On the Pope as Antichrist

Being part of a tradition (dispensationalism) that never really embraced the idea that the Pope was Antichrist, the recent controversy about Michelle Bachman is mostly annoying for its failure to really get to the root of the issue. Gene Veith does a pretty good job of providing a broader context. He notes this is part of Lutheranism’s broader history (and not isolated to the small Wisconsin Synod) and was a part of the Westminster Confession too, so Presbyterians and other Reformed churches have a stake in this issue too. So too, Reformed Baptists. So there shouldn’t be too much glee here. For a slightly more Catholic take on the issue, see this from First Things.

There are other questions that are obscured in this gotcha journalism, such as the exact nature of the Antichrist intended by these confessions and the relationship of the Catholic and Protestant churches (and which one is the “true church”). ┬áDavid Mills does make an important point that we might not want to strip out theology entirely from the public realm, which might be a first defensive response to this attack. The implications for debates about marriage, homosexuality, and social justice in general are threatened if we make that kind of retreat.

How we make this all work in a broadly pluralistic setting with a culture with significant hostility to religious principles? Well, that is still a problem.

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