It had only been posted two hours when you posted. :shrug: I work.
Is it true that the Lutheran Confessions understand that the institution of the papacy is Antichrist? Yes. That’s what the LCMS page is simply restating. Randy, I don’t think it was your intent, but I think you emphasized a section that is meant to serve as a simple conclusion about how the LCMS holds to the Confessions in relation to the topic of Antichrist; read the 1,029 preceding characters and you’ll see that it is not so simple as ‘the Pope is the Antichrist!’
Now let’s take a look at why Lutherans consider the institution of the papacy to be anti-Christ. The Reformers gave three reasons why the term applied to the Papacy (below). At least one of these (#2), does not apply in our day, since the Pope is no longer a kingmaker (one less issue keeping us from restored unity! :D):
*]The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].
*]Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].
*]And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.
From the Frequently Asked Questions section of the same website:
The connection between the antichrist and pope are unclear to me. Do you believe the pope is the only enemy?
A: The LCMS does not teach, nor has it ever taught, that any individual Pope as a person, is to be identified with the Antichrist. The historic view of LCMS on the Antichrist is summarized as follows by the Synod’s Theological Commission:
The New Testament predicts that the church throughout its history will witness many antichrists (Matt. 24:5,23-24; Mark 13:6,21-22; Luke 21:8; 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7). All false teachers who teach contrary to Christ’s Word are opponents of Christ and, insofar as they do so, are anti-Christ.
However, the Scriptures also teach that there is one climactic “Anti-Christ” (Dan. 7:8,11, 20-21, 24-25; 11:36-45; 2 Thessalonians 2; 1 John 2:18; 4:3; Revelation 17-18). . . Concerning the historical identity of the Antichrist, we affirm the Lutheran Confessions’ identification of the Antichrist with the office of the papacy whose official claims continue to correspond to the Scriptural marks listed above. It is important, however, that we observe the distinction which the Lutheran Confessors made between the office of the pope (papacy) and the individual men who fill that office. The latter could be Christians themselves. We do not presume to judge any person’s heart. Also, we acknowledge the possibility that the historical form of the Antichrist could change. Of course, in that case another identified by these marks would rise.
In a footnote, the Commission adds:
To the extent that the papacy continues to claim as official dogma the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent which expressly anathematizes, for instance, the doctrine “that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that trust alone by which we are justified,” the judgment of the Lutheran confessional writings that the papacy is the Antichrist holds. At the same time, of course, we must recognize the possibility, under God’s guidance, that contemporary discussions and statements (e.g., 1983 U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue statement on “Justification by Faith”) could lead to a revision of the Roman Catholic position regarding Tridentine dogma.