“The Anti-Christ (sic) will be a man in his 40s who is of Muslim descent and has a massive Christ-like appeal, but will destroy everything when he is in power. Do we recognize this description? Post this message as many times as you can, including to media outlets. I refuse to take a chance on this unknown candidate who came out of nowhere.”
Actually, no, I don’t recognize this description. I was taught that the Antichrist would be a European Jew. Besides, the Bible was completed hundreds of years before Islam and Muslims existed.
I grew up on the campus of the notorious “fortress of fundamentalism,” Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina. Google it, and you’ll learn that I have a valid basis for my insanity. Like all fundamentalists I was obsessed with the Antichrist, the evil dictator who would suddenly appear and bring about the end of the world.
Of course, I and all other born-again Christians would be raptured (ie, taken to heaven) before the Antichrist’s reign, so why should we care? Come to think of it, what isthe fundamentalists’ obsession with the Antichrist’s identity? They’re the only ones on earth who aren’t going to be here to endure his tyranny. Why should they give a rat’s ass about the Antichrist? Because it’s EXCITING, that’s why! And it allows them to feel superior to all the sinners.
In 1980, for my thirteenth Christmas, I asked for and received a popular book in fundamentalist circles. Countdown to Armageddon, by the “prophet” Hal Lindsey, decreed that Jesus Christ would return and rapture us born-agains to heaven by 1988. Lindsey also predicted the ten-member European “Common Market” represented in the Bible by the ten-horned beast, would be a revival of the Roman Empire, a prerequisite for Christ’s return.
Twenty years later and amazingly there has been no rapture. The Common Market, now known as the European Union, has twenty-seven nations as members, not ten. There’s no 27-horned beast mentioned in the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible (a book that almost didn’t make the cut into the “canon of Scripture”). 27 horns is a lot to carry around, even for a nasty beast. I assumed Mr. Lindsey would’ve faded into oblivion, having made a fool of himself with his failed predictions. However, when I googled him, imagine my surprise to learn I discovered he’s got a website. Go figure. The tab for online giving must mean a sufficient quantity of dupes give money to this charlatan to keep him prognosticating his fictional tales of mindless superstition. Not surprisingly, a search of his site for Countdown to Armageddon yields no results.
It’s understandable that a 13-year old boy brainwashed in fundamentalist dogma would be enthralled with a fantasy like the apocalypse just as he would any other wild sci-fi tale. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:11:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Part of growing into adulthood is realizing that we don’t and can’t know what happens next, yet we go about our lives anyway. Unfortunately some adults retain a childlike fixation on the future, the great unknown. Their minds, fearful of uncertainty, demand an explanation for what’s going to happen next. The Hal Lindseys of the world prey on those fears by offering convenient answers.
Another predator is Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series of books. Although written as fiction, no doubt LaHaye expects his readers to believe that his novels are based on the “factual” account of the future contained in Revelation. This poorly-written and illogical series has sold tens of millions of books.
The fundamentalists’ preoccupation with a literal account of the end-of-days and the rise of the Antichrist is fascinating, especially when you consider that the Antichrist is mentioned only five times in four verses throughout the entire Bible. All four references are in the relatively obscure New Testament books of First and Second John. Of the five references, only one refers to the Antichrist. Ironically, despite what many self-proclaimed Bible-believers claim, the word “Antichrist” never appears in the book of Revelation. *
Most importantly, Jesus Christ never spoke about an Antichrist. In several cases, Jesus warned against “False Prophets” and many preachers I heard stated one of these was the Antichrist. Bullshit. Who are the”false prophets” Jesus spoke about? Hal Lindsey, for one. And no one has made more false predictions than Pat Robertson. More broadly, any minister who tells people they will go to hell when they die is a false prophet.
Although Revelation doesn’t mention the Antichrist, it refers to “the beast” in many places. Some believe that “the beast” and “the Antichrist” are the same, forming an “unholy trinity” with Satan. Considering Revelation 13’s description of “the beast,” though, the beast and the Antichrist are two distinct beings. Read this description of “the beast” and decide for yourself if it sounds like Barack Obama:
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
I’ve heard many fundamentalist ministers claim that this characterization must be read symbolically, a strange assertion coming from men who also taught me that the passages declaring homosexuals must be stoned to deathshould be read literally. Regardless, maybe I need glasses but Obama doesn’t look like a leopard. A lion maybe, perhaps King Mufasa from the musical version of the Lion King, but definitely not a leopard.
Although Antichrist is mentioned only five times, funnily enough, the phrase “Love thy [your] neighbor” appears at least twelve times. Jesus said that to “love your neighbor as yourself” is the second greatest commandment, exceeded only by loving God. Where is the fundamentalists’ obsession with that commandment?
On Semptember 29, Dutchess County, New York Republican Committee Chairwoman Corinne Weber (thankfully) was forced to resign after she forwarded the “Obama as Antichrist” to party members, some of whom were offended by its content. If Ms. Weber knew the Bible, she’d know it never gives an age for “the Antichrist” nor does it say the Antichrist is a Muslim.
This is what is most sinister: These people who call themselves Bible believing Christians have never read the Bible, have never studied its history or the history of Christianity and don’t know what it says. Yet, they’ll do something as serious as slander a Presidential candidate by calling him the Antichrist. And they vote. They should at least get the god-damned facts straight. Google it, for Christ’s sake, Ms. Weber. Better yet, brush the dust off your Bible and read it. If you don’t, then YOU are the false prophet.
*Biblical references are to the King James Version, the only truly inspired translation. Apparently God likes Elizabethan English.