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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Just saying"— today's LC-MS on Antichrist

There is a fairly new expression used in everyday conversations today:
"I'm just saying"
This expression has been explained quite well by a noted psychologist Dr. Lynn Margolies on —
Lately the annoying expression “I’m just saying” — usually tacked to the end of what would be an otherwise thoughtless remark — keeps coming up in everyday conversation. ... we can be onto the hidden dynamics that make this and other such figures of speech so irritating, and we can prepare ourselves for the next time.
Brooke used the expression “I’m just saying” after making an off-putting remark, conveniently absolving herself of responsibility for the affront. This tagline is a handy conversational tool: It serves as a free pass for the speaker to say anything and then negate any ill intent.
I find this explanation particularly incisive, at least in a worldly way:
"...a free pass for the speaker to say anything and then negate any ill intent".
Oh, but this expression has a far greater spiritual application!
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Officially the LC-MS says the Pope is the Antichrist here:
Concerning the historical identity of the Antichrist, we affirm the Lutheran Confessions' identification of the Antichrist with the office of the papacy whose official claims continue to correspond to the Scriptural marks listed above. It is important, however, that we observe the distinction which the Lutheran Confessors made between the office of the pope (papacy) and the individual men who fill that office. The latter could be Christians themselves. ... [But why say  "it is important that we observe the distinction ... between the ... papacy ... and the individual men"...  Isn't it also important to recognize that the Pope in Rome is the very Antichrist?  Are they declaring the Pope to be the very Antichrist or... are they "Just saying?"]
To the extent that the papacy continues to claim as official dogma the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent which expressly anathematizes, for instance, the doctrine "that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that trust alone by which we are justified," the judgment of the Lutheran Confessional writings that the papacy is the Antichrist holds.  At the same time, of course, we must recognize the possibility, under God's guidance, that contemporary discussions and statements (e.g., 1983 U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue statement on "Justification by Faith") could lead to a revision of the Roman Catholic position regarding Tridentine dogma.  [Why always the tone of doubt immediately following each pronouncement of the Papacy as the very Antichrist? – are they "Just saying?"]
But in the CPH book leading up to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, The Lutheran Difference (2010 edition), they say this:
page ix-x: List of Comparisons - among the 39 specific areas of "Comparisons" which include "Justification", there is no comparison on the doctrine of the Antichrist between the Lutheran Church and other external church bodies – why? ... "Just saying?"
page 545: Luther ... increasingly saw connections between the prophecies in Revelation, the corrupt world, and the pope as Antichrist. [The editor allows that Luther "saw... the pope as Antichrist", but why is there no clear affirmation of this by the essayist himself?  There is virtually no mention here that the Lutheran Confessions clearly teach that the Pope in Rome is the very Antichrist, only that Luther "saw connections".  Is the LC-MS "Just saying?"]
page 572, Glossary: Antichrist. Based on 1 John 2:18; 4:3, the Antichrist is one who opposes the teachings of Christ. The term is also used to describe "the lawless one" (2 Thessalonians 2:8) or beast of the earth (Revelation 13:11), a deceptive religious leader who will emerge at the end of time. [Again, no mention is made that the Pope in Rome is the very Antichrist...  no mention that the Lutheran Confessions specifically teach this.  There is no mention that the Roman Catholic Church has not struck down its anathemas of the Council of Trent against all Christianity.  Is the LC-MS "Just saying?"]
      Aren't the "hidden dynamics" becoming clear now?  Isn't the LC-MS "just saying" that the Pope in Rome is the very Antichrist?...  that it sees that the world takes offense at this teaching and so, as psychologist Margolies says, it is "conveniently absolving itself of responsibility for the affront?"
      The Roman Catholic Church continues to condemn all Christianity with its Council of Trent anathemas, and its head, The Pope, IS THE VERY ANTICHRIST! 

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      There remains a point to be said about my use of a worldly psychologist to unravel today's conversations.  A Christian repudiates whatever "wisdom" that psychology professes, for he already knows the truth: The Truth, The Way, The Life... in Christ Jesus.  The world's psychology is only broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13) apart from Christ, which leads one away from his Christian faith.  Dr. Lynn Margolies has no wisdom for the true Christian Church.  
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      It was Martin Luther, not a psychologist, who unraveled "hidden dynamics" better than anyone!  Perhaps the most forceful example of this is his comments on Erasmus from the book A Life of Luther by Oskar Thulin, Fortress Press,  page 50:
“It is true that he uses refined words, like ‘the dear, holy Christ,’ ‘the saving Word’, ‘the holy sacraments’, but in reality he considers them to be very cold matters.
… Carefully and intentionally he says everything in a tone of doubt; his words are ambiguous and he can interpret them as is expedient to him.
… Erasmus of Rotterdam looks upon the Christian religion and doctrine as if they were a comedy or a tragedy, in which all the events described therein never actually happened or really took place, but were fabricated with the sole purpose of instructing the people in a good external conduct and life and preparing them for worthy obedience and discipline.” (WA, TR 2, 2420; TR 1, 699, 797; TR 2, 2170)
Or translated in our modern vernacular:  Erasmus of Rotterdam was "Just Saying"!
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Today's LC-MS
"We're Just Saying!

"We believe, teach and confess..."


  1. Other references discussing the LCMS doctrinal change about the pope as the Antichrist include:

    "Changes in the Wisconsin Synod" (p. 14)," Dr. Mark Braun, Professor of Theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College and the author of A Tale of Two Synods (Northwestern, 2003). Despite the article's title, the first 11 pages (and approximately 140 out of the 184 references!) in the 25-page paper are about the doctrinal changes in the Missouri Synod that occurred during the first 70 years or so of the 20th century.

    Changes in the Missouri Synod,” Concordia Theological Monthly, 38, (July–August 1967), pp. 465-6.

    The subtle substitution of the word, "papacy" in place of "pope" was evident in the article, "Antichrist?: The Lutheran Confessions on the Papacy," (Concordia Journal, Volume 29, October 2003, Number 4, 392-406), Charles P. Arand, Professor of Systematic Theology and holds The Waldemar and June Schuette Endowed Chair of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO.

  2. Thanks for the additional references. I too have found some of Mark Braun's work helpful in the past. ... It is sad for me that Prof. Arand seems to be slipping badly on the slippery slope called "LC-MS", for he had spoken well regarding Walther's writings when he wrote a preface for the book Essays for the Church. (See blog post June 29. 2013)
    To Prof. Charles P. Arand: Were you serious when you spoke well of Walther in your preface to the Essays book... or were you "Just Saying?"

  3. Here's another ironic discussion of the change in the LCMS doctrinal position of the pope as the Antichrist from an article, "His Holiness, the Antichrist," (The Christian Century, April 12, 1995, p. 407):

    " 'THE ENEMY of my enemy is my friend': churches have heeded that principle when convenient for relativizing or developing their doctrine. That a doctrine is changing in one conservative group, my former denomination, the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, is evident in the greeting in a letter from the current LCMS president to the current pope...

    His Holiness, Pope John Paul II
    Vatican City
    Rome, Italy

    Your Holiness,

    Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    I wish to thank you for your recent letter to Roman Catholic bishops, "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone.". . . Your announcement was most welcome....

    May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, send you His Holy Spirit so that you may be strengthened in the Faith for service to Him and His people. God bless always!

    In Christ

    Dr. A. L. Barry

    "... As to the Antichrist we teach that the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18, have been fulfilled in the Pope of Rome and his dominion. All the features of the Antichrist as drawn in these prophecies, including the most abominable and horrible ones ... are the outstanding characteristics of the Papacy... Hence we subscribe to the statement of our confessions that the Pope is 'the very Antichrist'." [Excerpted from A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod, 1932, Para 43.]

    "The election of evangelical old Pope John XXIII made it hard for Missourians to see that benign figure as Antichrist. So they let the doctrine suffer neglect, and moderated its force through a policy of muting their name-calling. Still, the air was not really cleared until, given a common enemy in advocates of women's ordination, the president wished Your Holiness greetings in Christ, strength for service and God's blessing.

    "Things were so much easier back when people could make and enforce Brief Statements, swear without fingers crossed to church Confessions, stick by historic judgments and principles, and write, instead of 'Your Holiness,' 'Dear Very Antichrist'."

    The writer of the article was the creator of the legendary Franz Bibfeldt, Martin Marty.

    1. How well your quote brings out the obvious! and by the enemies of the old Missouri.
      And how sad to read of A.L. Barry's weakness on this when we know he also had some strengths, particularly his published protest against the JDDJ.
      Your quote that includes the portion from the "Brief Statement" on the Antichrist is timely because my next post is a republishing, a "Special Presentation", of this entire document in a "repristinated" and enhanced form.

  4. When the Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis in January, 1999, then Concordia Seminary President John Johnson, CTCR Executive Director Sam Nafzger, and Missouri District President James Kalthoff attended the January 27th papal prayer service at the St. Louis Cathedral.

    LCMS President Al Barry did not attend, but did attend an earlier luncheon with the pope at the archbishop's residence along with American and Vatican cardinals and Missouri RC bishops.

    At the time there was some discussion on one of the Lutheran lists about the appropriate procedure for a Lutheran praying with the Antichrist.


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