Protestantism and the Papacy: Resurrecting the "Grand Protest" ("Lamp in the Dark")

Protestantism and the Papacy: Resurrecting the "Grand Protest" ("Lamp in the Dark")

The Protestant Reformers, as well as most early (non-Catholic) Christians were Historicist, NOT Futurist. “Historicism [as defined by Wikipedia] is a method of interpretation in Christian eschatology which associates biblical prophecies with actual historical events… This broad form of HISTORICISM HELD SWAY IN CHRISTIANITY FROM THE 4th CENTURY UNTIL [and throughout] THE REFORMATION. The Protestant Reformation was born in reaction to the Catholic doctrine of works-only salvation and identifying the papacy as the Antichrist. Protestant historicists saw prophecy fulfilled down through the centuries and into the modern era. Rather than expecting a single Antichrist to rule the earth during a future Tribulation period, Martin Luther, John Calvin and other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as a present feature in the world of their time, fulfilled in the papacy. They were unanimous in this interpretation lending emphasis to their reformation. It led them to protest against Rome and it became their rally and battle cry. Isaac Newton was a strong proponent of the historicist approach especially in the work published in 1733 after his death: Observations upon the Prophesies of the Book of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John which has a similar stance toward the papacy of the reformers. Controversial features of the Reformation’s Historicist interpretation is the identification of the Antichrist (1 and 2 John), the Beasts of Revelation 13, the Man of Sin (or Man of Lawlessness) in 2 Thessalonians 2, the “Little horn” of Daniel 7 and 8, and the Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17) with the Roman Catholic Church, the Papacy and Papal States, and each successive Pope himself. Out of the Reformation came the Counter Reformation… As such, the pro-Catholic positions took root when the Jesuit Doctor of Theology, Francisco Ribera proposed Futurism in 1590, as well as the Spanish Jesuit Luis de Alcazar who proposed Preterism.” 

(Wikipedia, “Historicism (Christianity)) 
**** “First, note the fact that Rome’s reply to the Reformation in the 16th century included an answer to the prophetic teachings of the Reformers. Through the Jesuits Ribera and Bellarmine, Rome put forth her futurist interpretation of prophecy. Ribera was a Jesuit priest of Salamanca. In 1585 he published a commentary on the Apocalypse, denying the application of the prophecies concerning antichrist to the existing Church of Rome. He was followed by Cardinal Bellarmine, a nephew of Pope Marcellus II…Bellarmine, like Ribera, advocated the futurist interpretation of prophecy. He taught that antichrist would be one particular man, that he would be a Jew, that he would be preceded by the reappearance of the literal Enoch and Elias, that he would rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem, compel circumcision, abolish the Christian sacraments, abolish every other form of religion, would manifestly and avowedly deny Christ, would assume to be Christ, and would be received by the Jews as their Messiah, would pretend to be God, would make a literal image speak, would feign himself dead and rise again, and would conquer the whole world, Christian, Mohammedan, and heathen; and all this in the space of three and a half years. He insisted that the prophecies of Daniel, Paul and John, with reference to the antichrist, had no application whatever to the Papal power.” (Romanism and the Reformation – H. Grattan Guinness) 
**** “Historicism, once the dominant view of Protestants from the Reformation until the middle of the last century, appears to exert little attraction as a system of prophetic interpretation to conservative Christians (outside of Seventh-day Adventist circles)… Within evangelicalism during the last one hundred fifty years, futurism has grown to dominate and overcome historicism.” (T. Ice / K.L. Gentry Jr., The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? p. 6,) 
*** “Prior to 1826 this Roman Catholic view, first set forth by Francisco Ribera to counter the Reformation exposition, had found no acceptance among Protestants…” (L.E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol.3, p.533) 
**** “It would probably come as a shock to many modern futurists to be told that the first scholar in relatively modern times who returned to the patristic futuristic interpretation was a Spanish Jesuit named Ribera. In 1590 Ribera published a commentary on the Revelation as a counter-interpretation to the prevailing view among Protestants which identified the Papacy with the Antichrist. Ribera applied all of Revelation but the earliest chapters to the end time rather than to the history of the Church. Antichrist would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and would rebuild Jerusalem, abolish Christianity, deny Christ, persecute the Church and rule the world for three and a half years.” (George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope [1972] p. 37)


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