Another Jesuit Father of Futurism: Cardinal Bellarmine
Excerpts from his influential Treatise, circa 1581, ON THE POPE, whereby he attempts to prove the Pope is NOT Antichrist.
The First Chapter: Wherein the disputation of Antichrist is propounded
“The Heretics of this time, including Calvin, Luther, Illyricus in his Magdeburg Centuries, David Chytræus, Musculus, Beza, Bibliander, Pantaleon, Bullinger, and before all these, John Wickliffe, all pronounced the Pope to be Antichrist. Wherefore that this question may be diligently explicated, nine headings [i.e., major topics] are to be treated of. For out of all these it will most clearly appear with what impudence the heretics make the Pope Antichrist.
“First, some of our adversaries teach that the name of Antichrist doth properly signify the Vicar of Christ, and therefore the Pope, who affirms himself to be Christ’s Vicar, is Antichrist. But without doubt they are deceived, or endeavor to deceive, for the name of Antichrist cannot in any way signify the Vicar of Christ, but only he which is contrary to Christ, striving against the seat and dignity of Christ, that is, at emulation with Christ, and would be accounted Christ, having cast down the true Christ…..
“Hence, we have our first argument against our adversaries. For since the name of Antichrist signifies the enemy and emulus of Christ, and the Pope confesses himself to be Christ’s servant, in no way saying he is Christ, nor makes himself equal with him, it is manifest, that he is not Antichrist.” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine by denying the Pope’s title, ‘Vicar of Christ,’ is actually a synonym for ‘Antichrist.’ Thus, he is not the Antichrist for whom we are to look.]
The Second Chapter: That Antichrist shall be a certain determinate man
“Our adversaries disagree with our belief that the proper Antichrist is one singular man. For all Catholics think that Antichrist shall be one certain man, but all the Heretics allege in their teaching that the proper Antichrist is not any singular person, but a singular Throne or Tyrannical Kingdom, and an Apostolic Seat of those who govern the Church……If we grant to Calvin that the general Apostasy from the faith, and which presently endures for many years, is Antichrist’s Kingdom, it would not immediately follow that the Pope is Antichrist, for the question remains: Who has revolted from the faith or religion of Christ, we or they?; that is, the Catholics or the Lutherans?........Out of this second head we have the second argument to prove that the Pope is not Antichrist. For if Antichrist be only one person, and there have been and shall be many Popes endued with the same dignity and power, certainly Antichrist is to be sought elsewhere, rather than in the Roman See.” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine by looking for one specific individual as the Antichrist, who will not be the Pope.]
The Third Chapter: Wherein it is shown that Antichrist is not yet come
“About the third point concerning the time of Antichrist’s coming, there have been many false suspicions and many errors, as well of Catholics, as of Heretics; but with this difference: that Catholics knowing that Antichrist shall not come but only in the end of the world, which is the truth, they erred in believing the end of the world was nearer than, indeed, it actually was. But the Heretics do err in that they think that Antichrist shall come long before the end of the world, and that in very deed he is already come……..Whereas all the Heretics of this time do teach that the Bishop of Rome is Antichrist, and that he hath appeared already and is now in the world: notwithstanding they do not agree among themselves of the time when he appeared, for they hold six different opinions…….” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine by teaching the Antichrist is not yet come and will only come at the end of the world, which is near. They also agree that he will not be a Pope.]
The Fourth Chapter: In which is explained that Antichrist is not yet come
“There are six signs of Antichrist’s coming which clearly show the Bishops of Rome are not Antichrists. Two of the signs given by the Holy Ghost in the Scripture go before Antichrist’s coming: the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world, and the desolation of the Roman Empire. Two signs accompany Antichrist: the preaching of Enoch and Elijah, and a most grievous persecution [i.e., great tribulation] so that public worship will completely cease. Two signs follow Antichrist: his destruction after 3 ½ years, and the end of the world. None of these signs are extant today…..” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine on these six points. Thus, the Antichrist has not yet come and will not be a Pope.]
The Seventh Chapter: In which is explained the great persecution is not yet come
“The fourth sign of Antichrist’s coming is taken from Antichrist’s persecution, which certainly will be most grievous and manifest, so that all public ceremonial worship and religious sacrifices shall cease. Yet none of these things have occurred…….The Heretics indeed say that they suffer great persecution by Antichrist because some of their numbers are burnt. But what comparison is there between such a persecution and that by Nero, Domitian, Decius, Diocletian and others, because for every single heretic we burned, the Roman Emperors put thousands of Christians to death……And if we are called persecutors, what of the Calvinists and Lutherans? For Catholics are cast out of many Provinces, having lost their Churches, their Inheritance, and their Country itself, these new Ministers of this Gospel intruding themselves into other men’s possessions. In fact, the fury of the Calvinists has consumed more Catholics in a few years then Protestants punished by the judgment of Catholic Princes for denying their Faith…….Finally, in Antichrist’s time the public daily office and Sacrifice of the Church, the Mass, shall cease by reason of the greatness of the persecution. Daniel plainly teaches this in Chapter 12, from the time that the continual sacrifice shall be taken away…..the sense is, that Antichrist shall forbid all divine worship which is now exercised in the Christian Churches, and especially the holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist. Experience teaches that this sign is not yet fulfilled. Out of this three things may be gathered. First, that Antichrist is not yet come since the continual Sacrifice is still in use. Secondly, that the Bishop of Rome is not Antichrist, but most contrary to him, since he chiefly adores and defends the Sacrifice which Antichrist shall take away. Thirdly, that the Heretics of this time, above all others, are the forerunners of Antichrist, since they with deadly earnest seek to abolish the Sacrifice of the Eucharist.” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the Great Tribulation has not yet occurred, and that it will be worse than any previous Catholic persecution. Thus, the Antichrist has not yet come and will not be a Pope.]
The Eighth Chapter: In which is explained Antichrist’s reign will be 3 ½ years
“Antichrist shall not reign past three years and a half. But the Pope hath already reigned spiritually in the Church above 1500 years; and there is no one to whom we can assign precisely 3 ½ years of rule to whom we can identify as Antichrist. Wherefore the Pope is not Antichrist, nor is Antichrist already come.
“Now, that Antichrist’s reign shall be three years and a half, is gathered out of Daniel, chapter 7 & 12, and Rev. 12, where we read that Antichrist’s reign shall endure for a time, times and half a time: for by a time is understood one year, by times two years, and by half a time half a year. For St. John explains in Rev. 11 & 13 that Antichrist’s reign is to be 42 months which rightly makes 3 ½ years. In Chapter 11, he says Enoch and Elijah shall preach 1260 days, which is the same time length…….” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the length of Antichrist’s reign of terror is 3 ½ years, and the Pope is not that Antichrist.]
The Ninth Chapter: Antichrist shall come just before the end of the world
“The sixth sign of Antichrist is that which follows after him – the end of the world. For the coming of Antichrist shall be a little before the end of the world. Wherefore if Antichrist had come a long time ago [as the Protestants insist] the world should have ended long ago. The Prophet Daniel, 7:8-11; 7:23-26, speaks of the Judgment which follows immediately after Antichrist’s reign. So does John likewise in Rev. 20. Matthew 24 agrees that Judgment follows immediately, verses 14, 29-30; as does II Thess. 2:8, where the Apostle teaches that almost immediately after Antichrist, Christ shall come and there shall be very little time between them. The frauds and deceits of Antichrist which were begun to be destroyed by Elijah and Enoch shall be completely destroyed by the coming of Christ Himself, and the fearful signs which shall go before……” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the end of the world follows Antichrist’s short reign, therefore the Pope is not the Antichrist.]
The Tenth Chapter: Of Antichrist’s name
“[Though our opponents postulate Lateinos – ‘Latin Man’ and Romanus – ‘Roman’ as those names of Antichrist which add up to 666] we Catholics believe it is impossible to know his name before he actually comes. Likewise, before Christ came the Jews did not know with certainty by what name he would be called, although the Prophets had foretold many things of his name. The Sibylline Prophecies correctly predicted Christ’s name would be 888, yet until Christ’s coming, men knew not that He was to be called Jesus. But since Christ’s coming all controversy is taken away and all know that he is called Jesus. To this we may add that it is common to all prophecies that they be doubtful and obscure, till they be fulfilled, as St. Irenaeus teaches and proves in Book 4, Chapter 43. Hence we may take an insoluble argument to prove that the Pope is not Antichrist and that Antichrist is not yet come. For if Antichrist were come and were the Bishop of Rome, there would be no question of his name, as foretold by St. John. For just as our Christ is come there is now no question even among Turks, Jews and Pagans, what His name is. But, there is very great Controversy about the name of Antichrist, as manifest by so many opinions. Wherefore the prophecy of St. John is not yet filled, and consequently Antichrist is not yet come, neither is the Pope Antichrist.” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that Lateinos and Romanus is not the name of Antichrist, and thus, the Pope is not the Antichrist. Not do they attempt to postulate his name because they allege he has not yet come.]
The Eleventh Chapter: Of the ‘Character’ of Antichrist: The Mark of the Beast
“There are also two or three opinions of Antichrist’s ‘Character’ [i.e., ‘Mark’]. The first is that of the heretics of our time who teach that the Character of Antichrist is some sign of obedience and association with the Bishop of Rome, yet they do not explain it in the same way. Henry Bullinger, in his 61st Sermon On the Apocalypse, will have the Mark to be the unction of Chrism with which all Christians who are obedient to the Pope are signed in their foreheads. Theodore Bibliander, in his Chron. tab. 10, says that the Mark of the Pope [the Beast] is the profession of the Roman faith, so that he who does not profess allegiance to the Roman Church is not accounted a true Christian. David Chytraeus postulates the Oath of Fidelity which many are compelled to make to the Pope. Likewise, the Priestly unction which is received in the forehead and hand, imprinted, says he, ‘as the Papists call it an indelible Character.’ Lastly, he includes falling down before Images and consecrated bread, as well as to be present at Requiem Masses as all Marks of the Beast. Similar things are taught by Protestants Sebastian Meyer and August Marlorate in their commentaries on Rev. 13……………..St. Hippolytus conjectured, as did others, that the Character of the Beast shall be the forbidding to use the sign of the Cross. In this the Calvinists are egregious forerunners of Antichrist. I rather think that in addition, Antichrist shall invent a positive Character also, just as Christ had made the sign of the Cross known to all. But it cannot be known what this Mark will be until Antichrist comes, as we have already concluded in the discussion concerning his name.” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the Mark of the Beast cannot be known with any certainty until Antichrist comes. They spend their time speculating, spinning many theories which agree with modern technological advancements of the day, yet with no proof forthcoming, only mad conjecture.]
The Twelfth Chapter: Of Antichrist’s Generation
“In past times there have been many errors concerning Antichrist’s pedigree. The first error teaches that Antichrist shall be born of a Virgin by the work of the Holy Ghost…..Yet it is no error to say that Antichrist shall be born of the Devil and a woman in such a way that some are said to be born of Devils, whom we call incubi: for though the Devil cannot produce a man by himself without the seed of man, yet by assuming [inhabiting] the body of a woman he can receive the seed of man, as he can also assume [inhabit] the body of a man, casting his seed into the woman’s womb to beget a child. This St. Augustine testifies to, The City of God, Book 15, Chapter 23, adding that this fact has been proven by so numerous real-life experiences that it would be madness to deny it.
“The second error teaches that Antichrist shall be the Devil himself, who shall assume the false flesh of a false Virgin……This opinion is refuted by II Thess. 2, which teaches Antichrist is called a man, and by the Fathers who with common assent write that Antichrist shall truly be a man.
“The third error is that the Antichrist shall be a true man, indeed, but yet a Devil, by the incarnation of the Devil, as Christ by His incarnation is God and man….
“The fourth error teaches that Nero shall rise again and that he shall be Antichrist, or else that he still lives, being secretly preserved in his youth to appear at his appointed time…..
“Besides these errors, there are two probable opinions of the holy Fathers concerning the generation of Antichrist. The first is that Antichrist shall be born of a Harlot, and not of lawful matrimony. The second is that Antichrist shall be born of the tribe of Dan…… This opinion is very probable because of the authority of so many Fathers who taught this. Yet it is not altogether certain, as the Fathers and Scriptures admit…..
“Besides these two probable assertions, there are two others which are certain: the one, that Antichrist shall chiefly come from the Jews, being received by them as the Messiah. The other states that he shall be born of the Jewish nation, be circumcised and observe the Sabbath for a time….. The Apostle speaks of the Jews when he says, II Thess. 2, that Antichrist is to be sent to those who would not receive Christ. Now who is it that has greater guilt in not receiving Christ than the Jews?.....For without doubt Antichrist shall first join himself to those who are ready to receive him. The Jews fit this description because it is they who expect their Messiah to be a temporal King, as Antichrist will prove to be. Christians also expect Antichrist, but with fear and terror, not with joy and desire. Wherefore as Christ first came to the Jews, to whom He was promised, and of whom He was expected, afterwards drawing the Gentiles to Him; so also shall Antichrist come first to the Jews, of whom he is expected, and afterward, little by little, shall subject nations to him. Now that Antichrist shall be a circumcised Jew it is certain and deduced out of what has been already said: for the Jews would never receive a uncircumcised non-Jew as their Messiah……
“Hence we have a most evident demonstration that the Pope is not Antichrist. For from the year A. D. 606 in which our Adversaries say Antichrist came, it is manifest that the Pope was no Jew, neither by nation or religion. It is also manifest that the Pope was never received by the Jews as their Messiah, but on the contrary, is considered their enemy and chief persecutor….. [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the Antichrist shall be hailed as the Messiah by the Jews.]
The Thirteenth Chapter: Of Antichrist’s Seat
“Our Adversaries boldly affirm that the chief seat of Antichrist is Rome, or the Apostolic Chair founded there. For they say that Antichrist shall invade the See of Peter, raising it up to a certain sovereign height from which he shall rule, tyrannically governing the whole Church. That Rome is the Kingly City of Antichrist, they prove out of Rev. 17 where St. John, speaking of the Seat of Antichrist, says that it is the great City which is situated upon seven hills, which has the Kingdom over the Kings of the earth. That at Rome, not in the palace of Nero, but in the very Church of Christ is where Antichrist shall have his seat, they prove out of St. Paul, who says in II Thess. 2 that Antichrist shall sit in the Temple of God. For since he says absolutely in the Temple of God, they say he means the true Temple of the true God, and there is no such thing, but only the Church of God. For the Temples of the Gentiles are true Temples, but of Devils, not God. And the Temple of the Jews was indeed of God, but it ceased to be a Temple when the Jewish sacrifice and Priesthood ceased, for these three are so joined that one cannot be without the other. Besides, the Temple of the Jews was prophesied to be destroyed, never to be built again, as Daniel 9 says, and the desolations shall persevere till the consummation and the end. Wherefore the Apostle Paul cannot be speaking of the Jewish Temple.
“They confirm their argument by citing St. Jerome and Oecumenius as holding their opinion. Bibliander adds the testimony of St. Gregory I, who said ‘The king of pride is nigh and (which is impious to be spoken) an army of Priests is prepared for him.’ Out of these words they draw a double argument: (1) John, Patriarch of Constantinople, is said to be a forerunner of Antichrist because he will be called a Universal Bishop; therefore the man who calls himself by that name shall be Antichrist, and who shall also sit in the Church as the head of all. (2) The army of Antichrist shall be Priests, therefore Antichrist shall be the head of Priests. By this argument the Heretics think that they evidently show that the Bishop of Rome is Antichrist since he rules at Rome, sits in the Temple of God, is called the Universal Bishop, and is the Prince of Priests.
“……….I now come to the Scriptures by which is proved that Jerusalem, and not Rome, shall be the Seat of Antichrist. The first is in Rev. 11, where John says that Enoch and Elijah shall fight with Antichrist in Jerusalem, and be slain by him there, and their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great City, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified……. Surely it can by no means be denied that this is spoken of Jerusalem: for what City is there where our Lord was crucified, but Jerusalem?......For that earthly Jerusalem may be called Sodom, for the lusts and offences of the Jews is manifest out of Isaiah, who said, Hear the word of our Lord, you Princes of Sodom, harken with your ears the law of my God, you people of Gomorrah…..The second place is Rev. 17, where St. John says that the ten Kings who shall divide the Roman Empire among themselves, and in whose reign Antichrist shall come, will hate the purple Harlot, that is, Rome, and will make her desolate and will burn her with fire. How then shall it be the seat of Antichrist, if it must be overthrown and burnt at that very time?
“Besides, as we proved before, Antichrist will be a Jew, the Messiah and King of the Jews. Wherefore without doubt he shall place his seat in Jerusalem and will go about to restore the Temple of Solomon, for the Jews dream of nothing else but of Jerusalem and the Temple. Neither is it realistic they will accept a man as their Messiah who does not sit in Jerusalem and restore the Temple…..
“The third place is in those words of St. Paul, II Thess. 2: so that he shall sit in the Temple of God. For although there be many expositions given by the Fathers. Some understand by ‘Temple’ to mean the minds of the faithful, in which Antichrist is said to sit when he has seduced them, as St. Anselm expounds it. And some understand by ‘Temple’ to mean Antichrist himself, with all his people, for Antichrist will have himself and his followers to be the spiritual Temple of God, that is, the true Church, as St. Augustine expounds it…… Some also understand by ‘Temple’ to mean the Churches of Christians, which Antichrist shall command to serve him, as St. Chrysostom interprets it. Yet the more common, more probable, and more literal exposition is of those who teach that the Temple of Solomon is to be understood by the ‘Temple of God,’ in which , after being rebuilt, Antichrist shall sit…….
“Out of this sixth head we have a notable argument that the Pope is not Antichrist, since his Seat is not Jerusalem, nor is it in the Temple of Solomon, yea, it is credible that since the year 600 [the era in which the Heretics say Antichrist was revealed] no Bishop of Rome was ever at Jerusalem.” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the Antichrist shall sit in the literal rebuilt Temple of Jerusalem, though he shall rise out of Europe.]
The Fourteenth Chapter: Of Antichrist’s Doctrine
“Of Antichrist’s doctrine there is a very great controversy betwixt us the Heretics. It is manifest out of the Scriptures, even by the testimony of our Adversaries, that there shall be four heads of Antichrist’s doctrine. First, he shall deny that Jesus is Christ, and for that cause shall impugn all the ordinances of our Saviour, such as Baptism, Confirmation, etc., and shall teach that Circumcision has not ceased, nor the Sabbath, and other ceremonies of the Law, 1 John 2: Who is the liar, but he that denieth Jesus to be Christ? And that is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. Afterward, when he hath persuaded that our Saviour is not the true Christ, then he will affirm that he himself is the true Christ promised in the Law and the Prophets, John 5: If any come in his own name, him you will receive, i.e., for the true Messiah. Thirdly, he will affirm that he is God and will be worshipped for God, II Thess.2: so that he sits in the Temple of God showing himself as though he were God. Lastly, he will not only say that he is God, but also that he is the only God, and he will impugn all other Gods, that is, the true God as well as the false Gods and Idols, II Thess. 2: who exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped as God. And Daniel 11: And he will not repute the God of the Fathers, nor care for any of the Gods because he will rise against all.
“That all these things are in some way or other true, belonging to Antichrist, our Adversaries agree with us. But the question is of the sense of these four heads, for the Catholics understand them plainly [i.e., literally], as the words of Scripture pronounce: that Antichrist will deny the true Christ, make himself Christ, proclaim himself God, and detest all other Gods and Idols. Out of which are taken four arguments that the Pope is not Antichrist: for it is manifest that the Pope denieth not Jesus to be Christ, nor brings Circumcision, or the Sabbath, instead of Baptism and our Lord’s Day. And likewise is manifest that the Pope doth not make himself Christ nor God; and chiefly it is manifest that the Pope doth not make himself the only God since he openly worships Christ and the Trinity, and in our adversaries minds he worships all Idols, that is, Images and departed Saints.
“But out Adversaries interpret all these things far otherwise; for first they say that Antichrist will not deny Jesus is Christ in word and openly, nor Baptism and other Sacraments, but that he will deny Christ in works, because under the color of Christianity and the Church he will corrupt the Sacraments, Justification, etc….. Secondly, they say that Antichrist shall not make himself Christ or God in word, but in works, because he shall occupy the place of Christ and God in the Church, making himself the head of all the faithful, which place belongs only to Christ….. Finally, they say that Antichrist shall not reject Idols, yea, that he shall adore them openly. This they prove out of Daniel 11: But he shall reverence the God Maozim in his place, and he shall worship the God whom their Fathers knew not, with gold and silver and precious stones, etc. By ‘Maozim’ the Heretics understand the ornaments of the Churches, the Masses, Images, Relics, etc.
“And that which the Apostle says, II Thess. 2, that Antichrist shall extol himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, they expound of the Pope, who makes himself the Vicar of Christ, and yet usurps greater authority than Christ. This they prove out of Matt. 24, because Christ declared that by falsely coming in the name of Christ is nothing less than showing himself to be God, yea, to extol himself above God and His worship. From this argument follows the conclusion that the Pope, who challenges himself to be Christ’s Vicar, is most truly Antichrist. Furthermore, they say Christ subjected himself to the Scripture, saying that He performed the works and suffered those things that the Scripture might be fulfilled; but the Pope says that he can give dispensations which are against the teachings of the Apostles or Evangelists, making those things which are right seem wicked, etc. This is the sum of the chief part of our Adversaries doctrine of Antichrist which, though wholly grounded upon Scripture, is falsely explained by new glosses…..” [Editor’s Note: All modern-day Futurists agree with Bellarmine that the Antichrist shall openly deny Christ, call himself Christ, demanding worship as God.]
The Fifteenth Chapter: Of Antichrist’s Miracles
“Of the miracles of Antichrist there are three things in the Scriptures: first, that he shall do many miracles. Secondly, what manner of miracles they shall be. Thirdly, there are three examples set down. That Antichrist shall work miracles the Apostle teaches in II Thess.2: whose coming is according to the operations of Satan in signs and wonders; and also our Lord teaches in the Gospel of Matt. 24: They shall give signs and great wonders so that the very elect shall be led into error, if it be possible. The Lord says ‘they shall give’ and not ‘he shall give’ because not only Antichrist, but also his ministers shall work signs…Finally in Rev. 13: And he did many signs in the sight of men. What manner of signs they shall be, St. Paul explains, II Thess 2: In all power and lying signs and wonders…… All the Fathers affirm that Antichrist shall be a notable Sorcerer; yea, that the Devil shall indwell Antichrist from his conception or at least from his infancy, working miracles in him….
“There are three examples of Antichrist’s miracles given. One is in Rev. 13: that he shall make fire come down from Heaven. The second also found there is that he shall make the Image of the Beast to speak. The third that he shall feign himself to die and rise again. For this miracle, almost all the world shall hold him in admiration….
“…..The former Beast from the Sea signifies either the Roman Empire or the multitude of the wicked, and one, that is, the chief head, which seemed to die and rise again is Antichrist. For Antichrist shall be the supreme and last head of the wicked. And he is the last King who shall rule the Roman Empire, yet without the name of Roman Emperor. …..
“Now the latter Beast from the earth, according to Rupert, signifies the same Antichrist, for the same Antichrist is expressed by two Beasts, the one in respect to his Royal power and tyranny, by which he shall compel men violently; and the other by reason of his magic art, with which he shall seduce men craftily. But according to Anselm and others, the latter Beast signifies the preachers of Antichrist who shall endeavor to show, by miracles, that Antichrist is the true Messiah, wherefore all these miracles shall either be Antichrist’s or his Ministers. Hence, it follows that the Pope is not Antichrist, for never any Pope feigned himself to die and rise again, nor has he or his preachers ever made fire come down from Heaven, or make any Image to speak……”