The Jews, the Papacy, and the Antichrist: Like a Bad Joke Waiting to Happen

More from Reese (use the Reese Currie tag to catch up if you need to). He’s in red, I’m the rest. Little bit of back story needed for #8 here. Reese had argued (as others, like Keith Mathison have, as well) that the Church doesn’t have the authority to set the Old Testament Canon, because that’s the responsibility of the Jews. This is, in my opinion, a gross misunderstanding of who the New Testament means by “the Jews,” which Paul explains in Romans 11:16-26 means ethnic and historic Jews who’ve kept the Faith and embraced the promised Messiah, as well as the in-grafted Gentiles (with those Jews who reject Christ being “broken off” from the covenant). It’s also completely unworkable in real life, since the Jews at the time of Christ had three competiting canons (the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Torah-only canon of the Sadducees). One bizarre result of this dispensationalist view of the canon is that it means Christians have to accept anti-Christian interpretations of the Old Testament, like rendering Isaiah 7:14 “young woman,” instead of “virgin,” as appears in the Greek.

8) I find it interesting that you find Isaiah 7:14 in the MT objectionable. It’s interesting to me for these reasons. First, it’s one of those conspicuous points where all but the most exacting Protestant Bibles goes with the LXX instead of the MT (the NRSV sticks to the MT; it’s the only one I know does for sure). Second, the NRSV Catholic Edition has the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur despite the use of “young woman” in Isaiah 7:14, so the concern for truth in the organization you represent is less than your own.

It’s for the first of these points that I mention it. If, as you claim, self-proclaimed Jews preserve a perpetual right to set the canon then it seems the NRSV is the only Bible in the right. The others are picking and choosing. For the second, the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur don’t actually mean as much as they should – you’ll find some ridiculous stuff that has gotten some bishop’s rubber stamp (which is all it takes: the approval of a single bishop). I actually think that the NRSV:CE is a great Bible version on the whole, so I disagree that they (or the bishop(s)) aren’t concerned with Truth [actually, I’ll give you some of the bishops, but that problem is being worked out through slow internal reform]. Additionally, “young woman” isn’t inaccurate per se: there’s a good argument that Isaiah 7:14 is double-fulfilled: first, in the birth of Hezekiah to a young woman; second, in the birth of Christ to a Virgin. Shea explains that here. My problem wasn’t that they said “young woman,” but that the MT translated it “young woman” to purposely avoid the Christological implications, rather than to show the double-fulfillment. This was one of those times where the MT translators made a pretty bold anti-Christian statement with their word choice, and if we’re going to go with them as the eternal guardians of Old Testament canon, it’s going to conflict with our Faith in Christ at some point.

9) Another aside: If you recognize the pope as the head of the universal church, does that not also mean you reject Christ as the head of the universal church? That’s a pretty dangerous position to take if you ask me. Even a die-hard Catholic apologist must admit that Christ said to Peter, “I will build my church” rather than “I will build your church” or “You will build your church.” This is one of the reasons early Protestants referred to the pope as the “antichrist”, which in those days did not mean “against Christ” as it does today (e.g. “The Omen” movies), but “diminishing Christ” or “taking attention from Christ” or “taking the place of Christ.” I recognize Catholics of some rites see the pope as the “vicar” or “substitute” for Christ, but why would some Catholics consider a substitute to be necessary? Is Christ not capable of leading? On what basis is a Person who says “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age” in need of a substitute?

I will write you separately on this. But for now, I’ll just say that God says to David, “you will shepherd my people Israel” (2 Samuel 5:1-3), yet David still proclaims in Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1). Peter is the Rock, but God is also the Rock. Peter is the shepherd, Christ is the Good Shepherd (or Chief Shepherd, elsewhere). Peter is our father in faith (as is Abraham, etc.), but God is Our Father in Heaven. The pope is the universal visible head of the Church, Christ is the universal invisible Head. Peter got the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:17-19); Christ bears the Keys to Heaven and Hell (Revelation 1:18, 3:7). Peter is a figurement of Christ, in the sense that the papacy is designed by Christ, and modeled off of His own authority. It’s a foretaste of the sovereignty of God as it will be exercised in Heaven. The Church as a foretaste of Heaven is a constant theme in the New Testament, which is why “Kingdom of Heaven” is one of the constant terms used both for the Church, and for Heaven itself. If anyone is blurring the lines between Church authority and Heavenly authority, it’s not me or the pope – it’s Christ Himself. Again, though, this is a separate issue which warrants its own unique consideration.

As for the idea that “vicar of Christ” and “Antichrist” can be used interchangeably, this was atrocious eisegesis. Read the passages which actually talk about the Antichrist, or about antichrists in general, and you’ll see how poorly they fit. “The Omen” image of the Antichrist is much closer to the original than the way the term was bandied about by the Reformers. Turrentin and others pervert these Biblical texts and play grammatical games to try and justify their schism, because they were aware of the clear texts damning schismatics. To justify splitting from the Church, they needed to show not just that there were two Christian parties who disagreed (since they would be bound to stay together, as One Body of Christ), but that their opponents weren’t – and couldn’t be – Christian. The hypocrisy is made most blatant by this “vicar” argument, because Turrentin and others regard Luther as Christian, despite his claim that all priests are vicars of Christ (a view the Catholic Church would agree with him on). Luther makes the claim most obviously in the 7th of his 95 theses. So if Luther’s belief that priests (including himself, at the time he wrote it) were the vicars of Christ didn’t make him the, or an, Antichrist, then the pope’s claim to the identical title wouldn’t either.

Perhaps a bit of annoyance showed through in that last answer. It’s not at Reese. The sudden “discovery” that the pope was the Antichrist when he disagreed with Luther is all too convenient given that Luther was willing to recognize him as head of the Church, as long as the pope agreed with Luther (which is a curious way of understanding the pope’s authority: the authority to agree with my existing views, or convince me personally). It’s like when Henry VII fell in love with Anne Boleyn, and suddenly discovered his marriage was invalid. In both cases, men were contemplating a grevious schism: Paul warns both adulterers and schismatics that they’re earning the fires of hell (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). Suddenly, they discover that not only can they commit schism, they must: it’s suddenly their moral duty! Talk about convenient timing!

Anyways, same time, same place, Monday. See you then!

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