[This is the fifth chapter of the booklet Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom published in 2010 in protest against the Pope’s visit to the UK that year. It expounds Scripture’s teaching about the Papacy.]
It is a very high honour for any foreign dignitary to be welcomed to our country and even more so when he is entertained at the level of a state visit. The privilege is one usually extended only to leaders of such nations as have shown us friendship and afforded us help in times of difficulty. But who is this Joseph Ratzinger and what nation is he head of that such pomp and ceremony should proclaim his arrival and that he should be welcomed by our Protestant Queen in – of all places – the Palace of Holyrood, the very place where John Knox withstood Queen Mary to her face in resisting her attempts to bring Scotland again under the papal yoke?
On arrival in London, honours will, no doubt, be again heaped upon him. But why? The Vatican State is just a dot on the map of Italy; its 103 acres could be fitted within the bounds of some Highland crofts; its head has no divisions at his disposal, as Stalin once caustically pointed out; so, who really is this man with the skull cap and the costly, flowing white robe and why is it so dangerous and perilous a thing for our nation that he should be thus entertained and honoured? We shall find the answer in the Bible.
We shall focus attention on one of the clearest statements in the whole of Scripture in which the answer is provided. It is found in the second chapter of Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians and was that which was cited by the Westminster Divines when they asserted:
There is no other head of the Church, but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.
The passage reads as follows:
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (verses 1-12).
In the opening sentences, the Thessalonian Christians are exhorted to be on their guard. The view that Christ’s second coming was immediately at hand was being propagated among them and to disabuse their minds of that idea, the apostle, moved by the Spirit of God, informs them that certain events were to unfold before that would take place. Foremost among them was the “falling away” and the appearing of the one who would bring this apostasy to a head. It is to what is revealed of him in the remaining part of the passage that we now direct attention, and since it is evident that the titles attributed to him must belong to a long succession of persons rather than to one individual, Benedict XVI, the present incumbent of the papal throne, is still to be identified in the same light as “that man of sin and son of perdition”. That may be unpalatable to many in this ecumenical age, but it is, we believe, an unassailable truth, the denial of which must be attributed to the presence of that “strong delusion” mentioned in our passage and under which men are persuaded to believe a lie. We shall focus attention on our subject under the following heads:
1. His appearance on the stage of history;
2. His performance on the stage of history;
3. His departure from the stage of history.
1. His appearance on the stage of history
What is referred to as “the mystery of iniquity” was already working when Paul wrote and, in a sense, it had been active from the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world. The void left in the soul of man as a result of the departure of the Spirit of God must needs be filled; man’s innate craving for an object of worship was to be met by the Satanic invention of “Lords many and gods many”; the counterfeit would be substituted for the real. Like the chameleon which changes its colour in harmony with its environment, so Satan, over the course of history, introduced what, for the time and circumstances, was most suited to divert attention from God’s salvation and especially from the One who had pronounced his doom. Paganism and Pharisaism would, in turn, serve his purpose, but it was with the coming of Christ and the ushering in of a new dispensation that the greatest of all counterfeits was to be produced; Satan’s masterpiece – the papacy. His seat on the Seven Hills of Rome, however, was occupied by the Roman Emperor and he would have to be taken out of the way first before Antichrist would come in his place. This being, politically, a somewhat delicate matter to handle, we see that Paul – no doubt in order to spare Christians in Rome the persecution that would arise as a result of its becoming known that they were of the view that the mighty Roman Empire was to fall – does not mention the Emperor’s name.
In due time, Antichrist, the man of sin and son of perdition appeared as predicted, “according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness”. The most powerful organisation that ever was devised on the side of error and against the truth was now in place and was soon to make its presence known. To compound the mystery, he is found “sitting in the temple of God” (that is, in the Church, says Calvin on 2 Thessalonians – “not a foreign, but a domestic enemy, who opposes Christ under the very name of Christ”), “shewing himself that he is God” and opposing and exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshipped”. The once humble pastor of Rome now occupies a seat which rises not merely above the thrones of earth, but above the throne of the Eternal. Blasphemously claiming to be the vicar of Christ on earth, the Pope was and remains (we must not forget Rome’s “Semper Eadem” motto!), in reality, Satan’s vicar on earth. After his installation on the seven hills, Lucifer used his ingenuity to the full in order to strengthen his power and enhance his magnificence. “He enthroned him,” says Dr. Wylie, “on the wealth and dominion of Europe; he commanded kings to obey him, and all nations to serve him” (The Papacy, p. 399).
Let us remember, then, whose emissary Benedict XVI really is and that he is not the friend of Christ, but his sworn enemy. He is Antichrist, that is, the one who is not only against Christ, but usurps His place as Head of the Church and as the “Prince of the Kings of the Earth”. At the heart of the Gospel – “the mystery of godliness” – is the great truth that “God was manifest in the flesh”. This being beyond the power of Satan, he came as close to it as possible in the appearance of the man of sin and son of perdition – the Pope of Rome.
2. His performance on the stage of history
The Saviour, prior to His exaltation, had given clear instructions to His apostles in regard to the doctrines they were to teach and the manner in which His kingdom was to be governed and administered. The Antichristian counterfeit system would retain the general outline of the gospel kingdom, but as time passed “novelties both of principle and of form” would be introduced. “With a rare genius, the exigencies of the times were ever understood, and the modifications and amendments which they required were executed at the proper moment and in the happiest way” (Wylie, p. 398). How remarkable that the Bible should describe any man as exalting himself “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”. Showing himself, that is, not so much in words as by his actions in allowing himself to be no less esteemed than God by taking to himself such things as belong only to God – divine titles, worship and attributes. Is Queen Elizabeth II aware of the fact that the visitor from the Vatican, for whom the red carpets are to be rolled out, regards her as his subject by divine right and that, being outside the Roman Catholic communion, she is a heretic and, furthermore, that there can be no salvation for her while in that state? As she welcomes her guest, will she recall that Gregory VII (Hildebrand) is remembered as the Pope who annulled the Emperor Henry IV’s right to the kingdoms of Germany and Italy and absolved his subjects from their allegiance. Such was the Emperor’s fear of the Pontiff’s excommunication and so great was his anxiety to have it removed that he was prepared to cross the Alps in the dead of Winter and endure the privation of having to stand barefoot in the snow for three days until the lordly Gregory was prepared to grant him an audience. Or closer to home, will she remember that, in 1570, Pope Pius V, claiming to be “prince over all people and all kingdoms, to pluck up, destroy, scatter, consume, plant and build”, declared Elizabeth I to be “deprived of her pretended title to this kingdom, and of all dominion, dignity, and privilege whatsoever”? Will she recall that the Bill of Rights forbids communion with the See of Rome and her own declaration in the House of Lords on the fifth day of November, 1952:
I do solemnly, and in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare, that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne of my Realm, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my power, according to law.
“The principle,” says Wylie,
on which the whole system of the popes was founded, virtually implied their supremacy over kings as well as over priests. They claimed to be the successors of Peter and the vicars of Christ. But Christ is Lord of the world as well as Head of the Church. He is a King of kings; and the popes aimed at exhibiting on earth an exact model or representation of Christ’s government in heaven; and accordingly they strove to reduce monarchs to the rank of their vassals, and assume into their own hands the management of all the affairs of earth. If their claim was a just one – if they were indeed the vicars of Christ and the vice-regents of God, as they affirmed – there were plainly no bounds to their authority, either in temporal or spiritual matters. The symbol which to pontifical rhetoric has alone seemed worthy to shadow forth the more than mortal magnificence of the popes is the sun, which, they tell us, the Creator has set in the heavens as the representative of the pontifical authority; while the moon, shining with borrowed splendour, has formed the humble symbolization of the secular power.
According to their theory, there was strictly but one ruler on earth – the Pope. In him all authority was centred. From him all rule and jurisdiction emanated. From him kings received their crowns, and priests their mitres. To him all were accountable, while he was accountable to no one save God alone. The pontiffs, we say, judged it premature to startle the world as yet by an undisguised and open avowal of this claim: they accounted it sufficient, meanwhile, to embody its fundamental principles in the decrees of councils and in the pontifical acts, and allow them to lie dormant there, in the hope that a better age would arrive, when it would be possible to avow in plain terms, and enforce by direct acts, a claim which they had put forth only inferentially as yet. But to make good this claim was the grand object of Rome from the beginning; and this object she steadily pursued through a variety of fortune and a succession of centuries. The vastness of the object was equalled by the ability and perseverance with which it was prosecuted. The policy of Rome was profound, subtle, patient, unscrupulous, and audacious. And as she has had no rival as respects the greatness of the prize and the qualities with which she has contended for it, so neither has she had a rival in the dazzling success with which at last her contest was crowned (p. 60).
That coronation was finally accomplished in 1870 when the infallible supremacy of the Roman Pontiff was officially promulgated:
Therefore, we, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian people, the sacred council approving, teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed, that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex-cathedra, that is, when discharging the office of pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, the same is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that therefore, the definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves irreformable, and not dependent upon the consent of the Church. But if any presume to contradict this our definition – which may God avert – let him be accursed.
As Loraine Boettner has pointed out –
the term ‘faith and morals’ is broad enough and elastic enough to cover almost any and every phase of religious and civil life. Practically every public issue can be looked upon as having some bearing on faith or morals or both. The Vatican takes full advantage of this, and the result is that within the Roman Church almost any statement issued by the pope is assumed to be authoritative.
When he declared himself infallible, as noted above, that decree was retrospective as well as prospective. It declares all sentences of former Popes spoken ex cathedra to be infallible and still binding on the consciences of men. Accordingly, sentences of excommunication pronounced by former Popes against sovereigns of the past are still as valid as they were when first given forth.
It was promulgated at the 1870 Vatican Council that all heretics and all who deny the Pope’s universal authority, and all who harbour the least doubt of any point which had been decreed by a Pope are ipso facto excommunicated. Bellarmine, the sixteenth-century Roman Catholic theologian, taught that “a man who has been excommunicated by the Pope may be killed anywhere; because the Pope has an indirect jurisdiction over the whole world in temporal things”. The Roman Pope and hierarchy may not openly press these claims in our day, but that is because it is not expedient to do so.
In recent times the endeavours made to cover up the abhorrent conduct of paedophile, sodomite priests throughout the world and to prevent the matter from being brought before the civil courts is indicative of the fact that Rome still regards her priests to be above subjection to civil law. Ireland is now in ferment with members of the public openly calling for the resignation of the Cardinal who is Rome’s head representative there. More than that, the press is now revealing that Benedict XVI himself is now directly implicated and does that not make his proposed grandiose, much-trumpeted, welcome to this land all the more abhorrent? When Benedict was enthroned, the three-tiered crown – emblematic of his sovereignty in heaven, earth and hell – which Paul VI and his predecessors proudly wore, was not placed on his head, at least not in public, but that was not because he was in any way inferior to them. Perhaps it was feared that the proximity of television cameras and hence world-wide publicity would lead to awkward questions being asked and the truth being revealed.
It was a common saying that Rome, when in the minority, acts like a lamb; when in equality like a fox, and in the majority like a lion. History provides ample evidence of this being the case. She availed herself of force in coming to the Waldensian villages and over several centuries persecuted to the death those who maintained a witness to the Gospel in that part of Europe. Cromwell threatened to intervene by taking military action and the threat was sufficient to cause a change of tactics. It was at this time that Milton wrote his famous sonnet and expressed in imperishable verse the indignation felt in Protestant Britain:
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
Who is able to estimate the number that have suffered since the Counter-Reformation was set in motion? The Thirty Years’ War took its toll; the Inquisition slew its thousands upon thousands; multitudes perished in the Netherlands under the murderous reign of the Duke of Alva; the massacre of St. Bartholomew springs to mind as also does the 1641 horrific massacre of Irish Protestants. The attempt to restore Roman Catholicism in England and Scotland led to the loss of many lives. In the 1940s it is estimated that up to threequarters of a million Serbs were slaughtered by the Ustashi and with the full knowledge of Pope Pius XII.
Nor did he intervene when the Nazi regime murdered six million Jews.
The Papal-controlled confederation of European states was broken up by the Reformation and Rome’s aim since has been to re-establish the political and social order of pre-Reformation times. Claims that both World Wars were brought about through Jesuit intrigue and with a view to restoring again some sort of Holy Roman Empire are well documented. The subjugation of Britain remains a prime priority. “Were heresy conquered in England, it it would be conquered throughout the world” was the view of Cardinal Manning in 1859 and it is clear that Rome has been deploying her forces accordingly. In the event, the attempt to form this new Holy Roman Empire by force of arms failed with the defeat of Germany in 1945.
It is not to be forgotten that Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, as well as most of the Nazi party, were Roman Catholics; Goebbels, it is said, acquired his skill as a ruthless, unprincipled propagandist from Jesuit teachers and Himmler organised the infamous SS according to the principles of the Jesuit order. The attempt, however, has not been abandoned: hence the Treaty of Rome and the creation of what is now known as the European Union, bringing about the breaking down of barriers between nations and making it necessary for them to be inter-dependent for economic survival. No one outside the Curia knows the extent of the Vatican’s financial involvement, but it is thought to be massive – so massive that it may come to the point that no member nation can afford to offend the Papacy.
Rome is increasingly exerting her influence in the European Union. She has her devotees planted in all state departments and occupying places of authority, while public opinion is moulded by the mass-media in her favour. With the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, our national sovereignty is now almost completely eroded as power and influence comes more and more to be exercised across the Channel. With the Church of Scotland on such cordial terms with Rome, and the Church of England all but within her fold, it must now appear to papal strategists that they have not laboured in vain. But Rome has a greater ambition than the establishment of a Holy Roman Empire in Europe. She is aiming for a world order of states – a sort of pyramid of states from the apex of which the papacy will exercise totalitarian rule, with the Pope, as the so-called vicar of Christ, acknowledged as the mouthpiece of God.
That popery is not merely a religion but a political system is commonly overlooked. How can we remain complacent and undisturbed when we witness so many attempts being made to undermine our Protestant throne by having removed from the statute book all legislation placed there for its protection? If our present Prime Minister were to become a Roman Catholic, would he not find himself in the untenable position of having to serve two masters, and if a conflict of interests should arise would he not, since his eternal salvation would otherwise be imperilled, choose to obey the one whose claim to universal supremacy he must now unreservedly acknowledge? Rome plans well ahead and we would be naïve indeed were we to believe that it is simply coincidental that so many Roman Catholics are at present sitting on both front benches in the House of Commons and – until very recently – in the Speaker’s chair as well.
It is clear to any enlightened observer that the mass media is to a large extent Rome-controlled. Is it not significant that the Director-General of the BBC, a practising Roman Catholic visited the Vatican in late January to discuss how the BBC could best promote his visit? “The Papacy,” in the words of Prince Bismarck, the famous late-nineteenth century German Chancellor, “has ever been a political power which, with the greatest audacity and the most momentous consequences, has interfered in the affairs of this world.” It is also clear to any impartial observer that there has always been antagonism between the claims of the papacy and the sovereign rights of nations. The evidence is there for all to see and the apathy and indifference of our generation is to be attributed to wilful ignorance, blindness and failure to face up to the facts. Our own Adam Smith, of Wealth of Nations fame, wrote long ago:
The constitution of the Church of Rome may be considered the most formidable combination that was ever formed against the authority and security of civil government, as well as against the liberty, reason, and happiness of mankind.
It is evident that before his time and since there has been ample evidence to support this affirmation.
3. His departure from the stage of history
So successful has been the use of “all deceivableness of unrighteousness” on the part of Antichrist that Rome’s counterfeit religion is now – alas! – regarded by multitudes of perishing sinners, in high and low places, as representative of real Christianity. What a delusion it is to regard the Pope, idolatrous cross in hand, clad in gorgeous robes and mitre, and receiving the acclamations of multitudes who often sing “He has the whole world in his hands”, to be the representative of the One who declared Himself to be meek and lowly in heart? His exposure is certain. Paul predicts the end of his career in no uncertain terms. “That Wicked . . . whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” Wylie comments as follows:
In the predicted doom of the papacy there are two well-marked stages. There is, first, a gradual consumption; and there is, second, a sudden and terrible destruction.
The ‘consumption’, a slow and gradual process, is to be effected by the ‘spirit of His mouth’, by which we understand the preaching of the Gospel. This consumption has been going on ever since the Bible was translated, and the Gospel began to be preached at the Reformation. Men have begun to see the errors of Popery; its political props have been weakened, and in some instances struck from under it, and its hold generally on the nations of Christendom has been loosened; and thus the way has been prepared for the final stroke that will consummate its ruin.
When the hour shall have come then will the second part of the doom of the Papacy overtake it. The Lord shall ‘destroy it with the brightness of His coming. . . .’ This day of wrath will be unspeakably great, and will be marked as one of the greatest days of vengeance that have been on the earth since the foundation of the world. Paul despatches it in a single sentence; John expands it into a whole chapter. And in what other chapter of the Bible or of human history is there such another spectacle of judgment – such another picture of blended horrors, of awestruck consternation, of loud and bitter wailings, and cries of woe, as in the eighteenth chapter of the Apocalypse? ‘The kings of the earth shall bewail her and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning: standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas! Alas! That great city of Babylon, that mighty city, for in one hour is Thy judgment come. And they cast dust on their heads, and cried weeping and wailing, saying, alas! alas! that great city for in one hour is she made desolate.’
But this dark scene has one relieving feature. It is a scene that will not need to be repeated, for it will close earth’s evil days, and begin the hallelujahs of the nations. ‘And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.’ ‘Rejoice over her, thou heavens, and holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her . . . and in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth’ (The Papacy is the Antichrist, p. 128).
The Bible does not speak of any reforming of the Church of Rome; it clearly speaks of its destruction. That may sound harsh and unfeeling and some may say that is most unchristian to hold such a view, but it is what Paul, moved by the Spirit of God, taught and what our forefathers believed. It is not written to antagonise or hurt any one of our fellow Roman Catholic citizens or neighbours. Rather the very opposite. It is in love to them and to all other fellow sinners that we endeavour to draw attention to what the Scriptures teach in regard to the antichristian system of Rome and we are not become their enemies because we tell them the truth. The Bereans are commended in that they, on hearing certain things uttered by the lips of no less a person than the Apostle Paul, “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”.
We would like to think that Antichrist’s fall will come with the dawn of the Millennium – that predicted period of this world’s history when the Kingdom of Christ shall flourish and when “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”. At a certain spot in Ayrshire, a few days prior to his death at Ayrsmoss, the Covenanter Richard Cameron prayed for three things: the removal of the House of Stewart from the British throne, the ingathering of the Jews and the fall of Antichrist. The first was answered in 1688, the last two petitions have yet to be answered, but they shall be. Rome’s departure from the stage of history is predicted to be both sudden and absolute:
Her plagues shall come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. . . . Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. . . . And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. . . . And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth (Revelation 18:8ff.).
Any within her pale and who value their souls are exhorted: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
Rome shall perish, write that word
In the blood that she has spilt.
1 Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (T. Nelson & Sons, 1863), p. 337.
Rev John MacLeod