Antichrist

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Contents

[edit] Origin and meaning

The English word Antichrist is taken from the Greek αντίχριστος antíkhristos, which literally means "instead of Christ". In the Bible, the term itself appears only in 1 John and 2 John.

[edit] In the Old Testament

The Old Testament prophets referred to this End Times world leader who will dominate the whole world until the Messiah comes and establishes the Kingdom of God on earth.

Isaiah the prophet called him the Assyrian and said that God will crush him on the mountains of Jerusalem when God delivers Israel from his hand. (Isaiah 14:25-26)
The prophet Daniel called him “the ruler who will come” when he wrote that the Antichrist would first confirm a covenant with many. Daniel also wrote that this leader would set up the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple. (Daniel 9:26-27)

In Christian eschatology the Antichrist or Anti-christ (literally: anti, opposite; christ, messiah) has come to mean a person, image of a person, or other entity that is the embodiment of evil. The name Antichrist derives from the Book of Revelation, which describes a leader who will rise to world dominance during the End Times just before the Second Coming.

Daniel also referred to him as a “stern faced king” who would arise when rebels have become completely wicked. Daniel also wrote that he would destroy the mighty men and the holy people until he himself is destroyed, but not by human power. (Daniel 8:23-25)

[edit] Later texts and apocrypha

Related ideas and references appear in various apocrypha, and a more complete portrait of the Antichrist has been built up gradually by Christian theologians and folk-religionists.

One such apocryphal text is the apocalyptic pseudo-prophecy falsely attributed to the Tiburtine Sibyl. It purports to prophesy (although written after the fact—see postdiction) the arrival of the Christian emperor, Constantine, beginning:

Then will arise a king of the Greeks whose name is Constans. He will be king of the Romans and the Greeks. He will be tall of stature, of handsome appearance with shining face, and well put together in all parts of his body...

Millennialists and anti-Semites have relished the document's suggestion that the Antichrist will be an Israelite:

At that time the Prince of Iniquity who will be called Antichrist will arise from the tribe of Dan.

Some believe that the Antichrist will be of Jewish descent, basing their claims on Daniel 11:37. This verse says "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all" [1], (this may also indicate that the Antichrist will be either celibate or a homosexual [2]). Additionally, some believe, because of John 5:43, that the Antichrist may be accepted as Israel's and modern Jews' Messiah, and even set himself in a possibly rebuilt Third Temple in Jerusalem.

[edit] The expected role of the Antichrist

Image:Lucas Cranach - Antichrist.png
The Antichrist, by Lucas Cranach the Elder - 1521. During the time Cranach was under Protestant Lutheran influence and therefore portrayed the Antichrist with the papal tiara.

Christian denominations disagree on what will happen in the end times, and the role that Satan and the Antichrist will play. Among those who believe that the Antichrists of whom John was writing are instead a single individual and expect this one to arise in the future, there is a general consensus that sometime prior to the expected return of Jesus, there will be a period of "trials and tribulations" during which the Antichrist, inspired by Satan, will attempt to win supporters with great works, and will silence anyone or make enemies of any country that refuses their allegiance (by refusing to "receive his mark" on their foreheads or right hands). This "mark" is expected to be required to legally partake in commerce, as noted in the book of Revelation. Some Christians believe that the Antichrist will be assassinated half way through the Tribulation, being revived and indwelt by Satan. The Antichrist will continue on for three and a half years following this.[3]

In this view, an event popularly termed the "White Throne Judgment" will take place, at which time both the living and the dead will be resurrected, some for everlasting life, and some for everlasting death. All those who worship God and Jesus will be admitted to the presence of God; but everyone who would not repent of the Antichrist will be thrown into the "lake of Fire". Finally, the "Dragon" (often interpreted as Satan), the "Beast" (often interpreted as the Antichrist) and the "false prophet" (interpreted in many ways) who compels the world to worship the Beast (lie), and all who received his mark (cast their lot with him), will be thrown into a lake of fire together with death and Sheol. These views are based on controversial passages in the Apocalypse of John, more commonly known as the Book of Revelation.

In other views, the role is far less dramatic - the Antichrist is simply believed to be a group of individuals as well as organizations, who, for their history of trying to deceive and stifle the faithful, are finally destroyed for all time by God on the day of Armageddon. It is believed the anti-christ will be a great political leader leading the most powerful nation the world has ever known into a false war. Gog and Magog are identified as the nations in the four corners of the earth, and their attack is represented as an eschatological crisis after the Millennium, to be vanquished by divine intervention. The language of Gog and Magog's destruction is very similar to that of their mention in Ezekiel.

[edit] Identity of the Antichrist

According to the book of Revelation, a discerning person can identify the Antichrist by the number of the beast, specifically, 666 (or 616 in some minority texts). The Hebrew numerology called Gematria appears to be the most likely approach for calculating the numeric value of a name, although other numerology schemes are used in attempts to confirm the identity of the Antichrist.

[edit] Past identifications

[edit] Identifications from the Bible

Scriptural indications from where the Antichrist will come. The Old Testament prophets of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Micah associate this End times world leader with a particular area of the world. The apostle John in Revelation also provided similar clues from where the Antichrist will arise to power.

[edit] Identifications during the 1st millennium

According to Bernard McGinn, in Christianity's early days the Antichrist was identified variously as spirit of heresy (by Polycarp), the Roman empire (by Irenaeus), or the resurrected Nero (by John Chrysostom).

Arnulf of Rheims wrote in A.D. 991, “Quid hunc, rev. Patres, in sublimi solio residentem veste purpurea et aurea radiantem, quid hunc, inqam, esse censetis? Nimirum si caritate destituitur, solaque inflatur et extollitur, Antichristus est, in templo Dei sedens, et se ostendens tamquam sit Deus.”

"What do you estimate this to be, reverend fathers? When you see him sitting on a lofty throne glittering in purple and gold, what do you estimate this to be, I say? Without a doubt, if he lacks love, and is only swelled up and lifted up, must he not be the Antichrist, 'sitting in the temple of God, and also showing himself as God'”? [4]

[edit] Identifications during the 2nd millennium

Similarly, another idea that began appearing early in the history of the Christian church is that the Antichrist will be an apostate priest or Christian secular ruler, perhaps a Pope or other high leader of the Christian church, or a pretender to the Papacy.

Some Christian groups have made it an issue of faith to identify the Bishop of Rome and the papal system as the Antichrist. See, for example, the Smalcald Articles, Westminster Confession and the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith; early Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, John Knox, Cotton Mather, John Wesley and Ian Paisley, identified the Roman Papacy as the Antichrist [5]. Virtually all popes have been called the Antichrist by their enemies, and many popes have applied this title of "Antichrist", "son of perdition", or "man of sin", to their enemies as well.

In return, some Catholics expected a son of Martin Luther to be the Antichrist, as his scion would be the son of an ex-priest and ex-nun.

After the reforms of Patriarch Nikon to the Russian Orthodox Church of 1652 a large number of Old Believers held that tzar Peter the Great was the Antichrist [6], because of his treatment of the Orthodox Church, namely separating church from state, requiring clergyman to conform to the standards of all Russian civilians (shaved beards, being fluent in French), and requiring them to pay state taxes. In 1914 , a woman believing the faith healer Rasputin was the Antichrist, for his supposedly evil influences over the tzar and tzarina, stabbed him, cutting a large wound in his chest. He fully recovered.

Preterists look to an early antichrist. The Roman emperor beginning with Nero, sometimes together with the four emperors who succeeded him in the year following his suicide, until the elevation of Nero's general Vespasian to emperor, have been interpreted from very early times, either alone or collectively as the Beast of the Apocalypse. This is supported by some numerological interpretations.

In this tumultuous period, superstitious fear and mob violence grew against Christians, and the Roman wars against the Jews intensified (AD 6670), ending with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 under the command of general Titus (later emperor), and the slaughter of the Jews who were living at Jerusalem. According to tradition, Nero ordered the crucifixion of St. Peter and the beheading of Saint Paul. Both Jewish and Christian literature survives, referring to Emperor Nero as the Antichrist. A more detailed description of this Preterist interpretation can be found in the entry on the Book of Revelation.

Paul of Tarsus has been theorized by some Muslims and others (notably English political radical Jeremy Bentham) to have fulfilled the role of the Antichrist within the chronicles of the New Testament of the Bible itself. This theory is premised on an idea that the original teachings of Christ were subverted by Paul, rather than elaborated upon or revealed to Paul by Christ.

Widespread Protestant identification of the Papacy as the Antichrist persisted until the early-1900s when the Scofield Reference Bible was published by Cyrus Scofield. Prior to the Scofield Bible, with few exceptions, the Protestant confessions of faith declared the Papacy as the Antichrist. Westminster Confession of Faith:

25.6. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.

The London Baptist Confession of 1689:

26.4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, csacss. This view was then codified by St. Bellarmine, who gives in full the Catholic theory set forth by the Greek and Latin Fathers, of a personal Antichrist to come just before the end of the world and to be accepted by the Jews and enthroned in the temple at Jerusalem—thus endeavoring to dispose of the Protestant exposition which saw Antichrist in the pope. Bellarmine's interpretation, in modified form, is now accepted by most premillennial dispensationalists.[7]

[edit] Contemporary identifications

Identifying the Antichrist has returned as a task in the Internet age, and has created a body of literature in its own right.

Since the Bible indicates that the antichrist beast may be identified by a number, "the number of the beast" which "is the number of a man" (Revelation 13:18), various numerological methods of calculating the number of the name of the Beast ("666" in most manuscript sources, "616" in a minority), and other methods are used to identify the Antichrist before he has the chance to lead astray. The oldest historical example is in Latin where each letter has an equivalent numerical value.

In English, another example is the case of Adolf Hitler, where numbering the letters A=100, B=101, etc, produces H+I+T+L+E+R=666. That linear equation is the most reliable. There is a theory that one can put together all the numbers of last name and the last number of the first name, to get 666, however that theory can also be calculated only on last name with diophantine equation A=9, B=18, C=27, D=36...

In Hebew, an example is George W. Bush.

In fact, getting someone's name to add up to 666 involves solving a very simple linear diophantine equation. Critics of numerology point out that any name can be made to add up to 666 or any other number using the technique of diophantine equation. The name of Jesus Christ himself can be made to add up to 666, and thereby linked to the antichrist, a result that exposes the meaninglessness of such techniques.

Revelation 13 contains another description of the Antichrist against which people try to match contemporary figures:

1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

2 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.

3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?

5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (KJV)

The third verse especially attacts attention. For example, some theorists attribute this wounding and resurgence to the papacy, referring to General Louis Berthier's capture of Pope Pius VI in 1798, and the pope's subsequent death in 1799. Instead of reducing the power of the papacy, however, it grew and became the most influential political and religious power in the world. As another example, Gerard Bodson claims in his book "Cracking the Apocalypse Code" that this line refers to the defeat of Germany in World War I and its recovery under the Nazis. Germany is named as one of the heads of the beast (the other heads representing the other members of the Axis Powers: Italy, Japan, Finland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary).

Many claims about world leaders also echo the plot of the Left Behind series of novels (by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins), which put forward the idea that the Antichrist may be the Secretary-General of the United Nations. LaHaye and Thomas Ice publish a newsletter that speculates about these matters, and they have also suggested that the rise of militant Islam in the 21st Century is a possible sign of the End Times, as being the false religion and reign of the Antichrist, otherwise known as the False Prophet.

Jerry Falwell told a pastors' conference in January 1999 in a sermon on the Second Coming that the Antichrist was probably alive on earth, and certainly a Jewish male [8]. He subsequently clarified that "[t]his is simply historic and prophetic orthodox Christian doctrine" and had no anti-Semitic roots.

One of the more interesting Internet conspiracy theories about the Antichrist that has spawned as a result of renewed interest in the Magdalene-Christ debate, seemingly ties in both Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code while actually going a step further to put forth that the entire "Bloodline of Christ" theory is a well orchestrated and intentional hoax directed at the world yet having a single sinister goal to bring Bloodline believers into acceptance that one of these living "Bloodline descendants" will rise up to become a future Arthurian-like "Messianic figure" (not Christ, but the literal Antichrist), and that this Bloodline heresy is the very deception Secret Societies are using to promote this future Merovingian King onto the world stage.

German philosopher and son of Lutheran pastor, Friedrich Nietzsche, called himself the Antichrist. He even went as far as to write a book called The Antichrist. His later philosophy was based on the Dionysian aspects of individuals. In his famous first book, The Birth of Tragedy, he wrote this passage: "As a philologist and man of words, I baptized it, taking some liberties (for who knew the correct name for the Antichrist?), after the name of a Greek god: I called it the Dionysian."

In addition, certain occultists and Satanists have proclaimed themselves to be the Antichrist, including John Whiteside Parsons. The Antichrist is a popular archetype for villainous behavior.

[edit] List of Fictional Antichrists

Antichrists have been an idea explored often in fiction, and have even developed their own sort of fictional mythology. For example, the Book of Revelation does not necessarily say the Antichrist will be the son of Satan; but the idea was made popular in the movie The Omen, and its sequels, with the evil, childish Damien who grows up with the destiny to rule and destroy the world, as was Rosemary's Baby with her son, Adrian.

Antichrists portrayed in fiction include:

  • Damien Thorn from the movie series The Omen. This movie was so influential, in fact, that in most "Anti-Christian" movies following, it was naturally assumed that the Antichrist would be named Damien and be Satan's begotten son.
  • The animal Antichrist from South Park (though at the end of this episode it is revealed that he was only part of a story made up by Cartman).
  • The demon Agares from The Day After Judgement by James Blish.
  • To some extent Lord Shift from The Chronicles of Narnia."
  • In The Sex Pistols' song Anarchy in the UK, Johhny Rotten mentions that he is the Antichrist.
  • The Sinner Aion from the anime series Chrono Crusade claims to be Christ when he, more or less, symbolizes the Antichrist

[edit] External links

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Antichrist

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