“…it is manifest that the Roman pontiffs andtheir adherents defend godless doctrines and godless forms of worship, and it is plain that the marks of the Antichrist coincide with those of the pope’s kingdom and his followers. For in describing the Antichrist in his letter to the Thessalonians Paul calls him “an adversary of Christ who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (II Thess. 2:3, 4). He speaks therefore of one who rules in the church and not of the kings of nations, and he calls that man “an adversary of Christ” because he will devise doctrines which conflict with the Gospel and will arrogate to himself divine authority.
On the one hand, it is manifest that the pope rules in the church 40 and that he has set up this kingdom for himself on the pretext of the authority of the church and the ministry, offering as pretext these words, “I will give you the keys” (Matt. 16:19). On the other hand, the doctrine of the pope conflicts in many ways with the Gospel, and the pope arrogates to himself a threefold divine authority.
First, because he assumes for himself the right to change the doctrine of Christ and the worship instituted by God, and he wishes to have his own doctrine and worship observed as divine.
Second, because he assumes for himself not only the power to loose and bind in this life but also the jurisdiction over souls after this life.
Third, because the pope is unwilling to be judged by the church or by anybody, and he exalts his authority above the decisions of councils and the whole church.
Such unwillingness to be judged by the church or by anybody is to make himself out to be God.(The Book of Concord, Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, page 327,Tappert Edition).
Once again, a Roman Pontiff comes to the United States. For the first time in our history, a pope will speak before a joint session of Congress. He will speak before the United Nations with our President in attendance. I feel sorry for all those who commute into Manhattan this week, but I am sorrowful of the draw these visits exert on the faithful. If you have never read, or it has been a long time since you have reread, the Lutheran Confessions on the office of the papacy, please do this week: The Smalcald Articles, Article IV, The Papacy and Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, they can found here and here. In short, the Roman Church believes, teaches and confesses the Pope rules by divine right.
The confessions teach, based upon 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4, that the papacy has the marks of the anti-Christ. It is a doctrine that repels many and in all probability the majority of those who call themselves Lutheran.
The totality of this false doctrine shows. Here are two examples from the current Pope which I hope will convince you to speak with others to avoid the papal/p.r. hype that attends these visits of an institution and a man who sets himself as God over the Bible, either misinterpreting or adding to it, as do liberal denominations.
This past May 24th, the Pope issued an encyclical on climate change and the environment, “Laudato Si’”. He begins with this heretical statement citing his chosen namesake, St. Francis:
“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
First, how could a woman be both sister and mother? A daughter could have sexual relations with her father and the progeny’s mother would also be her sister. I think this metaphor by St. Francis is mystical incest.
Second, The earth, being neither mother nor sister, cannot ‘cry out’ except to join in the praises of Israel and the Church to the LORD (Psalm 148). In the Bible, the earth is neither mother nor sister, but God’s good creation as are all people and animals, and that is enough reason to be faithful and careful stewards of creation.
Third, if the earth is our ‘mother’,then as our ‘mother’ she has begotten us to “embrace us”. She is not our mother. The earth does not have a father for begetting us. My mother and father, begot me, not the earth, as your mother gave you birth. The earth does not birth us. Even a stalwart Roman Catholic, G. K. Chesterton flat out wrote that nature is not our mother as this is pagan. Yes, he wrote she is our sister insofar as we are in God’s creation together, but I do not want to stretch any non-Biblical metaphor. I think we should be wary of such metaphors. The Pope’s approving statement is pagan mythology. This flies in the face of the summation of Biblical doctrine in the first article of the Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” We are made by God, not begotten from God nor His earth, only the Son is begotten from God.
Fourth, “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth…” (emphasis my own). God’s good earth, as His Mother the Virgin Mary, does not intercede and mediate for us our praise in heaven. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” 1 Timothy 2: 5
There is something worse than the possibility of manmade climate change and that is the reality of manmade doctrinal change. Heresy can make life hotter than hell, and it is usually well intentioned and considered ‘spiritual’.
It is clear that the Pope sets up worship and doctrine that is considered as meritorious for forgiveness and salvation. This did not stop with the Reformation. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Pope has decreed doctrines as necessary for salvation and therefore part of the Church’s worship (“holy days of obligation”):
- Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution “Ineffabilis Deus” (December 8, 1854) decreed the Immaculate Conception of the virgin Mary, Mother of God that she was born without the “stain of original sin”.
- Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 on his Encyclical “Munificentissimus Deus” decreed the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven. In an article from the Catholic News Agency, they admit, “This dogma has no direct basis in scripture. It was nonetheless declared “divinely revealed,” meaning that it is contained implicitly in divine Revelation.” We do not base doctrine and faith on an implication from Scripture, but only from Scripture.
So based upon this false doctrine and other Marian dogmas, for instance, the Roman Church has the feast of the “Coronation of Mary, Queen of Heaven”, August 22, which includes this liturgical verse: “Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia/ The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia”
The blessed Reformers knew that the papacy proclaims himself as God. Do sincere Roman Catholics actually think and/or believe this? So many do down to their feet. At the end of “The Today Show” report on Pope Francis’ visit to Brazil on April 24, 2013, they showed a video of a young woman and she said:
“When you are interacting with the Pope you interacting with Jesus on earth.”
I think this is the logical outcome of the Roman Church’s false doctrine that the Pope is the “vicar of Christ on earth”. I can understand why the young woman would have thought so based upon the aggregate of the false doctrine regarding the papacy and the pope. This so flies in the face of one aspect of doctrine in which Lutherans and Roman Catholics actually have agreement: The bread and the wine of the Mass, or Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ (Article X, The Augsburg Confession; Article X, The Apology of the Augsburg Confession[i]). This is the Lord on earth until He returns in glory. He is at His altars and tables by His Word of Promise: “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”. No, dear sister, you have not interacted with Jesus on earth when you meet the pope. Go to Holy Communion, hear the Gospel, pray, serve your family, help the poor. Our Lord’s birth was announced by a star but He was no star. He was no Superman but He is the Son of Man and Son of God. The pope is sadly a superstar.
I do rejoice that in a papal visit that the Holy Communion is out in the public, but in a world that worships at the cult of personality, of the “star”, the Pope, both in office and especially in person, excites this idolatry and true worship is overshadowed.
The Pope has also proclaimed this year as a ‘Jubilee Year’, the Year of Mercy. For instance, during this year, the wax-encased body of Maria Goretti, considered a saint in the Roman church, will be making a tour for veneration of her relics in the Untied States. The last time I remember a pope declaring a jubilee year was John Paul II. It was also the year the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” was signed by the ELCA, the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation. It was also the same year the pope declared a plenary indulgence for pilgrimages to the Vatican approved list of cathedrals.
The pope still promulgates wretched manmade works for forgiveness of sins in this world and the next. The pope is front and center as the masses proclaim him but this is contrary to Scripture: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4: 5). The Pope eclipses the true head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ. This also is true of the multitude of the antichrists already here in our native land on TV, the so-called evangelists and prosperity preachers with their ‘ministries’, and the sad history of cults from Mother Ann Lee to Joseph Smith to Jim Jones. They deny implicitly or explicitly the Incarnation for our salvation and theirs as well (1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 7).
This proclamation of the Pope as Christ’s vicar has occurred for centuries but now in the multi-media/texting/social media world, it raises it to a frightening level by going down to the depths of the lusts of the old Adam. It takes on apocalyptic proportions in our fan-intoxicated culture and let us always remember: that “fan” is short for “fanatic”. This comes in a time when the demise of teaching “sound doctrine” (cf. 1 Timothy 6: 3-4) is profound and such doctrinal teaching is considered as an impediment to so-called “church growth” proponents: conservative and liberal. I have thought the Pope is an ally in our struggles against abortion, same-sex marriage and the like. I think the media has distorted the current pope’s traditional understanding on these matters, but such distortion raises the question: What happens if, or when, the “Supreme Pontiff”, this one or the next one, changes his (or her!) mind on such matters?
In our secularist and ever tolerant culture, the doctrine of the pope as antichrist is not tolerated and is seen as “over the top”. What is actually over the top? The answer is clear: A Christian religious leader teaching as dogma non-Biblical doctrines, which deny justification in Christ by grace alone.
With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error’s maze astounded.
(#260, O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold, stanza 2, TLH)
A dear woman in our mission, in her eighties, grew up in Iowa and when she was a child, an itinerant preacher came through her town and asked a most frightening question: When the anti-Christ comes, will anyone know it is the anti-Christ? I hope we will know and “speaking the truth in love” (cf. Ephesians 4: 14-15) to guide a neighbor through “error’s maze” to Christ’s most marvelous light (cf. 1 Peter 2: 9).
[i] The point of disagreement regarding the Holy Supper is not that the bread and the wine is the Body and Blood of Christ. It is the Roman Church’s non-Biblical misuse of the Mass as a sacrifice for sins and remuneration. The Mass is the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” in order to strengthen faith: “…the proper use of the sacrament as a seal and witness of the free forgiveness of sins and as an admonition to timid consciences really to trust and believe that their sins are freely forgiven’ (Apology, Article XXIV, The Mass, paragraph 49, The Book of Concord, Tappert Edition).