From William Whitaker’s A disputation on Holy Scripture (these quotes are not a promotion of Whitaker as a true Christian, but provide grist for the commentary mill).
“But since popery is nothing else but mere anti-christianism, it is evident that both must fall under the same rule and method, and that popery must have in it all the heresies which belong to anti-christianism. Now anti-christianism consists not in the open and outward denial of Christ, or in the worn-out defence of obsolete heresies.” (Whitaker)
Anti-christianism certainly does consist in open and outward denials of Christ and, yes, even in worn out defenses of obsolete heresies. It is therefore more accurate to say that the term “anti-christianism” is not limited to the aforementioned. For instance, Islam is anti-christianism, as it openly and overtly denies the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
Popery (i.e., Roman Catholicism) does not “have in it all the heresies which belong to anti-christianism” if we are discussing the mere outer shell of orthodoxy. For example, Arianism is anti-christian and is blatantly anti-trinitarian, while Roman Catholicism affirms trinitarianism. Of course, when the seeming orthodox trinitarian shell of Roman Catholicism is cracked open by the Hammer of God, its anti-christian meat or kernel is revealed.
As the fellow said:
“Antichrist is the adversary of Christ; an adversary really, a friend pretendedly: So then, Antichrist is one that is against Christ; one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to him: (And this is that mystery of iniquity (2 Thess 2:7). Against him in deed; for him in word, and contrary to him in practice. Antichrist is so proud as to go before Christ; so humble as to pretend to come after him, and so audacious as to say that himself is he. Antichrist will cry up Christ; Antichrist will cry down Christ: Antichrist will proclaim that himself is one above Christ. Antichrist is the man of sin, the son of perdition; a beast, [that] hath two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon (Rev 13:11)” (John Bunyan).
The manifestation of horns like a lamb and speech like a dragon is what some tolerant Calvinist heretics would call “a felicitous inconsistency.” Other members of the Reformed Brotherhood might say this blinkered beast is a “better Christian than a logician.”
“For who would not immediately recognise, cry out against and explode, the patrons of Cerinthus, Valentinus, Arius, Nestorius, and other heresiarchs of the same complexion? Who could tolerate amongst Christians him who should openly and publicly deny Christ?” (Whitaker)
Did somebody say “tolerate”? What if the popular default damnable heresy position for the supposedly newly regenerate (or even not so newly regenerate) was not Arminianism, but Nestorianism. What then?
Most likely any Nestorian abstractions (“ISMs”) would be recognized, cried against, and exploded. But why does Whitaker think the customary tolerant Calvinist would actually judge righteous judgment on an essential gospel doctrine such as the Person of Christ?
Typical Tolerant Calvinist: Now, do I call Nestorians to hold to a consistent and balanced theology on the constitution of Christ’s Person? You bet I do. Do I teach it in the fellowship where I serve as an elder? Sure do. Do I believe it important to the honoring of God to believe it? Yes indeed. Do I believe someone who is ignorant of it or denies it is lost? Of course not. Do I believe someone who denies the Unity of Christ’s Person and yet gives no evidence of actually understanding why they do so is, by strict virtue of that denial, lost? Of course not. Do I agree that it is not a good thing for someone to be thoroughly informed of this truth and reject it? That such could possibly indicate that such a person loves their tradition more than the truth? Yes, I do. But I also recognize that we normally jump to snap conclusions about this profound subject of Christ’s Person and God the Holy Spirit works on a much longer timetable than we do. I know that someone may well reject the Biblical teaching of the Person of Christ for a multitude of reasons that have little to do with the actual teaching of the Person of Christ under discussion, and may change their mind a little later, or long after. In either case, it is not my job to attempt to look into their hearts.”
“Antichrist was not so stupid as to hope that he would gain much by such a course as this. It was not fit, therefore, that anti-christ should hold those errors which may be generally described as touching the nature of God, the mystery of the Trinity, the person of Christ. But, since anti-christ must needs be the opposite of Christ, the same purpose must be gained in a more secret and more artful manner.” (Whitaker)
More secret and artful than most professing Christians realize. Consider well this statement of Jesus Christ.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Multitudes in the Reformed Camp dissolve clear-cut distinctions between Christ true and christs false into ISMs and abstractions. There appears to be no false christs for the tolerant Calvinist heretics, but only muddled understandings of the true Christ. One instance of an artful yet damnable holding (or suppressing) of the truth in unrighteousness is to believe that the
“greatest menace to the Christian Church today comes not from the enemies outside, but from the enemies within; it comes from the presence within the Church of a type of faith and practice that is anti-Christian to the core. We are not dealing here with delicate personal questions; we are not presuming to say whether such and such an individual [Nestorian] man is a Christian or not. God only can decide such questions; no man can say with assurance whether the attitude of certain individual [‘Nestorians’] toward Christ is saving faith or not. But one thing is perfectly plain — whether or no [Nestorians] are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that [Nestorianism] is not Christianity” (Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 159-160).
“For it is a certain mystery of iniquity, which in words establishes Christ, but in fact destroys him. This is the very anti-christianism of the papists, who leave indeed the natures of Christ intact, but make away with the offices of Christ, and consequently Christ himself. For Jesus cannot be Christ, if he bear not all his offices and merits.” (Whitaker; underlining mine)
Precisely. The following is a concrete instance of an anti-christian heretic who holds onto certain “essential” gospel husks, but who makes away with them by tossing them into the Optional, up-for-grabs, take-it-or-leave-it, River.
“What then is our conclusion? Is belief in the [unity of the Person of Christ] necessary to every man if he is to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? The question is wrongly put when it is put in that way. Who can tell exactly how much knowledge of the facts about Christ is necessary if a [Nestorian] man is to have saving faith? None but God can tell. Some knowledge is certainly required, but how much is required we cannot say. ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief’ said a man in the Gospel who was saved. Though today there are many men of little faith, many who are troubled by the voices [voices of Cerinthus, Nestorius, Arius, Machen] that are heard on all sides…What right have we to say that full knowledge and full conviction [of Christ’s Person] are necessary before a man can put his trust in the crucified and risen Lord? What right have we to say that no [Nestorian] man can be saved before he has come to a full conviction regarding the [perplexingly profound teaching of the Unity of Christ’s Person?] … One thing at least is clear: even if…belief in the [Biblical teaching about the Incarnate Person of the God-Man] is not necessary to every Christian, it is necessary to Christianity. And it is necessary to the corporate witness of the Church….Let it never be forgotten that the [Person of the God-Man, Jesus Christ] is an integral part of the New Testament witness about Christ, and that that witness is strongest when it is taken as it stands” (Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1930), pp. 395-396).