March 13, 2013

A friendly reminder: the Pope is (probably) the antichrist

by Jesse Johnson

vatican_black_smokeWith this week’s probable selection of the next Pope, I thought it would be helpful to review what theologians of the past have said about the papacy. Our age is an ecumenical one, and thus it is likely that many are ignorant of the fact that until about 50 years ago, most Protestant leaders viewed the Pope as the anti-Christ.

Prior to dispensational theology (to which I largely subscribe), there was not a focus among theologians of identifying a singular antichrist. It was widely if not universally held that anyone who opposed the gospel was an antichrist. But based on the the in 1 John 2:22 and 1 John 4:3 (“the antichrist”), as well as the prophecy of “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:3), church leaders for the last 500 years have generally held that whomever the Pope was at the time, that person fills the roll of the antichrist. It was not believed that there necessarily was a once for all antichrist, as Revelation implies, but rather the focus was on the leader of those who oppose the gospel. And it would be difficult to think of a group that has opposed the gospel (salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, through grace alone) to the extent of the Catholic Church.

The identification of the Pope as the antichrist was so ingrained in the Reformation era (for obvious reasons) that Luther stated it repeatedly. For example: “This teaching [of the supremacy of the pope] 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” (Smalcald Articles, II).

This was not a new idea for Luther. Seventeen years before the Smalcald Articles (which were essentially Luther’s own personal statement of faith), he preached a midweek sermon on the subject. The gist of his sermon is captured in this quote:

“We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist…personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist” (sermon on Aug 18, 1520).

After Luther was condemned by a Papal bull, he wrote, “Already I feel greater liberty in my heart; for at last I know that the pope is antichrist, and that his throne is that of Satan himself.”

Melanchton, who led the Lutheran movement for four years after Luther died, carried on this theme. He wrote:

“Since it is certain that the pontiffs and the monks have forbidden marriage, it is most manifest, and true without any doubt, that the Roman Pontiff, with his whole order and kingdom, is very Antichrist. Likewise in 2 Thess. II, Paul clearly says that the man of sin will rule in the church exalting himself above the worship of God.” (Disputationes, No. 56, “On Marriage”).

In fact, the identification of the Pope as the antichrist has (until recently) been regarded as a central tenet to Lutheran theology. In 1860, for example, The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church rose to prominence when it split from the Iowa Synod over precisely this issue. The Iowa Synod balked at designating the Pope as the Anti-Christ, which until that point had been dogmatically asserted in Lutheran statements of faith. The Missouri Synod, in separating from the Iowa Synod, stated that “the prophecies of Antichrist have been fulfilled in the Papacy.” This split culminated in 1938, when they released this statement: “We accept [the historical position] that the Pope is the Antichrist . . . because among all the antichristian manifestations in the history of the world and the Church that lie behind us in the past there is none that fits the description given in 2 Thess 2 better than the Papacy” (American Lutheran Church Sandusky Declaration, VI).

Even in 1957 the Lutheran Synodical Conference sated that the designation of the Pope as the antichrist was:

“an important article and should not be side-stepped or slighted. It is clearly revealed in the divine word, and there is nothing needless and useless in the Bible.”

The idea of the Pope as the antichrist is not unique to Protestants. In fact, for the 40 years where two rival Popes both called each other antichrist (1378-1417),  John Wycliffe humorously pointed out that they were each half right. He wrote that they were “two halves of Antichrist, making up the perfect Man of Sin between them.”

Zwingli, who was a Catholic priest before his conversion to Christ, often referred to the Pope as the antichrist. He wrote: “I know that in it works the might and power of the Devil, that is, of the Antichrist” (Principle Works of Zwingli, Vol. 7, p. 135).

Calvin devoted an entire section of The Institutes to this topic (Book IV, “Of the Popish Mass”). In that section, at length Calvin identifies the Pope as the antichrist for no other reason than he leads the Catholic Mass. “Let my readers understand that I am here combating that opinion with which the Roman Antichrist and his prophets have imbued the whole world—viz. that the mass is a work by which the priest who offers Christ, and the others who in the oblation receive him, gain merit with God.”

What is interesting in that section is that Calvin draws extensively from Augustine, who wrote (translated by Calvin into French, then into English): “It would be equivalent to Antichrist for anyone to make a bishop to be an intercessor between God and man.” There are other sections in The Institutes where Calvin simply uses the term antichrist as a synonym for pope.

Knox, who was a disciple of Calvin, shared Calvin’s equation of the pope with the antichrist. He wrote that for the gospel to make headway in Europe, the people there would first have to learn to identify the Pope as “the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks” (The Zürich Letters, 199).

The Lutherans were not alone in codifying the identity of the antichrist as the Pope. Both The London Confession of Faith and The Westminster Confession use identical language:  “the Pope of Rome…is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (chapter 26 of the The London Confession,and chapter 25, VI of the WC).

This explains why the Puritans were almost unanimous in their equation of the Pope as the antichrist. Cotton Mather authored The Fall of Babylon, where he connected the Papacy to the antichrist as described in Revelation. He wrote that “in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that Antichrist are so marvelously answered that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness upon them.”

A little known fact about Jonathan Edwards is that he actually wrote a church history book. Titled A History of the Work of Redemption (it is in Vol. 4 of the complete set of his works), he actually identifies the rise of the Papacy, which he places from 479-800, as “the rise of the antichrist.” Edwards describes the time period between 800 and the reformation as “the reign of the antichrist” and structures most of his outline around the theme of the gospel’s advance in relationship to the antichirst.

This was not a doctrine held only by Calvinists and Lutherans. Wesley wrote a book titled Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms, and he too saw the antichrist of Revelation and of 2 Thessalonians as the Pope. He wrote:

“He is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition” (110).

On that same page he writes that the Pope “exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped ..claiming the highest power, and highest honor…claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.”

Spurgeon often identified the Pope as the antichrist. It was regular theme in “The Sword and the Trowel” (eg. Jan 1866, Aug 1868) as well as in The Treasury of David (Psalms 10, 108 and 137, for example). But Spurgeon (as always) saved his most colorful language for his sermons. In this example, he was upset at the Anglican Church for looking too much like Rome:

“The Protestantism of England is the pay-master of the Pope. I am ashamed that sons of the Reformers… should bow themselves before the beast, and give so much as a single farthing to the shrine of the devil’s firstborn son. Take heed to yourselves, ye Protestants, lest ye be partakers of her plagues; touch her not, lest ye be defiled. Give a drachm to her, or a grain of incense to her censors, ye shall be partakers of her adulteries and partakers of her plagues. Every time you pass the house of Popery let a curse light upon her head: Thus saith the Lord:—‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Sermon 250, “War, War, War”).

Charles Hodge, in his Systematic Theology (of all places) built upon Spurgeon’s quotation of Revelation 18:4 (above), and justified the connection of that passage to the Pope (cf. Vol 3, p. 817). He also referenced the prophecies in Daniel and 2 Thessalonians, and shows how the only people in history that have fulfilled them are indeed Popes.

I give this long list simply to put forward a response to those that ask me if I care about who the next Pope will be. In short, I do not. And if calling the Pope the antichrist seems like a very unchristian thing to do, I assure you that it is not the theology of the thing that has changed in the last 50 years. Today’s reluctance to make that connection says a lot about how far our evangelical culture has drifted, and very little about the Pope.

*   *   *   *   *

UPDATE: For those who are Roman Catholics, Roman Catholic sympathizers, or otherwise can’t understand why we would resort to such strong condemnation of what seem to be nice people who claim to believe in Jesus Christ, please see this post that explains the official tenets of Roman Catholicism and contrasts them with Biblical Christianity. If you want to debate those issues, do it on that comment thread. Also, if you have objections related to papal infallibility, the church fathers, canonicity or other issues related to the Catholic Church, please browse through our other posts on Catholicism, found here, which may have answered your objections.

In summary, here’s R. C. Sproul:

“At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the Gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy. To embrace her as an authentic church while she continues to repudiate the biblical doctrine of salvation is a fatal attribution.”

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Jordan Standridge

    Rick Warren cares about who the next pope will be. He said,
    “Join me in a prayerful fast for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in
    First of all several of the cardinals, are known child molesters,
    and all of them don’t believe the gospel.
    I don’t know why i keep getting shocked by stuff this guy says, I probably wouldn’t care if John Piper hadn’t told the world that they should listen to this guy.
    It’s crazy to think how sympathetic many “pastors” are toward the pope and it is so frustrating to watch.
    I think I need a prayerful fast…from following these guys on twitter.

    • Travis

      Before you accuse a human being–created in the image of God, of child-molestation–you better have some evidence to back it up.

    • Angela M

      John Piper did? Wow! I can expect that from Rick Warren.

  • Kyle

    I stopped reading when you wrote that you didn’t care who the leader of the world’s largest Christian denomination was going to be. Unfortunately that was the last paragraph.

    • Ha. I’m not sure you are using the word “denomination” correctly, but it was reassuring to see that you made it to the end.

      • Kyle

        Regardless of the semantics of “denomination”, my point remains that whatever their faults, Roman Catholicism is still the largest Christian Church in the world. And to say that you don’t care who they choose as their leader is, well, odd.

        • CPS


          What is it specifically that, in your opinion, makes Roman Catholicism a Christian church at all, let alone the largest in the world?

          • I think that is more of a statement in context than actually meaning ‘I don’t care’. If he truly did not care this article would not have been written. The statement leads the reader to believe that as a reformed protestant, who ever is the pope doesn’t matter, we have no care for that office and in fact have a belief that this office detours people from seeing the true Gospel of Jesus, by faith along and grace alone.

            I fight so hard in my daily life to remember the gospel and to live the gospel. I am not going to give time and energy and/or care to someone who claims to be the “head” of the christian church and who does not teach the Gospel of Jesus, but instead adds rules and regulations onto man in the name of Jesus…

          • Kyle

            They subscribe to all the ecumenical creeds. That seems like a good baseline to me.

          • CPS

            So the baseline for what determines authentic Christianity lies within the ecumenical creeds, rather than in Scripture?

          • SnootGrammarian

            The Creeds are firmly rooted in scripture The church bishops wrote the Nicene creed at the same time the Gospels were being transcribed. If you question their credibility, you may as well dismiss Matthew-John. Could you possibly be bothered to do some research before posting nonsense? It would save people like me a headache and people like you some embarrassment.

          • Hey Snoot,
            The gospels were being transcribed…when again? You are aware that the apostle Paul quotes the gospel of Luke in 1 Tim 5. But are you saying that Luke was not “transcribed” when 1 Tim 5 was written, or that that 1 Tim 5 was “transcribed” around the time of the Nicene creed? I can’t tell which you are saying.

          • SnootGrammarian

            Constantine commissioned the translation of the entire Bible, specifically the Gospel, in Greek along with the Old Testament. This was at the time of the Arian heresy when the First Nicene Council convened to create the creed.

          • Snoot,

            I deleted your comment because it was obviously false–The gospels were written in Greek (in the first century, nearly 200 years before Nicene), and Constantine did not have them translated to Greek at the time of the Nicene counsel. Again, Paul quotes the Gospel of Luke in 1 Tim 5 (in Greek!) waaaaaaay before Nicene. It is not us that should go back and “do some research.”

          • SnootGrammarian

            Constantine did indeed commission the TRANSCRIPTION of the New Testament and the translation of the Old Testament into Greek at the time of his reign. Perhaps if you read carefully misunderstandings could be avoided.

            You seem to be a Calvinist and theology AND in practice as you can’t escape that nasty habit of totalitarianism when you face opposition.

          • CPS

            Maybe you could actually read the Nicene Creed yourself and explain to us where it talks about justification–you know the event that actually makes dead sinners alive to righteousness?

            See, that’s the problem here–you’re looking at the creeds as though they’re works of systematic theology that provide a holistic appraisal of what it means to be a Christian. They’re NOT, and they don’t pretend to do that. They’re works of task theology, meant to address the rhetorical situations of very specific heresies.

            For example, the Nicene Creed (which occurred in the fourth century, not when the Gospels were beginning to be transcribed, by the way) was written specifically to confront the Arian heresy that denied the co-essential deity of the Son with the Father. That’s what the document was intended to address, and it makes no pretense of being a full compendium of everything one must believe in order to be a Christian.

            I’ll echo Jesse here–some research would suit you very well indeed. For starters, I’d recommend either Stephen J. Nichols’ For Us and For Our Salvation, or Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative.

          • WillG

            How about you look at Luther. He would tell you that Catholicism is based on Jesus Christ, and thus “Christian.”

            It is the largest in the world, 1.2 billion members, as reported by various secular bodies, in addition to the Church itself.

          • CPS

            What a ludicrous statement. Before the Diet of Worms, Luther described his own work as “writings leveled against the papacy and the doctrine of the papists, as against those who by their wicked doctrines and precedents have laid waste Christendom by doing harm to the souls and the bodies of men.”

            Tell me–does *ANY* of that sound like Luther thinks Catholicism (see: that’s what he means by “the papists”) is even remotely Christian in any way? To say nothing of the fact that Jesse has already quoted Luther personally IN THIS VERY POST as affirming that the pope is the antichrist.

            To appeal to Luther to affirm the Christianity of Catholicism is the height of foolishness.

          • WillG

            Ludicrous? Who died and made Luther the definitive source of who is Christian and who isn’t?

            The last I heard, any person who accepted Jesus Christ as his personal saviour was a Christian. You are aware that Catholics accept and profess Jesus as their personal saviour, right?

            You and Luther may have an opinion of who is and isn’t Christian, but you don’t get to decide for all of the Christians of the world.

          • CPS

            Now that’s rich. YOU appeal to Luther to argue that the Roman Catholic church is essentially Christian, and then rebuke ME for pointing out that he doesn’t believe anything remotely resembling that. Well-played.

            I’m also interested in why you think it doesn’t matter how a person conceives of his or her salvation. Paul has to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy reminding people that their salvation didn’t happen because they were basically good people, or because they had done good things, or because they followed Jewish law. In fact, he said over and over again that people who DID believe their salvation occurred because of those things were kidding themselves. (See, for example, the letter to the Romans or the letter to the Galatians.) That is, according to the New Testament, it Really Does Matter how we think about our salvation in Christ.

            And it’s exactly in this area that Catholicism proves itself so deeply and tragically in error. The official position of the Roman Catholic church is essentially that salvation in Christ is a gift to be dispensed at the discretion of the church hierarchy in exchange for acts of penance (confession, church membership, etc.). That was why they went one step further in the 16th century and began selling the forgiveness of sins in exchange for monetary gifts. This was known as the sale of indulgences, and it’s still an acknowledged practice of the Catholic church.

            This is what has led Protestants for five hundred years to deny that Roman Catholicism is authentic Christianity: it flouts the New Testament’s teaching upon what it means to be saved. To put it more bluntly still: anyone who doesn’t truly accept the New Testament’s authority on what it means to be Christian, ISN’T Christian in any meaningful sense at all.

          • WillG

            I think Luther had enough mental horsepower to recognize that those who truly sought to follow Christ were Christians. Who actually goes to Heaven is the business of God, but we should all try our best to follow Christ’s example.

            “Salvation comes from God alone…”That is the official position of the Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #169.

            Your statement about it being dispensed is utterly false, and I challenge you to site its source, along with your scurrilous accusation that the sale of indulgences is an acknowledged practice.

            Again, here is the OFFICIAL position of the Church regarding Simony, which would include the selling of indulgences:

            2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things.53
            To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you,because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!”54 Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.”55 It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment. (1578)

            Now, having seen empirical evidence for your error, are you prepared to retract your statements?

          • CPS

            Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church as presented on the Vatican website says:

            “…The saving work of his holy and sanctifying humanity is the sacrament of salvation, which is revealed and active in the Church’s sacraments (which the Eastern Churches also call “the holy mysteries”). the seven sacraments are the signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body. the Church, then, both contains and communicates the invisible grace she signifies. It is in this analogical sense, that the Church is called a “sacrament.”

            775 “The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men.”197 The Church’s first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God. Because men’s communion with one another is rooted in that union with God, the Church is also the sacrament of the unity of the human race. In her, this unity is already begun, since she gathers men “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues”;198 at the same time, the Church is the “sign and instrument” of the full realization of the unity yet to come.

            776 As sacrament, the Church is Christ’s instrument. “She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all…”

            Here is a NYT article about the dispensing of indulgences. In 2009.


            So I turn your own question back to you: having seen empirical evidence for your error, are you prepared to retract your statements?

          • WillG

            Thank God you have found the Catechism! Start reading it and Scriptural notes, and you will be well on your way!

            You may not participate in sacramental worship, and thus don’t understand clearly what is written in the passages you quoted.

            The Sacraments are “signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ…” Get that, grace of Christ, Holy Spirit spreads.

            As believers in Christ, we are unified to each other as the Church is unified in Christ, its bridegroom. The Church is an outward, tangible entity that cooperates with the Holy Spirit in spreading the grace of Christ.

            As to the NYT, when have they ever gotten anything right about the Catholic Church? The article is so full of inaccuracies as to be laughable.

            Since you have access to the Catechism, I reference you to 1471-1498. I personally had to read it several times before it began making sense to me.

            It makes most sense when one considers the justice required for the commission of sins. God grants us His mercy in forgiving our sins, but His justice is required.

            Example, a small child gets mad and smashes a dish. Acknowledges fault, asks for, and receives forgiveness from the parent. However, the dish is still broken (residual effects of sin), so the parent assigns extra chores to pay for the dish, as a child has no way of buying a new dish.

            The indulgence would be accepting the value of the labor for actual cost of the dish.

            Oh, since I was factually correct, no retraction is necessary.

          • CPS

            You were not factually correct, and from what you say here, I strongly suspect you STILL don’t understand the CCC at all.

            Statements like, ” the seven sacraments are the signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ” and “the Church is Christ’s instrument for the salvation of all…” are completely at odds with the idea that salvation comes by grace through faith.

            See, the grace of Christ DOESN’T come to you because you participate in church rites like baptism or communion or confirmation. The grace of Christ is given freely, and generates faith that produces obedience–including the obedience of baptism and church membership. To reverse this is to so distort the ground of salvation as to have no salvation at all. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3, ESV)

            And your final statement about justice is simply heartbreaking, as it illustrates just how impoverished and malformed an idea of Christ’s sacrifice you really have. You see, according to Romans 3:21-26, all of God’s justice has already BEEN satisfied, and that upon the cross! That was actually the whole point! If Christ, the perfect, blameless, spotless Son of God actually did DIE, and if His death really did ATONE for your sins, then that means that all of the demands of God’s justice have already been completely and perfectly fulfilled in Him.

            See, that’s the really horrible thing about what the Catholic church has taught you: not only have you got a sadly twisted and diminished view of the cross, but you’ve got a culpably naive ignorance as to the depth of your own sins. Do you really think that “the extra chores” you describe really do meet God’s demand for justice? Really? Is your sin really equivalent to the fleeting petulance of a small child?

            The Bible paints a very different picture, reminding us that “Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
            We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you;
            for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.” (Isa. 64:5-7, ESV)

            Friend, your sin is so much huger and more ugly and more despicable than you have been led to believe. And in fact, you’re right about one thing: sin DOES require justice. But the debt of justice your sins have incurred is infinitely beyond your ability to EVER pay by works of earthly righteousness. That’s why Isaiah reminds you that the best you could ever offer God is “like a polluted garment”–it’s a stinking, reeking, filthy, defiled thing that could never please Him and never approach the glorious standards of His absolute and uncompromising purity.

            But there IS good news: it’s that Christ, who WAS sinless, has died, and has been offered as the propitiation of God’s wrath and perfect justice for all who genuinely put their trust in Him–not because of anything they’ve done, not because of their performance with respect to an earthly set of religious rites, not because of anything in THEM at all, but owing only to His free and unmerited favor.

            I would urge you to repent of your sins and REALLY trust in Christ. Turn from those who are deceiving you. There is no salvation to be achieved, no justice to be satisfied by your good works. I sincerely pray you’ll repent and be saved.

          • WillG

            First, an earnest thank you for your concern.

            Second, you stated ” The official position of the Roman Catholic church is essentially that salvation in Christ is dispensed at the discretion of the church hierarchy in exchange for acts of penance (confession, church membership, etc.).” That is incorrect.

            Christ’s gift of salvation is complete of its own merits, but is made visible through the sacraments. The only “exchange” required is God freely giving His Salvation, and us accepting it.

            Jesus Christ is the Savior of the universe, of all men and women, of all time. We have to chose to participate/accept His perfect gift of Salvation.

            We seem to be talking past each other on many of these points, and are probably closer in agreement than we think.

            What does God wish for all mankind? To turn away from sin, accept His friendship, preach His Gospel, and be with Him for all eternity.

            To do so, we must order our lives to God, and then to each other. We must imitate Christ, follow the Commandments, and love our neighbor. Ultimately, it involves trust. Trusting in a Merciful, all-powerful, and all-loving God.

    • “I stopped reading when you wrote that you didn’t care who the leader of the world’s largest Christian denomination was going to be”

      Hunh, he must have edited that out. I only see something about Roman Catholicism.

  • Great Post. What you highlight is a symptom of the problem, Protestants have simply forgotten what they are protesting about.

  • I think that another major contributor to contemporary positivity on the RCC, is the politicization of evangelicalism. So many evangelicals value political agreement over gospel agreement that their relationship with the RCC is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The attitude seems to be that it doesn’t matter that the enemy of my enemy has led millions of people into a false and insufficient gospel as long as we agree on abortion and gay marriage.

    • Very well said. Douglas Wilson (whose blog I love) even said when the Pope retired he saw the this next chapter of history as one where Christians and Cathlics fight for the same causes together–even thought they “say the rosary more often than one ought.” Actually, it was that comment that provoked this post.

  • Pingback: A friendly reminder: the Pope is (probably) the antichrist | Truth2Freedom's Blog()

  • Randy Kirkland

    Amen and amen. Thanks for your biblical fidelity brother.

  • Thanks for the kick in the pants. If we are truly Christ-centered and gospel-centered, we should be as horrified as the reformers of old that as large a body as the Catholic church is deliberately engaging in teachings (such as the mass, transsubstatiation, the worship of Mary and the saints, the necessity of works salvation) that are leading millions of people along the road to hell.
    Either Protestantism is true, or Catholicism is. They can’t both be right. (Logic! What do they teach in the schools these days!)

  • Lanny Faulkner

    Very helpful article! I only disagree on one detail… there was no time “prior to dispensational theology” since it is the theology of the Scriptures! Blessings Brother! This BLOG is a continuing blessing to me.

    • I obviously agree with that statement. I guess I meant since “The Left Behind Books” it seems like there is this move to find the ONCE AND FOR ALL antichirst (cue ominous music), and we have lost track of what the spirit of antichrist is.

  • Jamie

    Does it say that our evangelical culture has drifted, or simply that an emotionally charged word like “antiChrist” isn’t doing much to bring Catholics to Christ?

    Take for example, this article by Dr. Mohler and the DTS statement on ECT. Both I think point out the key and unbridgeable differences without resorting to the term antichrist.

    • SnootGrammarian

      Bring Catholics to Christ? Are you that deranged and emotionally stunted? The “Catholics=nonchristians” is just garbage your pastor spoon-feeds you to shake you down for money. A failure to teach is apparent in all denominations. I’ve seen people who sin wantonly and grin, telling me Jesus forgives them anyway. They could use with some “works” theology. Anybody who affirms the Nicene Creed is a Christian. Guess what Roman Catholics say once a month along with the Apostles Creed?

      History is to hard-line Reformed Christians as garlic is to Dracula.

  • Irony: saying “Prior to dispensational theology (to which I largely subscribe), there
    was not a focus among theologians of identifying a singular antichrist” and then citing a bunch of guys who were largely postmillennial who identified antichrist.

    • Michael Coughlin

      Now Jon – Jesse’s point was that the postmillers quoted were not intent on defining a singular antichrist, that is, THE antichrist (like us dispys like to do).

      But the spirit of the post was that historic “evangelicalism or protestantism” has seemed to always identify popes as an antichrist.

      You are may favorite postmill brother. 🙂 I hope you will consider the

    • You are totally right. What they held to, and which has largely been lost today, emphasis the emphesis that one person at a time was THE antichrist. Now, most dipinsationalists view the antichrist as future, and most post/amils have stopped caring about THE antichrist, and instead are content with saying anyone who opposes the gospel acts like AN antichrist. What these guys above all had in common was an emphasis that any pope was THE antichrist.

      Does that help?

  • Linda Velazquez

    Ok I am confused Jesse. I read all the posts. Are you saying that YOU believe that the Pope is the anti Christ?

    • Read the title of the post. I wrote the word “probably” because I wrote the post before the Pope was elected. Media reports are out though that the first thing he did was celebrate Mass, so the word “probably” can probably go away.

      • WillG

        When did worshiping Jesus Christ and re-presenting his Passion become antithetical to the Gospel?

  • Tom Chantry

    One conclusion from this post: if you are a Protestant but DON’T think the Pope is the Antichrist, you really need to think about why. I can think of three reasons why someone might reject the identification of Pope as Antichrist.

    The first is a theology which leads them to one for one great Antichrist at the end of the ages. If this is you, I disagree, but your reason is valid; you may view the Pope exactly rightly (the head of history’s largest anti-christian cult) but not think he is THE antichrist.

    The second is a focus on political causes. If this matters more to you than the nature of the gospel, you have a serious problem with priorities.

    The third is a post-modern worry about offending someone. If this is your reason, you have a serious problem with – well – most of the Bible.

    • Well said.

      • Again Snoot, I deleted your comment because of how false it was. Geneva under Calvin was not a dictatorship. There was a council that had the power to hire/fire Calvin (one which they actually exercised at least three times). And, I am not at all squeamish about Calvin’s failings and the executions, but you have to grant that first Servetus had already been condemned to death by the Catholic Church, so using his death as a contrast to Catholicism is sort of lame.

        • SnootGrammarian

          Are you claiming Calvin didn’t establish a theocratic dictatorship with himself at the head? Saying the “council” ruled is like saying the Senate technically ruled Rome while the divine cult was active.

          Despite your protests, you do seem to have a blind spot for Calvin’s obvious wickedness. I won’t even bother contesting the circumstances surrounding Michael Servetus’ execution. Do you have appropriate answer for the other several hundred?

          • As a Baptist, I am obviously no fan of the way Calvin ran Geneva. If I would have lived there, I would have probably been drowned as well. So don’t take me as defending Calvin. But to call Geneva a dictatorship is to pretty much miss what was actually happening there. And to play him against the RCC on the issue of killing people is sort of funny in a macabre way. That’s all I’m saying.

    • SnootGrammarian

      Or you could realize that the prophecies that these Reformers were pointing to applied to the City of Jerusalem and instead foretold the fall and later Roman persecution. For starters the “little kingdom” is Rome itself, surrounded by its 10 principalities. Jerusalem has seven large hills surrounding it.

      If you’re looking for a spitting image of the antichrist, John Calvin does a decent stand-in what with his totalitarian dictatorship and torturing of political/religious dissidents.

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  • Mark T. Rittgers

    I purposely tell my friends, especially those who are Roman Catholic, that I am a Catholic who belongs to a Baptist Church. I have also belonged to Presbyterian Churches where we often recited The Apostle’s Creed where we professed belief in one, holy Catholic Church. I then point out that I am in no way, shape, or form a “Roman Catholic”. Many, including the author of this blog, appear to miss that point, at least with the language they use. Don’t let your Roman Catholic friends falsely define the terms.

  • Michael Coughlin

    DELETE THIS COMMENT: “Smalcald Artilces” –>> I’m guessing this should be “Smalcald Articles”

  • Mollycar

    I was raised in the Roman Catholic church, I came to faith in Christ as my Saviour at 17 through listening to Trans World Radio. I grew up in rural Ireland in a staunchily Catholic area. I have never found describing the Pope as the anti Christ a helpful approach, it is deeply, deeply offensive to Catholics and in Ireland it adds to sectarianism. I believe raising up Christ and His wonderful salvation is key.

  • John M

    Hmm, I’m no pro-papist, but I’m concerned with the direction of this post. I guess I missed the verse that says “Once you think you know which earthly leadership office the Antichrist will emerge from, stop caring or praying for the leaders in that office.”

    Globally, I see the influence of the Pope and the RCC waning. Surely it’s far less than it was during the lives of all the men you quoted, at least in Europe and North America. I believe the RCC is losing ground to greater gospel-opposing forces, such as scientific naturalism and Islam. My money’s on THE Antichrist emerging from one of these movements. In the meantime, I believe the Pope (even though he is AN antichrist) plays a critical role in our world–not just because of conservative political sympathies–in large part because of his opposition to these powerful and growing forces (which are as hostile to Catholics as to evangelicals).

    Note that what I’m NOT saying is that an enemy of an enemy is a FRIEND. Rather, I’m saying that an enemy of an enemy MATTERS.

    • Thanks for interacting here John. I hope you saw that at no time did I (or any commenter) say we shouldn’t pray for someone.

      • John M

        You’re right–I overstated your position. Thanks for clarifying, Jesse. I do sincerely appreciate your perspective on this issue, even if I somewhat disagree. It’s mainly because I’m just more likely to get worked up about the contemporary issues I mentioned–scientific naturalism and Islam–and I see the Pope as a very influential opponent to those movements (which of course were nary a blip on the radar during the Reformation).

  • flyingshark

    At what point do you think the church catholic church removed itself from being holy and started down its accused demonic path? I only ask because I am looking at things from a historical stand-point:
    1. The church was founded by Peter – who Jesus really liked
    2. The church was modeled after governments at the time as that was the only example it had.
    3. The church has upheld that model throughout history as that is what was the “status quo” to do. I.e. – Pope ruling church like a King ruling a country.
    Please don’t read anything into my inquiry other than intellectual curiosity.

    • The Catholic Church came into more or less its present form in the 400’s with Leo. Cardinals were still to be developed, but he instituted purgatory, papal supremacy and devotion to Mary. The Edwards work on that above details some of that.

      • WillG

        You are about 300 years late:

        “For the attitude of the Churches of Asia Minor and of Lyons we may appeal to the words of St. Irenaeus, a pupil of St. John’s disciple Polycarp [145]; he calls Mary our most eminent advocate. St. Ignatius of Antioch, part of whose life reached back into apostolic times, wrote to the Ephesians (c. 18-19) in such a way as to connect the mysteries of Our Lord’s life more closely with those of the Virgin Mary. For instance, the virginity of Mary, and her childbirth, are enumerated with Christ’s death, as forming three mysteries unknown to the devil. The sub-apostolic author of the Epistle to Diognetus, writing to a pagan inquirer concerning the Christian mysteries, describes Mary as the great antithesis of Eve, and this idea of Our Lady occurs repeatedly in other writers even before the Council of Ephesus. We have repeatedly appealed to the words of St. Justin and Tertullian, both of whom wrote before the end of the second century.

    • WillG

      In hindsight, if I lived in Luther’s time, and knew then what I know now, I would have been pretty angry about the political shenanigans of the Papal States, interference of Roman families in the selection of the Popes, etc.

      However, I also recognize that the reform of the Church is continuous, starting with the Apostles telling new Christian communities that Gentiles didn’t have to be circumcised to be Christians, like converted Jews.

      The Church itself is the bride of Christ, but its members are human, and we all know what that means. Fortunately, granted faith and inspired by the Holy Spirit, many holy people have continuously preached the Gospel and spiritually fed countless souls, in spite of failed leaders and sinful men.

      I believe love (caritas) is best served by acknowledging theological differences exist, respecting them, but working together where possible, to worship Christ, imitate Him, and live the Beatitudes.

  • george

    Rick warren makes me sick! He wants to bring us all into acceptance of chrislam!

  • WillG

    Allow me to challenge many of the statements through questions:

    1. How is the Pope a “man of lawlessness?” Whose law is he disobeying, and who should hold him accountable?

    2. If the Pope (or any Pope) is/was the Antichrist, how is that the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and physical manifestation of the beatitudes are practiced by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world?

    3. If the Pope is the Antichrist, why does he kneel before Christ in the Blessed Sacraments, and call on Christ in all actions, as well as proclaiming his personal belief in Jesus through the Nicene Creed?

    Luther stated: ““…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.”

    4. Is this to be interpreted that Leo X was the Antichrist only, or does the title stick to all Popes previous and future?

    5. How does Luther think that a man, Leo X can “not permit” Christians to be saved? Doesn’t that fall to God alone?

    6. Finally, what benefit is derived from believing the Pope is the Antichrist?

    As a Roman Catholic, if we Christians are to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, live the beatitudes, and to known for our love, we should start by examining our beliefs about others. We should do so in humility, live meekly, and trust in God.

    I request you reconsider your belief in the Pope being the Antichrist, and focus your attention on the those who call for the murder of innocents in abortion, the promotion of vice and perversity, and all who promote depravity. These powerful forces of evil are well-represented in US and Western politics. Let’s join our voices and speak out about them.

    • Bob

      WillG, the reason why the pope can be considered an (or the) anti-Christ is simple. The pope is considered infallible. There is only one God, Father, Son and Spirit and only He is infallible.

      Further to that, the Roman Catholic Church does not ascribe to the fact that I can be saved only by the grace of God the Father, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. That no man can absolve me of my sins (no priest or pope) only God can! That no amount of “Our Fathers” or “Hail Mary’s” can be enough to save me from the wrath of God! Nothing I do can save me, it is all a free gift of God to those who BELIEVE that Jesus Christ, the one true Son of God, came down from heaven to save me, a wretched sinner. There is nothing that I can do that will help me receive salvation…

      Further to that, the mass is nothing more than idolatry. The fact that Roman Catholics believe in transubstantiation (that the bread actually becomes the body of Christ and the wine his blood) would mean that Christ would have to continue to pay for sins. This is not true and this is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus commanded that the Holy Supper be celebrated until he comes, in REMEMBRANCE of him, nothing more. The bread is only a SYMBOL of Christ’s body (IT IS STILL BREAD!!!) and the wine a SYMBOL of his blood (IT REMAINS WINE!!!). To believe otherwise is to put the bread and wine on the same level as the Son of God and therefore is to be worshipped and so, Priests (and the Pope) don’t just permit, but encourage their flocks to worship idols!

      I would agree that Christians and Catholics can join forces against those that would call for murder of babies, those that promote vice and perversity and depravity. We can be one loud voice against those evils as it pertains to morality in this world. But, please don’t belittle the gospel of salvation by saying that since we agree on these things we should agree on everything.

      I pray for the Roman Catholic Church, that one day again the gospel may be preached from Sunday to Sunday once more!

      • SnootGrammarian

        1. Read Titus 1: Church leaders are commanded to lead. If you will not follow you are like Eve in her Rebellion
        2. We all believe in transubstantiation. You just call it “real presence.” (When two or more are gathered together in my name)
        3. Veneration of Saints teaches a respect for history, something the Protestant denominations (having grown up in one) sorely lack. Prayers are not “offered” to saints. Requests are made. “The prayers of the righteous are swift and effective.” If you would ask your friend on Earth to pray for you, asking a Saint who dwells with God in the mansion of many rooms is not that different.

        Do research before you consider yourself an authority on something or at least knowledgeable enough to respond to a question. I suggest you talk with a Catholic priest if you have that many questions. Although I might suggest a more patient and humble tone.

          • SnootGrammarian

            Great Scott. A reporter, in their infinite experience/knowledge with religion and stellar history of non-bias has called a Pope’s petition to a saint a prayer! It must be so.

        • Angela M

          “If you would ask your friend on Earth to pray for you, asking a Saint
          who dwells with God in the mansion of many rooms is not that different.” But the bible doesn’t tell you to do that.

          • DelawareMom

            The bible doesn’t tell you not to, either. The belief that you can only do what the Bible says is not stated in the Bible anywhere. Kind of a conundrum, no? Besides, Paul states that Scripture and tradition are all good for teaching. The Scripture Paul refers to is the Old Testament, since the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. Does that mean that we can only follow the Old Testament? And ponder this: the Bible was written and compiled by the Catholic Church! So I guess the Catholic Church would know what one can and cannot do.

      • A very common misconception of those outside of the church. Papel infallibility doesn’t mean that we Catholics believe the Pope or Bishops are incapable of sin or somehow equal to God or Jesus nor are we ever taught that salvation must be rerouted through a priest. Please do a little research on the Catholic church before perpetuating myths and outright lies.

        • Thanks for your comment Yvonne. Here is a post I wrote on Papal infallibility:

          And here is my favorite example of it being flagrantly violated:

          • WillG

            Papal Bulls are not ex cathedra teachings. Whether a pope, almost 600 years ago, wrote about the paternity of his children, has nothing to do with the universal church.

            Was that Pope less than impeccable, you bet! However, infallibility had nothing to do with it.

          • Without getting too far off track here, it was not until the 1800’s that the church limited infallibility to “ex cathedra.” Obviously that poses an interesting dilemma for the papist: did he have that power before hand? Was it fallible before the 1800’s? Or have the popes always had it, in an unbroken line of succession? If it is new, it is hardly from an unbroken line of succession If it is old, obviously it has been flagrantly violated repeatedly. That is the point.

            But that point is very secondary to the post above, which simply points out how church leaders have (throughout Protestant history) viewed the pope as the antichrist.

          • WillG

            In reverse order, I appreciate your presentation of how Protestants have viewed the Pope as antichrist.

            Now, Popes have always had the power to teach dogmatically and infallibly. It was defined in the 1800s because its meaning wasn’t clearly understood.

            Popes have written many things whose purpose or meaning was not for the universal Church, or which had a discrete period of validity.

            As a human, no Pope has ever been perfect, like their predecessor, Peter.

            Please address the questions I posed previously about the Pope being the Antichrist. Specifically, please answer the second. Thanks!

          • Well, obviously I would say that what the RCC spreads is the opposite of the gospel, and that the RCC has more in common with the pharisees that with Jesus. The pharisees held to two authorities (Torah and oral tradition), as does the RCC. The Pharisees taught that salvation comes from faith energized by works (or the other way around, etc.), as does the RCC. I mean the Catholic church literally banned the Scriptures for almost 1,000 years. The Catholic Church has martyred more people for beleiving the gospel than probably every other group in history combined (numbers are hard to come by, granted). So that is why people have historically viewed their leader as the antichrist. I mean, just pick up Foxe’s book of martyrs and open to any page at random.

            Is that the second question you wanted answered?

            I’d strongly encourage you to read today’s post on the Cgate to get a better understanding of where I am coming from. Thanks for your patience with me.

          • WillG

            Wow! The opposite of the Gospel is feeding hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned, caring for the poor, all the while daily preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for our sins?!?! Love your neighbor as yourself, isn’t that a Gospel teaching?

            You go on to repeat empirically false statements regarding the Bible and “martyrs.” Why? Do you seek to persist in ignorance and curse your church members with the same? You can study non-Catholic sources to refute your erroneous statements.

            You don’t have to agree with the teachings of the Church, but you don’t get to make up things and pass them off as fact.

            1. The Church teaches the Gospel, and even according to Luther, is responsible for the Cannon of Scripture. “We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists (Catholics)–that they possess the Word of God which we received from them, otherwise we
            should have known nothing at all about it.” Martin Luther–Commentary on St. John, ch. 16

            2. Regarding martyrs, Protestants were indeed killed for their religious beliefs by governments with Catholicism as the state religion. You will find that just as many Protestants were killed by other Protestants (see Covenanters and Piests). There were also over 300 martyrs killed by Protestants, in England alone, including St. Thomas More.

            Is your desire to love God and follow His will? If it is, do so. If it is your desire to tell any who will listen to your anti-Catholic pablum, you are free to do so also. However, which will bring you everlasting joy, and which will feed your pride?

      • WillG

        If you are really interested in what the Church teaches, as opposed to what you believe it teaches, both and are great sites with biblical references.

        Regarding the Eucharist, please re-read the whole of John 6.

    • Angela M

      The only point I want to weigh in on is what Luther said about the Pope exalting himself above and opposing himself to Christ. Teaching that that you need him to intercede for you IS putting himself above Christ in the line to to father. That in itself opposes Christ’s teaching.

      John 14:6 “Jesus said
      to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father
      except through Me.”

      • WillG

        Where do get the notion that the Pope exalts himself above Christ or requires intercession through him?? Where do you read stuff like that?

        Intellectually, how is that possible? Don’t you see the Pope worshiping Our Lord, kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament? The Church calls all to follow Jesus Christ, have a personal relationship with Our Lord.

        Also, the Pope’s primary title is “The Servant of the Servants of God.”

        “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church.
        There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be
        the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.” -Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1938.

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  • Paul Bassett

    The Bible makes it perfectly clear that Christians living in the church age cannot and will not know the identity of the antichrist, because the church will be raptured to be with Jesus before the antichrist emerges on the world scene.

    So why are Jesse Johnson and others speculating about this issue?

    Just because Luther, Zwingli and Calvin believed the antichrist would be the pope, this does not necessarily make it so, which is probably why Johnson tries to hedge his bets by basing his argument on the word “probably.”

    Equally valid arguments could and have been made (including by John MacArthur and other Bible scholars) that the antichrist may turn out to be a Muslim, a reasonable option which has not been mentioned at all by Johnson or in any of the comments to his post.

    The Bible teaches that there will be many antichrists (false teachers) between the time of first and second coming of Jesus Christ, but that there will be one great antichrist who will rise to power during the Tribulation.

    This final individual will deny that Jesus is the Christ; he will deny both God the Father and God the Son. The biblical description is far more akin to that of a Muslim point of view than to that of a pope. Just saying…

    Johnson says that today’s reluctance to make the connection between the antichrist and the pope says a lot about how our evangelical culture has drifted. That may be true.

    But the fact of the matter is that Islam arguably poses a far greater threat to biblical Christianity in our day and age than does Roman Catholicism, and the fact that Christians in America are largely oblivious to the magnitude of the challenge posed by Islam says a lot about the myopic leadership of today’s evangelical church.

    Johnson and his defenders may try to accuse me of falling into the same trap as Johnson by seeking to identify the antichrist as a Muslim as opposed to a Roman Catholic.

    My response is that the Bible says that is not possible to identify the antichrist, and therefore any efforts to do so are ultimately futile.

    • Bob,

      You really hit at the main theological point on this post. Thanks for noticing it. I did try to explain that in the second paragraph above. It was not until the advent of dispensational theology (to which I largely subscribe) that there was a push to find the once for all antichrist. Instead, through church history, there has been a long held belief that there was one person who was THE antichrist, always. So in other words, when one Pope died, he was replaced by the next antichrist. That has been the view held throughout church history, until the last 70 years or so. That was the point of this post.
      I do believe that Revelation points to a future antichrist, and I have heard Pastor John’s message on his belief that this person is likely going to be a muslim leader. I look forward to John’s message this Sunday night titled “Welcoming the New AntiChrist” to see what he says. My point above was not to contradict anything Pastor John has said, but to draw out what has been held through church history.

      • elainebitt

        I read somewhere that MacArthur has actually taught two different views on this issue, that “the” antichrist will be a muslim, and that he will be a jewish. I wish I could find the sources so I could support this.

        He also spoke about the issue of the papacy back in 2005, here’s the link, if it interests anyone:


    Before this becomes like reading the comments on CNN, let’s say that all future comments have to be about the post.

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  • Couple of questions:
    1. Why do the protestants have a problem with the dotrine that the Pope in infallable when protestants in directly declare there own infallability by claiming perfect understanding of scripture and anyone who disagrees. One major issue I see with protestants is that they have moved from a doctrine that one man is infallable to individual infallability and because of this the protetesants have been in perpectual rebellion and division.
    2. Wouldn’t the head of the Church of England be a more appropriate “Antichrist” as defined by the reformers? Remember the Church of England had lawless Kings as the head of their church. At least the Pope practices the traditions of the Church and holds to fundemental morality as taught in the Bible. Also look at the slide from truth and the ongoing down fall of the mainline Epicopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
    Lastly, FYI I am a Reformed Episcopal and consider ALL who believe in the biblical principles as outlined in the Apostles creed.

    • 1. Protestants dont’ say their understanding of Scripture is infallible.
      2. The anglican church has never said that if you believe you are saved by faith alone you are on your way to hell. Nor does the archbishop claim to be the head of the universal church. I mean, is he even the head of the Anglican church? I thought the queen was.

  • durg78

    The Mahdi of Islam fits the description of the Anti-Christ far more than does the Pope.

    ( Bible ) What the Bible says about the Antichrist
    ( Quran )What is believed in Islam, as taught by the Qoran and the Hadiths, about Mahdi 12th Imam

    ( Bible ) The antichrist will be an unparalleled leader in ability to speak and lead
    ( Quran ) The Imam Al Madhi will be an unparalleled leader in ability to speak and lead

    ( Bible )The False Prophet will support the antichrist in deceiving the world into accepting and following the Antichrist.
    ( Quran ) A “Muslim Jesus” will “return” and support the Imam Al Madhi in getting the world to accept the Imam Al Madhi and follow him.

    ( Bible )The Antichrist and the False Prophet will have a powerful army that will do great damage to the Earth in order to subdue it and follow them.
    ( Quran )The Imam Al Madhi and the Muslim “Jesus” will have a powerful army that will do great damage to the Earth in order to subdue it and cause everyone to follow them

    ( Bible ) The False Prophet is described as a Dragon in Lamb’s clothing
    ( Quran ) The Muslim “Jesus” will come bearing the name that the world knows as the Lamb of God and yet teach Islam.

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist and the False Prophet establish a New World Order
    ( Quran )The Imam Al Madhi and the Muslim “Jesus” establish a New World Order

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist is said to “change the times”.
    ( Quran ) The Imam Al Madhi almost certainly will adopt use of the Islamic calendar for use worldwide, hence changing the times. It is a 12 month calendar of 30 days each with Muslims names.

    ( Bible )The Antichrist and False Prophet will adopt a universal and mandatory religion
    ( Quran )The Imam Al Madhi and the Muslim “Jesus” will institute Islam as the only acceptable religion.

    “O son of the Messenger of God! Who is the Mahdi (qa’im) of your clan (ahl al-bayt)?”, he replied: “The Mahdi will conquer the world; at that time the world will be illuminated by the light of God, and everywere in which those other than God are worshipped will become places where God is worshiped; and even if the polytheists do not wish it, the only faith on that day will be the religion of God. – Bihar al-Anwar: 51: 146

    Muhammad al-Baqir, the Fourth (Isma’ili) or Fifth (Twelver) Imam said of the Mahdi:
    “The Master of the Command was named as the Mahdi because he will dig out the Torah and other heavenly books from the cave in Antioch. He will judge among the people of the Torah according to the Torah; among the people of the Gospel according to the Gospel; among the people of the Psalms in accordance with the Psalms; among the people of the Qur’an in accordance with the Qur’an.”

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist and False prophet will execute by beheading anyone who does not accept their religion
    ( Quran )The Imam Al Madhi and the Muslim “Jesus” will execute by beheading anyone who does not accept Islam. Beheading has been the official method of execution for Islam since the days of Mohammed and still is to this very day.

    “The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians. If they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed.” -Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, Al-Imam Al-Mahdi: The Just Leader of Humanity

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist will have a specific agenda to kill as many Jews as possible.
    ( Quran )The Imam Al Madhi and the Muslim “Jesus” will have an order from God to root out and kill all Jews.

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist and False Prophet will attack and conquer Jerusalem. Interestingly enough all of the nations the Bible mentions as coming to attack Israel and Jerusalem (In Ezekiel) are currently Muslim nations
    ( Quran ) The Imam Al Madhi and Muslim “Jesus” will attack and conquer Jerusalem in the name of Islam

    “Armies carrying black flags will come from Iran. No power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Israel where they will erect their flags.” -Mohammed Ali Ibn Zubair Ali, Signs of Qiyamah, 54.

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist will set himself up in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as his seat of authority.
    ( Quran ) The Imam Al Madhi will establish the Islamic Caliphate from Jerusalem. The Caliphate is a religious and political leader of all Islam and all Muslims. With the whole world having to accept Islam he will in effect be a world ruler from Jerusalem

    “Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi”. -Izzat Arif, p40

    ( Bible ) The Antichrist will perform many miracles in order to deceive many into following him.
    ( Quran ) The Imam Al Madhi will also be able to perform many miracles.

    ( Bible )The Antichrist will make a peace treaty with Israel for 7 years.
    ( Quran ) The Imam Al Madhi will make a peace treaty with Israel for 7 years.

    Abu Dawud reported a hadith about the Mahdi that the Prophet Muhammed said:
    The Mahdi will be of my stock, and will have a broad forehead, a prominent nose. He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, and he will rule for seven years.

    ( Bible ) Jesus at his second coming will defend Jerusalem and Israel from an attack by a coalition of nations led by the Antichrist and the False Prophet.
    ( Quran ) Warns that the Dajjal, (The supreme evil one according to Islam), will appear and fool Jews into thinking he is Jesus the Messiah and fight for them. The Qoran warns Muslims to ignore everything he says and flee from him.

  • Thanks for this post Jesse and the great citations throughout. This is a great reminder as you noted how much the evangelical culture has changed. Interestingly enough at we spend just as much time giving clarity to Christians that Catholicism is directly opposed to the biblical gospel as we do preaching the gospel to Catholics.

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  • Durg78:

    I deleted your comment because of its length. But here is a page that has a chart that shows the similarities between what the BIble says about the antichrist and what the Quran says about the return of Jesus:

    Thanks for posting here.

  • Excellent historical perspective. Thanks!

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  • Arnaldo Achucarro

    Thank you so much! I’m glad I am not the only one preaching this…Soli Deo Gloria

  • Catholiceducator

    I hope the sad divisions between Protestants and Catholics can be set aside, as Pope Francis begins to lead. For decades, I have heard many objections to the Catholic Faith, and frankly, I’ve been shocked that some well-meaning Protestants believe the worst about Catholicism. And if one truly understood Catholic teaching, I don’t believe they would ever consider leaving the Church. May I suggest a couple of educational websites: (Catholic Answers) and Reverend ‘Know-It-All’ ( I also suggest listening to “Go Ask Your Father” and other shows on Relevant Radio (; all of these address common questions/objections, etc. regarding Catholicism. Scott Hahn, Jeff Cavins, Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid and many others are great Catholic apologists, and some were previously anti-Catholic (Catholic Answers has their books). I hope we all remember we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and should pray for one another. God bless you.

    • Hi Catholic Educator. I really encourage you to read our post today: The Gospel According to Rome. Then, if you still think that Catholics and Protestants should simply set aside their divisions, let me know on that page:

    • elainebitt

      “[…] as Pope Francis begins to lead.”

      Therein lies the problem. Pope Francis leads not the church that Jesus bought with His blood. He Himself does.

  • John Jeffery

    Thank you for this historical reminder which breathes an atmosphere so foreign to the age in which we live. Solus Christus est solum Caput! “Et ipse est caput corporis
    Ecclesiæ, qui est principium, primogenitus ex mortuis : ut sit in omnibus ipse
    primatum tenens” (Col. 1:18, Biblia Sacra juxta Vulgatam Clementinam). “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Solus Christus (Christ alone) necessarily involves the consequence that He is solum Caput (the only Head). The Church is not a multiple headed monstrosity like the mythological Hydra, Chimera, Scylla or Cerberus. The Body of Christ, the Church, has one Head, and one alone. Nothing intervenes between the Church and her Head which she is united to by the Holy Spirit sent by the Head. Nothing that pretends to intervene should be tolerated for an instant. That being said evangelicalism is loaded with priest craft and clericalism that has spawned a horde of mini-popes and wannabe “heads”. The beam and the mote needs to be considered these days. Many Diotrophes roam the land robbing the preeminence of Christ the Lord and taking it to themselves (3 Jn. 9-10). Let the Romanists play their antichristian cultic games, zeal for the household of God should be consuming us as judgment first begins at home (1 Pet. 4:17).

    Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria,

    John T. “Jack” Jeffery
    Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
    Greentown, PA

  • Jeremy Ault

    Is the author aware that Dispensationalist Theology is considered to be widely discredited around the world? Is the author aware that most protestant denominations across the world (I used to work for the oldest Protestant Denomination on Earth: The Evangelical Czech Brethren) find Dispensationalist obsessions with the coming “rapture” and the “anti-Christ” antithetical to biblical teaching? Sorry, you’re argument is weak and your adherence to a crack-pot theology makes it even worse.

    • Jeremy–I quoted the founders of just about every major denomination and their views on the antichrist above. Are you saying that Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Spurgeon, Hodge, etc. should be discounted because dispensationalists are discredited? That would be a very strange way to argue.

      Here is a website that describes Hus’ teaching on the Pope as antichrist. Not sure of Hus’ connection to your denomination, but it would probably be hard for you to write him off as a crack pot dispensationalist:

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Debbie

    There is only one way to the Father and that is through the Son!

  • Jimmiek

    Funny how commenters come out the woodwork to stand in line and carry the Pope’s water. They all post similarly, snarky, comments usually avoiding the topic that brought them here. I see them at Noise of Thunder. They all argue, kind of like Jehovah Witnesses, only the JW try and be cortial about it. What I mean is, no Popefan gave any reasons on why the Pope isnt the AC. They’d rather drag you into a murky muddy arguement designed to try and prove who can out wit the other. Off topic always. Pinto calls it sophistry and casualty when Catholics argue you down some strange road in order to try and catch you at something, I dont know. I left the RCC after 25 years, educated my whole life…Jesuit high school..and I never met a catholic that can even explain the salvation message, or could name 4 books in the bible. Yet these guys show up armed for bear with a list of how to confuse, confound, and cloudy the authors article.

  • Janet

    Jesse, hmmm, I have never heard of these things. I was raised in a wonderful church in where I have never heard any person of this church speak ill of another church. I belong to a church that stands firm on it’s own and does not look to dismantle another church to make itself look worthy. Yep, I’m Catholic. Very proud and I stand firm in my faith. There is one God, one Jesus Christ who is our savior. To God be the glory!!!

  • For those who are Roman Catholics, Roman Catholic sympathizers, or otherwise can’t understand why we would resort to such strong condemnation of what seem to be nice people who claim to believe in Jesus Christ, please see this post that explains the official tenets of Roman Catholicism and contrasts them with Biblical Christianity. If you want to debate those issues, do it on that comment thread.

    In summary, here’s R. C. Sproul:

    “At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the Gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy. To embrace her as an authentic church while she continues to repudiate the biblical doctrine of salvation is a fatal attribution.”

  • DelawareMom

    Wow! As a Catholic, I have never in my life felt so much anti-Catholic sentiment as I have reading this. Thanks guys! I know the Catholic Church has it’s problems, but consider that Jesus left humans in charge. We are not a church run by angels. I wish we were! But please understand that when we say the Pope is infallible, it means he will never teach doctrine that would lead the Church in error. He does not equate himself with God, nor does he set himself up as the sole intercessor between God and man. What utter nonsense. In all other aspects, he is not infallible.
    If anyone would really like to understand what Catholics believe and practice, I recommend the book “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn, a former evangelical pastor. It will truly open your eyes.

    I am sufficiently disappointed in the activities of many of our priests these days that I do not try to convert anyone, but I will defend my faith. I know there is no other church that has the complete truth. They all have parts of it, but are each missing something crucial. And the same things go on among protestants and everyone else. They just don’t get the bad press.
    I would like to point out that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable institution on the face of the earth.

    And if the Pope is the anti-Christ, I would like to know just how many anti-Christs were predicted in the Bible? 266? Do you count Peter, the first Pope? I thought there was only going to be one.

    • DelewareMom,

      Know that most of those quotes above were said during a time where the Catholic Church was martyring people for believing the gospel. Some of those above were either condemned by the RCC, or actually burnt to death by them. So to turn around and say that you felt “anti-Catholic sentiment” from reading word of people who were burned to death by the Catholic church for nothing other than believing the gospel is…surreal. Surreal is the only word I can think of.

      The point of the post was that for most of church history there was the teaching that the Pope was the antiChrist. Before the 400’s (when the papacy started), many thought the antichrist was the Roman Emperor. After that, the majority view through history was the antichrist was whoever the Pope was at the time (and when there were two popes, each was 1/2 of the antichrist). This post was trying to show that teaching historically.

      (I deleted the part of your comment that wasn’t on topic)



  • DelawareMom

    And I would like to add that the early Church fathers that you have written about approvingly in other articles were all Catholic. And the Catholic Church has never taught that salvation was through works. But doesn’t it make sense that charitable works for our fellow man is the best expression of our love of God? So it seems to me that the two are inseparable!

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