The Email was Titled “Meeting to Talk about (the Pope as) Antichrist,” by Pr. Rossow

January 9th, 2013 Post by

This email that I got the other day from a member illustrates a lot of things. It illustrates life in a confessional parish, the challenge to called workers of the LCMS to subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions and in light of recent discussions on BJS, the error of unionism.

It’s not a typical title for the emails I get, especially from a member. This member has a daughter marrying a catholic and he wants to talk about it. He frequents our Confessions Reading Group so he has a decent handle on the Symbols and knows the right questions to ask. He and I had talked on the phone about setting a time to get together and thus the title of the email.

In this day and age in the LCMS when many are queasy about standing firm on matters of unionism and syncretism, it is a healthy challenge for not only called workers, but all Lutherans to come to grips with the Confessions’ assertion about the office of the papacy.

Here is what the Smalcald Articles, from the Book of Concord, say about the matter (note well paragraph 10):

Part II, Article IV: Of the Papacy.

1] That the Pope is not, according to divine law or according to the Word of God the head of all Christendom (for this [name] belongs to One only, whose name is Jesus Christ), but is only the bishop and pastor of the Church at Rome, and of those who voluntarily or through a human creature (that is, a political magistrate) have attached themselves to him, to be Christians, not under him as a lord, but with him as brethren [colleagues] and comrades, as the ancient councils and the age of St. Cyprian show.

2] But to-day none of the bishops dare to address the Pope as brother as was done at that time [in the age of Cyprian]; but they must call him most gracious lord, even though they be kings or emperors. This [Such arrogance] we will not, cannot, must not take upon our conscience [with a good conscience approve]. Let him, however, who will do it, do so without us [at his own risk].

3] Hence it follows that all things which the Pope, from a power so false, mischievous, blasphemous, and arrogant, has done and undertaken. have been and still are purely diabolical affairs and transactions (with the exception of such things as pertain to the secular government, where God often permits much good to be effected for a people, even through a tyrant and [faithless] scoundrel) for the ruin of the entire holy [catholic or] Christian Church (so far as it is in his power) and for the destruction of the first and chief article concerning the redemption made through Jesus Christ.

4] For all his bulls and books are extant, in which he roars like a lion (as the angel in Rev. 12 depicts him, [crying out] that no Christian can be saved unless he obeys him and is subject to him in all things that he wishes, that he says, and that he does. All of which amounts to nothing less than saying: Although you believe in Christ, and have in Him [alone] everything that is necessary to salvation, yet it is nothing and all in vain unless you regard [have and worship] me as your god, and be subject and obedient to me. And yet it is manifest that the holy Church has been without the Pope for at least more than five hundred years, and that even to the present day the churches of the Greeks and of many other languages neither have been nor are yet under the Pope. 5] Besides, as often remarked, it is a human figment which is not commanded, and is unnecessary and useless; for the holy Christian [or catholic] Church can exist very well without such a head, and it would certainly have remained better [purer, and its career would have been more prosperous] if such a head had not been raised up by the devil. 6] And the Papacy is also of no use in the Church, because it exercises no Christian office; and therefore it is necessary for the Church to continue and to exist without the Pope.

7] And supposing that the Pope would yield this point, so as not to be supreme by divine right or from God’s command, but that we must have [there must be elected] a [certain] head, to whom all the rest adhere [as their support] in order that the [concord and] unity of Christians may be preserved against sects and heretics, and that such a head were chosen by men, and that it were placed within the choice and power of men to change or remove this head, just as the Council of Constance adopted nearly this course with reference to the Popes, deposing three and electing a fourth; supposing, I say, that the Pope and See at Rome would yield and accept this (which, nevertheless, is impossible; for thus he would have to suffer his entire realm and estate to be overthrown and destroyed, with all his rights and books, a thing which, to speak in few words, he cannot do), nevertheless, even in this way Christianity would not be helped, but many more sects would arise than before.

8] For since men would have to be subject to this head, not from God’s command, but from their personal good pleasure, it would easily and in a short time be despised, and at last retain no member; neither would it have to be forever confined to Rome or any other place, but it might be wherever and in whatever church God would grant a man fit for the [taking upon him such a great] office. Oh, the complicated and confused state of affairs [perplexity] that would result!

9] Therefore the Church can never be better governed and preserved than if we all live under one head, Christ, and all the bishops equal in office (although they be unequal in gifts), be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, Sacraments, prayer, and works of love, etc., as St. Jerome writes that the priests at Alexandria together and in common governed the churches, as did also the apostles, and afterwards all bishops throughout all Christendom, until the Pope raised his head above all.

10] This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God. 11] This is, properly speaking to exalt himself above all that is called God as Paul says, 2 Thess. 2:4. Even the Turks or the Tartars, great enemies of Christians as they are, do not do this, but they allow whoever wishes to believe in Christ, and take bodily tribute and obedience from Christians.

I won’t go into a lengthy explanation of the Confessions on this matter because they speak clearly enough on thier own except for the following three brief points.

1) The first step toward understanding this truth that the pope is the antichrist is to realize that the Scriptures speak both of a single anthichrist (the lawless one of II Thess. 2) and of multiple antichrists (as in I John 2). The Biblical notion of antichrist is wider and far more subtle than what Hollywood and the chiliasts portray.

2) Antichrist means exactly what it says. It is someone who opposes Christ. The Roman Catholic rejection of salvation by grace through faith apart from works is clearly anti Christ.

3) As mentioned in point 1 above, the antichrist is not some little boy with 666 branded into his scalp, a political figure like Michael Gorbachev, or any other ghostly or beastly figure. Because we have been catechized by Hollywood and the local Christian bookstore instead of doing a careful study to understand the Revelation to St. John and its figurative nature (Jesus is not going to look like a lamb in heaven), we have a tendency to find it absurd that Luther and the Reformers rightly taught that the office of the papacy fits the Biblical description of the antichrist.

It is sad that so many LCMS pastors are willing to join in worship with the servants of the antichrist and also with other denominations who deny the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, baptismal regeneration and divine monergism among a myriad of other errors.

Joint worship with heterodox Christians, like those whose ecclesiastical head fills the office of the antichrist, is obviously wrong based on the Lutheran Confessions. Any LCMS pastor who holds a contrary view is not genuinely Lutheran.

This is a good time (kairos) for the LCMS to renew its commitment to the faith of the Lutheran fathers as given to us in Scripture and taught by the Lutheran Confessions. The teaching of the Smalcald Articles on the papacy/antichrist is a good test of our confessional mettle.

True, orthodox, confessional Christianity is not for the faint-hearted. The church is not a populist gang of church-growing, coffee-drinking, pop-culture comfortable, Jesus-rockers learning how to better manage their money, raise their kids and have better sex. The Church is a little flock. True, orthodox, confessional Christianity is not joining together with false teachers and believers with love overlooking error. It is recognizing and calling out error wherever it appears and fleeing from it.






Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. Matthew Mills
    January 15th, 2013 at 10:46 | #1

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #48
    Mr. McGranor,
    Lutherans aren’t really “Protestants.” I personally can’t think of a single “Protestant” church that isn’t more messed up than the Roman Catholics (though others here might list one or two out of the hundreds of fifth-generation splinter groups that make up Protestantism today.)

    Anyway, I thought I’d share this quote w/ you out of the conclusion to the Augeburg Confession 1530:

    “Only those things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches.”

    What flavor of Protestant are you btw?

    Cheers,
    -Matt Mills

  2. helen
    January 15th, 2013 at 12:05 | #2

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #50
    Helen, real men are provocative, controversial and offensive.

    Well, I’ve known some who were all of those things and thought they were “real men”!

    Real men don’t have to be any of them. Now, they may discuss a controversial or provocative (if you mean thought generating) topic, but they don’t have to be gorillas to do it.

  3. January 15th, 2013 at 17:49 | #3

    Which one of you, if not both; was baptized Catholic?

  4. helen
    January 15th, 2013 at 19:47 | #4

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #3

    Probably both of us… small ‘c’ catholic! :)

  5. Matthew Mills
    January 15th, 2013 at 21:53 | #5

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #3
    I was baptized by Pastor Wally Kroeger at Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

    Do you know of any “Protestant” Churches that believe teach and confess w/ St. Peter, St. Paul and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that my baptism at 6-weeks old worked the forgiveness of my sins, delivered me from death and the devil, and gives me eternal salvation? Because it did (and does to this day.) How many believe teach and confess that the elements of the Lord’s Supper really are exactly what Jesus said they are (His very body and blood: conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead, and buried; rose again from the dead on the third day; and ascended into heaven) given to us poor sinners to eat and drink for the forgiveness of our sins? Because they are, and they do. How many teach that when their pastors forgive our sins, those sins are truly forgiven? Because that’s true as well. The Bible clearly teaches all these things, and the Lutheran Confessions affirm them to be true, and if you belong to any Protestant church I’ve ever heard of, you reject all these Biblical truths (unlike the Bishop of Rome btw.)

    How many Protestant churches do you know that are still faithful to the Scriptures in only ordaining men to the pastoral office? There are a few left, but not many.

    Here’s the deal Mr. McGranor: you are asking for “Protestant unity.” This is what we as Lutherans believe (http://www.bookofconcord.org/ ). If you don’t agree w/ the Lutheran doctrines you see on sites like this, why would you want to unite w/ us? What do we really share w/ the “Protestants”?

    It’s not that we’re so fond of Rome, a lot of errors have sneaked into the Roman church over the millennia, but the Protestant churches are messed up like football bats. They’ve thrown out the Baby Jesus with the dirty Papal bath water.

    Epiphany Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  6. January 16th, 2013 at 00:41 | #6

    Matthew Mills, sometimes doctrine falls short of the spiritual reality. Do not even begin to preach something that we Protestants once understood; as if it is something new. I know that our past here, was marred by the Jazz Age Ku Klux Klan; but that does not hinder the spiritual reality of Antichrist. If you, or anyone was originally baptized Catholic; then you can be sure that, that individual is a part of a Satanic monstrosity, called the Roman Catholic Church.

  7. January 16th, 2013 at 00:53 | #7

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #6
    You sir know nothing of Protestantism (or Lutheranism). Protestantism focused upon God’s Word – you just denied that Word by saying what you did about Roman Catholic baptism. You sound like a damned Anabaptist, who focuses everything upon works and abilities instead of on the power of God’s Word to do as it does.

    I would strongly suggest you take your faithless talk somewhere else, probably back to the sect or cult you come from.

  8. January 16th, 2013 at 01:07 | #8

    Pastor Scheer, you should not even preach a word and God; that you question for a postmodern spirit of revision and deconstruction. You talk of other Protestants, as if they were your enemy; and as far as carnal man is concerned, one might not understand. Do not bring up any Anti-Catholic sentiments, and expect a ecumenical festival of worldly unity. Your kind will swear by the Papist, lie for them…and much more. Your foul type is clearly seen. You call your true spiritual brethren damned? May your faith in the Papist save you.

  9. Kathy L. M.
    January 16th, 2013 at 06:08 | #9

    Marrying into an RC family…I have a question…I have read that RCs believe in the sacrifice of the mass, that the priest is, somehow, offering again Christ’s body as a bloodless sacrifice during each mass. I am troubled by that, as His sacrifice was offered once. Should this bother me about the RC mass? The last two times I attended an RC event, a wedding and then a funeral, I was upset about having to be a part of this “bloodless sacrifice.” However, for some odd reason, neither event included communion.

  10. Mary
    January 16th, 2013 at 07:02 | #10

    “that my baptism at 6-weeks old worked the forgiveness of my sins, delivered me from death and the devil, and gives me eternal salvation?”

    Golly…and here I thought Jesus was the author and finisher of my faith.

    Remember to whom Peter was writing in 1Peter3:21. And remember there is much more to the verse than’ baptism now saves you’.

    Lutheran here, and it seems to me that WSM is on to something. I am a protestant. I keep my distance from Rome, The cozying up to anti-Christ is something that troubles me greatly.

    Don’t go to Rome, my Lutheran brothers and sisters. Or if you go, go all the way and leave us protestants with Lutheranism.

  11. Perry Lund
    January 16th, 2013 at 08:07 | #11

    Mary :
    “that my baptism at 6-weeks old worked the forgiveness of my sins, delivered me from death and the devil, and gives me eternal salvation?”
    Golly…and here I thought Jesus was the author and finisher of my faith.

    Jesus is the author of the Christian faith and Christ says that baptism is a means of grace. Thus baptism does work forgiveness of sins, delivered us from death and gives eternal salvation. This is God’s promise that we believe through God given faith.

    I do think Pastor Scheer’s comment is most likely very salient.

    Pastor Joshua Scheer :
    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #6
    You sir know nothing of Protestantism (or Lutheranism). Protestantism focused upon God’s Word – you just denied that Word by saying what you did about Roman Catholic baptism. You sound like a damned Anabaptist, who focuses everything upon works and abilities instead of on the power of God’s Word to do as it does.
    I would strongly suggest you take your faithless talk somewhere else, probably back to the sect or cult you come from.

    The evidence of WSM’s online Internet persona seems to reveal a distaste for Catholics and many Protestant denominations uniformly. I leave it to others to Google and discover that information.

  12. Rev. McCall
    January 16th, 2013 at 08:43 | #12

    FWIW we once asked our favorite prof at the seminary, “If Lutheran were no longer an option, would you become Protestant or Roman Catholic?” He did not hesitate. “Roman Cathlic,” he replied, “because I can live with the pope much easier than I can live without the sacraments.”

  13. Carl Vehse
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:18 | #13

    Someone should have pointed out to the “favorite prof” that his question, especially if made during a course on logic, was an example of the fallacy of a false dilemma, that is, a dilemma which excludes a reasonable middle or is unrealistic in the proffered choices.

    Furthermore the question offers two unpleasant (as well as unrealistic) choices, in the manner of “Morton’s Fork”, named after John Morton, who was made Roman Archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry VII in the late 15th century, and later made a Cardinal priest by Pope Alexander VI.

    Morton was also appointed as Lord Chancellor of England in 1487 and proceeded to raise everyone’s taxes with the claim, “If the subject is seen to live frugally, tell him because he is clearly a money saver of great ability, he can afford to give generously to the King. If, however, the subject lives a life of great extravagance, tell him he, too, can afford to give largely, the proof of his opulence being evident in his expenditure.”

  14. Rev. McCall
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:34 | #14

    @Carl Vehse #13
    Of course it was a false dilemma. It was designed to facilitate discussion on the influences of Evangelicalism on Lutheran doctrine and practice. False dilemma’s are presented all the time to people specifically for the purpose of discussion. To dismiss a false dilemma out of hand without searching for the underlying question is not the answer. Behind the false dilemma question is the very real reality of what is going on in many an LCMS church today, “Why are we so against any practice or theology that appears Roman Catholic while at the same time so eager to embrace the practice and theology of the Evangelical and Reformed?”

    The greater point (if I remember correctly) that was talked about that day was that many people in the LCMS still see the R.C. church as the boogie man and avoid anything that seems R.C. I personally have had people refuse to come to Ash Wednesday services, complain about making the sign of the cross and so on because it’s “too Roman Catholic”. Yet many of these same people in the LCMS will gladly toss out the Sacraments in order to jump into bed with the Evangelicals and their happy clappy church growth style. I believe it was at this point that we presented the prof. with the false dilemma. By indulging us with an answer he caused us, at the least, to reflect on the importance of the Sacraments in the life of the church. Good teachers do that. They can take poor questions and still manage to give good answers.

  15. Matthew Mills
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:38 | #15

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #6
    I’m not exactly sure what any of your comment means, but what frankly puzzles me is why you’d WANT to be “unified” w/ us. You clearly are no fan of what we believe teach and confess. What would you suggest we build this “Protestant unity” of yours on?

    Puzzled,
    -Matt Mills

  16. Matthew Mills
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:54 | #16

    @Mary #10
    Mary,
    What I wrote was straight out of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php.) We’ve always believed it. The thing you need to get your head around to understand us is that Scripturally Baptism isn’t something we do, but something we receive. It is Grace and gift and God does it through His called and ordained servants, it’s not a human spiritual work. It’s the same w/ the other sacraments. To us when we hear Protestants saying I don’t need to be baptized, or go to communion or receive absolution from a pastor, it sounds like an overtired toddler refusing to eat his chocolate cake. Those things are gospel, they are gifts of grace, they are yummy chocolate cake.
    We’re not joinging the Pope or the Protestants. We’re pretty comfortable right here amongst ourselves.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  17. January 16th, 2013 at 11:13 | #17

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #8

    The false teachings of the Roman Catholic church have sent many souls to hell. That doesn’t mean that God has not been at work through the Word and Sacraments there to create and sustain faith in Christ there. Where the Word is there will be Christians. Again, being a Lutheran – I can be alright with that because in the end it is God’s work to create and sustain faith through the Word (and visible Word of the Sacraments).

    As far as calling Anabaptists damned – those who truly believe what the Anabaptists teach, just as those who truly believe what the Roman Catholics teach are damned. Both actually become kissing cousins in their desire to have God work outside of His chosen means of Word and Sacrament (through the inner light on the Anabaptist side [Spirit without the Word, emotions and such] and the pope on the Roman side [tradition, decrees and such])

    Your response to me is hard to understand not because you are super-spiritual (although it seems that you claim such things), but because somewhere along the line you failed to grasp the English language, especially in written form.

    You call me a carnal man and void of understanding – then I would suggest leaving this carnal place, because you will not find your kind of enlightened folks here.

  18. Carl Vehse
    January 16th, 2013 at 11:54 | #18

    @Rev. McCall #14:False dilemma’s are presented all the time to people specifically for the purpose of discussion.

    My answer would have been that since neither the Roman church nor the ersatz-Evangelical or Reformed churches are anywhere near orthodox, and since the question’s exclusion of the middle (i.e., remaining a Lutheran) is unrealistic, I would choose to remain a Lutheran.

    “Why are we so against any practice or theology that appears Roman Catholic while at the same time so eager to embrace the practice and theology of the Evangelical and Reformed?”

    That is a good question to ask Lufauxrans.

  19. Rev. McCall
    January 16th, 2013 at 13:45 | #19

    @Carl Vehse #18
    Yours is a fine answer. The next time my wife asks me if her jeans make her look skinny or fat I will use that approach. “Either extreme is not correct dear, therefore to choose either answer would be false. Since your exclusion of the middle option, ‘You look acceptable’ is not realistic I will instead reject your false dilemma and choose this answer anyway. You look acceptable in those jeans honey.” or maybe I could try to understand her underlying question within that false dilemma and do us BOTH a favor and answer her with one of her given extremes, even though I know it to be a false dilemma. :-)

    As to the question of religion, Mr. Mills presents an actual real life scenario where this dilemma may occur. He is stationed overseas and has only the options of hearing the Word of God from a Roman Catholic priest or an Anglican Priestess. I would prefer to hear it from the R.C. any day over the Anglican. Of course I suppose the third option is also there as well, to just sit in my barracks and be a Lutheran. :-)

  20. helen
    January 16th, 2013 at 13:58 | #20

    @S. Wesley Mcgranor #6
    If you, or anyone was originally baptized Catholic; then you can be sure that, that individual is a part of a Satanic monstrosity, called the Roman Catholic Church.

    You evidently did not get the significance of the small “c” catholic, denoting the one Christian church to which all recipients of Trinitarian baptism belong. [Many, even in the RC, recognize that baptism is something God gives to us, not a benefit of a denomination.]

    I am, as they say, “a born Lutheran”, FYI.

    I am also convinced that it is a waste of time and [eventually archived] space to discuss this or anything else with you. [Apologize, or whatever one does, to ALPB and take your nonsense back there, please?]

  21. helen
    January 16th, 2013 at 14:03 | #21

    @Rev. McCall #19
    Of course I suppose the third option is also there as well, to just sit in my barracks and be a Lutheran.

    You could look up the sermons list on a confessional Lutheran web site and let that be a substitute. You can’t have communion that way… but you wouldn’t with either of the options available.

  22. Carl Vehse
    January 16th, 2013 at 14:24 | #22

    @Rev. McCall #19: The next time my wife asks me if her jeans make her look skinny or fat I will use that approach.

    From personal experience, that approach is also very helpful if one’s wife asks whether her previous hairdo, or her new hairdo she got at the salon, looks better on her. ;-)

    As noted in #46 (p. 1), I also had a real life scenario for the question, “If Lutheran were no longer an option…”, while I was in Iraq in 2003-4. I remained a Lutheran, even though a Lutheran chaplain and service were not available during that time.

    Far more harrowing was the experience of the “actual real-life scenario” of Missouri Synod Lutheran and Army Major Bud Day, when, in August, 1967, MAJ Day became a prisoner of war, was tortured by the North Vietnamese communists, and was denied worship in a Lutheran church. Following his March, 1973, release and his eventual retirement, Colonel Day remained a Lutheran and is a member of a Missouri Synod church.

  23. Rev. McCall
    January 16th, 2013 at 18:59 | #23

    @helen #21

    @Carl Vehse #22
    I should have been more clear that in Mr. Mills or anyone elses case I would not have ever suggested or advised permanantly becoming RC or any other denomination. Every analogy falls falls flat at some point and does not always translate as you have pointed out. The basic situation is what was somewhat the same. A serviceman is left with the option of what may be most important for that time being (sacramental focus vs. decision theology) should they have no Lutheran options for hearing the Word of God. And no, I would not advise anyone to take the sacrament at either service. Also, despite the encouragement, I have decided to play along with my wife’s false dilemma questions and answer (hopefully) with the correct false option. :-)

Comment pages
1 2 25934
If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.