Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Did the Pope Become Antichrist? (vs. John Calvin)

By Dave Armstrong (3-11-10)

[from Chapter Two, section 17 of my book, Biblical Catholic Answers for John Calvin; pp. 145-148 (complete) ]

* * * * *

Shall we recognise the Apostolic See where we see nothing but horrible apostacy? Shall he be the vicar of Christ who, by his furious efforts in persecuting the Gospel, plainly declares himself to be Antichrist? Shall he be the successor of Peter who goes about with fire and sword demolishing everything that Peter built?. Shall he be the Head of the Church who, after dissevering the Church from Christ, her only true Head, tears and lacerates her members? Rome, indeed, was once the mother of all the churches, but since she began to be the seat of Antichrist she ceased to be what she was.

( [Institutes] IV, 7:24)

And what year did this momentous event take place? Isn't it interesting that Calvin wants to make this sort of definite assertion, while never specifying the date when it supposedly occurred. Rest assured, so Calvin tells us, that Rome (Babylon the Great) has fallen. Yet we know not when. Is that supposed to impress any reasonable person on either side of the sad debate?

To some we seem slanderous and petulant, when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who think so perceive not that they are bringing a charge of intemperance against Paul, after whom we speak, nay, in whose very words we speak. But lest any one object that Paul’s words have a different meaning, and are wrested by us against the Roman Pontiff, I will briefly show that they can only be understood of the Papacy. Paul says that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God (2 Thess. 2:4).

(IV, 7:25)

Paul writes about the Antichrist, but never argues that the Church will be completely overtaken by him. He also states in the passage cited above, that he will proclaim “himself to be God":

2 Thessalonians 2:3b-4 [RSV] . . . the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, [4] 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.

No pope has ever claimed that. If Calvin thinks otherwise, it is easy enough to document it. But he doesn't. If all "proof" means is bare assertion with no documentation, then anyone could prove anything by simply proclaiming it. In context, all of this seems to occur, too, not long before the Second Coming:

2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.

As we know, it has been almost 500 years now since the "Reformation" began and here we still are, with probably a good deal more time to go before the end. I see nothing in the Bible about the Antichrist reigning for 500 years. But I see things about three-and-a half and seven years, in the book of Revelation.

Calvin's scenario is refuted on those grounds alone. He appeared (like Luther) to expect a Second Coming very soon, and the destruction of the papacy. He and his followers have been severely disappointed on both scores. The Catholic Church is alive and kicking, now, as it was, then.

In another passage, the Spirit, portraying him in the person of Antiochus, says that his reign would be with great swelling words of vanity (Dan. 7:25). Hence we infer that his tyranny is more over souls than bodies, a tyranny set up in opposition to the spiritual kingdom of Christ.

(IV, 7:25)

How does this prove that he is the pope? Calvin merely assumes what he needs to prove, which is not solid argument.

Then his nature is such, that he abolishes not the name either of Christ or the Church, but rather uses the name of Christ as a pretext, and lurks under the name of Church as under a mask. But though all the heresies and schisms which have existed from the beginning belong to the kingdom of Antichrist, yet when Paul foretells that defection will come, he by the description intimates that that seat of abomination will be erected, when a kind of universal defection comes upon the Church, though many members of the Church scattered up and down should continue in the true unity of the faith. But when he adds, that in his own time, the mystery of iniquity, which was afterwards to be openly manifested, had begun to work in secret, we thereby understand that this calamity was neither to be introduced by one man, nor to terminate in one man (see Calv. In 2 Thess. 2:3; Dan. 7:9). Moreover, when the mark by which he distinguishes Antichrist is, that he would rob God of his honour and take it to himself, he gives the leading feature which we ought to follow in searching out Antichrist; especially when pride of this description proceeds to the open devastation of the Church. Seeing then it is certain that the Roman Pontiff has impudently transferred to himself the most peculiar properties of God and Christ, there cannot be a doubt that he is the leader and standard-bearer of an impious and abominable kingdom.

(IV, 7:25)

How so? Have popes claimed to be eternal or omniscient or omnipotent or omnipresent or outside of time? Did they claim to have created the world (etc., etc.)? Those are the "most peculiar properties of God and Christ" and so anyone claiming to be God would have to make some allusion to them. They would talk, in other words, as Jesus did. But this has never happened. Thus, Calvin is flailing away, producing empty words that have no content or application to the matter at hand. Calvin has not proven to the slightest degree that the Antichrist will be a pope or collection of popes.


Adomnan said...

As Paul uses the term Antichrist, it can only refer to one individual, not an office like "the Pope." Just as there is one Christ, so there will be one Antichrist.

So right from the start we know there is no biblical basis whatsoever for Calvin's slander against the papacy. Calvin is equivocating by treating the name of an office as if it were an individual.

John refers to "antichrists" in the plural, but he is using the term more loosely, to designate anyone who denies that Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:3). However, John also acknowledges that there will be a single Antichrist "at the final hour": "You have heard that Antichrist is coming, and now many antichrists have already come" (1 John 2:18).

Applying John's usage, Calvin's Nestorianism qualifies him as "an antichrist," although he was not "the Antichrist," who has not yet come.

Maroun said...

When Did the Pope Become Antichrist?
I answer.As soon as one of the antichrists called the Pope antichrist.
Remember that Christ is the truth and so the antichrists are liars,so Calvin like many others are liars and antichrists.
And cardinal John Henry Newman , has proved Calvin and whoever calls the Pope and the Papacy as the antichrists , because the antichrists will and can never do anything good or right,but we do know that the Papacy and the Popes have always fought heresies,so the Popes are not antichrists because they fought for Christ and not against Him.
So logicaly , whosoever accuses the Popes and the Papacy of being antichrists,is himself a deceived and a deceiver and a liar and an antichrist.

Dave Armstrong said...

C'mon, guys. Let's not repeat the mistakes of the anti-Catholics, with all this talk of who's the Antichrist.

Calvin (like most Protestants) is a radically-mixed bag of Christian belief and heresy.

Adomnan said...

Dave: C'mon, guys. Let's not repeat the mistakes of the anti-Catholics, with all this talk of who's the Antichrist.

Adomnan: We don't say Calvin is "the" Antichrist. Maroun and I described him as "an" antichrist, following John; and Ben sees Calvin as a "type of antichrist."

Calvin, on the other hand, absurdly claimed that the Pope (an office, not any individual) was "the" Antichrist. I don't see that our views are comparable to his.

But I do concede that the question of whether Calvin was an antichrist or not is largely a matter of opinion and sensibility.

Dave Armstrong said...

I understand the distinctions that were made between "the" and "an" but I still say it is not a great road to go down. We can oppose and refute the errors (and I do as much as anyone!) without playing the game of making people consciously in league with the devil.

Maroun said...

Hi Dave
AntiChrist means against Christ.Now if most of Calvin`s teachings are not against Christ and against His Church,then who`s teachings are?
I can understand if someone says his own opinion and teaches what he thinks is the truth as truth,and if he is wrong,then we could also say that we should correct his or her errors.But that`s not the case with Calvin or many other protestants,they just attacked the truth believed and taught and written and explained by all the church fathers for 1500 years ,and really were against Christ,because being against the Church is being against Christ Himself.
What is more against Christ,then saying that He ( God ) is the one which causes some to sin and some others not to sin,some which He wants to save and redeem and some others which He wants to condemn????And so on....
So i dont think at all that we are exagerating when we say that the one which is saying lies against the truth,and attacking the Church and teaching false things is a type of antichrist....
That`s my humble opinion of course,and i am not saying those things to condemn anyone,but to condemn and refuse the lies,because saying the truth is also a must do for us...
So i dont think at all that to call the one which called the popes and the papacy as the antichrist,if we say that that person himself is an antichrist is no exageration nor wrong.Or should we rather call him a deceived and a deceiver and a liar and a false teacher?If this is better?So be it...

Dave Armstrong said...

I don't think it is at all helpful or charitable to argue in such a fashion. Protestants believe in and follow Jesus Christ. They have other errors that we can and should oppose. But it is foolish to create more division by going on and on about Antichrist and deliberate lying and so forth.

I refuse to descend to the level that is so often directed against us Catholics. I ain't gonna be anti-Protestant. I used to be one myself, and I know what motivated me. We need to do better than that.

Maroun said...

Hi Ben.
What you quoted from saint Bernard,was not against the Pope,but against the antipope Anacletus II ,and pope Innocent II have been banished from Rome by Anacletus.
So that`s why st Bernard wrote what he wrote,because the one sitting on the throne of Peter,was not a pope but an antipope.

Maroun said...


Aprendiz de contador said...

Mr. Armstrong: Have you ever heard the 'argument' of the protestants refer to Pope John XXII saying 'Dominum Deum nostrum Papam' supposedly from a document entitled Declaramus? I think this is just another bluff, but I want to be sure

Aprendiz de contador said...

This page shows the text:

and the extract is:

"Credere autem Dominum Deum nostrum Papam, conditorem
dictae Decretalis, et istius, sic non potuisse statuere, prout statuit, haereticum censeretur. The MS. in the Vatican and some editions have Do minum nostrum Papam..."

Could be a mistranslation from latin? Thank you in advance.

Dave Armstrong said...

I'm not familiar with it, and I'm afraid I don't have the time at the moment to get into a textual dispute of that sort; too many other plates spinning . . . sorry.

Aprendiz de contador said...

In case you're interested about my last question, I found a response in this page:

GADEL said...

Thanks for this post.

Dave Armstrong said...

You're welcome!

Russel said...

As a catholic we all know that the office of the Pope is instituted by our lord Jesus Christ himself and he is so protected by the holy spirit to always abide in Christ. Since Johnny is so against the pope he is the anti-Christ. Lets not forget what the lord say in Luke 10:16 "He who listen to you listen to me. He who reject you reject me and the one who sent me". What in fact johnny wants as to believe is that he is right and the pope is wrong. The worse thing is that he and Martin Luther invented a novelty in the Church and teach it as if and acted like they were like pope without proving that he has the divine providence to teach christian doctrine infallably.