The Antichrist—Not Up for a Vote
Candidates for political office are considered fair game for criticism by the media, and when the press discovered what, to them, appeared to be a chink in the armor of a certain candidate, they eagerly pounced on it. No “chink” is quite as vulnerable as a religious issue, and this time they knew that they had one. It involved the faith of the candidate (a Lutheran) and the teaching of the Lutheran Church concerning the Antichrist.
The Lutheran Church—at least the confessional branch of the Lutheran Church—teaches that when the Bible speaks of the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4), it refers to the papacy. The liberal media, of course, saw this as its opportunity to create some controversy for the conservative Lutheran candidate, since Roman Catholic voters would not especially welcome this assessment of the Roman papacy.
There is the added misuse of this teaching by the media implying that it is directed at a certain pope, or popes, which only causes confusion and misunderstanding. The teaching of Scripture is directed against the office of the papacy, as the Lutheran pastor of the candidate explained to the media. His church “primarily views the office of the papacy as the Antichrist, not the individual popes themselves.” A synod spokesman (WELS) elaborated further: “As a confessional Lutheran church, we hold to the teachings of Martin Luther who himself maintained that the papacy, and in turn the pope, has set himself up in place of Christ, and so is the Antichrist.”
The Lutheran teaching concerning the Antichrist is not some sort of “hate speech.” If anything, it is just the opposite—love speech. As confessional Lutherans we hold to this truth in the interest of saving souls from the delusion of Rome’s false teachings. It is as the WELS spokesman stated: “We love and respect Catholic Christians. Yet we pray that they would come to see the errors of their church’s official doctrine….” There is no animosity in that.
The confessional Lutheran position on the Antichrist may not be good politics, but to uphold the truth is more important than votes. As for the Bible’s teaching on the Antichrist, that is not up for a vote. That teaching was decided long ago by our Reformation forefathers, led by the Spirit of God. Their legacy now is known as The Book of Concord. And to that blessed legacy we readily subscribe as correctly stating the truths of Scripture.
When Night Came to Norway
July 22, 2011, marks the day when darkest night came to Norway, when “The Land of the Midnight Sun” became “The Land of Midnight.” It marked the day of the dark deed of a deluded murderer who gunned down 76 of his fellow citizens because—well, whatever excuse he might have offered, it would not in any way have justified the horrible deed. Who was this man—if he can be called a man? Though he had a name, we shall here let him remain unnamed, that he may not thereby gain more fame, or infamy. For, after all, this man and his deed are not the focus of our attention, but rather what are the circumstances in which such a “monster” would take shape.
It would seem that such a person had no religion. Yet he wrote at the age of 15 that he chose to be baptized and confirmed in the Norwegian State Church, and that he considered himself to be “100 percent Christian.” It is evident that what he considered himself to be, and what he was, were a world apart. A true Christian he was not. A little more light was shed when he admitted, “Regarding my personal relationship with God, I guess I am not an excessively religious man. I am first and foremost a man of logic.” That he elevated reason over faith is clearly admitted when in his manifesto he wrote: “As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings.”
From these brief insights into this man, what do we see? We see the results of what can happen when a church loses its moorings, where the Word of God is not supreme, where Law and Gospel are replaced by science and socialism; where, as in this case, the state church becomes spiritually cold and lifeless (only five percent attend church on a Sunday). We submit that night came to Norway long before July 22, 2011. That night, spiritual night, began to descend upon the State Church when it began to depart from the Lutheran Confessions and from God’s holy Word.
Decline of Faith Among Women
A recent report from the Barna Group reveals a growing decline of faith among women in America. It notes that in the past twenty years there has been a noticeable spiritual change among women, and this does not augur well for the future. The report finds that “women today are attending church and Sunday school less, reading the Bible less, and consider their faith less important in their lives.”
This lack of interest in spiritual matters has usually been more the case with men. But now the Barna report comes with this assessment: “Women used to put men to shame in terms of their orthodoxy of belief and the breadth and consistency of their religious behavior. No more; the religious gender gap has substantially closed.” It is somewhat ironic that this trend has occurred during a time when an increasing number of women have sought to enter the parish ministry. Conclusion: One group has lost sight of their proper biblical role, while the other has lost their way.
Paul Madson is a retired pastor living in North Mankato, Minnesota.
The Antichrist—Not Up for a Vote