Being Lutheran in a World with Popes

March 14th, 2013 Post by

The Conclave Of Cardinals Have Elected A New Pope To Lead The World's CatholicsWhat are Lutherans to do with a new pope?

Lutherans, like Evangelicals, don’t have a place for a pope in their ecclesiastical structure, but for somewhat different reasons. Evangelicals throw out the papacy with all things regarded as “too Catholic”. Whereas Lutherans deny any papal authority in the church precisely because it’s not catholic enough. We want an authority that has belonged to the whole church from the beginning and comes from Christ himself, not one which gradually accreted power across the centuries through political maneuvering. We want what the apostles confessed, the highest repository of which we find in the Scriptures. The pope’s doctrine is not one the apostles would recognize, and so neither can we recognize it. They wouldn’t recognize it because they wouldn’t recognize the Christ which is preached, and it is the preaching of Christ that is the determining factor of what counts as apostolic. As Luther said, “Whatever does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even though St. Peter or St. Paul does the teaching” (LW 35:396). If this holds for St. Peter and St. Paul, it certainly holds for new popes.

Now to the ears of some, this view of the papacy comes across as just wholesale intolerance, but before anyone rushes to express their own intolerance, they should at least know what the pope requires a person to believe about him. Philipp Melanchthon’s “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope” sums it up well:

1. The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2. Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3. And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

See Pope Boniface VIII’s papal bull, Unam Sanctam, for a Roman Catholic source of these claims.

Roman Catholic doctrine leaves no room for you to have some sort of spiritual esteem for the pope while making no submission to his spiritual authority. Read the Decrees of the Council of Trent concerning those of us who confess the Solas of the Reformation. According to Trent, we’re under the judgment of God. Hell awaits us.

So you really have only two options here: the Pope is either the Father of the Church, in which case you must submit to him, or he’s a false prophet, and you “ought to desert and execrate the Pope with his adherents as the kingdom of Antichrist; just as Christ has commanded, Matt. 7:15: Beware of false prophets” (TPPP 41).

Yet, with the recent attention on choosing a new pope, I’ve met not a few Lutherans who are trying to take a middle position on the pope as a spiritual Father to the Church. This just manifests that they don’t get Roman Catholic doctrine or the doctrine of the historic Christian church taught from the Book of Concord. The way of salvation taught and practiced by the papacy is fundamentally opposed to what the Scriptures teach. This is precisely what the Lutheran confessions declare.

The doctrine of repentance has been utterly corrupted by the Pope and his adherents. For they teach that sins are remitted because of the worth of our works. Then they bid us doubt whether the remission takes place. They nowhere teach that sins are remitted freely for Christ’s sake, and that by this faith we obtain remission of sins (TPPP 44).

The praise of Jesus Christ, the truth of the Word of God, and the salvation of those for whom Christ died are too important for us to keep silent on the spiritual damage done under the papacy. “They have…obscured the benefit [and merit] of Christ” (TPPP 45).

Yet despite nearly 500 years of Lutheran teaching on the papacy, it still exists. Year by year, the Basilica, built with the dollars of millions of people who were told by pope after pope that they could buy God’s favor with cash, is still open for business. And, as far as we know, it isn’t going to close anytime soon.

The fact is that we have to live in this world with popes and today we have to live with Pope Francis I, and in some respects I’m glad to do this — I give thanks to God for this. If I must have a pope, I want one who has the humility to care for destitute people, stand up for the unborn, and oppose the political power of the homosexual lobbyists. In Francis I we appear to have just this kind of pope. Thanks be to God. In this way, I think of him as I would any political leader (and he is a political leader). He has zero spiritual authority over me, yet he has tremendous influence in the world, and I want him to use that influence for the moral good of the world. I would rather live in a world with a civil righteousness than a world with no civil righteousness, and by all indications, Pope Francis will be a force for civil righteousness.

So with respect to the left-hand kingdom, I am thankful for Pope Francis I. With respect to the right-hand kingdom, it wasn’t possible for me to be thankful with anyone the conclave would choose.

Now perhaps believing yourself to be a stalwart Lutheran you wish to only point out what you don’t like and won’t give thanks to God for what is good. If this is your attitude toward the appointment of the new pope, consider Luther’s own words to Pope Leo X.

[M]ost excellent Leo, I beg you to give me a hearing after I have vindicated myself by this letter, and believe me when I say that I have never thought ill of you personally, that I am the kind of a person who would wish you all good things eternally, and that I have no quarrel with any man concerning his morals but only concerning the word of truth. In all other matters I will yield to any man whatsoever; but I have neither the power nor the will to deny the Word of God. If any man has a different opinion concerning me, he does not think straight or understand what I have actually said (LW 31:335-336).

If all you have to say about Pope Francis is bad, you’re not steadfastly Lutheran, you’re just an ungrateful one. Give thanks for what is good, oppose what is evil. That’s the way good Lutherans do it.

And if you are more delighted with the Pope as a force for moral good in this world than you are troubled by the false doctrine which condemns people to hell, then you have your priorities out of order. Christ’s righteousness is infinitely more valuable than civil righteousness, for it is the only thing that can save any of us from God’s judgment.

The merits of Christ are all we need before God, and when we are tempted by the Pope with anything other than Christ alone we should say with Luther what he said to the Devil. ‘But if [Christ]  is not enough for you, you Devil, I have also shit and pissed; wipe your mouth on that and take a hearty bite’ (Luther quoted in Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man between God and the Devil [1982], p. 107).

But Christ’s righteousness is not enough in the life before our neighbor. Yes, Pope Francis will be a danger in the church, but he will be a force for good in the world. Make sure you have a place for both of these truths in how you think and talk about him in the coming days.






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  1. John Rixe
    March 20th, 2013 at 17:29 | #1

    Could anyone please break this down in simple language for a low information layman?  I can’t figure out what you all are arguing about.  Thanks.

  2. Carl Vehse
    March 20th, 2013 at 17:30 | #2

    @Jim Pierce #48 : Adam and Eve were indeed perfect and good prior to the fall, but that doesn’t mean they were equal to God in either perfection and goodness.

    Perhaps there is some equivocacy involved in these discussions with the words “perfect” and “good.”

    All divine attributes of God are perfect and good. God is also perfect and good, that is, sinless and with no evil. As divinely omnipotent and perfect, God created Adam and Eve (and all creation) perfect and good. Adam and Eve did not have God’s good and perfectly divine attibutes because they were created beings, not God. But Adam and Eve were perfect and good human beings because God created them sinless and with no evil. With the Fall, sin and evil came and Adam and Eve were no longer perfect and good.

    So “perfect” means “perfect” and “good” means “good” but God, because He is God, is infinitely more perfect and good in His divine attributes than the perfect and good human beings He created.

  3. Jim Pierce
    March 20th, 2013 at 17:35 | #3

    @Carl Vehse #2

    I don’t find anything in what you write here to disagree with other than “some equivocacy involved” (we are discussing concepts difficult to understand and navigate through; namely “perfection” which I, for one, don’t understand other than in terms of what it is not). But since this is all “sophistry” it shouldn’t matter, now should it? :)

  4. Carl Vehse
    March 20th, 2013 at 17:42 | #4

    @John Rixe #1 : Could anyone please break this down in simple language for a low information layman?

    In the Garden of Eden, God did not create little tiny naked gods. He created perfect and good human beings, who eventually sinned and were no longer perfect and good. Still later one of their descendents claimed he was pope over all the other descendents. Some of the other descendents called him the Antichrist. Others said we should thank God for the Antichrist when anything good happens. Eventually they all started commenting on a Lutheran blog that now has over 250 posts. Simple enough?

    Praise God!

  5. Rev. McCall
    March 20th, 2013 at 18:01 | #5

    @Carl Vehse #2
    Great breakdown of the terms and usage Carl! Spot on! :-)

  6. Elizabeth Peters
    March 20th, 2013 at 21:25 | #6

    @helen #39

    So, Joe Sixpack rapes my daughter. He then gives my son a tootsie roll, which really makes my little boy happy (the boy’s too stupid to know what’s going on). Should I thank God that the rapist gave my boy a tootsie roll, or should I thank God for the rapist? The point, obviously, is that I wish the rapist didn’t exist. He’s bad. He raped my daughter. Now, don’t you think it may be a bit confusing to thank God for the rapist who raped my daughter, instead of thanking God that despite the rapist, my son is happy because the rapist gave him a tootsie roll?

    If you think this is hairsplitting, you have a strange view of psychology and a strange view of how God brings good from evil.

  7. John Rixe
    March 20th, 2013 at 21:39 | #7

    @Carl Vehse #4

    This is excellent. Thanks.  It doesn’t seem like a hill to die on.

  8. Pastor John Fraiser
    March 20th, 2013 at 21:50 | #8

    @Elizabeth Peters #6

    Yeah, so your example doesn’t parallel. It’s a case in which someone who does radically immoral acts in the left hand kingdom does a small moral act in the left hand kingdom. If you want a parallel case, you need to find someone who is decidedly moral in the world and yet greatly opposes the gospel, otherwise, you’re just needlessly discussing scenarios of someone raping your daughter and handing your son disgusting candy.

  9. March 21st, 2013 at 04:17 | #9

    @Pastor John Fraiser #8

    So, instead of raping her in this world, he led her away from Christ and she ended up suffering in hell for all eternity. But he did give the kid a Bit o’ Honey, so we should thank God for the antichrist — according to his moral acts in the world. How’s that?

  10. Elizabeth Peters
    March 21st, 2013 at 06:28 | #10

    @Pastor John Fraiser #8

    Yeah, so the pope isn’t decidedly moral. He’s a thief, a liar, and a pervert. Also, is rape worse than leading people to eternal hell? If not, you can consider my case example a fortiori.

  11. Pastor John Fraiser
    March 21st, 2013 at 09:09 | #11

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #9
    @Elizabeth Peters #10

    Note that when I spoke of giving thanks to God for the pope, I was referring specifically to Pope Francis not the papacy in general.

    “So with respect to the left-hand kingdom, I am thankful for Pope Francis I. With respect to the right-hand kingdom, it wasn’t possible for me to be thankful with anyone the conclave would choose.”

    Elizabeth, I’d like to know what evidence you have that Pope Francis is a thief, a liar (apart from false doctrine since the issue is left-hand appreciation), and a pervert.

    As to whether rape is worse than leading people to hell, we’ve been around on this question about a hundred comments ago. Yes, pro tanto, leading people to hell is worse than rape (though I would point out that technically no one other than Adam leads people to hell — we’re already born under the power of the Devil). This is the same reason that led me to say in the post that we shouldn’t value any moral good the pope does more than we are troubled by his false doctrine.

    But if someone asks me not to give thanks to God for people who do great works of civil righteousness unless they don’t teach a false gospel, I’m afraid I think he’s asking something absurd.

    Pr. Crandall, while I approve of your candy choice, it still doesn’t parallel. If all the pope did was give a kid a Bit-O-Honey, I wouldn’t be encouraging people to give thanks to God for him. As I have said, I think at this point that the total set of moral good that Pope Francis will do and promote is greater than the moral evil he will do and promote. Since this isn’t true with someone who just gives a kid a Bit-O-Honey, it’s not a parallel case.

  12. Pastor John Fraiser
    March 21st, 2013 at 09:12 | #12

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #50

    Sorry, I missed the sarcasm. Though it does make a little bit more sense of your comment now. Thanks.

  13. March 21st, 2013 at 10:19 | #13

    Pastor John Fraiser :
    But if someone asks me not to give thanks to God for people who do great works of civil righteousness unless they don’t teach a false gospel, I’m afraid I think he’s asking something absurd.

    As I have said, I think at this point that the total set of moral good that Pope Francis will do and promote is greater than the moral evil he will do and promote.

    Perhaps it’s not so absurd, when you consider that the moral evil is so infinitely more evil that no measure of good can compare.

    [Nice catch on my missppellling of Bit-O-Honey!]

  14. Elizabeth Peters
    March 21st, 2013 at 11:34 | #14

    @Pastor John Fraiser #11

    The pope lies about history in order to substantiate his bogus claim to supremacy in the Church. The pope is a pervert who forbids people from getting married and having sex, thereby encouraging more perversion by his perverse outlook on sex. The pope is a thief because he is a damnable socialist who encourages governments to steal from the rich in order to keep the poor perpetually poor and without skill. As far as the civil realm goes, the pope is just plain terrible.

    What is worse, he promotes this lying, perversity, and thievery as true Christianity, mingling it with acts of mercy, which only serve to grant him place in the Church to spread his ungodly and wicked blasphemies against God and against his Anointed.

    Because of the foregoing, it is absolute folly to thank God for the pope. He’s bad. Whatever good he seems to do is in service to his wickedness. I wish he did no civil good. I’ll pray God he does no civil good, so that he be exposed as the servant of Satan that he is.

  15. Pastor John Fraiser
    March 21st, 2013 at 12:50 | #15

    @Elizabeth Peters #14

    1. The pope lies about history.

    Well there you go. Liars about history can’t be a good moral people.

    2. Pope is a pervert because he prevents certain people from getting married who consent to his opinion on this.

    This is an interesting use of “pervert”. By my lights, it’s still not outweighing his civil works.

    3. The pope is a thief because he is a damnable socialist.

    And where’s your evidence that Francis is a socialist (where this word is not used idiosyncratically by you)?

    How is Francis stealing from the rich? Give specifics.

    4. Acts of mercy *only* serve to grant him a place to blaspheme.

    Do you hear yourself? If I was an orphan who was given food and shelter and protection from a life on the streets in Calcutta, I’d think that his acts of mercy did a lot more than *only* serve to grant him a place to blaspheme.

    I truly hope that you find yourself the beneficiary of RCC services in your time of need. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up changing your wish that the no civil good came through the Pope’s leadership. Meanwhile, I’ll go on condemning what is bad and thanking God for what is good.

    As is usually the case with us, Elizabeth, we’re just going to have to move along. Frankly, I have no expectation that there is the least bit of fruit yet to come from conversing with you on this topic. Maybe we’ll have better luck on the next one.

  16. Carl Vehse
    March 21st, 2013 at 15:24 | #16

    Pastor John Fraiser #11, Elizabeth Peters responded to your request for evidence that the pope is a 1) Liar, 2) Pervert, and 3) Thief:

    1. “The pope lies about history in order to substantiate his bogus claim to supremacy in the Church.”
    2. “The pope is a pervert who forbids people from getting married and having sex, thereby encouraging more perversion by his perverse outlook on sex.”
    3. “The pope is a thief because he is a damnable socialist who encourages governments to steal from the rich in order to keep the poor perpetually poor and without skill.”

    And your responses, Rev. Fraiser?

    1. Well there you go. Liars about history can’t be a good moral people.

    Martin Luther in his SA states:

    “…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…. Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to lie and to kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein his papal government really consists, as I have very clearly shown in many books.

    Well there you go. Martin Luther agrees with Elizabeth Peters that the Antichrist is a liar (and worse).

    2. This is an interesting use of “pervert”.

    From the Apology, XXIII.23:

    The Popes despise the authority of the Synods, just as much as they wish it to appear holy to others [under peril of God's wrath and eternal damnation]. Therefore this law concerning perpetual celibacy is peculiar to this new pontifical despotism. Nor is it without a reason. For Daniel, 11, 37, ascribes to the kingdom of Antichrist this mark, namely, the contempt of women.

    And from Martin Luther in his SA:

    To prohibit marriage, and to burden the divine order of priests with perpetual celibacy, they have had neither authority nor right [they have done out of malice, without any honest reason], but have acted like antichristian, tyrannical, desperate scoundrels [have performed the work of antichrist, of tyrants and the worst knaves], and have thereby caused all kinds of horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity [depraved lusts], in which they still wallow.

    So, the confessions of the Lutheran Church and Luther are in agreement with Elizabeth Peters on the pope as a pervert. Good company, Elizabeth!

    3. And where’s your evidence that Francis is a socialist

    Elizabeth Peters’ claim of the pope being a socialist thief was against the pope, not a specific human being, so here’s some recent papal bull from Laborem Exercens (1981):

    Furthermore, in the Church’s teaching, ownership has never been understood in a way that could constitute grounds for social conflict in labour… They cannot be possessed against labour, they cannot even be possessed for possession’s sake, because the only legitimate title to their possession- whether in the form of private ownerhip or in the form of public or collective ownership-is that they should serve labour, and thus, by serving labour, that they should make possible the achievement of the first principle of this order, namely, the universal destination of goods and the right to common use of them. From this point of view, therefore, in consideration of human labour and of common access to the goods meant for man, one cannot exclude the socialization, in suitable conditions, of certain means of production.

    Amid all the tapdancing, confiscation, or whatever the euphemism, of private industry is one of the hallmarks of socialism, as in politically correct term the Vatican uses, “social mortgage.”

    From the papal bull, Centesimus Annus (1991), here is some more doubletalk:

    This right [of private property], which is fundamental for the autonomy and development of the person, has always been defended by the Church up to our own day. At the same time, the Church teaches that the possession of material goods is not an absolute right, and that its limits are inscribed in its very nature as a human right….

    In this sense, it is right to speak of a struggle against an economic system, if the latter is understood as a method of upholding the absolute predominance of capital, the possession of the means of production and of the land, in contrast to the free and personal nature of human work.73 In the struggle against such a system, what is being proposed as an alternative is not the socialist system, which in fact turns out to be State capitalism, but rather a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation. Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.

    And as Martin Luther noted in the LC:

    After your person and spouse temporal property comes next. That also God wishes to have protected, and He has commanded that no one shall subtract from, or curtail, his neighbor’s possessions. For to steal is nothing else than to get possession of another’s property wrongfully

    All of this further substantiates that there is no Christian, thus Lutheran, reason to thank God for the works of the Antichrist, but only to thank God for the good He produces despite the papal abominations.

  17. jb
    March 21st, 2013 at 16:39 | #17

    Richard -

    Wass up, Ole Son?

    No rush, I understand you may be trying to arrange your schedule and your various and sundry arguments, and of course, your time spent on your pretty thorough grilling of Pastor Fraiser’s rather simple point, which you and others have turned into a cause for a new and better Reformation . . .

    My Bride was wondering just when it was you were coming on down to Palacios to carry out Matthew 18:15-17 and confront me personally with your charge of “blasphemy” you made against me several weeks back. Lou has to prepare also, you understand.

    I forwarded you all my info and directions. Knowing the local hotel owner as I do (he is Muslim but a pretty good guy anyway!) I have arranged a place for you to stay at my cost as I said. On me. Lou would like to plan a real nice meal for you if your stay is just overnight; if you stay more than one day, you can also take a ride with me and help deliver meals to some of the 200 our Bread of Life feeding Mission feeds three times a week.

    That is really quite humbling. Good for the soul.

    Amidst it all, you and I can talk back and forth personally (no audience) as Jesus Christ meant us to discuss such a serious charge as you brought forth against me. I have mentioned it several times, and you seem to gloss over comments after that, and you have never responded. Richard, in that last post and its intricacies above you were like a surgeon, not missing a thing – so how come you are having such a hard time responding to me about such a simple matter as Matthew 18:15-17 and your accusation of blasphemy? That ought to be a piece of cake!

    I am really looking forward to settling this matter in a God-pleasing, Christ-like manner.

    When should I expect your arrival, Richard?

    Pax Domini -

    Fr. Jeffrey Baxter

  18. Elizabeth Peters
    March 22nd, 2013 at 14:42 | #18

    I thank God for Buddhists, Mormons, and Muslims, and especially for Muhammad. In respect to their civil righteousness of course.

  19. jb
    March 22nd, 2013 at 15:03 | #19

    Elizabeth -

    Everybody gets it.

    Give it a rest!

    Pax – jb

  20. March 22nd, 2013 at 19:42 | #20

    jb :Richard -
    No rush, I understand you may be trying to arrange your schedule and your various and sundry arguments, and of course, your time spent on your pretty thorough grilling of Pastor Fraiser’s rather simple point, which you and others have turned into a cause for a new and better Reformation . . .

    It’s not so new:

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://static.neatorama.com/images/2010-02/flatulence-woodcut.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.neatorama.com/2010/03/01/the-art-of-passing-gas/&h=591&w=500&sz=90&tbnid=8xr6ObDzBuS-NM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=76&prev=/search%3Fq%3DLucas%2BCranach%2Bthe%2BElder%2BBelvedere%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=Lucas+Cranach+the+Elder+Belvedere&usg=__oAW8s42zpo019JrBUHHk04ni7T8=&docid=Iuaodh9_aCX8yM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lvBGUbeGG4-w8QSH4YDoBg&sqi=2&ved=0CEQQ9QEwAg&dur=118

  21. jb
    March 22nd, 2013 at 20:18 | #21

    Fr. Ted -

    After that, I may call you Fr. Flatch! :-) :-) :-)

  22. March 22nd, 2013 at 20:52 | #22

    @jb #21

    “Fr. Flatch…” lol

    Even CAT 41 considered me prurient. I like to say I was raised by a Boson’s Mate and his teenage bride, so I come by my irreverence honestly – but that would be robbing Adam and Eve of their due – not to mention trying to justify myself…

    :)

  23. jb
    March 22nd, 2013 at 21:06 | #23

    Ah, Good Brother “Flatch” . . .

    I have the blessing of being Irish . . .

    I cannot be prurient =- that is a normal state for us Celts – Hah!

    But we Celts do pass the noxious, airborne elements with great regularity, especially after several cold ones! Unfortunately, it is the pride we take in doing so that is our greatest sinful downfall . . .

    LMAO! Pax – jb

  24. March 23rd, 2013 at 10:56 | #24

    Friends,

    Please forgive me for being a late-comer to this discussion. I’ve been in Texas celebrating my daughter’s 40th Birthday and just returned home.

    Although I will not claim to have read every post on this thread, I did scan them so as to make my comments fit the discussion…just too much to read every detail. So here’s some summary thoughts for whatever they may be worth:

    1. Does the Pope have secular authority? Only if you happen to live in Vatican City. Beyond that political realm the man has no other secular authority.

    2. Does the Pope have spiritual authority? Only usurped authority because the claim that he was the “Rock” on which the church was built is fallacious as, in fact, it is the confession of Jesus as the Christ of God which serves as that “Rock” (in accord with proper Greek grammar of the text). Additionally, there is absolutely no historical evidence that Peter ever served as the bishop/pastor of any congregation in Rome and thus, he is an impostor and and his authority is a fraud. Moreover, the Pope uses his fraudulent spiritual authority to mislead people away from the Gospel because he attempts to use the law/good works to assist people in coming to faith through the false doctrine of infused grace which teaches that good works are prompted by God in the unbeliever so as to contribute to the acquisition of salvation when eventually added to faith. Add to this the many other false teachings which are the official position of Rome (Purgatory, the Holy Orders, the Mass as a good and meritorious work of the people, etc., and it is no wonder our Lutheran Confessions mark the office of the Papacy as antichrist.) I know that many in the American Roman Catholic Church now deny this/these doctrine(s) (for which I am grateful), but it is still cannon law and unless the Church of Rome explicitly renounces the anathemas of the Council of Trent, this/these false teaching(s) is/are still what Rome teaches.

    3. Therefore, is it then proper to wish the Pope the Lord’s blessings as the LCMS has done? Since the man is the spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church and is the defender of its false doctrine, I would submit that the only proper wish for the Lord’s blessings would be to wish him a spirit of repentance for his false teachings that God’s Word would lead him to renounce them and embrace the truth. This kind of Synodical well-intended good wish for the Pope only adds to the common misconception that we are all partners in the Christian faith and are pretty much all alike thus contributing to the misconception commonly held of the “Great American Mush God” that is so common among us and occasionally becomes manifest among us at such venues as Yankee Stadium and Newtown, Connecticut. At the same time I would suggest that the public platform of the media is an entirely wrong place to point out that the office of the Pope is antichrist since that is a theological position that requires a good deal of understanding when it is said.

  25. Carl Vehse
    March 23rd, 2013 at 13:08 | #25

    In his Christian Dogmatics: A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology for Pastors, Teachers, and Laymen (St. Louis:Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 582), regarding the various marks of the Antichrist, Prof. John T. Mueller states:

    Antichrist will remain unknown to many (“mystery of iniquity,” [2 Thessalonians 2] v. 7); yet in due time he will be revealed and consumed by the spirit of the Lord’s mouth, which is God’s Word, Is. 11, 4; 49, 2; Rev. 1,16. Antichrist will therefore be revealed and consumed through the preaching of God’s Word. This, however, does not mean the end of his wicked reign; for the Lord Himself shall “destroy” him (καταργήσει, annul him, put him out of the way) “with the brightness of His coming,” v. 8; that is to say, the reign of Antichrist will continue till Judgment Day.

    Later, Prof. Mueller notes (p. 583): “Our Lutheran Confessions therefore rightly declares that the Pope at Rome is the Antichrist.”

    In its September 1989, report, “The “End Times”: A Study on Eschatology and Millennialism,” the CTCR stated the following about the Antichrist (pp. 26-7, and associated endnote):

    Also, we acknowledge the possibility that the historical form of the Antichrist could change. [32] Of course, in that case another identified by these marks would arise.

    32. To the extent that the papacy continues to claim as official dogma the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent which expressly anathematizes, for instance, the doctrine “that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this trust alone by which we are justified,” the judgment of the Lutheran confessional writings that the papacy is the Antichrist holds. At the same time, of course, we must recognize the possibility, under God’s guidance, that contemporary discussions and statements (e.g., 1983 U.S. Lutheran- Roman Catholic dialogue statement on Justification by Faith”) could lead to a revision of the Roman Catholic position regarding Tridentine dogma.

    Thus, while not denying the reign of the Antichrist will continue until Judgment Day, the CTCR Report leaves open the possibility that in the future the Antichrist may be someone other than the Pope of Rome.

    Is this distinction made in the CTCR Report a widespread view within the Missouri Synod? Could this explain some hesitancy today in referring to the pope as the Antichrist?

  26. Dave Schumacher
    March 23rd, 2013 at 13:14 | #26

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #24
    Pastor Bolland,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
    I believe you are correct that the public platform of the media is the wrong place to point out that the papacy is the very Antichrist. It is also true that there is no proper platform for asserting that it isn’t. And, that when this false doctrine is asserted in the public media, especially when done so by Lutherans, the same public platform is the only proper place to rebuke such false teaching. And, that this rebuke is necessary, and God pleasing.

  27. Carl Vehse
    March 23rd, 2013 at 14:29 | #27

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #24: Does the Pope have secular authority?

    While he doesn’t have legislative authority in the U.S., the Antichrist does indeed have secular authority, not only as the head of state of the Holy See (and, separately, the governing authority of the Vatican City-State), but also as the head of state of a government recognized by other nations, including the United States (with full diplomatic relations since 1984). As such the Antichrist has the same secular diplomatic authority and recognition as other heads of state (see Holy See–United States relations and the State Department’s U.S. Relations With the Holy See).

    Currently there is no U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in part because of tension between the U.S. Obamanation and the pope over abortion and homosexual marriage. The principal U.S. official is Chargé d’Affaires Mario Mesquita as of November 6, 2012. The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States is Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò as of October 19, 2011. The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See is located in Rome in the Villa Domiziana. The Nunciature to the United States is located in Washington, D.C.

  28. Matthew Mills
    March 23rd, 2013 at 15:27 | #28

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #24
    Dear Pastor,

    Hasn’t it generally been the Confessional stand (over and against the RC claims that there are, by God’s ordering, several different grades or ranks of clergy) that there is only one office of the holy ministry? If so, wouldn’t the answer to the question “does the Pope have spiritual authority?” be: yes, as a pastor he has the same authority in his congregation as you have in yours? (AC XXVIII) Couldn’t the expressed good wishes of the LC-MS be seen in that light?

    Lenten Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  29. helen
    March 23rd, 2013 at 16:00 | #29

    @Matthew Mills #28
    yes, as a pastor he has the same authority in his congregation as you have in yours?

    As bishop of Rome, that should be true. He might be teaching falsely there, but when we have all our pentacostalists, and other schwaermerei under control, we can address that. I agree with Pr. Bolland that use of “anti Christ” in the public media helps nothing.

    But we have people who are more “anti-Catholic” than Lutheran…
    so they can always see “the dirt across the street”
    (not recognizing that much of it is on their own windowpane).

  30. Dave Schumacher
    March 23rd, 2013 at 18:15 | #30

    jb :
    Elizabeth -
    Everybody gets it.
    Give it a rest!
    Pax – jb

    Apparently, everybody does not get it. Re. Helen’s post above.

  31. jb
    March 23rd, 2013 at 20:28 | #31

    David -

    This thread is no longer about facts, but opinions, so my words stand . . .

    This thread has run its course. I believe Helen gets my drift, too.

    If it has not, I leave y’all to your perpetuations.

    Pax – jb

  32. March 24th, 2013 at 17:51 | #32

    @jb #31
    You knew it had run its course when even Crandall’s “profound” comment was pure flatulence. :)

  33. jb
    March 24th, 2013 at 18:14 | #33

    “Teddy Bear”

    Please tell me, that either elected or otherwise, you will be cruising the the aisles of the Synodical Convention. I had the “whatever” fortune to end up being my Circuit’s Rep.

    I owe you an extra cold German beverage of your choice for that last comment.

    Thank you, sir, for some true humor! I confess . . . some of my Sunday afternoon “finally relax for the week” brewskis blew through my nose reading your comment. Not fair, making me waste a good bit of properly brewed hops, but you got me! Good on you!

    Fr. Baxter

  34. March 24th, 2013 at 19:06 | #34

    @jb #33

    JB,

    Glad I could lighten your day — but I apologize for using the brewski to clear your sinuses.

    Unfortunately, I won’t be at the convention. The faithful folk at my little mission, like the widow with two mites, give all they have, but I have a wife and 4 kids, so I also work 40 hours a week for the USMC as a Family Readiness Officer — sort of a social worker. Not only would I have to pay my own way, but it would cost me precious vacation time.

    Maybe next year at Higher Things…

  35. jb
    March 24th, 2013 at 19:32 | #35

    Father Ted -

    I beg you to understand me when I say I understand . . .

    Semper Fei . . . I was “Air Force” (’71 – ’80) but we understood . . .

    Good on you. I would bet your Marines would put the bucks together for you to be at the Synodical convention if you asked them, but I understand “asking” is huge, and a dicey proposition.

    Let me ask you – if my Bride and I tossed a Franklin into your traveling pot, would that help? Just asking and al . . ..

    Whatever, may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and all your work for the Kingdom!

    Most especially for your Bride (your first responsibility!) (mine is priceless to me – I got that immediately!). And likewise, your “kiddies” – they, like our Brides, are the only treasures we can take to Heaven with us! I know you “get that.”

    In any case. the hops cleared my sinuses, for which I thank you most profusely. Texas allergies can make one miserable, Fr. Flatch . . . you solved that today, at least. :-)

    Pax Domini – Fr. Baxter

  36. March 25th, 2013 at 05:09 | #36

    @jb #35
    How very generous of you! No, thank you. Time away from my family and the other “job” are factors that money cannot alter.

    And you’re absolutely right about my Marines — they still take care of their own. “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Sort of like a Marine throwing himself on a grenade for Bin Laden…)

  37. March 25th, 2013 at 12:39 | #37

    Carl,

    While it is true the Pope has authority within the boundaries of Vatican City, and also standing as a head of state, that does not mean that he has any legislative authority within our country other than to give directives to those within Roman Catholicism. He has absolutely no authority over non-catholics in this country of any kind (other than being able to use diplomatic immunity not to pay any parking tickets.)

    The Pope certainly has no authority over Lutherans (even though he pretends to have the authority to excommunicate some of us…a power he does not actually have.) He has no kind of legal authority in this country even as a head of state in the same sense that Russia’s Putin cannot order any U.S. citizen in this country to do or not do anything.

  38. March 25th, 2013 at 12:41 | #38

    Matt,

    As I indicated in my initial post above, there is absolutely no historical evidence that the Peter ever had the office of pastor in any congregation in Rome. Therefore, the presumption that he now holds the seat of Peter is a false premise and he is a false bishop.

  39. Carl Vehse
    March 25th, 2013 at 13:47 | #39

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #37,

    It also should be noted that the Holy See, and the Vatican (formed in 1929 through agreements btween the pope and Mussolini, and later Hitler), does not have any extradition treaty with the United States, or any other country.

  40. Matthew Mills
    March 29th, 2013 at 13:37 | #40

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #38
    Dear Pastor,
    What did I write that got w/in a long German mile of “the presumption that [the current Bishop of Rome] now holds the seat of Peter?” The only spiritual office I acknowledged him holding was the office of the holy ministry, and that seems fairly clear from the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

    60] [In our Confession and the Apology we have in general recounted what we have had to say concerning ecclesiastical power. For] The Gospel assigns to those who preside over churches the command to teach the Gospel to remit sins, to administer the Sacraments and besides jurisdiction, namely, the command to excommunicate those whose crimes are known, and again to absolve those who repent.

    61] And by the confession of all, even of the adversaries, it is clear that this power by divine right is common to all who preside over churches, whether they are called pastors, or elders, or bishops.

  41. ted
    May 24th, 2014 at 17:42 | #41

    I as a Lutheran, I among many Lutherans, accept the pope as the head bishop of the western church and I agree with the author that the position of the bishop of Rome is not catholic enough. The bishop of Rome to be a true head of the church catholic would have to be a leader actively pursuing unity among Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and other Christians who desire unity. The RC Church, if it still has one major flaw preventing unity is its condescending arrogance whenever it declares, for example, that it is the only true church and only its sacraments are valid. Hopefully this pope will put a stop to this arrogant exclusion.

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