Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pre-Reformation Views of the Antichrist

Ever wonder what people thought about the Antichrist before Luther came along and pounded on the chapel door at Wittenberg? The following is a table extracted (with kind permission of Pastor Grassley) from a longer pdf document available at the link (link). I have not independently verified this information.

DateNameReferenceInterpretation
c. 1310Dante AlighieriRev. 17 HarlotRoman Church
c. 1331Michael of CesenaRev. 17 Harlot

Antichrist

Roman Church

Pope

c. 1345Johannes de RupescissaAntichrist

Rev. 17 Babylon

Rev. 17 Harlot

Pope

Roman church

Roman church

c. 1350Francesco PetrarchRev. 17 HarlotPapal Court
c. 1367John MiliczAntichrist

Abomination of Desolation

Man of Sin

Papacy

Papacy

Papacy

c. 1379John WycliffeAntichrist

Abomination of Desolation

Little Horn

Man of Sin

Rev. 17 Harlot

Pope

Papacy

Popes

Papacy

Papacy

c. 1388Matthias of JanowAntichrist

Abomination of Desolation

Man of Sin

Rev. 13 1st Beast

Rev. 17 Harlot

Rev. 17 Babylon

Hierarchy

Fallen Church

Present Church

Papacy

Hierarchy

Popes

c. 1389R. WimbledonAbomination of DesolationPapacy
c. 1390John PurveyAntichrist

Rev. 13 1st Beast

Rev. 13 2nd Beast

Rev. 13 666

Rev. 17 Harlot

Rev. 17 Babylon

Pope

Papacy

Hierarchy

Pope

Papacy

Papacy

c. 1393Walter BruteAntichrist

Abomination of Desolation

Little Horn

Man of Sin

Papacy

Bishop of Rome

Rome

Papacy

c. 1412John HussAntichrist

Abomination of Desolation

Little Horn

Man of Sin

Rev. 13 1st Beast

Rev. 17 Harlot

Rev. 17 Babylon

Pope

Papacy

Rome

Papacy

Papacy

Papacy

Papacy

c. 1497Girolamo SavonarolaAntichrist

Man of Sin

Rev. 17 Harlot

Rev. 17 Babylon

Pope

Papacy

Papacy

Papacy

29 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Wow.

I had no idea.

Lvka said...

Here's one from around the seventh century: the mark on the right palm and fore-head means the appearence of a sect that will not raise its right arm to its fore-head to cross itself... does this sound familiar? :-)

ChaferDTS said...

Very intresting article TF. :) From my own understanding they appear to have held to the historicalist view of prophecy. It is very evident the people of God pre reformation were seeing the evils being done in the Roman Church with it's doctrinal and moral departures from Scripture which was progresively took place and climaxed at the Reformation. The seeds were already present for the Reformation.

Turretinfan said...

Luka,

Yep. Sounds familiar.

-TurretinFan

John Bugay said...

Wow, now that's a unity of beliefs!

ἐκκλησία said...

Clearly, employing Argumentum ad populum does not make this belief true.

But equally so, employing fallacious logic, does not make its conclusion false either.

Turretinfan said...

Pointing out the views of a persecuted minority is hardly a conventional argumentum ad populum. The point of the post is to show that these views were (like everything else the Reformers taught) not post-1517 inventions.

ChaferDTS said...

"Clearly, employing Argumentum ad populum does not make this belief true.

But equally so, employing fallacious logic, does not make its conclusion false either."

Roman Catholicism in it's claims attempts to use that method. TF was not stating if what was posted true or not but rather posted the beliefs of some pre reformation. There was nothing wrong with that at all. It only shows what those men believed and not if it was right or not on it.

Lawrence said...

Wasn't there also a belief that the antichrist was the Jewish people?

zog said...

Huss, Wycliffe, and Wimbledon (for tennis reason only)are the only names that I recognize. But I think they are spot on. What other organization in the history of mankind has led more souls astray in the name of Jesus Christ?

Viisaus said...

From Dante Alighieri's "Inferno" - Dante addresses corrupt pope Boniface VIII (the author of 1302 Unam Sanctam bull) in Hell;

("Th' Evangelist" mentioned below is the John of Revelation.)


CANTO XIX

WOE to thee, Simon Magus! woe to you,
His wretched followers! who the things of God,
Which should be wedded unto goodness, them,
Rapacious as ye are, do prostitute
For gold and silver in adultery!
Now must the trumpet sound for you, since yours
Is the third chasm.

...

I know not if I here too far presum'd,
But in this strain I answer'd:

"Tell me now,
What treasures from St. Peter at the first
Our Lord demanded, when he put the keys
Into his charge? Surely he ask'd no more
But, Follow me! Nor Peter nor the rest
Or gold or silver of Matthias took,
When lots were cast upon the forfeit place
Of the condemned soul. Abide thou then;
Thy punishment of right is merited:
And look thou well to that ill-gotten coin,
Which against Charles thy hardihood inspir'd.
If reverence of the keys restrain'd me not,
Which thou in happier time didst hold, I yet
Severer speech might use. Your avarice
O'ercasts the world with mourning, under foot
Treading the good, and raising bad men up.

Of shepherds, like to you, th' Evangelist
Was ware, when her, who sits upon the waves,
With kings in filthy whoredom he beheld,
She who with seven heads tower'd at her birth,
And from ten horns her proof of glory drew,
Long as her spouse in virtue took delight.

Of gold and silver ye have made your god,
Diff'ring wherein from the idolater,
But he that worships one, a hundred ye?
Ah, Constantine! to how much ill gave birth,
Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower,
Which the first wealthy Father gain'd from thee!"

Jason Engwer said...

I've seen similar beliefs attributed to earlier sources. For example:

"Samuel Veltius (from other authors) has noted the following for,the year 900, 'Tergandus, Bishop of Treves, called the Pope of Rome antichrist, yea, a wolf, and Rome, Babylon.' Geslacht-register, page 128." (Martyrs Mirror)

Around the middle of the third century, Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea, wrote a highly negative letter against the Roman bishop Stephen (the first Roman bishop we know of to claim something like papal authority). Firmilian didn't make the same claims made by the later sources TurretinFan has cited, but he did refer to Stephen as "worse than all heretics" and "a false Christ", for example (Cyprian's Letter 74:23, 74:26).

That sort of highly negative language about the Roman bishop and/or the Roman church has a long pre-Reformation history. And it can't be argued that all of these sources submitted to the papacy anyway, despite sometimes speaking so negatively about it. With some of these sources, we either have no evidence that they believed in the papacy or the evidence suggests the opposite.

Wes White said...

That is rather revealing. It does make you think. Perhaps we should reconsider this position today instead of suggesting that the PCA join in an ecumenical council with the Pope as presiding bishop.

Viisaus said...

Let us hear pope Gregory the Great (590-604), writing to Byzantine emperor Maurice:


"But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests. But, since the Truth says, Every one that exalts himself shall be humbled Luke 14:11; 18:14, I know that every kind of elation is the sooner burst as it is the more inflated."


Gregory again writes, to the bishop of Thessalonica, that the title "universal bishop" is a harbinger of Antichrist:


"Be it known then to your Fraternity that John, formerly bishop of the city of Constantinople, against God, against the peace of the Church, to the contempt and injury of all priests, exceeded the bounds of modesty and of his own measure, and unlawfully usurped in synod the proud and pestiferous title of œcumenical, that is to say, universal. When our predecessor Pelagius of blessed memory became aware of this, he annulled by a fully valid censure all the proceedings of that same synod, except what had therein been done in the cause of Gregory, bishop of Antioch, of venerable memory; taking him to task with most severe rebuke, and warning him to abstain from that new and temerarious name of superstition; even so as to forbid his deacon to go in procession with him, unless he should amend so great a wickedness. And we, adhering in all respects to the zeal of his rectitude, observe his ordinances, under the protection of God, irrefragably, since it is fitting that he should walk without stumbling along the straight way of his predecessor, whom the tribunal of the eternal Judge awaits for rendering an account of the same place of government. In which matter, lest we should seem to omit anything that pertains to the peace of the Church, we once and again addressed the same most holy John by letter, bidding him relinquish that name of pride, and incline the elation of his heart to the humility which our Master and Lord has taught us. And having found that he paid no regard, we have not desisted, in our desire of concord, from addressing the like admonitions to our most blessed brother and fellow priest Cyriacus, his successor. But since it is the case, as we see, now that the end of this world is near at hand, that the enemy of the human race has already appeared in his harbingers, so as to have as his precursors, through this title of pride, the very priests who ought to have opposed him by living well and humbly, I exhort and entreat that not one of you ever accept this name, that not one consent to it, that not one write it, that not one admit it wherever it may have been written, or add his subscription to it; but, as becomes ministers of Almighty God, that each keep himself from this kind of poisoned infection, and give no place to the cunning lier-in-wait, since this thing is being done to the injury and rendering asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the contemning of all of you. For if one, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops."

Viisaus said...

Let us hear pope Gregory the Great (590-604), writing to Byzantine emperor Maurice:


"But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests. But, since the Truth says, Every one that exalts himself shall be humbled Luke 14:11; 18:14, I know that every kind of elation is the sooner burst as it is the more inflated."


Gregory again writes, to the bishop of Thessalonica, that the title "universal bishop" is a harbinger of Antichrist:


"Be it known then to your Fraternity that John, formerly bishop of the city of Constantinople, against God, against the peace of the Church, to the contempt and injury of all priests, exceeded the bounds of modesty and of his own measure, and unlawfully usurped in synod the proud and pestiferous title of œcumenical, that is to say, universal. When our predecessor Pelagius of blessed memory became aware of this, he annulled by a fully valid censure all the proceedings of that same synod, except what had therein been done in the cause of Gregory, bishop of Antioch, of venerable memory; taking him to task with most severe rebuke, and warning him to abstain from that new and temerarious name of superstition; even so as to forbid his deacon to go in procession with him, unless he should amend so great a wickedness. And we, adhering in all respects to the zeal of his rectitude, observe his ordinances, under the protection of God, irrefragably, since it is fitting that he should walk without stumbling along the straight way of his predecessor, whom the tribunal of the eternal Judge awaits for rendering an account of the same place of government. In which matter, lest we should seem to omit anything that pertains to the peace of the Church, we once and again addressed the same most holy John by letter, bidding him relinquish that name of pride, and incline the elation of his heart to the humility which our Master and Lord has taught us. And having found that he paid no regard, we have not desisted, in our desire of concord, from addressing the like admonitions to our most blessed brother and fellow priest Cyriacus, his successor. But since it is the case, as we see, now that the end of this world is near at hand, that the enemy of the human race has already appeared in his harbingers, so as to have as his precursors, through this title of pride, the very priests who ought to have opposed him by living well and humbly, I exhort and entreat that not one of you ever accept this name, that not one consent to it, that not one write it, that not one admit it wherever it may have been written, or add his subscription to it; but, as becomes ministers of Almighty God, that each keep himself from this kind of poisoned infection, and give no place to the cunning lier-in-wait, since this thing is being done to the injury and rendering asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the contemning of all of you. For if one, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops."

Viisaus said...

Let us hear pope Gregory the Great (590-604), writing to Byzantine emperor Maurice:


"But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests. But, since the Truth says, Every one that exalts himself shall be humbled Luke 14:11; 18:14, I know that every kind of elation is the sooner burst as it is the more inflated."


Gregory again writes, to the bishop of Thessalonica, that the title "universal bishop" is a harbinger of Antichrist:


"Be it known then to your Fraternity that John, formerly bishop of the city of Constantinople, against God, against the peace of the Church, to the contempt and injury of all priests, exceeded the bounds of modesty and of his own measure, and unlawfully usurped in synod the proud and pestiferous title of œcumenical, that is to say, universal. When our predecessor Pelagius of blessed memory became aware of this, he annulled by a fully valid censure all the proceedings of that same synod, except what had therein been done in the cause of Gregory, bishop of Antioch, of venerable memory; taking him to task with most severe rebuke, and warning him to abstain from that new and temerarious name of superstition; even so as to forbid his deacon to go in procession with him, unless he should amend so great a wickedness. And we, adhering in all respects to the zeal of his rectitude, observe his ordinances, under the protection of God, irrefragably, since it is fitting that he should walk without stumbling along the straight way of his predecessor, whom the tribunal of the eternal Judge awaits for rendering an account of the same place of government. In which matter, lest we should seem to omit anything that pertains to the peace of the Church, we once and again addressed the same most holy John by letter, bidding him relinquish that name of pride, and incline the elation of his heart to the humility which our Master and Lord has taught us. And having found that he paid no regard, we have not desisted, in our desire of concord, from addressing the like admonitions to our most blessed brother and fellow priest Cyriacus, his successor. But since it is the case, as we see, now that the end of this world is near at hand, that the enemy of the human race has already appeared in his harbingers, so as to have as his precursors, through this title of pride, the very priests who ought to have opposed him by living well and humbly, I exhort and entreat that not one of you ever accept this name, that not one consent to it, that not one write it, that not one admit it wherever it may have been written, or add his subscription to it; but, as becomes ministers of Almighty God, that each keep himself from this kind of poisoned infection, and give no place to the cunning lier-in-wait, since this thing is being done to the injury and rendering asunder of the whole Church, and, as we have said, to the contemning of all of you. For if one, as he supposes, is universal bishop, it remains that you are not bishops."

Kaffikjelen said...

Sadly, most Christians do not believe this today, but have bought into the Counter-Reformation concepts of futurism and preterism.

Viisaus said...

"Sadly, most Christians do not believe this today, but have bought into the Counter-Reformation concepts of futurism and preterism."


Well, a futurist could maintain his case by claiming that the pope in spite of all his wickedness is not yet THE Antichrist, only "AN antichrist" - that he is, like Gregory the Great put it, a mere PRECURSOR, a prefiguration of the actual end-times Antichrist.


Btw, these double- and triple-posts that I somehow often make on this machine are really annoying. Could someone delete the unnecessary posts, I myself cannot do it?

Tom said...

“Sadly, most Christians do not believe this today, but have bought into the Counter-Reformation concepts of futurism and preterism.”

“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)

John knew nothing of the medieval papacy. Neither did his readers. It is possible that personal circumstances merely forced these later interpreters to a contemporary understanding of the Scripture. (e.g., even though Wycliffe was technically “pre-reformulation” he certainly experienced the wrath of Rome.)

In some ways they were no different than modern futurists who see everything in contemporary terms, esp. with respect to Israel.

Turretinfan said...

The Holy Spirit, however, foresaw Rome's apostasy.

louis said...

John makes a distinction between "the" antichrist, and "many" (lesser) antichrists. He identifies some of the latter. That does not preclude us from identifying the former.

Tom said...

“The Holy Spirit, however, foresaw Rome's apostasy.”

Isn’t that the same argument contemporary futurists use wrt modern Israel?

Tom said...

“John makes a distinction between "the" antichrist, and "many" (lesser) antichrists. He identifies some of the latter. That does not preclude us from identifying the former.”

If you’re claiming that Rome/papacy is “an antichrist”, then I have no problem with that notion. However, I didn’t take that as the point of the exercise.

Turretinfan said...

I wrote: “The Holy Spirit, however, foresaw Rome's apostasy.”

You responded: "Isn’t that the same argument contemporary futurists use wrt modern Israel?"

Isn't that what prophecy generally entails: God knowing the future?

I'm not sure that associating with "futurists" vs. any other group tars it.

And, I should add, we don't know all of what John saw (just as a technical correction, not an argument).

-TurretinFan

rfwhite said...

As one indication of how far we are removed from the heritage represented on this list, there are some (though a very few) today who would charge those on this list and the Reformers with slander.

Turretinfan said...

Good point!

rfwhite said...

What makes the charge of slander so puzzling is this: the alternative offered by the accusers is that it is the church (as represented in the seven churches of the seven letters) who, because of its worldliness, is whorish and thus liable to identification with the whore of Rev 17.

To this alternative, one could respond something like this: is it not the case that, to the extent that professing Christians are worldly, they are whorish and to be identified with the whore of Rev 17? If so, then, provided the pre-Reformers and Reformers were preaching against the worldliness of the church as they knew it and calling said church whorish, exactly how does this constituted slander?

Turretinfan said...

One wonders what their reply would be! Perhaps it is something to the tune of "it sounds bad when you say it."

JMH said...

You can find one historic interpretation of the Revalation identifying Papacy as antichrist here:
www.bibleortraditions.com

It contains a whole series of youtube clips made by a christian historian.

Really interesting and important subject for sure.
I never knew about "counter reformation" before.