Statement on the antichrist

Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 57:

Therefore, even though the bishop of Rome had the primacy by divine right, yet since he defends godless services and doctrine conflicting with the Gospel, obedience is not due him; yea, it is necessary to resist him as Antichrist. The errors of the Pope are manifest and not trifling.

III. The passage (2 Th 2:1-12) promises that God will reveal the "man of lawlessness" and states the tokens, or marks, by means of which God will reveal him to the eyes of faith.

Among these marks are:

1. He "sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God" (2 Th 2:4). He is a religious power demanding religious allegiance, usurping authority in the Church and tyrannizing Christian consciences. Cf. Smalcald Articles II, IV, 10-14.

2. He is an embodiment of Satanic power. This is manifested:

a. in the fact that he appears as the one who "will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God" (2 Th 2:4). He is God's Adversary;

b. and in the fact that his opposition to God is an opposition of disguise and deceit. He opposes God by usurping the place and name of God (2 Th 2:4). The Satanic appears, characteristically, in religious form: the "coming" of Antichrist is pitted against the "coming" of Christ, his signs and lying wonders against the miracles of Christ, faith in his lie against faith in the truth of Christ (2 Th 2:10-11).

IV. 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).