There’s a lot of buzz about Pope Francis’ upcoming speech to the European Parliament this week, and understandably so. Some in Europe are bothered that a religious leader is being invited to speak before a “secular body” to begin with. But, as Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, said in an opinion piece in l’Osservatore Romano, “As president of the parliament I can only say that the church has played a leading role in limiting the material and immaterial damage from the economic crisis.”
Schulz further says that it is his hope that the Pope will “wake Europe from its lethargy.”
Knowing that, eventually, a Pope will be instrumental in holding together the “iron and clay” that make up the European Beast power to come for the sake of its secular head, the sense of foreshadowing in such events and statements is impossible to miss. Given the recent elections, the “iron and clay” nature of Europe has been on display recently and the need for something compelling–beyond local interests, biases, prejudices, and nationalist tendencies–to bind them together and keep them together is increasingly clear to observers. Revelation 13 explains that it will be that “miraculous” and religious power of the False Prophet that accomplishes this.
One of the telecasts I just recorded (“Who Is the Prophesied ‘Man of Sin’?”) goes into that, mentioning the role that a future False Prophet will play and mentioning the long historical precedent of a dynamic where two individuals, one religious and one secular, who presumptuously see themselves in god-like terms, must share the same world stage — each using the other for his own purposes while not necessarily being fond of each other (hence, Rev. 17:16).
This interaction on Tuesday will certainly not involve a “Hey, everyone, let’s start requiring the mark of the beast!” speech. But, as far as I am concerned, it is, in a small way, a foreshadowing of larger interactions in the future. Europe is not currently acting on many of the Vatican’s priorities. And many European ministers don’t like the idea of a religious head addressing their body. Yet, here they are. Theirs will be a marriage of convenience in the future — perhaps this could be seen as the wary courtship that precedes it. Martin Schulz has voiced a truth: that the Vatican is in a position of power to achieve results in Europe that the politicians cannot. And the Vatican is engaging with Europe because it wants secular governments to pursue its agendas for the continent. Previews of the dance to come, methinks…
(And now for something completely different…)
Actually, this might be a good place to throw in something I saw recently. Poking around on the Internet while researching something, I came across the blog of a conservative Catholic who is one among several who are irritated at what they see as possible liberalism in Pope Francis, and he brought up the possibility that Francis is not a pope but an antipope — a word that many have probably never heard of. It reminded me of a discussion I had with someone about five years ago who had been saying that the Bible somehow said that the final pope would be an antipope, but he was not using the word properly. I pointed this out to him, but he was in a “self-justification” mode and what I had to say fell on deaf ears. (He has since left our fellowship, declared that he is a Prophet, and believes that he is one of the Two Witnesses who is supposedly discussed in certain demonic prophecies he has spent time “decoding,” so his ears apparently only grew more “deaf-ish” as time passed.)
Does the Bible say that the final pope will be an antipope? One can only say this by misusing the word “antipope.” For instance, the fellow I mentioned above claimed that he was using it as a term to signify a pope who was demon-possessed or who went against the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church — something which is simply not the definition of the word. It’s interesting: Even this conservative Catholic blogger I came across who is irritated at Pope Francis doesn’t use the word “antipope” improperly, but, instead, uses it exactly as it is defined: a “pope” who was not canonically elected and who is a rival to a pope who is canonically elected. That’s the actual definition of “antipope.” This irritated, conservative Catholic blogger I came across wasn’t claiming that the Pope might be an “antipope” because of Francis’ expressed views or doctrinal leanings (which he did not like) but because he (the blogger) was exploring conspiracy talk that might indicate that Francis wasn’t canonically elected. (Something, by the way, that I don’t see, myself, as very probable. At the same time, it’s a pretty political system over there in Rome, and things can be made to seem invalid in the future if it ever becomes politically necessary. No doubts there. And the presence of the still-living Benedict could add to the politics of that. But those are considerations that don’t impact the discussion I’m entering here, which is what the word “antipope” means and whether or not the Bible has anything to say about it in relation to the False Prophet.)
Lest there be any doubt about the meaning of antipope, let’s consult some authorities (and even some “authorities”) on the English language.
- antipope — one elected or claiming to be pope in opposition to the one canonically elected. (Merriam-Webster)
- antipope — a person who is elected or claims to be pope in opposition to another held to be canonically chosen. (Random House from Dictionary.com)
- antipope — a rival pope elected in opposition to one who has been canonically chosen (Collins English Dictionary from Dictionary.com)
- antipope — A person claiming to be or elected pope in opposition to the one chosen by church law, as during a schism. (American Heritage Dictionary from thefreedictionary.com)
- antipope — someone who is elected pope in opposition to another person who is held to be canonically elected (WordNet 3.0 from thefreedictionary.com)
- antipope — “in the Roman Catholic church, one who opposes the legitimately elected bishop of Rome, endeavours to secure the papal throne, and to some degree succeeds materially in the attempt.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica)
- antipope — a person established as pope in opposition to one held by others to be canonically elected (Oxford English Dictionary, Concise)
- antipope — A pope elected in opposition to one held to be canonically chosen; spec. applied to those who resided at Avignon during ‘the great schism of the West.’ (Oxford English Dictionary, Full)
- antipope — a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church (Wikipedia)
The idea that an “antipope” is simply one who differs with the established teachings of the Church he has been elected to head is not in anyway a standard meaning of the word. And, unless one felt compelled to unnaturally force biblical prophecies to “conform” to those thrown out by heathens, diviners, demon worshippers, and others who “whisper and mutter,” there is no foundation at all to say something like “Bible prophecies indicate the False Prophet will be an antipope.” Now, might someone ignoring Isaiah 8:19-20 say such things? Sure. And might someone who wants to bastardize the Bible’s prophecies and “enhance” them with the sayings of demons and demon worshippers (unwitting or not) say such things? Sure. God condemns mixing His faith and His Word with that of demons for just such reasons — the result is always corruption of the truth, and those who seek to do so are condemned as “unequally yoked” in trying use both Christ and Belial (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Looking at some Catholic prophecies and noting how they seem like distortions of God’s Word, as David Jon Hill did once many years ago, is one thing. Using such demonic prophecies to “enhance” the purity of God’s Word is quite another and is condemned by Him.
Biblically, there is nothing at all in prophecy requiring that the final Pope be one who is not canonically elected. And there is no reason to confusingly claim that the Bible does predict an “antipope” except to adulterate the text by attempting to bring it into harmony with the “prophecies” of the heathens. Stick with God’s Word, and should anyone ask you to look to the writings of those who whisper and mutter, remind them that Isaiah 8:19-20 is still in the Bible.
(And if they persist and claim that it’s a matter of “figuring out the devil’s plan” and torture verses like 2 Cor. 2:11 to justify their spiritual harlotry — as if sinning and compromising with the devil were necessary to do that — recognize that you likely won’t get very far, pray that they will find their way out of the devil’s trap, and move along to cleaner waters. Those caught up in such self-deception will always have excuses, and there are many excuses — something I talked about in detail back in my “Christians and Heathen Prophecy” post earlier this year.)