After the passing of Pope John Paul II, a Lutheran friend said she couldn’t understand what the big deal was about his dying. She made it sound like he was just some old rich guy that died.
Later—from another Lutheran friend—I discovered that Lutherans are taught to believe that the Pope (not the person but the office of the Pope) is the anti-Christ.
I did a little research on this and found the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church does indeed believe this–per their website:
And the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church REALLY believes the Pope is the root of all evil:
Which says in part:
*Therefore on the basis of a renewed study of the pertinent Scriptures we reaffirm the statement of the Lutheran Confessions, that “the Pope is the very Antichrist” (cf. Section II), especially since he anathematizes the doctrine of the justification by faith alone and sets himself up as the infallible head of the Church.
We thereby affirm that we identify this “Antichrist” with the Papacy as it is known to us today, which shall, as 2 Thessalonians 2:8 states, continue to the end of time, whatever form or guise it may take. This neither means nor implies a blanket condemnation of all members of the Roman Catholic Church, for despite all the errors taught in that church the Word of God is still heard there, and that Word is an effectual Word. Isa 55:10, 11; cf. Apology XXIV, 98, cited above under II.
We make this confession in the confidence of faith. The Antichrist cannot deceive us if we remain under the revelation given us in the Apostolic word (2 Th 2:13-17), for in God’s gracious governance of history the Antichrist can deceive only those who “refused to love the truth” (2 Th 2:10-12).
And we make this confession in the confidence of hope. The Antichrist shall not destroy us but shall himself be destroyed—“Whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming” (2 Th 2:8).
We reject the idea that the fulfillment of this prophecy is to be sought in the workings of any merely secular political power (2 Th 2:4; cf. Treatise on the Power and the Primacy of the Pope 39).
We reject the idea that the teaching that the Papacy is the Antichrist rests on a merely human interpretation of history or is an open question. We hold rather that this teaching rests on the revelation of God in Scripture which finds its fulfillment in history. The Holy Spirit reveals this fulfillment to the eyes of faith (cf. The Abiding Word, Vol. 2, p. 764). Since Scripture teaches that the Antichrist would be revealed and gives the marks by which the Antichrist is to be recognized (2 Th 2:6,8), and since this prophecy has been clearly fulfilled in the history and development of the Roman Papacy, it is Scripture which reveals that the Papacy is the Antichrist.*
My question is this: I have many Lutheran friends and family members. I never realized they believed I was a “follower of the anti-Christ”. How do I deal with them in discussions on religion now?