A Futurist Asks……..?
Futurist: "Before I get into the discussion about the Pope's role, I first want to say that I think it is fantastic that we both agree that Roman Catholicism will be the false religious system posing as Christianity, the "Whore of Babylon" if you will, in the Last Days."
Response of Rand Winburn:
I paste below Genevan Reformer Francis Turretin's brilliant analysis of the meaning of "last days" (from our publication of his 7th Disputation, Chapter 45):
Futurist Theory of the Antichrist's Revealing
at the Very End of the World Refuted:
The Antichrist Already in Our Midst
Our adversaries have freely contrived to place the revealing of Antichrist at the end of the world, even though in Paul’s time the web of that nefarious mystery was already being spun. The resultant rise and reign of the Papacy has proved the present fulfillment of those prophecies. Nor is the false thesis of a future Antichrist supported by Matt. 24:14, where the end, [which they take to mean the advent of the Antichrist], is not yet come until the gospel is preached worldwide. By ‘the end’ may be meant either the end of the age or the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus, before this occurs, the gospel must be preached throughout the world. In fact, Paul testifies that this has already taken place in his time, Col.1:6. Or, ‘the end’ may refer to the desolation of the Roman empire, which we have already proven happened centuries before. Or perhaps that phrase is used because the Antichrist is said to be awakened in the last times [1Tim.4:1]. We must note that the last times are mentioned in diverse ways in Scripture:
1. Sometimes for the end of time, in which sense the last day, means resurrection day and the end of the world, (John 6:39, 11:24; 1 Peter 1:5).
(2) Sometimes is meant a period and duration of time, such as that period which comprises the duration of time between Christ’s first and second advents, simply designated the last times, (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2, 1 Peter 1:20), because it is the last dispensation of God, after which no other is to be expected, only eternity.
(3) Or due to the fact that the unknown duration between advents has various periods, the last period is, therefore, specially and comparatively called the last time, that is, of the final last times.
In this sense Paul says (1 Tim. 4:1), that there would be apostasy in the latter times, and Peter says (2 Peter 3:3), in the last days mockers would come. But those last times are not to be understood as immediately preceding the last judgment, in one short time span of a few years, but should be understood as designating some remarkable interval of time which must precede the end of the world.
Whence, although it was truly said that the Antichrist would rise in the last days, it cannot be necessarily concluded from that statement that he will precede the end of the world by only a few years, as the Pontiffs would have us believe, rather that he must be manifested in the last period of time.
Turretin wrote in A. D. 1680. He tells us that it was the Roman Catholic teaching that the "last days" be relegated to the time immediately prior to the end of the world. In this way they would misdirect Christians who sought to understand the identity of Mystery Babylon and the Beast. Futurism taught today by Hal Lindsey, Dave Hunt, Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye, etc., etc., all hold this Roman Catholic teaching to be orthodox, when, in fact, it was designed to oppose the prevalent Protestant view that Rev. 17 spoke of the then existing RCC. I have Inquisition records in my library from the 12th century which admit that the so-called "heretics" taught that the Church of Rome was already Mystery Babylon, her Pope the head of all errors, i.e., the Antichrist. Knowing that truth, they never joined in ecumenical union with her, warning the populace of who she really was.
The point I am making is that the Church of Rome has been Mystery Babylon for centuries. Your statement says she will be the false religious system posing as Christianity. This is an important distinction which we will see.
"Now on to why I do think that the/a pope will be the False Prophet and not the Antichrist although he is definitely anti-Christ ...
[Reason #1] =========================
In the book of Daniel God gave a vision of all of the world's major kingdoms in the form of a statue of a man (Daniel 2:31-45)."
Not many realize that the 5 kingdoms depicted in the statue are those which are contained in the area comprising Western & Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, Israel and Northern Africa. The Lord omits such kingdoms as those which arose in China and Egypt, for example. He also omits the United States. This is important information to consider. When the prophetic Scriptures speak of the world and the earth, e.g., Rev. 13:3 & 8; Rev.18:24, it is speaking of the area of the earth confined to the bounds depicted by the statue.
"The head of the statue was gold (Babylon), its breast and arms were silver (Medo Persia), its belly and thighs were of bronze (Greece), and its legs were of iron (Rome)."
The legs represented the Roman Empire which would be divided into Eastern and Western. Emperor Constantine moved the center of his Empire to Byzantium, establishing Constantinople as his seat of power, A. D. 330. This paved the way for the Bishop of Rome to rise to power in the Western Empire. Rome was no longer the headquarters of the Roman Emperor. In this we see the beginnings of the "let" or "restrainer" being removed (The Roman Emperor/Roman Empire) to allow the Man of Sin, the Bishop of Rome, to rise to power. An infamous fraudulent document, The Donation of Constantine, was invented centuries later by the Catholic Church to prove the domain, primacy and supreme power of the Bishop of Rome over all Christendom. It alleged that upon Constantine's move East, he placed territories and ultimate power in the hands of the Roman Bishop.
"Now some have also associated the feet of iron and clay mixed together (two things that do not readily mix) with the Roman Empire. I recently read another interpretation that I think matches the feet better which I will describe below. The feet of clay and iron mixed represents the Holy Roman Empire of the first millennium A.D. which followed the fall of the Roman Empire, the final world empire before the establishment of God's Kingdom. The Holy Roman Empire consisted of a union between the state (King Charlemagne) and the Roman Catholic Church (the Pope) ruling over Europe, the Christianized world of the time. The Pope confirmed that the King was appointed by God and, thus, should be obeyed in matters of state ... without question. The King confirmed that the Pope was the head of the Christ's Church and, thus, should be obeyed in matters of faith ... without question."
As propounded in my 5-part treatise, The Mystery of Prophecy Explained, the ten toes are analogous to the ten horns of Daniel 7. All commentators agree that they are the 10 kingdoms which result from a divided Western Roman Empire. Futurist interpreters claim this is yet to happen. Historicist interpreters show its fulfillment in history. As the Western Roman Empire crumbled, it eventually divided into 10 kingdoms. Any encyclopedia will confirm that fact. These kingdoms are still in place today. The vision of Daniel 2 predicts that these same 10 Western European kingdoms will remain until the 2nd Advent of Christ (the stone cut without hands). Futurists would have us place a huge gap of thousands of years between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of the 10 end-time kingdoms. Yet the statue allows for no gaps. History proves that one kingdom replaced another in succession, including the resulting division of the Western Roman Empire into 10 smaller kingdoms.
It is out of the 10 kingdoms of Western Europe, seen as 10 horns in Dan. 7, that the little horn immediately arises. History shows that the Papacy fulfills the prophecy of this little horn. Historic church documents prove that the Bishop of Rome strove to gain the primacy in Christendom immediately upon the ‘conversion’ of the Roman Empire to Christianity. He succeeded in his goals. Through the decrees of Justinian and Phocas, the Empire officially acknowledged the primacy and jurisdiction of the Pope over all Christendom (6th-early 7th centuries).
The crowning of Charlemagne as emperor of the Roman Christians was a brilliant tactical maneuver by Pope Leo III to further establish the Papacy as an independent power exempt from imperial domination. My Encyclopedia Britannica notes, The pope's right to create a Roman emperor was based 'historically' on the Donation of Constantine [a fraud] and doctrinally on the axiom that, since all power came from God, the pope, as Peter's vicar, acted in a mediatory role in creating the emperor.
History proves the future popes used this false axiom to rule over the rulers themselves, for no power is higher than that of God. This divine power and scepter they alone possessed.
“Technically speaking, the Holy Roman Empire never ended! It has just been dormant thanks to the Protestant Reformation and the temporary swing of world power from Europe to the USA. Since the European Union has twice the population of the United States, the pendulum of power will eventually swing back, possibly after a military confrontation between the US and China over Taiwan. Only God knows. This is what I believe the End Times will see, an unholy union between the World Government/Economy headed by the Antichrist and the all-encompassing, religion-uniting Roman Catholic Church headed by a Pope, a secular/sacred union which will boldly claim that it can create an earthly utopia.”
I agree, the Holy Roman Empire never ended. Nor has it been dormant. The statue of Daniel 2 describes that empire as a divided empire (10 kingdoms/toes/horns) which will exist until the end of the Church age. None of the preceding kingdoms were dormant, neither is the final kingdom dormant. The last kingdom/Holy Roman Empire was placed under the reign and feet of the Pope of Rome by several political/religious advances made by the popes of the High Middle Ages. In fact, when the pope is crowned at his coronation (please note: kings have coronations), the following words are spoken over him: "Receive this tiara with three crowns and know that you are father of princes and kings, ruler of the earth." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, article: Papal Ceremony and Vesture.)
What I find exciting is that in our lifetime we will see the coronation of the new Antichrist. The ceremony alone will fulfill many prophetic symbols, making it more obvious to Christians that he is the Man of Sin.
The delineation of iron and clay as composition of the ten toes is quite important. It means that there will never be a truly united empire in the sense of its predecessors. That would include government, economy, and religion. Thus, although we may see evidences of attempts at such a union, it will never come to pass. Prophecy declares it. I believe it. Common sense and history dictates that no Western European country would willingly give up its sovereignty and self-rule. Look at Northern Ireland. The attempts to amalgamate Protestants and Catholics as ruling powers is fraught with failure. Look at Palestine/Israel. Hitler attempted to bring Europe under his dominion with a Third Reich. He failed. Had he and his henchmen understood and believed prophecy they would have known they were doomed to failure. Do you really believe that the religions of the world will agree on worshipping the same false God, newly introduced by the Pope? Will militant Islam bow to strange gods? Additionally, there are so many splits within each religion that unity on the essentials is difficult, let alone unity in worshipping a new God!
The scenario which you prognosticate is that which is taught by the Futurists, infused into the Evangelical church, bit by bit, piece by piece, having its origin from the Jesuits. Its purpose is to misdirect Christians from identifying the Antichrist and Man of Sin presently reigning in their midst, and currently being worshipped/treated as God by no less than 1 billion lost souls (whether they admit to it or not!).