The Catholic Counter Reformation – Futurism
Up to this point, Rome’s main method of attack had been largely frontal: openly burning Bibles and heretics. Yet this warfare only confirmed in the minds of Protestants the conviction that papal Rome was indeed the Beast power that would “make war with the saints” (Revelation 13:7). Therefore a new tactic was needed, something less obvious. The sought after solution was found in the Jesuit Order.
Eleven years earlier, on August 15, 1534, Ignatius Loyola founded a secret Catholic order called the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.
At the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church gave the Jesuits the specific assignment of bringing Protestantism back to the “Mother Church.” This was to be done not only through the Inquisition and through torture, but also through theology and deception.
Two Jesuits named Francisco de Ribera and Robert Bellarmine invented the system called FUTURISM.
Futurism places the coming of Antichrist just 7 years before the end of time.
The Christians were hindering his coming, and they will be raptured out before his appearance.
Like Martin Luther, Francisco Ribera also read by candlelight the prophecies about the Antichrist, the little horn, the man of sin, and the beast of Revelation.
He then developed the doctrine of futurism. His explanation was that the prophecies apply only to a single sinister man who will arise up at the end of time. Rome quickly adopted this viewpoint as the Church’s official position on the Antichrist.
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 to the end time rather than to the history of the church. Antichrist, he taught, would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and who would rebuild Jerusalem.
Ribera denied the Protestant Scriptural Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2) as seated in the church of God-asserted by Augustine, Jerome, Luther, and many reformers. He set on an infidel Antichrist, outside the church of God.
The result of [Ribera’s] work was a twisting and maligning of prophetic truth.
Following close behind Francisco Ribera was another brilliant Jesuit scholar, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine of Rome. Between 1581-1593, Cardinal Bellarmine agreed with Ribera in his work Polemic Lectures Concerning the Disputed points of the Christian Belief Against the Heretics of this Time.
The futurist teachings of Ribera were further popularized by an Italian cardinal and the most renowned Jesuit controversialists. His writings claimed that Paul, Daniel, and John had nothing whatsoever to say about the Papal power. The futurists’ school won general acceptance among Catholics. They were taught that antichrist was a single individual who would not rule until the very end of time.
There has historically been general agreement with non-preterists that the first systematic preterist exposition of prophecy was written by the Jesuit Luis de Alcasar during the Counter Reformation. Moses Stuart noted that Alcasar’s preterist interpretation was of considerable benefit to the Roman Catholic Church during its arguments with Protestants, and preterism has been described in modern eschatological commentary as a Catholic defense against the Protestant Historicist view which identified the Roman Catholic Church as a persecuting apostasy.
Due to resistance by Protestant Historicists, the preterist view was slow to gain acceptance outside the Roman Catholic Church.
“The above characteristics drawn from Scripture cannot be wholly found in the heathen Emperors of Rome, much less in the fanciful Danitish-Antichrist of popish writers, or the Armillus of the Jews, or the Daggial of the Mahometans. The Mahometan system may indeed be considered as a lesser antichrist, but neither contain all the characteristics applicable to it. It does not sit in the Church, nor appear to men to have a power equal to God’s. It allows no idolatry, nor is it notable for the persecution of the saints, nor was it established by lying wonders, but by the power of the sword. Actually, every characteristic is clearly found in the papacy.” – John Brown of Haddington, “Dictionary of Bible Characters”, p. 125
Francis Turretin on why the Church of Rome is not a true Church of Christ:
7. Because Antichrist sits in her.
XXI. Seventh, Antichrist sits in her, the author of the great apostasy described by the apostle in 2 Thess. 2 who, under the pretext of a vicar, professing himself be in the place of Christ (anti christou), by impiously usurping the authority of the Lord betrays himself to be really Antichrist (antichriston), the rival of him and an opposing and self-exalting enemy (antikeimenon, kai, hyperairomenon) who, sitting in the temple of God as if he were God, exalts himself above all that is called God (to wit, emperors, kings and princes of the earth, and departed saints in heaven) and shows himself that he is God. That all these criteria of Antichrist can be found in the Roman pope can easily be gathered from a comparison of both, as has been proved at length in our Disputation 7, “De Necessaria Secessione,” Opera (1848), 4:147-77.
8. Because she is Babylon.
XXII. Eighth, she is the mystical Babylon, from which the pious are commanded to come out (Rev. 18:4) as a most corrupt society diametrically opposed to the mystical Zion, the true church of Christ, and incompatible (asystatos) with it. Both the description of John proves and our opponents themselves do not deny that by Babylon is meant no other than Rome. John’s description (Rev. 17) belongs exactly to her alone, especially as to the two marks by which he distinguishes her: that she is a seven-hilled (eptalophos) city, who “sitteth on seven mountains” (v. 9); and that she obtains power over the kings of the earth (v. 10). It is evident that she is seven-hilled and in the time of John no other except herself was the mistress of the world, the head of the earth and the queen of nations, who on this account was called by the Greeks “the ruling city” (basileuousa polis).
–– Francis Turretin, “Institutes of Elenctic Theology” Vol. 3, p, 133