Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"That Man of Sin"

In the Summer 2005 edition of Founders Journal, Dr. Sam Waldron published an article arguing that churches should use the 1689 Baptist Confession as their statement of faith. Dr. Waldron argues that the 1689 Baptist Confession is the “best available local church confession.” In making his arguments, Waldron is clear in stating that Scripture alone is infallible, and that—as with all lengthy confessions—some revisions should be considered. One area of the 1689 Baptist Confession that needs “a slight revision,” Waldron argues, is Chapter 26, Paragraph 4: that the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist; the end-times “Man of Sin,” who will be destroyed at Christ’s return. Waldron writes:

[T]his statement ought not to have been made or be part of our confession today. This is one of those places where a slight revision of the 1689 Confession is necessary. In my experience (having become a Reformed Baptist pastor in 1977 and having shepherded two Reformed Baptist churches during that time), Reformed Baptist churches today, when they express their allegiance to the Confession in their constitutions, commonly make an exception of this statement.

Whereas it seems wise to forego identifying the Pope or papacy with a single end-times Antichrist, it is important to note that there are definite reasons that the Particular Baptists who originally adopted the 1689 Confession came to the conclusion that they did. Whether or not the “man of sin” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 will hold the Roman Catholic office of “pope,” the papacy is certainly anti-Christ in the broad sense (1 John 2:18). In fact, the papacy is diametrically opposed to all three persons of the trinity. Consider some of the titles that the Pope claims for himself: “Holy Father,” “Pontiff,” and “Vicar of Christ:”
¨    God alone should be called “Holy Father,” as Jesus directly commanded His disciples in Matthew 23:9.
¨    Jesus Christ is the only pontiff. “Pontiff” means “bridge,” or—in religious settings—the high priest mediating between God and Man. Jesus is the only mediator between God and Man (1 Tim 2:5); in the New Covenant era, He is the only High Priest  (Heb 8:1; 10:14).
¨    The Holy Spirit is the only vicar of Christ. (“Vicar” means “substitute.”) See: John 14:16, 26.

[The above observations are adapted from points made by Phillip Jensen at the 2016 Together for the Gospel Conference.]

Conclusion: Confessional Subscription

In light of the Pope’s blasphemous claims, along with Waldron’s concession about the particular wording found in the 26.4, how should churches that subscribe to the 1689 Confession view its statements concerning the papacy? Tom Chantry, in some personal correspondence I had with him a couple of years ago, gave a number of helpful thoughts concerning this matter. Here is part of what he wrote to me. [The following material is consistent with specific statements Chantry has made on his own blog, so I don’t think he’ll mind my sharing these thoughts here.] 

[N]ote that the primary doctrine expressed in 26:4 is the exclusive headship of Christ over the church.  As a secondary doctrine, the confession condemns as blasphemy the pope’s usurpation of Christ’s title.

So what does it mean to subscribe to this doctrine? 

1. A strict subscriptionist [one who seriously takes the doctrines expressed in the 1689 Confession as an accurate summary of biblical teaching] must agree that Christ is the only Head of the Church, and that no man may usurp that title. 

2. A strict subscriptionist must agree that the system of papacy is a manifestation of the spirit of antichrist, and that part of the purpose of God the Holy Spirit in revealing antichrist to us was to prepare us to reject the papacy.  He must agree that God has rejected the papacy, and that Christ will utterly destroy it at the Judgment.

3. A strict subscriptionist must recognize that the papacy was the primary manifestation of the spirit of antichrist - at least during the age and location of the authors of our confession. 

It is important to take Reformed confessions seriously and to understand why they make specific claims concerning the papacy. It is important to resist—and not compromise in resisting—the spirit of the anti-Christ, wherever it might be found. Finally, it is vitally important to glorify Christ alone as the Head of the Church, “in whom—by the appointment of the Father—all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner.”



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