Monday, January 30, 2012

The Original Westminster Confession of Faith on the Antichrist

Yesterday, during the Sunday School class at Communion Presbyterian, we discussed Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession, having to do with "The Church". Now, there's lots of great biblical truth in that chapter, but, the American revisions to the Confession deviate from the original text on a pretty major point in Section 6. The original text of the Confession reads:

There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.13 Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.14
13. COL 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. EPH 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.
14. MAT 23:8-10 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 2TH 2:3-4, 8-9 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. REV 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
The American revisions (such as the PCA, OPC, etc--with the exception of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) read:

There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof.

And, lastly, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church edition of the Confession reads:

There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can mere man in any sense be the head thereof.
Since one of the things I've tried to do in my Sunday School class is point out the differences between the ARP Confession and other versions of the Confession, I read the text of the original version to my class. I could tell that some folks in the class had no idea that the Reformers considered the Pope to be the Antichrist, the man of sin, etc. So, I told my class I would post some of the reasoning behind that conclusion. Below are the reasons and Scripture proofs David Dickson gives in Truth's Victory Over Error (the first commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith ever written). Read through what he has to say and judge for yourselves if the Reformers got it right.

Question IX. ―Is the Pope that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church of God against Christ, and all that is called God?

Though this be denied by the church of Rome, yet the true description of Antichrist agrees to him.

1st, Because he is not one single man, but an order and race of men, succeeding to one another, in that same state and office; which you will see, by comparing 1 John 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:7-8. together.

2nd, His coming in after the manner of Satan, 2 Thess. 2:9.

3rd, As to his name, he calls himself a Christian, but in very truth, an adversary to Christ; and by consequence, one that denies Jesus to be the Christ, Rev. 17:14; Rev. 19:19; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 1 John 2:23.

4th, He sitteth in the temple of God as God, 2 Thess. 2:4.

5th, He ruleth in the great city, and exercises dominion over the kings of the earth.

6th, He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, with lying wonders and miracles, 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:14-15.

7th, He causeth all sorts of persons to receive his mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, Rev. 13:16-17.

8th, To him agrees what Paul says, And now ye know what withholdeth (namely the roman emperor) that he might be revealed in his time, 2 Thess. 3:6-7.

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