No real Texan believes that chili is chili if it has beans. I am no Texan, so I don’t know about chili, but I do know about the papacy and no matter how much Beane is added to it, it’s still the antichrist.
Reverend Larry L. Beane of Salem Lutheran (LCMS), Gretna, LA writes in the Michaelmas 2008 issue of Gottesdienst a “Guest Essay” entitled “Is the Papacy Still Antichrist?” Beane’s basic argument is: Since present day popes don’t wear a tiara, do call other bishops brothers, and are basically nice guys, maybe we ought to rethink this thing historically. Now there’s a jumping Beane if ever I saw one and he isn’t Mexican either.
Beane tips his hand from the get-go. Beane wants to talk about the papacy; our Confessions want to talk about the pope. The Confessions refer to the papacy 34 times, to the pope 114 time and popes 12 times. If one really wanted to pin this jumping Beane down, one only need ask him, “Is the pope the Antichrist?” While he will give “kinda, sorta” agreement to the papacy, dollars will get you beans, he won’t say the pope is. Hey, the last two have been so nice. The beans are further spilled when he ends his essay by answering the question he posed with, “It is, I believe, a question that can’t be answered with a facile appeal to our Confessions apart from history.”
Does Beane wish to say that he believes that the Confessions judgment that “the pope is the true Endchrist or Antichrist” (SA, IV, 10) is a historical reference and therefore we are not bound to it? The Brief Statement would certainly disagree. Who would agree is the ELCA. They accept them all the Confessions as a historical testimony to what was once believed.
Beane is right in pointing out that there is much in the world that is antichrist beyond the Antichrist. Lutherans have never denied that. Beane is right in pointing out that it is wrong to use the sins of Catholicism to pump up Lutherans. Lutherans have never claimed that their lives were superior to Catholics’ but that their doctrine was. Make no beans about it; it’s all about doctrine. Beane would have us believe that since the present pope isn’t in to killing or persecuting Lutherans we should take another look at our confession that he is the true Antichrist. That’s like saying, “Since the KKK isn’t in to lynching black people, we should reconsider our rejection of it.”
Beane is the one who makes “a facile appeal to our Confessions.” He gives the impression that what got the pope the moniker antichrist was his cruelty. No, it was his doctrine. Doctrines still held by him and Rome. Treatise 42-44: “Scripture with its entire voice cries out that these errors are a teaching of demons (I Timothy 4:1-3) and of Antichrist. The idolatry in the abuse of the Masses is clear. The Masses are used for the most shameful moneymaking. The doctrine of repentance has been utterly corrupted by the pope and his followers. They teach that sins are forgiven because of the value of our works. Then they tell us to doubt whether the forgiveness takes place. They nowhere teach that sins are forgiven freely for Christ’s sake, and that by this faith we obtain forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 2: 8-9). So they hide Christ’s glory and rob consciences of firm consolation. They abolish true divine service (i.e., the exercises of faith struggling with despair).” Treatise 57 says, “Therefore, even if the bishop of Rome did have the primacy by divine right, since he defends godless services and doctrine conflicting with the Gospel, obedience is not due him. Indeed, it is necessary to resist him as Antichrist. The pope’s errors are clear, and they are not small.” Apology XXIII, 25 says, “Therefore, this law about permanent celibacy is peculiar to this new pontifical tyranny. Nor is it without a reason. For Daniel 11:37 attributes this mark to the kingdom of Antichrist: hatred for women.”
Beane says that he has studied the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and I’m sure he has. There seems to be no bull with this Beane. However, he should be studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church for this the pope has signed off on. The JDDJ will probably go the way of the recommendation that the pope officially recognize that Lutherans have Word and Sacrament ministry. It won’t amount to a hill of beans. The Catechism is different. Here we see what the pope officially believes teaches and confesses.
On Mary: “She was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life” (par. 411).
On Muslims in heaven: “‘The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day'” (par. 841).
On Purgatory: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (par. 1030).
On the Mass: “‘In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner'” ( par. 1367). “The Eucharist sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who ‘have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified,’ so that they may be able to enter in the light and peace of Christ” (par. 1371). “To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church” (par. 1387).
On Forgiveness: “The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins – that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation” (par. 1395). “Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they [Scripture and the Fathers] cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins; efforts at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of the charity ‘which covers a multitude of sins'” (par. 1434). “Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins. This satisfaction is also called ‘penance'” (par. 1459).
On Lutherans (Beane included): “Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, ‘have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders'” (par. 1400).
On Indulgences: “Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted” (par.1479).
On the pope: The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’ ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as the pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered’” (par. 882). “The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained or observed” (par. 2035).
Beane puts much stock in the fact the pope isn’t killing bodies any more, but he is still leading souls astray. He is at the very least peeing in the pure Gospel soup. No matter how much Beane you put in, you won’t make it, him, his office, or the papacy palatable to our Lutheran Confessions which live to and from the pure Gospel.
I think one needs to go ask Beane if he has read the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification………and then ask him, are these teachings truly a shift from the stance we took with Rome or merely nothing other than the teaching of Trent in contemporary dress?
Here in Louisiana, we prefer red beans and rice. Cute use of legumal mockery, but not very clever, I’m afraid. Unlike Mr. Smoketoomuch from the Monty Python sketch, I’ve heard all the jokes before.
It’s too bad that William Scott Ray didn’t just *ask* me his rhetorical “question.” I mean, it isn’t too hard to find someone’s e-mail address on the internet these days. But as our Lord demonstrated, not all “questions” are truly questions. Some “questions” are thinly veiled attacks on people’s reputations. But to answer William’s “question,” yes, I have read it. And no, there is no significant shift in RC doctrine, though it is equally wrong to say that no shift whatsoever has taken place. Certainly nowhere near enough to declare agreement on the issue. I would not have signed it. I hope that answers his “question.”
When our confessions use the term “the pope” – they do mean in an institutional way – not individual popes. Otherwise, the entire issue became moot when that particular pontiff died. No, the confessions, in calling *the pope* antichrist mean this pope *and his successors,* no? That is why I say “papacy” as an institution.
As far as the Brief Statement goes, even the LCMS had to give up the idea that it is binding. No synod has the authority to bind consciences beyond the Scriptures and the confessions, even as no synod can rightfully define dogma either by bureaucracy or by voting – as that kind of thing really reeks of antichrist. If one can’t make one’s case from the Bible (God’s inerrant Word) and the Confessions (which we all agree is a correct exposition of the same), that becomes telling. If one has to resort to decrees from popes, councils, or synods, bylaws, and LCMS doctrinal statements (which have at times contradicted one another), it proves the weakness of one’s case.
Finally, a laundry list of false doctrines do not define antichrist. If this is the case, we should just come right out and say that every Christian who is not a conservative, confessional Lutheran in fellowship with the LCMS is antichrist. Nowhere do our confessions define, say, the Reformed as antichrist.
Our confessions list very specific marks of the pope’s status as antichrist. Our difficulty today lies in the fact that some of the specific complaints in our confessions are no longer germane – as I pointed out in my article.
Is the papacy (or the pope, if you prefer) still antichrist? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t know if we have sufficient data from Scripture and the Confessions to be as sure today. Does the Roman Church still teach false doctrine – especially regarding justification? Absolutely! Having said that, Luther and Lutheran doctrine have made some inroads into the Roman Church, and we should thank God for that. Should we be in communion with Rome? Absolutely not. Can antichrist exist in church bureaucracies outside of Rome? I believe so. And I believe we’re very foolish to think we are outside of antichrist’s reach just because the Bishop of Rome cannot bully us. I think we play into the devil’s hands by wrapping antichrist up in a convenient and self-contained package outside of our own church’s bureaucracy.
I hope this clears my position up in a way that goes beyond mocking my name.