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Remembering Pope Benedict, the Antichrist

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The Protestant Reformation split the Western Christian Church into Protestant and Roman Catholic branches in the 16th century. It was driven by a desire for religious reform, objections to the pope’s power and role, and the sale of indulgences, which allowed people to purchase pardons and reduce their time in purgatory. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other theologians led the movement and challenged the authority of the pope and the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Their teachings and writings, disseminated through the printing press, spurred reform across Europe and the formation of Protestant denominations such as Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Anglicanism.

Essentially, the church of Rome had morphed into something so foreign from the biblical and historic model of the church that the only answer was to denounce the entire system.

The Council of Trent was a council of the Roman Catholic Church that was held in Trent, Italy, between 1545 and 1563. It was called in response to the Protestant Reformation, which had begun in the early 16th century, and was an attempt to address the various issues and controversies that had arisen within the Church as a result of the Protestant movement. The Council of Trent made significant changes to Church doctrine and practice, and its decisions had a major impact on the development of the Catholic Church for centuries to come.

One of those changes—or clarifications—of its doctrine was found in Canon 9, which forbade Catholics from believing the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

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Historically, Protestants and Evangelicals have defended this doctrine passionately. In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has vehemently denied and rejected it. Canon 9 of the Roman Catholic council of Trent says “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.”

This council has never been retracted, and the previous pope Benedict doubled down on this belief. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI released a decree stating that Protestant Christian denominations, also known as “Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century,” cannot be considered “Churches” in the proper sense according to Catholic doctrine. This is because these denominations do not have apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders and do not have the “genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery.”

This decree was seen as a change in the Catholic Church’s ecumenical strategy, which had previously involved a move towards inclusivity and dialogue with other Christian denominations. Some saw the decree as a betrayal of the ecumenical movement and a return to the pre-Vatican II view that saw Bible Christians as heretics rather than “separated brethren.”

Pope Benedict’s belief in the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church was also seen as a rejection of the principles of the Reformation, which had emphasized salvation through faith alone and the authority of the Bible. The decree was seen as an attack on other Christian denominations and a continuation of Pope Benedict’s belief in the Roman Catholic Church as the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI also considered Mary a central figure in the Catholic faith replacing Christ Himself as an ideal for Catholics to emulate. He believed her example could motivate Catholics to strive for goodness, beauty, and purity of heart. But worse, he also urged Catholics to pray to Mary and meditate on the “mysteries of the rosary” to better understand Christ’s life. Benedict saw Mary’s “yes” to God’s plan as enabling her to become the mother of Jesus and the living Ark of the Covenant. Benedict, like all popes, clearly made an idol out of Mary.

The papacy and all those who sat in her seat were seen by reformers as antichrists who pose a threat to the gospel and salvation. Therefore, true Bible believers have always known that they must mark and avoid the pope and his teachings every day. The reformers, with conviction in their hearts, stood against the pope’s role as the antichrist and upheld the command of the Word. It is important for us to remember this history and continue to mark and avoid the pope and his teachings, just as the reformers did, and to remember that Benedict XVI was no different.


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