Antichrist Superstar

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Alex Massie takes on Joshua Green’s deep dive into Michele Bachmann’s church history. The short version: For a long time Bachmann belonged to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and the synod cites scripture – chiefly 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 – to argue that the Papacy is the antichrist. Here’s Massive.

Green helpfully provides - if you need these things - a one-paragraph summary of the Reformation (Justification through faith alone etc) which leads to a reasonable conclusion that the illegitimacy of the Papacy demands the incumbent be considered an anti-christ. That this narrow definition of antichrist is not the fashionable one today is not the fault of Lutherans or Calvinists. Nor do I see why holding it should necessarily exclude one from office; then again nor should rejecting Jesus Christ do so either.

Massie is hard to argue with. I admire Green’s cheek in quoting Bill Donohue to get a voice in there pronouncing the Synod anti-Catholic, but if I didn’t care what Donohue thought yesterday, I certainly don’t care right now. We can read the Bible ourselves and see what Paul was talking about in his letter.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

It’s a little silly to read that and pronounce all Catholics followers of the Antichrist. [UPDATE: I should be clear, I’m talking about Donohue’s wild-eyed read on this, not Green’s take. Go and read Green – all bases are covered, and he doesn’t make the argument that Donohue does.] Which, uh, Bachmann’s old synod didn’t even do!

This teaching that the Papacy is the Antichrist is not a fundamental article of faith… It is not an article on which saving faith rests, with which Christianity stands or falls. We cannot and do not deny the Christianity of a person who cannot see the truth that the Pope is the Antichrist.

So there are two questions. The first: Might a conservative Catholic voter ask why Bachmann belonged to this church? Yes. The second: Is it fair to attack Bachmann over this? I don’t see how.