Pope Francis: History’s Final Pope?

Note: portions of this article have been edited to more accurately reflect portions of Petrus Romanus in response to comments by one of the authors, Cris Putnam concerning the original version of the article.

The_Final_Pope_is_Here_Petrus_Romanus__125087“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:3–5)

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 2:1–2)

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On March 13, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires was elected as the newest pope of the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 23. Jorge Bergoglio is the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit pope, and the first pope to take the name “Francis.” However, will Pope Francis be history’s last pope?

That this pope likely will be the last one is the message of Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here, a 2012 book by Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam. Because Petrus Romanus suggests that the pope after Benedict XVI will be history’s final pope, the book has received a lot of attention over the past year, and especially since Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. Now the book has received yet another significant boost with the selection of Cardinal Bergoglio.

Petrus Romanus focuses on an obscure prophecy by a 12th century Catholic bishop, St. Malachy (1094-1148), concerning a list of the last 112 popes who would reign from his day until the end of the present age. The Catholic Answers website provides the following information concerning Malachy’s prophecy:

St. Malachy was an Irish bishop who lived in the 12th century. By far the more famous of his prophecies concerns the sequence of popes.

 

The prophecy consist [sic] of 112 short Latin descriptions of future popes; the prophecies were discovered in 1590 and attributed to Malachy. Each description indicates one identifying trait for each future pope, beginning with Celestine II, who was elected in 1130. In some instances, the descriptions hit home in an uncanny way; they have led to centuries of speculation that the prophecy might be a real one.

 

For instance, the description of the future John XXII (1316-1334) is “de sutore osseo“–”from the bony shoemaker.” This pope was the son of a shoemaker, and his family name was “Ossa,” which means bone. In another example, “lilium et rosa” was the phrase used to describe the pope who would be Urban VIII (1623-1644), whose family coat-of-arms was covered with “lilies and roses.”[1. http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/do-the-prophecies-of-st-malachy-suggest-we-are-living-in-the-end-times]

In Petrus Romanus Horn & Putnam further explain the prophecy as it relates to the pope who will follow Benedict XVI, and thus be the 112th pope:

As the legend goes, Malachy experienced what is today considered a famous vision commonly called “The Prophecy of the Popes.” The prophecy is a list of Latin verses predicting each of the Roman Catholic popes from Pope Celestine II to the final pope, “Peter the Roman,” whose reign would end in the destruction of Rome. According to this ancient prophecy, the very next pope (following Benedict XVI) will be the final pontiff, Petrus Romanus or Peter the Roman. The final segment of the prophecy reads:

 

In persecutione extrema S. R. E. sedebit Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis civitas septicollis deruetur et judex tremendus judicabit populum. Finis.

 

Which is rendered:  In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the City of Seven Hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End. [1. Horn, Thomas; Putnam, Cris D. (2012-04-15). Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here (Kindle Locations 421-430). Defender Publishing LLC. Kindle Edition]

Horn & Putnam have captured the imaginations of many Christians who, through their work, are being seduced by the possibility of insight into future events through the prophecies of a 12th century Catholic monk. And just as when Jonathan Cahn caught the attention of WND (formerly World Net Daily) and its founder and CEO Joseph Farah with The Harbinger, Farah’s team is once again putting a lot of effort into getting another very troubling story involving prophecy out to its large subscriber base. The following is from a WND Exclusive on March 14:

An author who predicted Pope Benedict XVI would be the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign believes the election today of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff lines up with a medieval prophecy that would make him the “final pope” before the End Times.

 

Tom Horn, co-author with Cris Putman of the book “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here,” told WND today Bergoglio’s selection was a “fantastic fulfillment of prophecy.”

 

His book examines St. Malachy’s “Prophecy of the Popes,” said to be based on a prophetic vision of the 112 popes following Pope Celestine II, who died in 1144.

 

Malachy’s prophecies, first published in 1595, culminate with the “final pope,” “Petrus Romanus,” or “Peter the Roman,” whose reign ends with the destruction of Rome and the judgment of Christ.

 

Horn has said a pope of Italian descent would fulfill the prophecy, noting Bergoglio is the son of Italian parents and a Jesuit. [1. http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/pope-francis-historys-final-pontiff/]

On February 11, an article by Jerome Corsi on the WND website is obviously an effort to get this story out and to establish Tom Horn’s credibility and authority on this matter:

Although a Roman Catholic pope had not stepped down in nearly 600 years, the startling resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was predicted by the co-authors of a book published last spring about a medieval prophecy that the next pontiff will be the last.

 

In “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here,” co-authors Tom Horn and Cris Putnam examine St. Malachy’s “Prophecy of the Popes,” said to be based on his prophetic vision of the next 112 popes, beginning with Pope Celestine II, who died in 1144. Malachy presented a description of each pope, culminating with the “final pope,” “Peter the Roman,” whose reign would end with the destruction of Rome and judgment.

 

Horn explained to WND in an interview today that his conclusion [that] Benedict would resign rather than die in the papacy was based not only on St. Malachy but also on a host of historical and current information. “We took ‘The Prophecy of the Popes,’ we took what was happening in Italian media, and we determined, based on a great deal of information, that Pope Benedict would likely step down, citing health reasons, in 2012 or 2013,” he said. [1. http://www.wnd.com/2013/02/final-pope-authors-predicted-benedict-would-resign/]

All of this is so problematic on so many levels, it would take several articles to deal with it adequately, so for the sake of relative brevity I’ll just discuss a few of the major issues.

NOTE:  This article is not intended to be anything close to full-fledged review of Petrus Romanus. Horn and Putnam have done an enormous amount of very good research and accumulated compelling evidence concerning the convergence of many historical elements in setting the stage for history’s final drama leading to the return of Christ. They accurately deal with significant errors within the Roman Catholic church, especially as they undergird the power of the papacy. They also lay out a strong argument for how powerful pagan influences have shaped much of world history, including that of the United States. However, the problem is that this good work is entangled with the parts of the book that are quite questionable. In addition, a large portion of the beginning of the book, as well as the end of the book, specifically focuses on the question of the final pope as it relates to Malachy’s prophecy of the popes and what they believe is corroborating evidence. This article only focuses on concerns related to the weight the book gives to the idea that extra-biblical prophecy is being fulfilled in the election of the current pope as being history’s final one, Peter the Roman—who, according to the subtitle of the book, “is here.”

 

The source of the “prophecy”

It is difficult to imagine why Horn and Putnam, who are considered evangelicals, would lend so much credibility to Malachy’s prophecy. Their work does not simply explore the question of whether Malachy may have accurately predicted all future popes. Rather the point of Petrus Romanus is to demonstrate that his prophecy is accurate, meaning they obviously think it is a genuine prophecy to be accepted as true. So, then the question is, Was Malachy actually a prophet of God—or was he at least inspired by God to give this list of popes to the world?

First of all, it is important to understand just who Malachy was. The following are excerpts from the Catholic Encyclopedia (available online at NewAdvent.org):

St. Malachy, whose family name was O’Morgair, was born in Armagh in 1094. St. Bernard describes him as of noble birth.

 

He was baptized Maelmhaedhoc (a name which has been Latinized as Malachy) and was trained under Imhar O’Hagan, subsequently Abbot of Armagh. After a long course of studies he was ordained priest by St. Cellach (Celsus) in 1119. . . He was then chosen Abbot of Bangor, in 1123. A year later, he was consecrated Bishop of Connor, and, in 1132, he was promoted to the primacy of Armagh.

 

In 1127 he paid a second visit to Lismore and acted for a time as confessor to Cormac MacCarthy, Prince of Desmond. . . . On the death of St. Celsus (who was buried at Lismore in 1129), St. Malachy was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, 1132, which dignity he accepted with great reluctance.

 

During three years at Armagh, as St. Bernard writes, St. Malachy restored the discipline of the Church, grown lax during the intruded rule of a series of lay-abbots, and had the Roman Liturgy adopted.

 

Early in 1139 he journeyed to Rome, via Scotland, England, and France, visiting St. Bernard at Clairvaux. He petitioned Pope Innocent for palliums for the Sees of Armagh and Cashel, and was appointed legate for Ireland. On his return visit to Clairvaux he obtained five monks for a foundation in Ireland, under Christian, an Irishman, as superior: thus arose the great Abbey of Mellifont in 1142. St. Malachy set out on a second journey to Rome in 1148, but on arriving at Clairvaux he fell sick, and died in the arms of St. Bernard, on 2 November.

 

Numerous miracles are recorded of him, and he was also endowed with the gift of prophecy. St. Malachy was canonized by Pope Clement (III), on 6 July, 1199, and his feast is celebrated on 3 November, in order not to clash with the Feast of All Souls. [1. http://saints.sqpn.com/catholic-encyclopedia-prophecies-of-saint-malachy/]

The point of including all of this rather detailed biographical information is to show that Malachy was a thoroughly Roman Catholic bishop of the medieval period. This means that the heretical theology and pagan practices that shaped the Church of Rome in the centuries leading up to and actually precipitated the Reformation were undoubtedly an integral part of Malachy’s life. That being the case, should Malachy really be regarded as a prophet of God by evangelicals (when this is even questioned by some Catholic theologians)? Furthermore, if he was not a prophet of God yet had mystical experiences and claimed to have visions of the future, does that not rather make him a false prophet by definition? Again, how can two evangelical authors appeal to such a person for support—and why would evangelicals among their readership be willing to accept their conclusions concerning Malachy?

In Petrus Romanus Horn and Putnam seem to uncritically accept that God was also actively working in and through one of Malachy’s mentors, specifically as a performer of at least two miracles (which, it should be noted, is precisely the number of confirmed miracles required for someone to be considered for canonization as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church):

Eventually Malachy headed to Lismore to revise and sharpen his knowledge of the canon under the teaching and advice of well-known scholar Bishop Malchus. (St. Bernard writes that Bishop Malchus was “an old man, full of days and virtues, and the wisdom of God was in him.”[5] He goes on to further explain that the bishop was later acknowledged as performing two miracles, one wherein he healed a young boy of a mental disorder who later became his porter, and another wherein “when the saint put his fingers into his ears on either side he perceived that two things like little pigs came out of them.”[6] These distinctions of Bishop Malchus’ reputation are of importance to St. Bernard, “that it may be known to all what sort of preceptor Malachy had in the knowledge of holy things.”[7] Needless to say, Malachy worked and studied with associates whose names circulated within the Church as significant.) [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 327-337).]

Such acceptance of notoriously inaccurate and problematic medieval accounts of Roman Catholic miracle workers, mystics and prophets only serves to underscore concerns that biblical discernment is fast disappearing even among some more theologically conservative Christians. “Two things like little pigs came out?” Is it reasonable to believe that these bishops of the medieval Roman Catholic Church (who held to such unbiblical doctrines and practices as they did) were genuinely serving the God of the Bible and being used by Him in this way? And is it reasonable to believe that the Lord would have been involved with these things when they would have only served to validate the heresies these men believed, practiced and taught?

Furthermore, the authors don’t even acknowledge the possibility that these may be entirely false reports—or worse. If these reports are actually true, it must also be considered that there may have been supernatural forces at work that were not of God. Undoubtedly many false prophets are simply deceivers. However, others may be acting under the demonic influence of those beings who have the desire and ability to influence the outcome of events such that these prophets are able to accurately “predict” the future. Of course, because only God in His omniscience can know and reveal the future, false prophets (even those under demonic influence) are very susceptible to errors in their predictions—which is obviously one reason they can actually be caught and identified as false prophets.

Unfortunately, Horn’s and Putnam’s failure to at least consider the possibility of them being false prophets highlights a very real problem that plagues an increasingly large segment of Christianity. It seems to be broadly assumed and often taken for granted that if something inexplicable and apparently supernatural takes place in almost any sort of Christian religious setting, then it must be from God.

However, such thinking fails to recognize the reality of false signs and wonders with the potential to deceive even the elect, as Jesus warned in Matthew 24:

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”(Matt. 24:24)

Likewise, the Apostle John also warned his readers:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1

Although unbelievers are easily deceived by false teachers and prophets in the world at large, this is not as much of a problem for believers who can fairly readily recognize the errors in that realm. The greater danger for believers is found in the Apostle Peter’s words when he clearly warned that deception would arise from within the church:

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 2:1–2)

In light of these warnings, to rely on Malachy as a legitimate source of prophecy requires so many questionable and misguided presuppositions that any conclusions that they are from God can never be more than outright speculation. Yet, there is no doubt, and it requires no speculation to recognize that Malachy was most certainly a false prophet during a time when false prophets flourished within Christendom. Unfortunately, the situation today is no better—and arguably it has become worse.

 

The evidence for the “prophecy”

Another significant problem with Malachy’s prophecies is that there are serious doubts about the authenticity of the documents in which they appear. There is important and compelling evidence (which is widely accepted) that strongly points to the fact that these documents were actually forgeries created in the 16th century.

The Catholic Answers website, which states that its purpose is “to defend and explain the faith,” provides the following as part of an answer to a question from a reader about the possibility that Malachy’s prophecy may indicate that we are living in the end times:

Malachy’s prophecy has been cast into doubt by the fact that the descriptions become vague from the 16th century on–about the time the prophecy was “discovered” in the Roman Archives. But there have been a few good matches in modern times. The phrase “pastor et nauta,” meaning “shepherd and sailor,” was attributed to John XXIII. This pope hailed from Venice, historically a city of sailors, and on the day he took office he indicated the goal of his pontificate was to be “a good shepherd.”

 

There have been many more misses, though. Describing the popes to follow John XXIII are the phrases “flower of flowers” (Paul VI), “from a half-moon” (John Paul I), and “from the toil of the sun” (John Paul II), none of which is an obvious connection. After our current pope there are only two left in Malachy’s prophecy, “the glory of the olive” and “Peter the Roman.” The latter will supposedly lead the Church through many tribulations, concluding with the last judgment.

 

Is “Malachy’s” prophecy legitimate? Probably not. The consensus among modern scholars is that it is a 16th-century forgery created for partisan political reasons. [1. http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/do-the-prophecies-of-st-malachy-suggest-we-are-living-in-the-end-times]

In Petrus Romanus Horn and Putnam discuss the forgery issue in great detail and present convincing evidence that the original document had likely been altered:

The bad news is that part of the prophecy may be a forgery which was fabricated in the late sixteenth century. We say forgery meaning that over half of the prophecies, the first seventy or so predictions, could be vaticinia ex eventu (prophecy from the event). It seems likely that someone irrevocably altered the original medieval document and the original is either hidden away or lost to history. According to Vatican insiders, there is ample evidence that the original twelfth-century manuscript was discovered in 1556 by a Vatican librarian. Even so, the first known publication of the “Malachy Prophecy of the Popes” was in Arnold de Wion’s massive eighteen-hundred-page volume entitled Lignum Vitae (Tree of Life), which was published in 1595.That text will be presented and examined below. Even though we have good reason to believe a much older document is still visible, we must accept that the earliest instance of the prophecy surfaced nearly four hundred years after its alleged origin in 1139. Despite the legend which pleads it was locked away in a musty Vatican vault those four hundred years, the skeptics still have valid points. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 444-452).]

The forgery question has to do with only about the first half of the list. However, according to Horn and Putnam, it is the second half of the list which deals with the next 400 years of popes after the forged documents that is significant. They argue that because of what they suggest are uncanny fulfillments, these prophecies, whether they come from Malachy or Nostradamus or someone else, they are still genuine prophecies from a true prophet. They continue the preceding section in the book:

Even so, it very well could be the work of Saint Malachy coarsely corrupted by a forger. Of course, this would fall neatly in line with the Roman Catholic practice demonstrated by the Donation of Constantine and Pseudo–Isidorian Decretals. Alternatively, some have suggested it was partially the work of Nostradamus cleverly disguised to protect his identity. While the identity of the actual prophet remains unclear, the author was a prophet whether he knew or not.

 

The exciting news is that the Prophecy of the Popes, although tainted, is still a genuine prophecy. Despite the superficial insincerity detectable in the first section of “prophecies,” the post publication predictions show astonishing fulfillments. We have no critical analysis to explain away the sometimes jaw-dropping, post-1595 fulfillments. Indeed, we are currently at 111 out of 112 and believers argue they seem to have increased in precision over time. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 452-459).]

How is this “exciting news,” and how is it “still a genuine prophecy?” If there really are so many “sometimes jaw-dropping” fulfillments, why would there be so much skepticism among scholars, even within the Roman Catholic Church (given that the Church has historically accepted such dreams, visions and prophecies)?

An alternate theory, which the authors seem to accept as possible, is that even if there is no genuine original first half, the second half was written by Nostradamus or someone else who was a genuine prophet. It is difficult to comprehend the logic at work as Horn and Putnam go on to explain that their conclusions depend heavily on the scholarship of John Hogue in his book The Last Pope:

In recent history, the most popular and exhaustive handling of the Prophecy of the Popes is arguably the book, The Last Pope, by author and self-proclaimed “prophet” John Hogue. Hogue is a regular guest on the Coast to Coast radio show with a pretty impressive bio, and we have availed ourselves of his scholarship. While his own predictions do not typically fare so well, he is a well-respected figure in Nostradamus studies. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 465-467).]

So, although the authors rely on Hogue for support, he is, by their own admission, a false prophet who is highly regarded as an “expert” on another false prophet, Nostradamus. (And the fact that Hogue is a regular guest on Coast to Coast is not exactly a positive since that radio program showcases some of the most outlandish personalities and topics of any program in the nation.) Furthermore, the “Nostradamus” section of Hogue’s website makes it clear that he, too, fully believes the prophecies of Nostradamus are genuine, just as much as Malachy’s are.

It would seem that Horn and Putnam could hardly have found a more unreliable and biased source of information pertaining to this particular issue. However, it appears that the authors view prophets and prophecy the same way Hogue does, namely that genuine prophets aren’t necessarily 100% accurate.

Hogue follows the conventional theory dividing the prophecy at Wion’s 1595 publication: “He left us a list of 35 mottos, numbered 77 through 111 that, unlike the previous 76, are not 100 percent accurate; however, the average of success makes their author one of the most astounding prophets in history.”[1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 950-952).]

The biblical view would not be that the prophecies’ author was one of the most astounding prophets in history, but rather that he was a false prophet with an astounding accuracy rate. This is consistent with the prevailing view in the Charismatic movement that prophets of the present age do not need to be 100% accurate to be genuine prophets of God.

There are two significant problems with this view because it contradicts both the Old Testament and New Testament standards for prophecies and prophets. The first problem is that the OT standard is 100% accuracy and failure to be completely accurate is an identifying characteristic of a false prophet. The second problem is that it essentially eliminates “false prophet” as an objective category since someone could have multiple false prophecies and still be considered a genuine prophet of God. Yet, Peter makes it clear that false prophets will be a problem faced by the church in this age, which means they must be identified—but how?

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 2:1–2)

Horn and Putnam apparently believe that the entire original Prophecy of the Popes did exist, and although tainted (by forged alterations), is still a genuine prophecy. They appeal to book written by a Jesuit mystic:

Written by René Thibaut (1883–1952), a Belgian Jesuit, the book is a meticulous reading of the prophecy which comes to completely different conclusions than his skeptical predecessors. Adopting the methodology of a mystic as well as a scholar, he makes a compelling case that the Prophecy of the Popes is a real supernatural prophecy. [1. Petrus Romanus  (Kindle Locations 727-730).]

Therefore, even though the first half of the list has been altered, the entire original document, if written by the same person, may have also been a record of genuine prophecies because of what they maintain are fulfillments of the prophecies in the second half. The statement about Thibaut being a mystic is also troubling. Horn and Putnam apparently view this favorably and see it as a helpful factor in his arriving at correct conclusions.

As an example of the genuine part of the prophecy, they present an argument used by Thibaut that a prophecy concerning Pius VI, the 96th pope “transparently” contains an anagram of his name:

While he is reluctant to authenticate the legend, he refers to the author as Pseudo-Malachy, believing him to be Irish. He bases this on the stylistic use of numbers and word plays which form many acrostics and anagrams.[40] Commenting on the style, he observes, “Note that this way of dividing the words to sort various meanings is a method dear to the ancient Irish.”[41] A simple example of an anagram is seen in the Latin text “Peregrinus apostolicus”[42] which was the prophecy for the ninety-sixth pope on the list, Pius VI. The anagram not only reveals the papal name, it does it twice: PeregIinUS aPostolIcUS. That’s right! The name “Pius” is rather transparently embedded in the original Latin text twice! [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 737-747).]

At points it becomes rather difficult to take the authors seriously as they appear to be willing to grasp at virtually anything for support no matter how far-fetched it seems. In this case, they rely on Thibeau’s cryptographic analysis of the supposed prophetic text. Much could be said about just this issue when discussing just the matter of an encryption key alone.

However, as troubling as it is that Horn and Putnam appeal to Hogue for support, it is quite incredible that Christian authors would also cite a significant number of pagan apocalyptic prophecies as further evidence that Malachy’s prophecy is almost certainly true:

The Mayan calendar ends in 2012 with the return of their flying dragon god Kulkulkan.

The Aztec calendar ends in 2012 and their flying dragon god Quetzalcoatl returns.

The Cherokee Indian calendar ends in the year 2012 and their flying rattlesnake god returns. The “Cherokee Rattlesnake Prophecies,” also known as the “Chickamaugan Prophecy” or the “Cherokee Star Constellation Prophecies,” are part of a series of apocalyptic prophecies made by members of the Cherokee tribe during 1811–1812. Like the Maya, the Cherokee calendar ends mysteriously in the year 2012 when astronomical phenomena related to Jupiter, Venus, Orion, and Pleiades cause the “powers” of the star systems to “awaken.”

According to ancient Mayan inscriptions, in 2012, the Mayan underworld god Bolon Yokte Ku also returns.

The Hindu Kali Yuga calendar ends in the year 2012 at the conclusion of the age of “the male demon.” [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9287-9301).]

After this series of pagan prophecies, the authors then cite Jonathan Edwards:

Over two hundred sixty years ago, the leader of the first Great Awakening in America, Jonathan Edwards, tied the arrival of the Antichrist and Great Tribulation period to the timeframe 2012. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9305-9307).]

Then they refer to William J. Reid, a 19th century Presbyterian minister:

One hundred thirty years after that, in 1878, Reverend William J. Reid did the same, writing in his “Lectures on the Revelation” concerning the papal system: “…we are prepared to answer the question, When will the Papal system come to an end? [It] will be destroyed in the year 2012.” [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9308-9311).]

The obvious question this raises is, How is this minister’s prophecy any different from the utterly failed prophecies of Harold Camping concerning the Rapture taking place in 2012? Or how does it differ from Edward Whisnant’s predictions, which are set forth in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988?

But there is more. For additional support, Horn and Putnam also delve into the mystical writings of the Zohar, the most important text of Jewish Kabbalah:

In addition to interpreting Scripture, the “Vaera” section (volume 3, section 34) includes “The signs heralding Mashiach,” or “The coming of the Messiah.” The fascinating date for “his” appearance is set in the Zohar in late 2012! Given the rejection of Jesus by orthodox Jews as Messiah, Christians understand this “coming” would herald the unveiling of Antichrist in 2012.

J. R. Church of Prophecy in the News called our office a couple years back and led us through verses 476–483 of this part of the Zohar to point out what nobody in the 2012 research community had written before—that the time of Jacob’s trouble (the Great Tribulation, which some Catholic scholars say begins with the election of Petrus Romanus) will commence according to this ancient text in the year 2012 when the “kings of the earth” gather in Rome, possibly during a papal conclave, and are killed by fiery stones or missiles from the sky. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9262-9265).]

With all of the above prophecies, Horn and Putnam make exactly the same mistake made by Jonathan Cahn in a message when he said of parts of the text of the Zohar, “God just got in there.” [1. This part of Cahn's message was subsequently removed from YouTube.com by someone at Beth Israel because of the controversy it generated.] Perhaps the authors would also defend their conclusions on the same grounds as Jonathan Cahn, as he has countered that the Zohar is simply a “hostile witness.” However, this defense only works if the rabbis weren’t inspired by God. If God was directly involved, as Cahn says, this removes the significance of it being a “hostile witness.” In fact, the authors do cite Balaam’s prophecy concerning the Messiah, referring to it as a “hostile witness.” (This is discussed more in a note after the next paragraph.)

Even though angelic beings (elect or evil) might be able to make good guesses about the future, they are not omniscient and therefore cannot see or otherwise know the future with certainty. Another possibility is that demons manipulate events so as to give the impression of fulfilled prophecy. (Horn and Putnam acknowledge both of these near the beginning of chapter 2.) Therefore, prophecies cannot be considered reliable unless it is presumed that God is involved in some way—that somehow “God just got in there” and in some way inspired all those pagans to accurately prophesy. If this were not true they would be relying on false prophets, who are either making predictions on their own or are being influenced by demonic forces.The problem is that they have no objective way to determine which of the various possibilities is actually occurring, yet in the final analysis they choose in favor of God’s inspiration and genuine prophecies through multiple pagans and false prophets.

NOTE: Cris Putnam responded to the first version of this article, citing Balaam’s prophecy which he says concerns the star that guided the magi at Jesus’ birth to justify seeking support from the Zohar, pagan prophecies, Nostradamus, etc. (For what it’s worth, the star is probably Christ himself, but that doesn’t matter here.) However, there are at least a couple of problems with this defense. First, false prophets not only get things wrong, they also get things right by guessing or by demonic influence, which is how they can be deceptive. Second, Balaam’s attitude had changed by the time he gave the “star” prophecy and he knew that he was speaking exactly what the Lord had verbally given him to say. He wasn’t just inspired in some subjective, mystical way. And third, we only know that the Lord gave Balaam the words to say because the Holy Spirit has revealed this in Scripture. However, Horn and Putnam have no way of knowing whether God actually inspired any of the prophecies they use for support. They are guessing as much as a false prophet does when he tries to foretell the future. And they can only hope they are right just as the false prophet. (This is not to say Horn and Putnam are false prophets, but that their methodology is similar.)

And if all this were not enough to recognize the insurmountable problems with Petrus Romanus, the authors actually go so far as to appeal to “prophecies” made by a computer program known as the “Web Bot Project”:

Also of interest is the Web Bot Project, which was developed in the late 1990s for tracking and making stock market predictions. This technology crawls the Internet, much like a search engine does, searching for keywords and following “chatter” in order to tap into “the collective unconscious” of the global community for tipping points regarding past, current, and future buying patterns. In 2001, operators began noticing what looked like more than coincidences, and that the “bot” was taking on a mind of its own, accurately predicting more than just stock market predictions, including June of 2001 when the program predicted that a life-altering event would be felt worldwide and would take place within sixty to ninety days. On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fell. The Web Bot also predicted the 2001 anthrax attack on Washington DC; the earthquake that produced the December 26, 2004, tsunami; Hurricane Katrina; and more. The Web Bot has now foretold global devastation for late December 2012. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9313-9320).]

Did God “just get in there,” too? [1. To be fair, Horn and Putnam did not use this phrase. It was used by Jonathan Cahn in a similar context as noted above]. Beyond the absurdity of appealing to a computer program because of its supposed accurate “prophetic” abilities, Horn and Putnam seem to miss the obvious explanation for the program’s prediction of apocalyptic events in December 2012. The results provided by the Web Bot Project depend entirely upon tracking references on the internet to the end of the world. The end of the Mayan calender cycle on December 21, 2012, which was interpreted by many as marking doomsday, was discussed by countless writers on countless websites and media outlets around the world. How can it be actually suggested that this is a prediction by a computer program that was “taking on a mind of its own?” Any search engine would have produced the same results, as it was only monitoring things that had already happened. The fact that the Web Bot Project even needs to be discussed at all is probably sufficient commentary on the whole issue by itself.

The authors also spend a lot of time discussing the historicist view of the book Revelation, which holds that the last book of the Bible portrays how history will play out. This is in contrast to the futurist view which sees the entire fulfillment of Revelation in the future, after the rapture of the church. Although they argue for a “hybrid view” with elements of both the historicist and futurist views, they lend a lot of weight to the work of historicists, particularly a number of date calculations that point to 2012 as the endpoint and year of the culmination of these events. While not drawing firm conclusions based solely on these, they do believe all of these things seem to provide significant support for their overall thesis.

 

The fulfillment of the “prophecy”?

Unfortunately for Horn and Putnam, we are now well into 2013 and none of the supporting pagan prophecies were fulfilled in 2012. And yet, in spite of the overwhelming problem this presents, Horn remains unfazed as is clear from the quote in the WND story cited earlier where it is reported that he “believes the election today of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff lines up with a medieval prophecy that would make him the ‘final pope’ before the End Times.” [1. http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/pope-francis-historys-final-pontiff/#jEkZ7zX5UAzSW7OM.99]

Although Horn now believes that Cardinal Bergoglio likely became the fulfillment of Malachy’s prophecy on March 14, when Petrus Romanus was released almost a year ago, he and his co-author spent a great deal of time trying to show how several other cardinals could fulfill the prophecy and become Peter the Roman. In fact, they provide a list of their top ten candidates based on their extensive research.

Besides Francis Arinze, Tarcisio Bertone, Peter Turkson, and Angelo Scola, we would round out our top ten candidates for the Final Pope in descending order with Cardinals Gianfranco Ravasi, Leonardo Sandri, Ennio Antonelli, Jean-Louis Tauran, Christoph Schönborn, and Marc Quellet. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9238-9240).]

How is it that the authors can have such a high degree of confidence in their research and conclusions concerning everything else, when Bergoglio was not even on their radar as a possible candidate? Perhaps this is connected to a pattern particularly characteristic of Horn’s approach (both in this and other works, which I may deal with in a future article). The pattern that seems to emerge is that no matter what actually happens it is inevitably interpreted as either a confirmation of one of his theories or the fulfillment of a prophecy, including those of mystical and pagan origin. The matter of Bergoglio being elected as the pope is just one clear example of this tendency. In spite of the fact that they apparently had not even considered Bergoglio as even being in the running, Horn now confidently declares Bergoglio’s election to the papacy to be a “fantastic fulfillment of prophecy.”

Horn has explained that Pope Francis fulfills the specific prophecy of being “Peter the Roman” even though he didn’t take the name Peter and he is not from Italy (i.e., Rome)—and yet Horn has explanations for how he fulfills this part of the prophecy, as well. Part of his explanation includes the fact that Bergoglio’s parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina. However, Bergoglio was born in Argentina and is an Argentine citizen. But, even if Horn is given the benefit of the doubt on this point, another major point is at best very contrived and less than convincing—and at worst it is misleading and arguably dishonest:

He [Horn] also sees significance in Bergoglio naming himself after Francis of Assisi, an Italian, or Roman, priest whose original name was Francesco di Pietro (Peter) di Bernardone, “literally, Peter the Roman.” [1. http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/pope-francis-historys-final-pontiff/#jEkZ7zX5UAzSW7OM.99]

So, what this means is that not only is Pope Francis not “Peter, the Roman,” neither was Francis of Assisi, as is claimed in the cited article. Rather, Francis of Assisi’s name means “the son of Pietro, the son of Bernardone.”

However, this is not the only problem in Horn’s argument concerning prophetic fulfillment and the name Benedict XVI’s successor would take for himself. One person with great influence on the author’s theories is Ronald Conte, Jr., who believed that Francis Arinze would be the next pope (and who also happened to be black). Conte is a Roman Catholic layman who identifies himself as a theologian and to whom Horn and Putnam refer as a mystic in Petrus Romanus. 

On this order, the man who in 2002 correctly predicted that the pope succeeding John Paul II would be named Benedict XVI, Ronald L. Conte Jr., believes the next pope will be Cardinal Francis Arinze and that he will take the name Pius XIII. This name (Pius) is associated historically with popes who emphasized authoritative doctrine during their pontificates. Cardinal Arinze fits this description, and Conte interprets this qualification as best fulfilling “Peter the Roman” as a pope who “will reaffirm the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the Church; [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 8666-8670).]

Clearly, his argument is no more convincing than Horn’s. Furthermore, while they mention a supposedly accurate prophecy by Conte, thereby giving credence to Conte’s claim (and apparently their belief) that he is a genuine prophet, he made a number of predictions concerning 2011 that demonstrate that he is nothing more than a false prophet of the highest order. The following are just some of those predictions:

Pope Benedict XVI suggests building three places in Jerusalem, a Temple, a Church, and a Mosque, so that the three religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, can worship in peace in the City of Peace. (But it does not happen soon; instead there is war.)
The Jews decide to build the Third Temple of Jerusalem

 

There is war, insurrection, and coups among the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. Extremist leaders fight against more moderate leaders, and the extremists win. If they cannot win by coups and insurrections, then one Arab nation attacks another in outright war.

 

The war and the insurrections and coups end within the same year that they began. Then the leader of Iran and the leader of Iraq will have much power and influence over the other Arab/Muslim nations, all of which will be led by extremists.

 

The holy Pope Benedict XVI dies.

 

The holy Pope called ‘Peter the Roman’ by St. Malachy is elected. I think that he will be Cardinal Arinze and that he will take the name Pope Pius XIII.

 

New York City will be struck by a nuclear bomb (not a missile; not a dirty bomb) in 2011 (sometime after the Miracle, in the same calendar year). You will make them like an oven of fire, in the time of your presence. The Lord will stir them up with his wrath, and fire will devour them.

 

World War 3 begins as a result of the nuclear attack on New York City. World War 3 is the first horseman of the apocalypse and the first of the Seven Seals.

 

World War 3 is a war in which the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa invade and conquer all of Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Scandinavia, and the northern part of Africa above the equator.

 

During the Reign of Pope Pius XIII (2011 to 2013) he will emphasize the authority of the Roman Pontiff.

 

In the year 2012, during World War 3, he will flee the Vatican at night, he will flee to a location to hide, but then he will be captured by the Arab forces, he will be taken to Syria, he will put on trial and be given an unjust verdict and sentence, he will watch as they kill members of the clergy in front of him. Then they will blind him by putting out his eyes. They will bind him and send him to prison in Iraq. Soon he will die in that prison in Iraq; no one will be able to rescue him.

 

For a time, the Popes after him will not reign from Rome, until the year 2040, when the papacy returns to Rome. He is NOT the last Pope ever; there will be many more Popes and many centuries before Christ Returns.

It is difficult to fathom the sort of ethic and methodology that would allow Horn and Putnam to use part of Conte’s work as support for their theories while remaining completely silent about the vast majority of his predictions, which have turned out to be patently false and / or completely contradicted other portions of their theories.

Horn also believes that another way in which Bergoglio is a “fantastic fulfillment of prophecy” is the fact that the new pope is a Jesuit, and thus a “black pope.” What is truly astonishing about this “fulfillment” is that the “black pope” issue has nothing to do with Malachy’s prophecy, but rather involves a “prophecy” from none other than Nostradamus:

In Quatrain 6.25 Nostradamus wrote:

Through Mars adverse [a time of war] will be the monarchy

Of the great fisherman [the pope] in trouble ruinous

A young black red [a young black Cardinal] will seize the hierarchy

The predators acting on a foggy day [1. Horn, Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9246-9253).]

Apart from the serious problem of Horn directly relying upon a false prophet for support, his conclusion that Pope Francis fulfills the prophecy by being a “black pope” seems to be a real stretch. It is true  that the Superior General of the Jesuit order is sometimes popularly (or pejoratively) referred to as the “black pope” because of the fact that the he wears a black cassock and has worldwide authority, usually for life, over the order. However, there is nothing official about this title and it is is not one used by the Jesuits themselves. Beyond that, it is a completely different type of fulfillment than the one he and Putnam suggested in Petrus Romanus. After giving their list of potential papal candidates, they write:

With these in mind, a finishing thought each of these papal contenders may want to consider is how many Catholics believe the sixteenth-century seer Nostradamus was actually the author of “The Prophecy of the Popes.” If that is so, a point made by the National Catholic Reporter earlier in this chapter concerning the popular West African Cardinal Peter Turkson being “young” in terms of electability at age sixty-three may have a way of coming back around. The “dark horse” candidate Turkson—and his ideas for a one-world financial and political authority housed in the United Nations—could become a remarkable and unexpected fulfillment of both the Prophecy of the Popes and Nostradamus’s prediction of an end-times “young black pope” who seizes control of the Roman Hierarchy with the assistance of conspirators during times of darkness and war. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9240-9246).]

So, rather than even considering that “black” might refer to a Jesuit, they were focused on two Cardinals who are racially black. Then the authors demonstrate that they are willing to grasp at anything to prove their points as they go on to suggest that Barack Obama’s election as the first black American president could actually pave the way for a black pope.

And this is where things start getting interesting, as some soothsayers were already predicting that the author of the document, Peter Turkson of Ghana (Peter the Roman?) could be the next pope, as he is considered papabile by the College of Cardinals. Following the election of America’s first black president in Obama, analysts around the world began speculating that perhaps Rome would follow suit and roll out the red carpet for a black pope, the first in fifteen hundred years, in somebody like Turkson. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 9046-9050).]

Is it even remotely possible that the College of Cardinals (which is an international group of men who answer to no one except the pope) would be influenced in the least by the race of the President of the United States? It is just this sort of tortured logic that is actually the glue that holds everything in Petrus Romanus together and that even now continues to allow Horn to see fulfillment of the prophecies of Malachy and Nostradamus in the newly elected pope.

And finally, although Horn and Putnam do state that they are not setting dates and argue that they are merely reporting what others have written concerning 2012, in Petrus Romanus they are very focused on 2012 as the likely year of fulfillment of Malachy’s prophecy. This can be seen in the pagan prophecies they cite, all of which point to 2012. They also see significance in the fact that 2012 was predicted by Thibaut, as well.

As we write, it is two days before Christmas, 2011. At the risk of sounding like a “bird of ill omen,” 2012 is here folks! Over sixty years ago, Thibaut derived the ominous date of 2012 by calculating the average length of papal reign up until the time he wrote his book circa 1950 to be eleven years. We have verified his math and extrapolated it to our current time. Astonishingly, the average of eleven has held true to three decimal places, 1/1000th accuracy. For this simple derivation, allowing the average of eleven years per reign and a total of forty popes (11 x 40) he extrapolated 440 years from 1572 (1572 + 440) to arrive at the date for the arrival of Petrus Romanus in 2012. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 792-797).]

In other words, 2012 was seen as an end-times “event horizon” by at least one Jesuit priest before most readers were born. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 798-799).]

Also note the quote above asserts, “in many ways” this means he derives 2012 from several distinct methods of cryptographic analysis. These will be examined after we survey some essential background, but as the final year he derived 2012 exclusively. Indeed, while he (and us) acknowledges the folly of setting a date for Christ’s coming, he still centers on 2012 but for no other reason than he believes the prophecy demands it. [1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 801-804).]

The work that Thibaut does to come to this conclusion involves tortuous logic and tortuous calculations that even Horn and Putnam agree feel contrived. Yet, in the end, they seem to ultimately yield to Thibaut’s conclusions because they apparently agree with him that the results point to a supernatural origin.[1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 1592-1593).]

They further point to what they was an accurate prediction on their part concerning the resignation of Benedict XVI based on Thibaut’s calculations that the penultimate pope would leave office in 2012. They stated in Petrus Romanus that if he were to resign in April 2012 that this would be a “staggering authentication of Thibaut’s work but anytime in 2012 would still be incredible.”[1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 1693).] Even though we know that Benedict XVI resigned on February 23, 2013 the authors argue that he really resigned in March or April of 2012 because they say that is when he informed some within the Vatican of his decision. But, it would appear that whatever Benedict XVI did in 2012, it was not a resignation. To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s not over till it’s over.”

Once again, it seems that no matter what actually happens, virtually everything is interpreted as being a confirmation of their conclusions. However, Horn and Putnam are still faced with the fact that essentially none of the supporting / corroborating pagan prophecies were actually fulfilled in 2012.

To be fair, it must be noted that Horn and Putnam acknowledge the possibility that the Roman Catholic Church, being aware of the prophecies, may actually implement certain strategies in order to cause the fulfillment of Malachy’s prophecies. However, they also dismiss that this is sufficient to account for what they believe are many things over which individuals and the Church as a whole could not exercise influence.

 

Summary and conclusions

So, is Pope Francis history’s final pope? The Lord certainly knows. But that he is the final pope cannot be known based on the research, evidence and logic used by Horn and Putnam in drawing their conclusions on this point. Although they have done a tremendous amount of helpful research, the emphasis they place on the accuracy of extra-biblical prophecies and conjecture, including those from pagan sources, and the conclusions they draw from these present serious problems. As it relates to the prophecies, much of the foundation upon which the authors have built is made up of the work of pagans, mystics, frauds, forgers, heretics and false prophets.

The following is just one of numerous examples of how the authors acknowledge the potential problems with their methods and conclusions, but seemingly dismiss those problems and proceed:

Please note that we do realize that date-setting has a well-documented 100 percent failure rate but, even so, we must acknowledge, there it is, 2012, brazened all over the pages of this 1951 tome. The simplest calculation which derives 2012 for the last pope is based on extrapolating the average papal reign of eleven years.[1. Petrus Romanus (Kindle Locations 1231-1233).]

This issue is even reflected in the subtitle of Petrus Romanus—The Final Pope Is Here. On the one hand, even though in a comment criticizing this article Putnam says that he only assigns a 60-70% probability that they are right, the subtitle of the book implies that they are quite confident they have it right when they conclude that the pope following Benedict XVI would be the final one.

One concern with this is that despite these problems, the authors are apparently having a tremendous influence on at least certain segments of the Body of Christ. As of today, March 22, 2013, the paperback version of Petrus Romanus is ranked at #945 out of millions of books on Amazon.com, with it sitting at #4 in the “Religious Warfare” category, #4 in the “Catholicism” category and #74 in the “Christian Living category. However, even more telling and more sadly, the Kindle version of Petrus Romanus is ranked at #1 in both the “Eschatology” and “Prophecy” categories, and #10 in the “Christian Reference Works” category. This represents a lot of books being sold and a lot of people being influenced—undoubtedly believers and unbelievers alike.

However, beyond their influence through this book as well as interviews and articles, the authors are being offered major speaking platforms. For example, Tom Horn was a keynote speaker at the The Strategic Perspectives Conference  in last October, which was hosted by the Koinonia House ministry of Chuck Missler, who was also a keynote speaker. (Other speakers included Jonathan Cahn and David Barton—both of whom have had questions raised about the accuracy of their work, and Joseph Farah, who continues to promote books on the WND website which have serious problems, even heresy in the case of books by Joe Kovacs, one of their contributing writers.)

In June of last year, Tom Horn was keynote speaker at the 2012 Prophecy in the News Conference in Branson Missouri. Speakers at that conference included Jonathan Cahn, Joseph Farah, Chuck Missler, Bill Salus, and Gary Stearman among others.

In July of this year, Horn will be addressing the Pike’s Peak Prophecy Summit, which is already sold out of tickets. The list of other speakers includes Cris Putnam, Jonathan Cahn, Joseph Farah, Gary Stearman, Chuck Missler, L.A. Marzulli, Mark Biltz, Lennart Moller, Bill Koenig, Ken Johnson, Paul McGuire, Jerry Robinson, Stan Monteith, Doug Woodward, Bob Cornuke, Barrie Schwortz, Doug Hamp, Bill Salus, David Olander, Samuel Hoyt, Doc Marquis, Derek Gilbert and David Brennan. I do not know about the work of some of these men, but the list does include those who are respected and have quite a bit of influence among believers. When good men join together with those whose work is problematic, especially in a conference-type forum, it can create a lot of unnecessary confusion within the Body of Christ.

Although we cannot know with any certainty whether or not Pope Francis will be the last pope, we can know with certainty that we continue to witness the ongoing erosion of biblical discernment as evidenced by the sales of books like Petrus Romanus and attendance at conferences where these kinds of things are taught. Beyond this, those who are exposing these issues are coming under fire more than at any time in recent memory.

_______________________

41 Comments
  1. Good article, thank you I am disturbed by a lot of Horn’s teachings and the amount of Christians who follow this man
    He heavily relies on extra Biblical teachings to build his doctrines and teachings on eschatology which are widely read and believed which I guess is what you are referring to when you say at a later date you might write another article on him Looking forward to your article, have you read Herescope who also exposes his teachings Blessings, keep up the good work
    I have posted the article Are Muslims having dreams and visions a number of times when the subject has come on Facebook, sadly many would rather believe stories they hear than Scripture Again thank you

    • Thanks, Jude.

      Interesting that you Herescope as I just received an email from Sarah Leslie who asked for permission to reprint this article on Herescope (which of course, I gave).

      The other article I’m thinking about writing concerns Horn’s work (and others’) concerning “Nephilim Stargates” – which makes Petrus Romanus look like child’s play (in my view).

      Dave

  2. Hi Dave, I thought that was the subject you are thinking of writing on, it does need exposing I agree that the Nephilim teaching is very dangerous
    Some time ago I was searching for information on nephilim teaching and found Herescope, they have in depth teachings like yours Blessings

    • I’ve known Larry DeBruyn for over 20 years. He was the pastor of a church that continues to support our ministry.

  3. Excellent article. The hype over these Catholic prophecies is right in line with Cahn’s cursed Galatianism, the faithless Emerging movement and and everything else Christ predicted via Paul: in the last days people would have an outward appearance of godliness – mere religion – but would deny the only true power of godliness, which is the Gospel of the grace of God. Thus they would heap to themselves false teachers to satisfy their ever-itching ears, without ever coming to a knowledge of the Truth. Sorry to verse-mash there but everything predicted in those passages is coming to pass like never before. Maranatha!

    • Thanks, Don.

      One point. I understand your point about Jonathan Cahn, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call his views “cursed Galatianism” as the Galatians were attempting to return to Judaism as a means of justification not just celebration and worship. I disagree with the term and practices of “messianic Judaism” because there is no indication that Paul or any of the other apostles taught or practiced this in 1st century Christianity – and it can give people the wrong impression, but if you listen to his messages, I think you find that he does preach a message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. As I’m sure you know, I have been fairly critical of The Harbinger, but we do need to be fair.

      Thanks for taking time to read and comment.
      Dave

  4. Dave, my comment stemmed from information I’ve read over the years that Messianic congregations combine faith in Christ with works elements of Judaism and lawkeeping…all of which was nailed to the Cross. It is my understanding that they do this not merely in name, but in actual practice to obtain or demonstrate their righteousness before God, which is the very essence of Galatianism and the very thing which warranted Paul’s dual anathema. If you know that these analyses are in error I will gladly consider correction, but I’m pretty sure that is the whole reason Messianic congregations exist – to preserve a distinction which, in Christ, has long been neutralized by the Cross and invalid before God (Gal 3:28).

    Further, Paul stated that though some during the Apostolic period had known Christ “according to the flesh” – meaning during His earthly ministry to Israel – we of the Body of Christ know Him thus no longer (2 Cor 5:16). Rather, we know Him ONLY according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom 16:25, Eph 3:8-9). Messianic congregations seek the Christ of the four gospels, which is Old Testament ground (Heb 9:16), not according to the mystery body of doctrine given to Paul. Of course, Messianics are by no means alone in that – most denominations do exactly the same as they do.

    • Don,

      Again, I understand what you’re saying and your concerns. I have only just begun to look more deeply into the Messianic and Hebrew Roots movements (which aren’t synonymous – though there is undoubtedly overlap).

      I am still in the process of working through this and will be publishing a preliminary article before too long on both issues – and will probably do several over time.

      To this point, I’m not aware that there is a strong mixture of law and grace – especially when it comes to the matter of justification through the law or even righteousness. And we also recognize the the Bible decries both legalism and antinomianism as extremes.

      We do know, as you note, that there is “neither Jew nor Greek” – but only Christians in Christ. I see no problem with certain things like putting on Seder meals in order to show how the Messiah was foreshadowed in the Passover – and how He fulfilled everything to which it pointed. And, of course, we should teach how Christ was pictured in all of the Jewish feasts with, again, an emphasis on His fulfillment.

      And, being a missionary, I fully understand how different ethnic groups blend certain ethnic distinctives into the worship of the Lord. For example, in Hungary, where I was a missionary for 16 years, Gypsy churches have a different “flavor” than Hungarian churches – and everyone recognizes this.

      My concerns relate to bringing distinctively Jewish practices into the NT Church that were never suggested or taught by any of the apostles. And, for example, never is a leader in the church referred to as “rabbi” as a title, even though the first believers in almost every congregation were ethnically Jewish. Why did Paul, who was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, the most well-studied and perhaps theologically astute of all the apostles never once suggest that any church should adopt and bring into the churches any Jewish practices whatsoever – whether they were predominately Gentile, Jewish or a mixture? Why is it that the writer of Hebrews worked so hard to make a hard break with Jewish practices? Why was it never explained how the Jewish feasts were to be blended into church worship? The answer seems very clear, they knew that this mixing was not ordained by God to be a part of the church.

      This is not at all to suggest that we cannot learn much from ethnically Jewish Christians – and perhaps many things that we would never understand as ethnically Gentile believers.

      This is not at all an anti-Semitic view as some have suggested. It does not favor unbelieving Jews over ethnically Jewish Christians as some have suggested. It very simply reflects what we see throughout the entire New Testament. If anyone can show anywhere the NT teaches or anywhere that NT churches incorporated distinctly Jewish worship into the church, I am more than willing to make adjustments in my thinking so that it is as biblical as possible, which is really what I want to do.

      All that to say this: I do understand exactly what you’re saying, Don. And I also agree that the danger exists to introduce confusion into the church by bringing these things into the church such that they become the primary identifying characteristics of the church – even when Christ is emphasized and magnified.

      Just one more note: This really takes this thread far away from the article, so I’m not sure this is the best place to work through this. I do look forward to more of this discussion after I write an article on this subject. (Which will only be done in close consultation with Jewish evangelical believers, especially those who work with Friends of Israel, with whom I have some close connections.)

      Thanks, again, for reading and commenting.
      Dave

  5. Pretend reviews are always poor. It’s obvious you did not read the book. Apparently you only quote mined selective parts from the early chapters which supported your preconceived conclusions. Had you bothered to actually read the book, the Malchy prophecy is a minor part of the total text. We never put it on the level of scripture and advised skepticism. Even so, this book acknowledged all the forgery arguments on a level that no other work ever has. You failed to engage the arguments. It’s obvious you only quote mined and didn’t actually read it or you could not have come to these conclusions. For example you skipped right over this:
    When we began researching the prophecy, we started with a healthy dose of skepticism. In light of the Counter Reformation and the Vatican’s well-documented trail of forgeries, one might suspect the Prophecy of the Popes to be some sort of manipulation. As we initially delved into the scholarship on the subject, our worst suspicions seemed to be confirmed. Early on, the evidence that the pre-1590 prophecies were written after the fact was so convincing that we considered shelving the project. However, there were a few remarkable twentieth-century fulfillments like Benedict XV, assigned the motto Religio depopulate, that merited serious pause. There is well-documented history of the prophecy in the sixteenth century, so any fulfilled mottos after that time demand serious consideration.

    Overall a dishonest review.

    • Cris,

      Thanks for taking time to read the review and comment.

      While you may disagree with my conclusions, it is quite condescending to call it a “pretend” review – but worse, you level an accusation that I didn’t read the book, which is pure speculation – and in fact you’re wrong because I did read the book. In these situations it might be better to ask a question than level this sort of completely false accusation.

      Second, while it is true that you acknowledge the problems with the possible forgery, the book and subsequent interview (such as with PITN) and WND articles, it is clear that you and Mr. Horn are strongly arguing for the validity of the “prophecies” – whether they come from Malachy, Nostradamus, the forger or someone else. At one point, you comment something to the effect “whoever it was, he was a prophet.”

      There are also multiple other issues in my review besides simply the Malachy prophecy – for example Nostradamus (a false prophet), pagan prophecies and the fact that they could have had a source other than God while having some fulfillment – as is true of most false prophets who do get things right a lot of the time.

      It almost raises the question of whether you actually read my article – but I assume you did.

      Overall, an inadequate response.

      (In the interest of fairness, I will go back and take a another look at your book and make any adjustments to my review as appropriate.)

  6. If it can be verified that an extrabiblical prophecy did come to pass exactly as uttered, there are three possible explanations:

    (1) Divine inspiration of the prophecy.

    (2) A merely human lucky guess.

    (3) Satanic orchestration of a worldly system where, in time, events are manipulated into “forcing” the prediction to come to pass, lending it the false appeareance of divine sanction, which is then used to fortify other doctrines of demons.

    Since the canon of Scripture is closed and God is not now inspiring prophecy, and since we’re dealing with multiple allegedly fulfilled prophecies, options 1 and 2 can be eliminated.

    So assuming there really have been extrabiblical predictions that have, or seem to have, actually come to pass, to infallibly learn the source of both the prophecy and its fullfillment we need only ask two questions:

    a. What does the person or body promoting the prophecy say regarding the work of Christ on the cross: Was it completed once for all time? Or it it ongoing or otherwise incompleted, so as to render the Cross – by itself – unable to make one eternally right with God?

    b. In light of that, “What must I do to be saved?”

    Any variance from what the apostle Paul wrote regarding these two areas will tell you the source of the prophecy and how it was made to come to pass (if in fact it did so).

    • I completely agree with the three possible explanations of extra-biblical prophecy.

      One the second part concerning prophecy, a couple of notes.

      1. I agree with both a closed canon and a cessation of prophecy until the Tribulation period after the Rapture.
      2. Most continuationists also agree with closed canon and do not agree that ongoing prophecy violates that. (although I disagree)
      3. Probably most who believe in ongoing prophecy would agree that Christ’s work was completed and that ongoing prophecy is not connected with salvation.

      So, we just need to be careful to not unintentionally create straw man arguments.

      (again, I agree with your overall theological positions – so I’m not questioning those at all)

  7. Your so-called review only references material from the first couple chapters and the last section and completely disregards the bulk of my historical argument regarding the historicist school of the reformers. It’s completely ignored. This and your reliance on articles rather than the book itself indicates a lack of meaningful engagement and preconceived agenda to quote mine in noder to support your presupposed conclusions. You’re statements reveal overall ignorance of the book. Its very obvious you did not read it.

    For example, you write “Therefore, such prophecies cannot be considered reliable unless it is presumed that God is involved in some way. Therefore, the dilemma is that the authors must either believe that “God just got in there” and in some way inspired pagans to accurately prophesy, or they are relying on false prophets, who are either making predictions on their own or are being influenced by demonic forces.”

    Explain the prophecy of Balaam that led the Maggi to Bethlehem.

  8. Your so-called review only references material from the first couple chapters and the last section and completely disregards the bulk of my historical argument regarding the historicist school of the reformers. It’s completely ignored. This and your reliance on articles rather than the book itself indicates a lack of meaningful engagement and preconceived agenda to quote mine in noder to support your presupposed conclusions. You’re statements reveal overall ignorance of the book.

    For example, you write “Therefore, such prophecies cannot be considered reliable unless it is presumed that God is involved in some way. Therefore, the dilemma is that the authors must either believe that “God just got in there” and in some way inspired pagans to accurately prophesy, or they are relying on false prophets, who are either making predictions on their own or are being influenced by demonic forces.”

    Explain the prophecy of Balaam that led the Maggi to Bethlehem. God uses unlikely sources and in 12th century there were not many options as the reformation has yet to occur. You are guilty of the genetic fallacy and you also seem ignorant of the fact that a major portion of the book is a polemic against Catholic theology. Many readers even use it as an apologetics reference when debating Catholics.

    • Yes, I understand it is a polemic against Catholic theology – and there is value in this, which I should have acknowledged – and I will make some appropriate edits to reflect that.

      My article was not a full-scale review of the book – and that was not my intention. Beyond that, I deal with much more than the problem of the Malachy prophecy.

      On the other hand, I think I do quote from the book significantly – and I think more than articles – so this is another inaccurate charge. But even concerning the articles, they were based on interviews with Mr. Horn.

      I note that you acknowledge the Malachy prophecy was probably a forgery – but then go on to still insist that whoever the source, combined with all the pagan sources, that Francis is still likely the last pope based on the sum total – which is precisely the point of my article.

      The Balaam prophecy is not an issue because the Holy Spirit has told us that “God got in there.” However, He has not told us the same regarding the pagan prophecies and those of the forger / Malachy and Nostradamus. Therefore, it is extremely likely that since they came from false prophets that Pope Francis is not the last. He could be – but we can’t know that with the certainty you and Mr. Horn assert. I’m not at all saying God couldn’t have somehow caused them to get it right – but neither can you say He did. Again, false prophets get things right enough of the time that people follow them.

      Again, I will read some of the sections more closely and make any adjustments necessary. My guess is that if I do add details related to those that things are going to get worse rather than better – but I could be wrong.

      I’m fully capable of “meaningful engagement” – it was just not my intention to get into detailed engagement in this short article – which, again, was never intended to be a full book review.

      The question is, Did I get anything specifically wrong with what I did engage? If so, I’m more than happy to correct those errors. I do make mistakes and there could be some in this article. If there are factual errors – just let me know. I don’t have a preconceived agenda as you charge.

  9. “1. I agree with both a closed canon and a cessation of prophecy until the Tribulation period after the Rapture.”

    True, true. My default focus is upon this present dispensation of Grace so I tend not to think in terms of the Tribulation period since the Body won’t be here for it. :)

    “2. Most continuationists also agree with closed canon and do not agree that ongoing prophecy violates that. (although I disagree)”

    Perhaps because they have never wrestled with ~pleroo~ in the Greek of Colossians 1:25-26 and so have never recognized the inconsistency of their position. Either God still speaks or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, then all that is extrabiblical but claiming to be from Him is a lie. Period. If He does still speak, then the basic O.T. tests of prophethood still apply (minus the death penatly for being wrong even once). Of course, all modern ‘prophets’ are graciously allowed margin for error by their adherents, conveniently enough. But God doesn’t.

    “3. Probably most who believe in ongoing prophecy would agree that Christ’s work was completed and that ongoing prophecy is not connected with salvation.”

    Likely true on the second part but, as you well know, Roman Catholics – as matters of both doctrine and practice – will strongly disagree on the first part. Mormons and the Watchtower would disagree with both.

  10. Balaam was a Moabite sorcerer hired to curse the Israelites, yet he delivered the star of Bethlehem prophecy. Your argument above leaves no room for something like this, but there it is in scripture.

    As to ongoing prophecy the apostle Paul clearly taught it “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Th 5:19–21)

    The fact that we test it and hold fast to what is good revelas we must have a place for imperfect prophecy (or there would be no need to test it).

    Also, you offered no rationale for why your “review” ignored the major portion of the overall book, the historicist argument held by every protestant for 400 + years. It was the bulk of the book yet this “review” never mentioned any of it. Do you still stand by your statement that you read the book?

    • My position absolutely does leave room for Balaam – just as much as for Caiaphas, so you must have missed my point.

      I have just been going back through the book – and yes, I see that you’re right, there are some places that I skimmed over. I read it over a period of about 4 weeks – so was in and out of it multiple times. I did read the majority of it and until I went back to look a few minutes ago, I honestly did not realize there were parts that I had not read closely – again, because I was in and out over a long period of time. This was compounded by the fact that it was the Kindle version. I am now going back into some of the more tedious parts to see if I need to make any adjustments. My intention is to be fair.

      I strongly disagree with the “imperfect prophecy” view of NT prophecy (Grudem and others) – and the argument about “testing it” does not logically hold. So, I’m sure we won’t come to agreement on this – which will obviously be a sticking point since your book seems to presume it.

  11. Hello Cris,

    “As to ongoing prophecy the apostle Paul clearly taught it “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Th 5:19–21)”

    That was written when God was still inspiring the writing of what we now have in Scripture. It was during this period that miraculous signs amongst Gentile “dogs” were still being manifested as a witness against Israel. But eventually these sign gifts passed away; note that Paul did not heal Trophimus but left him sick at Miletus, and advised Timothy to take a little wine for his oft infirmities. The sign gifts had passed by that point, and are now gone.

    “The fact that we test it and hold fast to what is good revelas we must have a place for imperfect prophecy (or there would be no need to test it).”

    No. There is no such thing as an imperfect prophecy FROM GOD. However, there was (and is!) false prophecy and false prophets. That was the point.

  12. The Balaam incident proves God can and does use unlikely sources. This reveals the shallowness of your claims. I followed Paul’s advice to test and hold to what is good. The prophecy shows remarkable instances of fulfillment, its not easy to dismiss Benedict XV “religion depopulated” or Paul VI “flower of flowers” — I tested it, it has merit.

    I have never asserted certainty and the book does not either. I usually say 60-70 percent in interviews as to my confidence level. However, we did write that Benedict would step down before he did and it turned out to be correct down the exact time April 2012 – the NY Times reported that he decided and told a select few at the end of March 2012. This was speculation based on Thibaut’s book and rumors but it came to pass. I was also prescient in that the deal for the Hall of the Last Supper in Israel was consummated.

    You seem to misunderstand the forgery argument utterly, this is why I question if you actually read the book. I explained how biblical scholars detect layers of context. If you followed any of that then your conclusions erroneous.

    Also you wrote “After this series of pagan prophecies, the authors then cite Jonathan Edwards (although they provide a source of this):” I cited multiple sources for Jonathan Edwards and even quoted entire letters by him. If you had read the book you would have read those letters. Obviously you would have never written the statement above if you read the book.

    Clarence Goen writes, “Edwards considered that the most likely time for the end of the reign of Antichrist was 1260 years after either AD 606 (the recognition of the universal authority of the bishop of Rome), or AD 756 (the acceding of temporal power to the Pope).” (Petrus p. 255)

    footnote 358: Clarence Goen, “Jonathan Edwards: A New Departure in Eschatology” (Church History 28, 1 Mr 1959), 29. p 25–40.

    I think you obviously quote mined using kindle because your many uniformed assertions betray you.

    • The matter of testing prophecies has nothing to do with testing the prophecies of known false prophets to see if they might get something right. Surely that’s not what you’re suggesting.

      Believe what you wish, I did not quote mine. I carefully read the sections I quoted, I skimmed other sections. There is no citation at the Jonathan Edwards quotation – and I did not check to see if you had cited it elsewhere. I have no problem removing the comment in parenthesis and almost didn’t include it anyway. It has not effect on the point I was making.

      I don’t think I misunderstood the issue on forgeries – and I did carefully read the discussion of textual criticism – but I will look at it again.

      As I have already said, I will go back into the necessary sections to see if I need to make adjustments which I’m more than happy to do.

      Again, I think the main issue is a fundamental difference in the function of false prophets and prophecies in general. I don’t see this changing – and this is the primary issue I was dealing with and not the entire book. I have stated this several times – and will re-iterate, I will dig deeper – but if everything else is any indication, this will end up being more of a problem for your conclusions, rather than less. Of course, I could be wrong – and if so, I will make the adjustments, as I have said.

      It will probably be a few days before I can complete this.

  13. I see the goal posts have now shifted down field from “I read the Book” to this ” I carefully read the sections I quoted, I skimmed other sections.” There’s a big difference between “sections I quoted” and reading the book but thanks for being honest. You didn’t really read read the book.

    How do you know Malachy was a false prophet? Just because he was a Catholic? If you were a Christian in the 12th century there weren’t any other options, so that is hardly a valid reason to hold him in contempt. I’m not saying either way, but your argument is logically fallacious and historically uninformed.

    “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”(1 Th 5:19–21)

    I tested. The only thing I went by is that the prophecy shows accuracy in predicting the future. Even so, I voiced skepticism.

    Next, you seem to imply that we think things like the Zohar are reliable prophecies but we don’t. What we commented on is that it is interesting that so many divergent sources seem to point to the same period of time. We never implied they were correct or inspired but your review implies that this our position. How do we explain the fact that all of these folks who had no contact with one another made such similar predictions? And yes even Tom Horn has suggested they could be demonically inspired – many times – but you say we make no allowance for false prophets. We did and do… Tom’s working theory is that the Catholics are fulfilling thew prophecy on purpose as a template. My theory is that it really predicts the future but in an ironic weird way as if God is making an example… only time will tell.

    • You can take what I said however you like. The truth is when I said I read the book I thought that was true. As soon as I went back and realized there were parts that I hadn’t read as closely, which I didn’t realize, I admitted that. I wasn’t trying to play games – that is what happened.

      You clearly highlight some of the major problems in this comment at least as well as I could have – and it is this logic that plagues the book:

      1. You argue that Malachy’s prophecies seem to be accurate.
      2. Then you point out that a portion were forgeries, but that those forgeries were accurate so that person was a prophet. (In the book, you don’t say he might have been, you say he was and didn’t realize it (if I recall correctly – but paraphrased).
      3. You misapply “test everything” to false prophets in order to sort out what a false prophet might have said that was accurate – because you are using Nostradamus and pagans – and Malachy and Catholic mystics for support. A thoroughly mystical medieval Roman Catholic who believes and teaches the heresies of the Catholic church is a false prophet / teacher – even if he gets some things right.
      4. Then you argue against my implication that you consider the Zohar reliable (I didn’t imply it, I stated it clearly) -but you seem to on this point.
      5. Your argument is far more than “it’s just interesting” – you built a book around it.

      Of course time will tell if you’re right – but you’re selling books trying to demonstrate ahead of time that you are and giving interviews saying that Francis is a “fantastic fulfillment of prophecies. This is another problem that plagues your work – you have unfalsifiable claims – a serious theoretical problem – because no matter what happens it is interpreted as confirming your predictions. One of multiple examples is Benedict XVI’s resignation. He may have talked about it in 2012 – even said he was going to for certain – but he was still fully functioning as pope – he did not resign officially. If I say, “I’m quitting my job” but I continue to work for two more weeks I haven’t quit. To quote Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

  14. 1) they do.
    2) you completely missed the argument because you never actually read the book. Te argument is that an original document was modified by a forger who modified the section to match Panvinius’ book. I throw out as in completely disregard that part. I only look at the unmodified part the part that was not touched by the forger, the first layer of context. This is the real prophecy. You never actually understood this… do you now?
    3) I don’t care about Nostradamus and have never said he was accurate, neither does our book, simply citing something as a point of interest does not amount to endorsing it. But “test EVERYTHING” necessarily includes things we later determine to be false or it would be incoherent to say test everything… and “hold fast to what is good” implies letting go of the parts that aren’t. Thus, your cessationism is unbiblical.
    4) we never said the Zohar was accurate only that it agrees with other predictions from sources that had no way of collusion. that’s all… but that needs an explanation.
    5) we built out book on the fact that these divergent sources agree with Revelation17 and the view of every Protestant from Martin Luther through Charles Hodge in 20th century.

  15. “Had you bothered to actually read the book, the Malachy prophecy is a minor part of the total text.”

    I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on how much of the text is devoted to it. But the St. Malachy prophecies were an integral part of the pre-release teasers posted on the Raiders News website – as were Malachi Martin’s controversial claims about the Vatican.

    The Malachy prophecies are inexorably linked to the Petrus Romanus theory. Start a conversation about Petrus Romanus with anyone who knows about the book and it will inevitably lead to St. Malachy.

    • Hey Alf,

      Yes, that is true – it is definitely the glue that holds the thing together.

      And just FYI, if Cris is still watching this thread, I got caught off guard with the “you didn’t read the book” accusation. My first reaction was, “yes, I did read it” – then Cris brought up a couple of points that made me think I had maybe missed significant portions in the process, but as I started going back through everything last night I realized that I had, in fact, gone through most of it, but the style and facts became so tedious that it is very difficult to follow in some places (and easy to forget).

      I did realize that there was one point that I had missed related to the forgery issue, and so I corrected that in the article. But, as I suspected given everything else, the deeper I go with the analysis, the more problems surface. So, in the end, Cris didn’t do himself any favors by driving me back into the book – at least not so far.

      I am making ongoing updates to the article as I’m going.

  16. Dave,
    Thanks for all you do! I heard Jack Van Impe sharing this prophecy as fact last week and the first thing I thought of was why are we taking extra-biblical sources so serious? It plays into the hand of those who already believe that “God is Still Speaking”, which is why so many are so confused on the same-sex issue. I tell my people all the time “When in the Bible there is no explanation, beware and make no speculation!” This is why Pastors like myself are constantly trying to straiten out the warped thinking of our people. Of course I know Paul told Timothy that this would be indicative of the last days. I think it is sad that as people are dying and going to hell, there are a lot of good Christian people who are focusing on their own agenda, popularity, and bank accounts. If we would put our time resources and passion into accomplishing the task our Savior gave us (Matt. 28:18-20) we would be reaching many more hell bound people with the awesome life changing gospel of Jesus Christ. There are 7 billion people in the world and only one Savior!! You wouldn’t know it by all the top selling Christian books.

    In Luke Chapter 24 I love the fact that Jesus spent Sunday afternoon the day of His Resurrection sharing the Gospel with the two on the road to Damascus. What method did he use for His witness? It was prophecy! The difference is all the prophecy he shared led to HIM. That is what makes the heart of man burn within, as the Spirit of God takes the Word of God into the heart and soul of sinful men so that the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will convince those who are otherwise on the way to a Christ-less eternity. These fables that “silly” and “senseless” people (2Tim. 3:6-7, Jer. 4:22) follow have a way of keeping their short attention span off what really brings honor and glory to our Heavenly Father.

    In conclusion we don’t need to speculate on who is going to be the last Pope, but what we need are more Soldiers fighting on the “real” front lines where we don’t need anymore stupid distractions (2 Tim. 2:4-9).
    I say this to encourage you Dave, because when my people come to me with these questions regarding the latest so called “New Thing” that they hear on TV, radio, or in the latest book, I can pass on the info that you have compiled and trust that your source is the Word of God.

    Pastors like myself don’t have time to read the latest Amazon best seller, because we are obeying our call and spending our time in the Book that never changes in this ever-changing world, and we are on our knees praying for those who have real needs. Thanks!

  17. Hello Quintin,

    “I heard Jack Van Impe sharing this prophecy as fact last week and the first thing I thought of was why are we taking extra-biblical sources so serious?”

    Yeah, sadly he is. I have memory burned into my mind of when he gushed how John Paul II’s spirit resonated with his own (Jack’s) spirit. The guy apparently knows the Word and, to his credit, had it out with TBN over something a few years back, but he’s a die-hard ecumenist.

    My question – which no one here may wish to answer – is, at what point do ecumenists have to be considered enemies of the Cross of Christ? I know what I think the answer is but rarely see it discussed, even as ecumenism spreads it net wider and wider.

    • Perhaps a simple working definition: An enemy of the Cross would be someone who either denies the deity of Christ, the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation or proclaims a false gospel which incorporates works.

      The last point gets a bit tricky to discern in the case of those who clearly proclaim the gospel of salvation by grace through faith, but incorporate works as a requirement for maintaining salvation. For example, I would not be comfortable calling most holiness groups enemies of the cross, even though they do not teach eternal security. This is a serious problem, but they generally proclaim the gospel correctly with regard to being saved, then things go south when it comes to “staying saved.” On the other hand, the Catholic Church incorporates works up front, which makes it an enemy of the cross as a system, although I would not extend this epithet to every Catholic – while it probably does apply to most in the priesthood.

  18. I can buy your working definition.

    “The last point gets a bit tricky to discern in the case of those who clearly proclaim the gospel of salvation by grace through faith, but incorporate works as a requirement for maintaining salvation.”

    That is the very definition of an enemy of the Cross, and goes back to our discussion about Galatianism from a few days ago. Salvation by grace through faith cannot coexist, nor be mixed with, salvation by works, either to obtain, maintain or prove one’s salvation. To believe such is to believe a false gospel (whether anyone who so believes has not already been saved by the Gospel of the grace of God, only He can know for sure).

    “For example, I would not be comfortable calling most holiness groups enemies of the cross, even though they do not teach eternal security. This is a serious problem, but they generally proclaim the gospel correctly with regard to being saved, then things go south when it comes to ‘staying saved.’ ”

    You’ve hit on a favorite pet topic of mine, one I have spent years researching, so let me say with all confidence: Any group that denies the unconditional eternal security of the believer in Christ by grace through faith in Him alone — even if they say they don’t deny it! — WILL invariably tell you to engage in some form of works either to maintain or to prove your salvation to THEIR satisfaction, without exception. They HAVE to. And that very much does make them an enemy of the Cross, to which God’s Law was nailed…but not theirs.

    Even some otherwise sound-looking denominations do this. You wouldn’t expect it but they do, and are so beclouded that they don’t even fully realize it. As an ex-independent, fundamental Baptist, I assure you with all humility that I know whereof I speak on this. A grace pastor (also an ex-indy/fundy Baptist) pointed out years ago that it’s one reason independent fundamental Baptists have such a long history of contention with Church of Christ/Cambpellites: both believe water baptism DOES impact your salvation and both will tell you (Baptists, semi-reluctantly) that without it you CANNOT be saved. Campbellites are honest enough to admit it up front and they despise Baptists for not doing so as well, when they both know they agree on the point.

    “On the other hand, the Catholic Church incorporates works up front, which makes it an enemy of the cross as a system, although I would not extend this epithet to every Catholic – while it probably does apply to most in the priesthood.”

    It is not an epithet if it is accurate. If someone defends and preaches a false gospel – even in ignorance – he or she by definition is an enemy of the Cross of Christ (lest their eyes are opened and they repent) because they automatically deny HIS Gospel in favor of the false one, whichever it is.

    I do not see that one need be unsaved to be an enemy of the Cross; only deceived or willfully disobedient to the revealed, rightly divided Word. So to the extent Jack Van Impe – presumaby saved – applauds popes and yokes himself in common cause with a church that has ANATHEMATIZED the only saving Gospel of the grace of God, it is to that extent Jack is an enemy of the Cross and sorely needs to repent.

    • Don,

      I agree that as a system of theology, one that denies the security of the believer in Christ is an enemy of the cross.

      However, as a label for any specific person, I think it needs to be used very carefully and in a more constrained way.

      For example, I know very dear believers, even relatives, who love the Lord and live for the Lord very consistently – they are just good Christian folks. I think it would be very inappropriate to describe them individually or label them as enemies of the cross even though they do believe that it is possible in some situations for someone to lose their salvation.

      This was my point.

      I think there is a difference between someone who is a “shepherd” versus someone who is “in the flock.” Jesus minced no words when it came to the Pharisees who were teaching these things, but had a very different approach when it came to the average sinner – who likely believed exactly the same things.

      I think the same care and criteria should be used concerning the label “heretic.” In general, I think this needs to be reserved for those who either have or try to have a platform for teaching heresy, not for just anyone who might believe a heretical doctrine.

      I think you can see from my writings that it would be difficult to find someone who is more conservative on theological and ecumenical issues than I am – and I’m not afraid to deal with these things, so this isn’t a matter of being soft or compromising – but we do need to be wise in how we deal with these things.

  19. I loved the book, and found the review disingenuous. Mr. Putnam and Mr. Horn have both said that the prophecies may not be from God but rather from the evil one or from some inside of the Vatican with an agenda to see them fulfilled. Or, they potentially are being used by God for a purpose. Seldom have I read a more thorough and scholarly work. Once Mr. James admitted to “skimming sections” after saying he read the book, the entire review became disingenuous. “Joel’s Trumpet” which linked this article has unfairly in my opinion, railed against Petrus Romanus before, and I feel certain that he has likely not read the book either.

    • Weeping Eagle,

      Thanks for taking time to read the article and to comment.

      I’m not trying to make excuses, but I tried to explain what actually happened and that I wasn’t intentionally being deceptive when I said I had read the book. I had picked it up and put it down many times over the course of more than a month, largely because I was in the middle of an intensive ministry trip to the Philippines. Then when Mr. Putnam challenged me further, and I got to thinking I may not have read all of it closely – thus the “skimming comment.” I was caught a bit off-guard and didn’t want to be disingenuous as you suggest I was.

      Then, before I completed the revised version of the article (which is what is now here, with some explanatory comments and a couple of corrections / adjustments) I did go back through the entire book much more carefully – and in doing so, realized that I had, in fact, read most of it – more than I realized when I mentioned “skimming” to Mr. Putnam.

      In going back through the book, I saw that the reason I skimmed some sections is because it dealt with Catholic theology and history, with which I am very familiar because I have been studying and teaching about Catholicism for nearly 30 years. In skimming that section, there were a few comments here and there that were significant to their thesis – but the majority of those only confirmed what I was saying about the book. In a couple of places they warranted adjustments to my article, which I made.

      My intention was always to be fair and honest – and in fact, the things you cite, I think I did mention in my article – but the problem is that in spite of the caveats, the prevailing idea is that these are fulfilled prophecies – and that these mean that it is very likely that Pope Francis is history’s last. I don’t believe these are genuine prophecies and the most that could be done is to look at the overall situation and make a “forecast” – which is different than a prophecy. My forecast is that Pope Francis will not be the last and the “prophecies” will prove to be wrong – and Petrus Romanus will fade into obscurity just as “88 Reasons…” did.

      Thanks, again.
      Dave

  20. W.E.,

    “Mr. Putnam and Mr. Horn have both said that the prophecies may not be from God but rather from the evil one or from some inside of the Vatican with an agenda to see them fulfilled.”

    The fact that the authors are not willing to take a stand one way or the other on whether the ‘prophecies’ are from God or not shows they have a MAJOR problem with discernment, especially when even Catholic Answers admits the ‘prophecies’ contain far too many ambiguities and potentially subjective interpretations to be trusted as from God.

    By the way – I note that the “How You Can Know Jesus Today” on your website contains these points:

    Admit your need for him.
    Be willing to turn from your sins.
    Believe that Jesus died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
    Invite Jesus to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit.

    The 3rd point is biblically accurate and complete in itself, per the apostle Paul. So why did you add the other three points to the Gospel of Christ? Just curious.

  21. Dave,

    Thank you for commenting back. After re-reading my comments, I want to sincerely apologize for coming across harshly with you brother. I was very wrong. I appreciate you doing your best to weed out false teaching in the Body. That is important work, and not easy sometimes to do. We are all wise to check and double check that what we believe lines itself with His word. Thank you for the good work that you do.

    God Bless

  22. Dave,

    You make a really good point on the “How To Become a Christian” link on that blog. To be honest, I hadn’t noticed that, it is copied from Billy Graham’s website, and the link at the bottom takes a person to BGEA. It has been on my heart to change it as a matter of fact. Thank you.

    • Weeping Eagle,

      Thank you for your kind words. I wasn’t thinking you should apologize, but I appreciate that you did – and of course, I accept the apology.

      Dealing with as many controversial things I do, I expect there will always be those who disagree with me (you wouldn’t even believe what some have said to me and about me with regard to my work in critiquing The Harbinger). But if everyone agreed with me, then there wouldn’t be much work to do in discernment because it would be evident that people were doing it themselves. This isn’t to suggest that I think I’m always right and I want to be open to correction at all time – but I do try to be able to handle things according to the Bible and in a fair and logical way.

      Thanks, again.
      Dave

  23. Only people who rely on unbiblical sources, like false prophets, and so on, can believe for sure that Francis is the last pope. Beyond that he may be, it is obvious we are getting closer and closer to the end, with decreasing discernment, and Christians believing (almost) anything, especially if it is related to the future or to America (for American Christians). Deuteronomy 29:29. Maranatha!

  24. I have problem with Mr. Putnam’s comment below.

    Cris Putnam on March 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm said:

    Balaam was a Moabite sorcerer hired to curse the Israelites, yet he delivered the star of Bethlehem prophecy. Your argument above leaves no room for something like this, but there it is in scripture.

    I think the point is missed by him in that, Balaam was from the beginning in error and against the Israelites. So is he trying to say that the false prophets in his book are the same (from the beginning in error)?

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