Vol. 27, Issue 3, Summer 1999, pp. 30–52.
- See Clifford Goldstein’s “Solely, Totally, and Only Rome,” Adventist Review, December 23, 1999, p. 27; Jon Paulien’s What the Bible Says About the End-Time (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1994), especially pp. 105-150 and the excellent Volumes (especially the ones dealing with Daniel and Revelation) in the “Daniel and Revelation Series,” edited by Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD: Biblical Research Institute, 1980s–Mid-1990s).
- The reference here to Aslan draws upon the imaginative Christ figure in C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
- See the very perceptive discussion of this issue in Jon Paulien’s What the Bible Says About the End-Time, Part Four and especially Chapter 11, pp. 121-29
- For key excerpts, see Spectrum, Volume 27, Issue 3, Summer 1999, pp. 32-34.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 4
- See James M. Kittleson’s very readable and insightful biography of Martin Luther entitled Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986), pp. 152 ff.
- This is the false teaching of antinomianism–from the Greek words anti–against or taking the place of, and nomos–law. That is, justifying grace does away with the law.
ix. This was Paul’s sad state before he caught a vision of Christ’s righteousness; see Philippians 3:1–15, especially vs. 5-7.
- This was Paul’s sad state before he caught a vision of Christ’s righteousness; see Philippians 3:1–15, especially vs. 5-7.
- Catechism, pp. 366-70, especially see the authoritative citation on p. 367 from the Council of Trent—the definitive word on justifying grace which denied the Reformation doctrine of “faith alone, without works of the law.”
- Douglass A. Sweeney, “Taming the Reformation,” Christianity Today, January 10, 2000, 63-65.
- I refer the reader once again to the new Catechism, pp. 384–99 (on the Eucharist and priesthood); 481–90 (on grace and justification), and 370-74 (on indulgences.