“The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be head of the Church, but he is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, who the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (1689 Baptist Confession, 26.4).
I am a Reformed Baptist, and the 1689 Baptist Confession is my confession of faith. I cannot abide by this one statement, but not for the reasons you think.
Antichrist is not to be confused with the Beast of Revelation. “Antichrist” is not mentioned in the Revelation at all, and the biblical attributes of both are not similar.
I think what you mean when you call the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church “antichrist” is actually “Babylon the whore.” I don’t make this connection – I believe Revelation’s whore to be A.D. 1st century Jerusalem up to the point of its destruction: “...the great city which mystically is called
Sodom and , where
also their Lord was crucified [this can only be said about one "great city," and it's not Rome]...the great city was split into three parts, and
the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to
give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath...the waters which you saw
where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. And
the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will
make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with
fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common
purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will
be fulfilled. The woman whom you saw is the great city...woe, woe, the great
city, Egypt ,
the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come...then a strong angel
took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So
will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be
found any longer’” (Revelation 11:8; 16:19; 17:15-18; 18:10,21). Babylon
Antichrist is a heretical doctrine found in the A.D. 1st century, arising within the church and then leaving it. It is a lie about the nature of Christ (seemingly denying His humanity). READ 1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11.
I am continually baffled and saddened by the use of the term “antichrist” in any discussion of "contemporary eschatology" (consider what the Apostle said almost 2,000 years ago in 1 John 2:18!!). I don’t understand confusing “antichrist” with Revelation’s “beast,” since the term “antichrist” does not occur in Revelation and does not refer to a civil governmental individual, but a heretical doctrine inside the church.
So much muddiness!
I am disappointed with all the Protestants who are happily making much of the election of this new Pope and getting worked up by the few Reformed brethren who are yelling “antichrist.” The Reformed are reminding us that we are Protestant because we don’t believe the Roman Catholic Church to be the true (much less “universal,” the meaning of “Catholic”) church. If your sense of denominationalism or theology has degenerated to the point that you can’t tell or articulate the difference between Protestants and Catholics, please join the Catholic Church. You’ll be far less of an embarrassment to the rest of us and won’t dishonor the memory of those who died to make it possible for you to not be Roman Catholic. Honestly confused over the issue? Give something like R.C. Sproul’s “Are We Together?” a read.
I am disappointed with my fellow Reformed brethren as Francis I begins his...reign (?). My brothers who today are yelling “antichrist” were actively campaigning for Romney the Mormon last year. This inconsistency is disappointing. Who the Pope is has far less impact or importance to us as Protestants than who sits in the White House. Fail, my dear brothers. Even apart from the biblical malpractice concerning "antichrist," fail.
So as not to end this post on this grievous note (having offended RCC friends, fellow Protestants, my Reformed brothers and sisters, and even Republican Christians), let me say this: the election of Francis I and all the reactions to it has been a sobering and always needful reminder that the work of studying, teaching, and preaching the Word of God is never done and will never become superfluous in the life of the Church.
Further up and further in. READ Ephesians 4:1-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-4.