The Papacy as Antichrist into the 20th century with Charles Hodge

By Cris D. Putnam
The view of an antichrist pope dominated the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Even Catholics came to similar conclusions. George Tyrrell, a Jesuit priest and controversial modernist theologian, was excommunicated in 1908 after he also came to the conclusion that papacy was antichrist. He stated,

“I believe in the Roman Church so far as it is Christian and Catholic; I disbelieve in it so far as it is papal. I see two spirits in it, as in myself, struggling for supremacy—Light and Darkness, Christ and Anti-Christ; God and the Devil.”[1]

Another figure in turn of the century theology, Charles Hodge, who served at Princeton theological seminary from 1872 to 1929, also argues convincingly that the papacy is antichrist. His treatment of the antichrist in his Systematic Theologyis so influential that it will also be examined more thoroughly.

Charles Hodge: "But to be the Vicar of Christ, to claim to exercise his prerogatives on earth, does involve a claim to his attributes, and therefore our opposition to Popery is opposition to a man claiming to be God."

One can readily see why Turretin’s theology text’s remarkable shelf life at Princeton was ended by Hodge. It is a pleasure to read and study Hodge’s work as he has a more winsome style and is more exegetically coherent. If the reader has any lingering doubt about the notion that the papacy is a manifestation of antichrist, studying Hodge will likely persuade. Hodge makes most of the same points as Turretin and the other reformers but he allows more flexibility. That tractability and his rigorous intellectual honesty are his strong points. Keeping in mind this work was published at the dawn of the twentieth century, Hodge addresses the “temple of God” reference in 2 Thessalonians: “Some, however, suppose that the reference is to the literal temple in Jerusalem; but this supposes, (a.) That the Jews are to be restored to their own land. (b.) That they are to be restored as Jews, or unconverted, and that the temple is to be there rebuilt.”[2]

While Hodge was incredulous it would ever occur, it is more than a little exciting that since this writing the Jews have been restored to their land and that they are planning to rebuild the temple, already having placed a cornerstone, and still in an unconverted state.[3] As discussed elsewhere, even more persuasive is the possibility that Rome is driving the process. Hodge clearly believed the papacy was antichrist. He demolishes Anglican turncoat John Henry Newman’s argument that this line of reasoning necessarily condemns all Catholic believers. He argues it is a non-sequitur because the Church of Rome can be understood in different aspects, the arrogant hierarchy of the papacy and the body of professing believers. He breaks new ground in reformed polemics by generously offering, “That many Roman Catholics, past and present, are true Christians, is a palpable fact.”[4] This is refreshing because it does not necessarily follow that the papacy being part of the antichrist system damns all Catholics.

Additionally, he does not rigidly rule out other manifestations like Turretin. He states, “Admitting that the Apostle’s predictions refer to the Roman pontiffs, it does not follow that the papacy is the only antichrist.”[5] This accounts for John’s teaching that the Antichrist (singular) is coming as many antichrists had come (1 Jn 2:18). Hodge carries this line of thinking further offering, “the same power, retaining all its essential characteristics, may change its form.”[6] His intellectual honesty in accounting for more than one potential manifestation is inspirational. As noted above, Wesley and Spurgeon were also sympathetic to the possibility of an ultimate future Antichrist just prior to Jesus’ return. Is it possible that papacy still might fulfill this ultimate sense as well? Could there be a satanic presence in the Vatican which is leading toward that final confrontation? There is fascinating evidence presented in Petrus Romanus: the Final Pope is Here which suggests it.


[1] David F. Wells, “The Pope as Antichrist: The Substance of George Tyrrell’s Polemic” (Harvard Theological Review 65, 2 April 1972) 271–283.

[2] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:815.

[3] “The Temple Mount Faithful Movement Held On ‘Jerusalem Day” the Most Exciting Event in Israel Since the Destruction of the Holy Temple in 70 CE,”, last accessed October, 11, 2011,

[4]  Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:822.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 3:825.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.


  1. john B says:

    Hodge addresses the “temple of God” reference in 2 Thessalonians: “Some, however, suppose that the reference is to the literal temple in Jerusalem; but this supposes, (a.) That the Jews are to be restored to their own land. (b.) That they are to be restored as Jews, or unconverted, and that the temple is to be there rebuilt.”

    It is obvious that Hodge as those before him rightly understood the Apostles teaching in relation to this Temple.. wherein The man of sin is to exalt himself..Therefore; I still place a big ? mark upon the modern teaching of dispensationalism.. I am not pushing the point here! I believe that there is a great deception at play with this restoration theology of Darby and the likes.. Rightly so; it can be seen in the rapid infiltration of the doctrine even in the most Conservative churches.. The obvious is that spiritual truth has only one application on the other hand the doctrine of jewish suprimicy and the restoration of their temple worship sides with the Apostate Antichrist system in denial of Jesus’ once and for all time sacrifice..

    john b

  2. john B says:

    Therefore; the Temple referred in 2Thes cannot be a literal reconstructed one because a reconstructed one would not be referred by Apostle as God’s temple for in Paul’s thinking there is only one Temple the real one already in existence within the eternal realm of God’s providence..

    john b

  3. john B says:

    What I am saying is this; Paul would not refer to a reconstructed Temple wherein the antichrist was to lodge permitting the Jews to once again perform animal sacrifices as “The Temple of God”
    I believe that Hodge was in full agreement with Paul that is why he Questioned the Futurist doctrine..So; who is the real instigator of this Jewish restoration? I still maintain that it is the diabolical Antichrist Zionist illuminati.. my conclusion is that it is all a great deception upon protestantism.. a smoke screen and decoy placed before christians so that behind the scene the seed of the serpent prepares for the final onslaught against the seed of the woman…and such it shall be when the trap is sprung.. that many will not endure unto the end, having believed in the false rapture associated within the boundaries of this false futurist doctrine..

    john B

  4. Mark says:

    john b,

    I forget who said this, it may have been Albert Pike, but it was stated that “Freemasonry is Kabbalism”. I am not an expert by any means when it comes to this belief system, but it is clear from the little I’ve read on it that a central tenant of Freemasonry (closely associated with this Zionist Illuminati you refer to above) is the physical rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon.

    The Jews of today, for the most part, have not embraced faith in their true Messiah. Old Testament sacrifices will be re-established in the Temple. It is clear from Daniel and Joel at the very least that the sacrificial worship will be stopped, or cut off.

    Joel says, “The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the “house” of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’S ministers, mourn.” And there is no question in Joel that this is to take place at the time of “the Day of the Lord”.

    The Temple sacrifices will not resume without the Temple, the “house” of the Lord.

    While I agree with you that there is diabolical deception involved in the restoration of Israel, God is using the players on the world stage to accomplish His ultimate work. The Beast, or his image is to stand in the Holy Place; the physical Holy Place! Yes, the Temple will be rebuilt. There is no dispensationalism deception here.


  5. john B says:

    Hi Mark: within the sovereignty of God and the purposes of God Temple sacrifices was made obsolete Heb8:13

    The words of Christ in Mat24:15 making reference to the prophecy of Daniel about the “Abomination of desolation”
    concerns itself with the destruction of the temple by Prince Titus the son of the Emperor Vespasian 40 years after messiah being cut off “The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and sanctuary” Dan9:26

    Vs 27 is to be understood in the light of Vs24 the seventy weeks in which all of the six things determined take place
    1. to finish transgression make an end of sin make atonement for iniquity bring in everlasting righteousness Seal up Vision and Prophecy anoint the most Holy Place

    All of this was to take place within the time span of 70 weeks there is no indication that the last week, the 70th was to be detached and brought forward into our time slot of the end.. for indeed point 6 ‘the anointing of the most Holy Place’ occurred when The risen Lord “entered the Holy Place once for all having obtained eternal redemption” Heb9:12.

    We have had over 150 years of a foreign theology pushed upon us which misrepresent the words of Christ concerning Daniel’s prophecy.

    There is no way that a reconstructed temple sacrificing animals in opposition to the eternal work of redemption can be called ‘The holy place’
    It has been shown by the scripture that there is only one Holy place where Christ is minister Heb9:24
    The whole problem with futurism is that its spirituality is in the past in the rabbinical mentality which Christ opposed!
    Think about it . futurists are trapped in a mind set of that which God has made obsolete! a Good reading of Heb Chapter 9 proves this… Is it not true that they side with an Antichrist system calling holy that which is Not! (restored temple sacrifices) You may wish to see what their main man ‘Scofield’ has to say on it.. Briefly; (Jesus is going to be head of the restored animal sacrifices) all the whilst professing Jesus’ atonement as the only way of salvation… The promise of futurists to Jews by a second grace of deliverance from Sin is in contradiction to the 4 points of Daniel’s prophecy
    1. to finish transgression make an end of sin make atonement for iniquity bring in everlasting righteousness
    When we understand that Christ is coming as “judge of the living and the dead” Heb9:27,28 it all falls into place..


    john b

  6. Mark says:

    john b,

    Whatever the Abomination of Desolation (spoken of by the prophet Daniel) is, and I will not argue it for the moment, Jesus indicated that this Abomination event would be the sign to those living in the region at the time to get out of there without delay.

    Jesus said that then there would be great tribulation such as has never been or ever will be again.

    As far as I can tell, life continues to go on pretty much like normal. Sure the Jews have been through rough times since their rejection of their Messiah, including 70 AD. But the events to come are unlike anything the world has ever seen.

    These events are yet future. I do not know how it can be argued otherwise. These events, described in Revelation, are not just some Roman soldiers killing some Jews and tearing down a Temple. These events will shake the earth, and the heavens also.

    Jesus will personally tread the wine press of His enemies and His garments are stained blood red. Isaiah 63.

    There is a future major judgement coming very soon. Jer 30:7 says, “Alas for That Day [is] great, so that none [is] like it: it [is] even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”

    I will agree on this part with you. Animal sacrifices, as part of the Law, were fulfilled by Jesus at His coming. The Jews for the most part have missed it. But God has not revoked His promises to them. The sacrifices re-instituted will cease again, but the Lord will fight on behalf of His people.

    What a time this is going to be!

    Peace. Mark

  7. john B says:

    Mark; my understanding of Jacob’s trouble was 70 AD it came upon that generation..Mat24 contains a dual prophecy of the coming desolation and of His second coming.Christ goes back and forth in His giving of it covering both aspects of it..
    What I have done in order to grasp the entirety of it Is to lay out Mat24 alongside Lk21 and Mk 13 and section the parallelism of the three Texts.. by doing so i understand Daniel’s prophecy of this abomination as being relevant to the 70 AD time of distress upon that generation..

    I agree with you that The great tribulation to come upon the whole earth is indeed going to be very severe.. and the persecution will not be directed to the Jews but to the household of Faith, those of the promise made to Abraham
    I also take into consideration that there are a lot more Jews world wide than in the physical location of the Land.. are they all to be saved as is suggested by the theology in question.. Is “all Israel” Rom11:26 Those in the Land only.. or is it all Jews world wide.. or is it the true people of God made up of Jews and Gentile both Grafted into the olive Tree (The Israel of God)

    The point that I am making is that a reconstructed temple cannot be God’s temple.. Hodge saw it otherwise.. and he saw it because he grasped the Apostles doctrine in right discernment.. so; what i am saying is that this restoration reconstruction doctrine accepted by many is part of the end-time deception associated with the great Apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin.. He will not be in a rebuilt temple but by deceit and ecumenical fervour unify all of Babylon’s religious daughters into recognising his exalted position only to be thereafter destroyed by the consuming fury of the Wrath of the Lamb..
    Time will tell..
    john B

  8. Mark says:

    john b,

    Maybe I have misunderstood your point a little here. And we may find some agreement. It seems that you are in opposition to the support by the modern Church for Israel and a push for the rebuilding of the Temple. There is, in my humble opinion, a difficulty here with modern “conservative” church leaders supporting such a notion.

    I believe the ecumenical push of the RCC and its desire to control the Temple Mount as a harbinger of the Antichrist to come. Some Protestant leaders of our day are in favor of seeing a rebuilding of the Temple and actively support Israel for this reason. But certainly not all can be placed into this camp.

    It is one thing to love Israel in recognition of the promises of God and as His chosen people. It is quite another to support their misguided trust in their system of worship, which God has set aside.

    But I think most are in the camp of simply observing the signs of the times and genuinely anxious to see the fulfillment of what God said He would one day bring about. Frankly, these things are out of our hands. Whether we agree with the plan or not, it looks to me that God will allow the spirit of antichrist to prosper – for a while anyway.

    Paul describes a temple in which the son of perdition is to sit as a specific event…”Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the “temple of God”, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thes 2:3,4. This is no less that that Abomination of Desolation of which Jesus spoke.

    If you want to hold to the notion that no physical temple will be rebuilt, be my guest, but the scriptural scenario looks pretty clear to me.


  9. john B says:

    Mark; I wish to share a little more on this matter of the Temple…. I am only siding with what Hodge and many others before him in their understanding of the 2Thes2:3,4.
    They understood the temple not to be literal based upon the scriptural texts of Daniel, Christ, and Apostle Paul.. The point of discussion that I am presenting is that a reconstructed temple cannot be classified as “the temple of God” simply because God has moved on from the gloom and doom of Sinai and ‘His people’ with Him to the Jerusalem above Heb;12:22,23
    When Jesus gave up the Ghost at Calvary the NAOS (sanctuary) shifted from the literal to the spiritual.. “the veil of the temple was rent” Mat27:51 and 40 years latter 70AD Daniels prophecy was fulfilled by “the people of the prince who was to come” Dan9:26. The thing to understand is that God does not go backwards.. if there is to be a third Temple with animal sacrifices that in itself is a ‘sacrilegious Abomination against the Spirit of truth’ and certainly those partaking in it would be Hell bound along with those who promoted it.

    Concerning the “Abomination of desolation” you may wish to read the Historian Josephus account of 70AD
    also see the prophecy of Moses about the event Deu28:49-57.It will assure you that 70AD was not as you say ‘some Jews being killed’ The suffering caused by the brutality of the Romans make the Nazi look like children.

    We may not agree, but we must be prepared to endure whatever comes..

    john B

  10. Klaatu says:

    It may be instructive, to recall that before Darby et al, the pretext to this — “futurism,” was promulgated by one Francisco Ribera (1537-1591). Understanding his “Oath of Loyalty,” then one can surmise just what the motivations are at play here, and the — endgame. “Cum finis est licitus, etiam media sunt licita.” The rest is academic …

    Read “Rulers of Evil,” along side “Petrus Romanus.” The two will compliment each other, as though “Petrus” is the sequel of the former …

  11. michael springer says:

    Seems as though a plot has been uncovered to merge to Holy Roman See and the EU.

    have a great day


  12. john B says:

    Thanks Michael & Klaatu for your input..

    john b

  13. Dan S says:

    Referencing pp256 of Petrus Romanus, the author refers to those who would erect a third temple in Jerusalem as “already having placed a cornerstone” at a celebtation of Jerusalem Day 2009. I checked the referenced site and found this not to be the case!!!! The purported cornerstone was paraded that day and moved to an area in the vicinity of the temple mount by truck. I see evidence of a ceremony being held, but I see no evidence of a cornerstone actually having been laid that day. Furthermore, I see no evidence that the two larger stones shown in the series as having actually been removed from the truck carrying them.

    When delineating current and historical events pertaining to something as volatile as end times prophesy, we must be extremely careful to report thhose events both factually and (as much as possible) without bias. The potential effects on the mindset and faith of those reading any misreporting of events is something I would not want to be responsible for.

  14. john B says:

    Amen Dan: I would not want to be held accountable for any misrepresentation of truth… in that light, I say that the heart of the end time deception is that many have been lead to believe that The jews are the favoured of God ‘His people” I oppose that in the Name of Jesus, and say that ‘His people’ are only those in Christ (those of Abraham’s Faith) and not of his flesh so be it!