A good friend from my Anglican church just discovered I was attending mass and RCiA and was totally shocked. Almost the first thing out of his mouth was “But the Pope is the Anti Christ!”
Now, I have been coming up against resistance from longer distance friends, who have been sending me articles and such like, but this is the first time someone who I thought was fairly sanguine has come out with something so strident. How do I respond to the accusation, as I know it’s not true but all I could respond with was “no, he’s not!” This is a person I run a food bank with, so I want to be able to maintain our friendship.
It could be helpful to make the other person explain just WHY they believe something like that and then address each point as it is presented. Frequently, people don’t really think silly things like that, they are just repeating what they have heard from some other source.
I would start by simply asking why he/she believes that…and of course ask for evidence. This is standard anti-catholic rhetoric…which can easily be defended once you are given specific claims rather than a brash attack on the papacy. Patrick Madrid has a great book countering attacks on the papacy titled “Pope Fiction”.
I would ask him “This pope or all popes?” Ask him where he got that idea. Ask him how his statement “But the Pope is the Anti Christ!” is consistent with the Bible. Whatever he says in response, don’t let it worry you, and don’t feel that you have to come up with answers.
Maybe ask your friend to list the reason(s) why he/she thinks that the pope is the antichrist and see if you can shed some truth on some of the arguments, with the help of God. I have been in some conversations about this and similar topics and sometimes i cant say nothing at all, so don’t beat yourself up if your stuck for words. Prayer for a persons’ soul is the best course of action most times.
A part of society has always been saying the Pope is the antichrist, the last pope was the antichirst, Obama is the antichirst. What happens when the next pope or the next president comes along and debunks their claim about the current one? They just label the next person and the next until its blatantly obvious the guys at the helm of this movement is either making money from this type of anarchy or some other reason.
Standard regurgitated ‘reformationese.’ To say this, one must completely takes sides and disregard what the scripture itself says:
1 John 4:1-4 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits[a] to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Ask which Pope has denied that Christ has some in the flesh.
The pope does not meet the criteria to count as the antichrist.
Here are some of the criteria of the antichrist:
he will be one person: “the lawless one.” (2 Thess. 2:9)
he will be alive at the rebellion: “[when] the rebellion comes…and the man of lawlessness is revealed…” (2 Thess. 2:3)
he will contribute to the rebellion by deceiving people: “The coming of the lawless one is…with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:9-10)
he will claim to be God: “[he] opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship…takes his seat in the temple of God…[and] proclaim[s] himself to be God.” (2 Thess. 2:4)
he will do powerful signs and wonders: “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.” (2 Thess. 2:9)
he will attack Christians: “this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them.” (Daniel 7:21; also Rev. 13:7)
he will deny the Father and the Son: “This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)
he will not confess Jesus: “every spirit that does not confess Jesus…is the spirit of the antichrist.” (1 John 4:3)
The current pope doesn’t meet any of these criteria except the first one.
**EDIT :: I wrote a paragraph here about people who believe the pope is the antichrist, but it got too many words in it because I wanted to refer to them collectively and I don’t know a name that can categorize them. “Protestants” isn’t the correct category, because most Protestants don’t believe the pope is the antichrist. The category “anti-Catholics” is too big too. Most anti-Catholics don’t think the pope is the antichrist. So let me create a new name for people who think the pope is the antichrist: I’ll call them woolos. (I just made that up, there’s no significance to that particular combination of letters.)
Woolos is a name I just made up to categorize the people who believe the pope is the antichrist. And since the current pope doesn’t meet the criteria to count as the antichrist, woolos will often say that various popes throughout history have fulfilled various criteria, and therefore the whole papacy is the antichrist. But when they say that, they already violate the first criteria, that the antichrist will be one person!
So give your friend that list of criteria and remind him that the pope doesn’t meet any of those criteria.
I’m surprised that an Anglican would think that way. Usually it is in dealing with the more fundamentalist types that you find that kind of rhetoric. You could use the quote from Matthew in which Jesus builds His Church upon the Rock of Peter, but it probably won’t change his mind. Just tell him that you’ve made up your mind to become Catholic, and if he has a problem with it, then it’s on him. I’ll pray for you.
I wouldn’t walk away but go on the offensive. I would challenge him Anglicanism has no doctrinal truth everyone can believe what they want whether it is moral or not. Give him some good Catholic books to read.
I met with him this evening at house group, and someone else mentioned being an ex-Catholic and he muttered something about ‘not another one’ and it was clear he was jesting. So I am now not quite sure how seriously to take his comment in the first place. You have all given me helpful pointers for further conversations. Yes, we are both Anglicans currently, but Anglicanism is a veeeeery broad church with everything from high church anglo-catholics to low church almost baptist evangelicals. He’s a low church evangelical.
Generally speaking, the lower the communion, the lower the theology. It’s not even an original Anglican thought! It’s German, to be specific. Still, ask him about old murdering and fornicating King H. That should calm him right down. Actually, don’t.
This is a risky topic her on CAF, so Im not going to say much about it, but I will say if all those things about recognizing the AC are true, then in reality, it should be pretty easy to spot him once he arrives…except that the bible warns us hardly anyone will recognize who it is, so Im betting it will not be so black/white.