Thursday, July 21, 2011

Michele Bachmann and the Antichrist Fiasco

I'm not really sure what to say about the recent media and blog storm over Michele Bachmann and former membership in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), but due to the number of emails and comments I've received and been asked to give, I figured I've say my two cents here.

First of all, this is purely political, and I think most people realize this. But what makes this more ridiculous is the fact that this is about a church body she LEFT prior to taking office and isn't a hot-button issue. People brought up similar discrepancies, to say the least, between President Obama's (former?) church, and obviously high profile politicians like Vice President Biden and Representative Pelosi belong CURRENTLY to churches with whom their politics don't agree (the Catholic Church declares homosexuality and abortion to be sinful). It's actually quite ironic that members of their party would lambaste a republican hopeful for saying the Pope is wrong...

But anyways, she hasn't shown demonstrably "anti-Catholic" behavior, and she left the church body years before her presidential campaign began. So it should be a mute point, but that's national politics for you, I suppose.

The reason it's a point at all is because I think many picture "The Antichrist" to be a political figure akin to the Left Behind Series who's bent on world domination and the like, and not an office or position the Bible warns about. I'm not going to go into whether or not the Bible teaches this, since that's not the issue here. I don't think I'll try to state anything beyond what WELS leaders have said in regards to this fiasco with Michele Bachmann:

"Some people have this vision of a little devil running around with horns and red pointy ears. Luther was clear that by 'Antichrist' [he meant] anybody who puts himself up in place of Christ. Luther never bought the idea of the Pope being God's voice in today's world. He believed Scripture is God's word....[this belief ] has never been one of our driving principles." - Joel Hochmuth, Communications Director

"We respect the right of people to hold beliefs different from ours even as we point out the error...Testifying to the errors that still exist in Catholic doctrine is itself an expression of love." - WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder

And of course, the being a Lutheran at least nominally means adhering to the Lutheran Confessions (statements of belief based on the Bible and the Bible alone), in which they state in a section of Part II, Article IV of the Smalcald Articles (sorry to get technical on you. For a more complete treatment, read the whole article): 

"Haec doctrina praeclara ostendit papam essem ipsum verum antichristum, qui supra et contra Christum sese extulit et evexit, quando-quidem Christianos non vult esse salvos sine sua potestate, quae tamen nihil est et a Deo nec ordinata nec mandata est. Hoc proprie loquendo est se efferre supra et contra Deum, sicut Paul 2 Thess. 2,4 loquitur." 

"This teaching so clearly shows that the Pope is THE very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above and positioned himself against Christ, seeing that he does not allow Christians to be saved without his power, a power which, in any case, is nothing and neither ordained nor commanded by God. This is, properly speaking, to raise yourself up above and against God, just as Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:4."

As Andrew Sullivan send from the Daily Beast:

"Michele Bachmann used to be a pretty conservative Lutheran. Which means she's not a Roman Catholic and her church is not likely to be impressed by the Bishop of Rome. Big deal! Next: Red Sox fans disagree with Yankee fans. Amazing!"

I think also of Luther's ending words from the Diet of Worms in 1521 in which the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor commanded him to recant or have a price put on your head (execution, basically):

"Weil Eure kaiserliche Majestät, kurfürstliche und fürstliche Gnaden eine einfache und richtige Antwort wünschen, so will ich sie auch ohne Hintergedanken geben: Überzeugt mich mit den Zeugnissen der Heiligen Schrift, oder mit öffentlichen, klaren und hellen Gründen, also mit den Bibelworten und Argumenten, die von mir beigebracht worden sind. Denn die Autorität von Papst und Konzilien allein überzeugt mich nicht, da sie offenkundig oft geirrt und gegen Schrift und Vernunft gestanden haben. Nur wenn mein Gewissen in Gottes Wort gefangen ist, will ich widerrufen. Denn es ist nicht geraten, etwas gegen das Gewissen zu tun. Gott helfe mir, Amen. "

"Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns or teeth. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason (I do not believe in the authority of either popes or councils by themselves, for it is plain that they have often erred and contradicted 

Below are other articles I've read for more information and interesting points:


  1. The "Sharks and Shepherd" link surprised me when he mentioned that, Ron Kind, a Democratic Congressman was also part of the WELS. You would almost think that no one would have brought this up in the first place because of that fact.

    Also, I never knew (until this post) why WELS thought the pope "was the antichrist". Your explanation is clear (of him putting himself in the place of Christ), although I think there is a case to be made, of Christians having the Holy Spirit in them, making them incarnationally Christ, in some sense of the word.

  2. Actually, in regards to Kind, I belief he and Kapanke attend the same church! I imagine council meetings there could be interesting...But it reminds as well, in Christ we are all one, part of the same body.

    I'm glad the explanation made sense about what antichrist means. Maybe I should say as well, it's taken to refer to the office of the papacy as one that has set itself up IN PLACE OF and AGAINST Christ's office.


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