LUTHERAN CHARGE: POPE "MAN OF SIN"
Offensive anti-Catholic declarations, like old soldiers, "never die, they fade away," but for a time only. This was evidenced in the Missouri Lutheran Synod, assembled recently (June 22nd, 1953) in Houston, Texas; wherein "a spirited 90-minute discussion" took place on "whether Biblical Scriptures identify the Pope of Rome as the anti-Christ." This discussion is reported to have "resulted from a request of six pastors that the convention reaffirm certain doctrinal positions of the Synod." The "assurance" was given that "this Synod still holds that the doctrine of the pope being the anti-Christ is an article of faith, though non-fundamental."
Our attention was called to this by a friend in Seattle, Washington, where the item appeared in the The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It interested him, for he had the same offensive concept of the Pope prior to his journey from Judaism to Anglicanism, to an active Baptist church career, before God's grace led him into "the one true Church."
Luther, the father of Protestantism, was the first publicly to declare the Pope to be the anti-Christ; the "man of sin"; the "beast"; the "six hundred sixty-six" in the Book of Revelation.
Bigotry, rather than right understanding, must have prompted the Missouri Lutheran Synod to assert that it "still holds, as an article of faith, that the Pope is the anti-Christ." He is foretold in Holy Writ to be the worst of men; whereas the Popes have ranked among the best of men: The anti-Christ is to be against Christ, as his designation infers; whereas Popes have ever been foremost in furthering an understanding and love of Christ, for which many of them suffered Martyrdom: Besides, the anti-Christ is to appear at the end of the world, which did not take place during the reign of any of the 262 successive Popes, of which we assume that even the delegates to the Missouri Lutheran Synod are aware.
A proper evaluation of the life of the apostate father of Protestantism would cause Lutherans to be ashamed to function under his name. His sensual excesses; his indulgence in vices and concupisences that the Lutherans of today condemn; his favorableness to bigamy; his anti-Semitism; his venomous action during the Peasants War, which he encouraged; his call upon the princes, with their armies, to "prick, strike, strangle (the peasants) front and rear," are actions one might expect from the anti-christ, rather than one who pretends to be a reformer of Christian practices. These are but a few of the many things that caused some Protestant foremost enemies of the Catholic Church to condemn Luther. Zwingli said, "When I read a book of Luther (evidently having his "Table Talk" in mind) I seem to be looking at an obscene pig, grunting among the flowers of a fair garden." Erasmus said of Luther, that he was "a savage beast, a furious wild boar." And Calvin said of him, "Would to God that he would think a little more of his own vices."
While the Missouri Lutheran Synod reasserted the Lutheran charge, that the Pope is the anti-Christ; its delegates did not go as far in their condemnation of Catholics as did their patron saint, who said, "Whomsoever shall follow the pope, him do I, Martin Luther, deliver to Divine judgment."