Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Antichrist

The following passages are a brief summary of a writing entitled Antichrist which is at least 900 years old. It originated among the Albigensian Christians of southern France, around the time of Pierre de Bruys, and was preserved by the Waldensians. Readers who have a copy of the Martyrs Mirror will find a brief excerpt from this writing on page 271. Pierre de Bruys, called Peter de Bruis in the MM, is mentioned on pages 273, 274, 279, 293, 294 and 309.

Antichrist is a falsehood, worthy of eternal damnation, covered with an outward appearance of the truth and the righteousness of Christ and his bride, opposite to the way of truth, righteousness, faith, hope and charity and also to the moral life. It is administered by false apostles and obstinately defended by both powers, ecclesiastical and secular. Antichrist is a delusion, a fraudulent contradiction to Christ and his bride and every faithful member thereof. It is not any special person ordained in any degree, office or ministry, but it is the falsehood itself, which opposes itself against the truth, which covers and adorns itself with a pretense of beauty and piety. That iniquity that is after this manner, with all the ministers thereof, great and small, with all those that follow them with a wicked heart and hoodwinked eyes, this congregation taken all together is called Antichrist, Babylon, the fourth beast, the whore, the man of sin, the son of perdition.

He is called Antichrist because, being covered and adorned under the colour of Christ and the church, and the faithful members thereof, he opposes the salvation purchased by Christ and truly administered by the church of Christ, whereof the faithful are partakers by faith, hope and charity. He contradicts the truth by the wisdom of the world, by false religion, by counterfeit holiness, by ecclesiastical power, secular tyranny, riches, honours, dignities and the delights and delicacies of the world.

The first work of Antichrist is to take away the truth and change it into falsehood, error and heresy. The second work of Antichrist is to cover falsehood with a semblance of truth, to assert and maintain lies by the name of faith and grace, and to dispense falsehood intermingled with spiritual things unto the people under his subjection.

The works that proceed from these first works are:
1. He perverts the worship properly due to God by giving it to Antichrist himself.
2. He robs Christ of his merits, with all the sufficiency of grace, justification, regeneration, remission of sins, sanctification and spiritual nourishment and imputes it all to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own works, unto saints and their intercession, and unto the fire of purgatory, thus separating the people from Christ.
3. He attributes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit to dead outward works, baptizing children and teaching that this is how baptism and regeneration must be obtained.
4. He constitutes all religion in going to the mass and has patched together all manner of ceremonies, Jewish, heathen and Christian, depriving the people of the true sacraments and spiritual commandments.
5. He does all his works to be seen, so that he may set all things to sale.
6. He allows manifest sins without censure and does not excommunicate the impenitent.
7. He does not maintain his unity by the Holy Spirit, but by secular power.
8. He hates, persecutes, searches after, despoils and destroys the members of Christ.

The six iniquities of Antichrist:
1. Divine worship is not offered to the Creator but to the creature, to saints and to relics.
2. An excessive love of the world, from whence springs sin and mischief in the church.
3. The invention of false religious orders, rules of monasteries, confession to the priest (though seldom with contrition), the observance of fasts, etc.
4. He adorns himself with authority, power, dignity, ministry, offices and the Scripture and makes himself equal with the true and holy mother church.
5. He promises remission of sins to sinners, not to the truly contrite, but to such as are wilfully persevering in their evil practices.
6. His people go on to the very end of their lives trusting in these iniquities and coverings till they come to the extreme unction and their invented purgatory. They are taught and made to believe that they are thereby absolved of their sins, though they never freely depart from them.

The following reasons are therefore the cause of our separation.

May it be known to everyone that the cause of our separation has been such; for the essential truth of faith, and the interior knowledge of a true God in three persons in a unity of essence, a knowledge that neither flesh nor blood gives; the proper worship due to God alone, the love which belongs to him above all things, the sanctification, the honor which is due to him above all things and all that is called the living hope that is through Christ in God; regeneration and inner renewal by faith, hope and charity; the merit of Christ in all sufficiency of grace and justice; the communion of all the elect; the remission of sins, the sanctity of life, and the faithful fulfillment of all commandments by faith in Jesus Christ; true repentance, perseverance to the end and eternal life.

The truths which concern the ministry are these: the external assemblies of the ministers with the people who are subject to them, in suitable place and time, to instruct them in the truth through the ministry; in the truth mentioned above, bringing it there, strengthening it, and maintaining it there by faithful and frequent assemblies; the good ministers being, as to faith and conduct, an example of obedience, and following with vigilance the practice and example of the Lord to the flock.

The things that ministers are bound to do to serve the people are these: to preach to them the word of the gospel and the word of reconciliation, or the law of grace, according to the purpose and intention of Christ. For they are to announce the word of the Gospel, and the sacrament is joined to the word, confirms its intention and significance, and strengthens the hope in Christ in the faithful. Communion administered by the minister contains everything of the essential truth. And if there are some other things that concern the ministry, they can all be included in what has been said.

Now, of these particular truths, some are essentially necessary to the salvation of the humans, the others are conditionally necessary. They are contained in twelve articles, with the addition of several words of the apostles.

Six Iniquities of Antichrist
1. The errors and impediments presupposed by the Lord, concerning the Antichrist, are the following: varied and innumerable idolatrous service, granted against the commandment of God and of Christ, not made to the Creator, but to the creature seen or unseen, corporeal or spiritual, intelligent and sensible, produced naturally, or by any art, or under any name whatsoever, as of Christ and saints, and, relics, and persons in authority, to which creatures is rendered a service accompanied by faith, hope, actions, prayers, pilgrimages, alms, offerings, sacrifices, very expensive. They serve such creatures, they worship them, honor them in many ways, by singing, by panegyrics, by solemnities, by celebrations of masses, by vespers, by compliments to these creatures, by hours, by vigils, by feasts, to acquire grace, acquisition which is essentially in God alone, and meritoriously in Jesus Christ, and which is obtained only by faith by the help of the Holy Ghost.

For there is no other source of idolatry but a false opinion concerning grace, touching the truth, touching authority, invocation, intercession, which the Antichrist removes from God to assign to the ministries and works of his hands, the saints and purgatory. And this iniquity of the Antichrist is directly contrary to the first commandment of the law.

Similarly, the unrestrained love of Antichrist for the world is the source from which all the evils and sins of leaders, directors, and officers proceed in the Church; sins which remain without correction, and which are contrary to the truths of faith and to the knowledge of God the Father, according to the testimony of John, who says: He who sinneth neither knows God nor has seen him. For if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

2. The second iniquity of the Antichrist is that he places the hope of forgiveness, grace, justice, truth, and eternal life, not in Christ, nor in God by Christ, but in men living and dead, in authority, in ecclesiastical ceremonies, in blessings, in sacrifices, in prayers and in other similar things mentioned above, and not in a true faith which produces repentance, with charity, the removal of evil and the advancement of good.

So the Antichrist teaches not to hope firmly for regeneration, strengthening, spiritual renewal or communion, the forgiveness of sins, sanctification in eternal life: but by the sacraments and by his perverse simony, means by which the people are deceived, and having all things for sale, he has imagined old and new ordinances to obtain money, allowing that if someone said or did this or whatever, he wants him to acquire grace and life. And this double iniquity is, properly called, in the Scriptures, adultery and fornication. Therefore, such ministers, who lead the rude people into such errors, are called whores of the Apocalypse. This iniquity is contrary to the second article, and also contrary to the second and third commandments of the law.

3. The third iniquity of the Antichrist is that, besides what has been said, he has invented false religious orders, rules, monasteries, churches, as means of acquiring hope. Similarly, they affirm, against all truth, that it is a duty for everyone to hear masses often and devoutly, to receive the sacraments, to confess (but rarely with contrition), to fast or to empty his purse, to be a member of the Roman Church, to indulge in or deliver to rule or hood. And this iniquity of the Antichrist is directly contrary to the eighth article of the symbol: I believe in the Holy Ghost.

4. The fourth iniquity of the Antichrist is that, being himself the fourth beast formerly described by Daniel, and the whore of the Apocalypse, he attributes to himself names, authority, power, the dignities, the ministries, the offices, the writings, to the point of equalizing and comparing themselves to the true and holy mother Church, in which there is ministerially, and not otherwise, salvation and truth, as to the life, doctrine and the sacraments. For if it were not that she covers herself and her ministers with error and manifest sinners, she would be abandoned by all if she were known.

But because the emperors and kings, and the princes, judged that she was like the true Holy Mother Church, they loved her herself and endowed her against the commandment of God. This iniquity of the ministers, of the subjects, of those ordained in error and in sin, is directly against the ninth article: I believe the holy Church. These things belong to the first part of the article.

In the second place, in fact, by participating in only the external forms, according to the humanly ordered and invented usages, they believe and hope to have their part in the truth of the offices of pastors and the cure of souls, as if those who would be shorn like lambs, who would be anointed in the manner of a wall, and who would receive the blessing by touching the book and the chalice, could claim to be rightly ordained priests.

It is the same with the subjugated people, if, because he has his share in the words, the signs, the external exercises, and in their various ceremonies, often repeated, he persuaded himself that he had part in the truth which is covered with them. And this is contrary to the other part of the eighth article: I believe the communion of saints.

One thing is to be done, it is necessary to move away from the very evil communion of the monks who, to bring carnal men to themselves, make them hope, by means of things of nothing and avarice, that they will make them share in their poverty and chastity, whoever they may be, or whether they are lustful or avaricious, provided they give gifts to them..

5. The fifth iniquity of the Antichrist is that he promises, by deception, forgiveness and remission of sins to sinners not truly contrite and who have not firmly renounced evil deeds. And he first makes this promise of the remission of sins by means of auricular confession and the absolution given by men, by means of pilgrimages dictated by greed.

This iniquity is contrary to the eleventh article of the Creed: I believe the remission of sins. For this forgiveness depends on the authority of God and the ministry of Jesus Christ, by partaking in faith, hope, repentance, charity, and obedience which, according to the Word of God, is in man.

6. There is yet a sixth iniquity, that they prolong the hope of forgiveness until the end of life, by means of the hidden iniquities already mentioned for the manifest sinners, and especially by means of the extreme unction and purgatory dream, so that the unlearned men, who do not know the truth, persevere in error and are absolved of sins from which they have never moved away from by free will so that they could hope for it. coming remission and eternal life. This iniquity is directly contrary to the eleventh and twelfth articles of the faith.

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