Within Protestantism, popes are regularly referred to as the Antichrist.
The Protestant Westminster Confession of Faith actually formalizes this view.
There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but 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. ~ Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV, #VI
But is it true? Is the pope the Antichrist?
Clap For The Straw Man
Let’s start with the first statement in the Westminster Confession, the statement that “there is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.” This statement is a combination of clap trap and straw man argument. That is, it is a statement so overwhelmingly obvious on the surface that it would elicit thunderous applause from a sympathetic audience. This is a “clap trap” statement. The audience is trapped into clapping. The straw man comes in because the statement is not exactly true.
Straw Man: An intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument. ~ oxforddictionaries.com
Catholicism knows full well that “there is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.” In fact, it knew this for the 1500 years before Protestantism existed. For the authors of the Westminster Confession to make the statement that “there is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ,” with the implication being that Catholicism believes otherwise, is a straw man argument. Catholicism does not teach that the pope is equal with Jesus. Catholicism teaches that the pope was appointed by Jesus to be steward of the kingdom until Jesus returns.
By analogy, a child goes to school and obeys the authority of their teacher because that teacher acts on behalf of the child’s parents. Imagine all children refusing to accept their teachers’ authority because “there is no other head of me but my dad.” This is what Protestantism does by denying the authority of the papacy. By another analogy, imagine that the president of a nation undergoes surgery. While the president is unconscious under anesthesia, the vice president is in charge. War breaks out, but the generals refuse to obey the vice president’s commands to defend the nation because “there is no other head of the nation but the president.” This is what Protestantism does by denying the authority of the papacy. Let it be clear, the pope is assigned by Jesus and acts on behalf of Jesus and by the authority of Jesus. The pope is not the equal of Jesus.
Catholic Splinters, Protestant Planks
In my previous post, The Early Church Was Catholic: Polycarp’s Letter To The Philippians, I pointed out that in the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church, no pope has ever removed even one book from the Sacred Scriptures, the Bible. But in the mere 500-year history of Protestantism, Protestants have removed seven whole books (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabess), and parts of two others (Daniel and Esther). As the group that has absolutely ravaged the Bible, and done such violence to it, Protestantism then has the hubris to call the pope Antichrist.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? ~ Matthew 7:3-5
During my Protestant years, I was 100% certain that I was right about Christianity, and Catholics were wrong. Furthermore, just as during my atheist years I never looked into the historical, scientific, and prophetic evidence proving the Bible, during my Protestant years I never looked into the Biblical and historical evidence proving Catholicism. Have you? I ask my dear Protestant brothers and sisters to carefully consider that question.
The remainder of this post will take a pin to the balloons of two popular Protestant myths about Catholicism. The first myth is that the papacy is not Biblical. The second myth is that the Catholic practice of calling priests, bishops, and popes “father” is not Biblical. My goal is simple– to convince my dear Protestant brothers and sisters to bring your zeal for Jesus and the Bible to the Catholic Church with me, and to energize my dear Catholic brothers and sisters to know, defend, and assert your Catholic Faith because the Bible and history are on your side.
Not only is the pope not the Antichrist, he is the steward of Christ, assigned by Christ to oversee the kingdom until Christ’s return.
The Papacy: Prophecy Fulfilled
The pope is merely God’s steward, not his equal, as Jesus Christ himself points out by echoing Isaiah 22:22 when he appoints Peter as his steward.
I [Jesus] will give you [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. ~ Matthew 16:19
This verse is a direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 22:22, the words of which are almost identical.
I [God] will place on his [Eliakim’s] shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. ~ Isaiah 22:22
In the verses just prior to this, God deposed Shebna as the steward of the house of David, and called Eliakim to be the new steward of the house of David. Here is the passage in context:
“Go, say to this steward, to Shebna, who is in charge of the palace… [Shebna was a steward, not an equal with the ruler. The steward’s power comes from the ruler, who places the steward “in charge of the palace.” Therefore, the Westminster Confession of Faith’s statement “nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof” is dishonest. There is indeed a sense in which the pope can be the head thereof– the sense that comes by virtue of the Ruler (Jesus) appointing the pope as steward, which is exactly what Jesus did with Peter. Again, Peter is merely the steward, in charge of the palace by the Ruler’s authority, until the Ruler returns.] you will be ousted from your position [I believe this was a prophecy of Jesus taking the chair of Moses from the Pharisees and the teachers of the law because he is transferring it to Peter. Remember, Jesus himself told us that the Pharisees and teachers of the law sit in the chair of Moses: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. ~ Matthew 23:2-4 4.” The functionality of that relationship did not change once the chair was transferred from Judaism to Christianity. That is, to this day Catholics adhere to the solemn and official teachings of the pope, while disagreeing on a daily basis with his opinions and behavior,].
“In that day I [God] will summon my servant, Eliakim [Eliakim is a prophecy of Peter. Jesus took the chair of Moses from the Pharisees and teachers of the law (of whom Shebna was a foreshadowing), and gave it to Peter (of whom Eliakim was a foreshadowing)]…”
“I [God] will clothe him [Eliakim] with your [Shebna’s] robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him [robes, sashes, and authority– sound like anyone you know?].”
“He will be a father [the english word “pope” comes from the Latin word “papa” which means “father”] to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.” [This is a prophecy of the pope. Just as Eliakim would be a father to Jerusalem and the house of Judah, the pope would be a father to Catholics all over the world. Furthermore, Eliakim was certainly not the biological father of everyone in Jerusalem and the house of Judah, so this verse is yet another example of the father/son spiritual relationships in the Bible which serve as the foundation upon which Catholics call priests, bishops, and popes “father.”
- …I became your father through the gospel. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:14-15
- …Please, Father Abraham, send him to my father’s home.’” ~ Luke 16:27
- Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! ~ Mark 11:10
- Then the high priest asked him [Stephen], “Are these charges true?” To this he [Stephen] replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham… ~ Acts 7:1-3
- To Timothy my true son in the faith: ~ 1 Timothy 1:2
- Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction… ~ 1 Timothy 1:18
- To Timothy, my dear son: ~ 2 Timothy 1:2
- You then, my son, be strong… ~ 2 Timothy 2:1
- To Titus, my true son in our common faith: ~ Titus 1:4
- She…sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. ~ 1 Peter 5:13-14
Those verses were invisible to me when I was a Protestant. I have read the Bible from cover to cover, and I study it nearly every day, yet never in my nine years in Protestantism did I see those verses. As a Protestant, the only verse I saw that addressed the issue of calling people “father” was Matthew 23:9.
And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. ~ Matthew 23:9
This was the verse I relied upon to argue that Catholics should not call their priests “father.” I did not know the Bible or history as well as I thought I did. During the time of Christ, Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire. Roman Emperors (who were Pagans worshiping demonic gods) were called “father.”
When Jesus (in Matthew 23:9) warns not to call anyone on earth “father,” he was warning against calling pagan Roman Emperors “father.” All fatherhood comes from God.
For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom all paternity [fatherhood] in heaven and earth is named. ~ Ephesians 3:14-15, Douay-Rheims Bible
Pagan emperors are not to be called father. Catholic priests, bishops, and popes are to be called father.]
“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open [This is the verse Jesus echoes in Matthew 16:19, calling our attention back to this passage of Isaiah 22 so that we would see clearly that he was appointing Peter as the steward of His kingdom.].”
“I will drive him [the new steward] like a peg [nail] into a firm place [Has this prophecy come true? Is the papacy a nail driven into a firm place? Absolutely. The papacy is the longest-running reign over any kingdom (secular or religious) on earth, 2000 years old and going strong. It has survived all the wars and famine and demonic attacks that the world can throw at it, and it will continue to be an anvil that wears out every hammer that strikes it.]…”
~ Isaiah 22:15-23
The Bible is always proven true.