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Are We Living in the Last Days? Part II

Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist
Luca Signorelli, 1499-1502

In the last essay (Are We Living in the Last Days? Part I) I explored the prophesied Great Apostasy which is to come upon all of humanity at the end of the world. I pointed out that while we are currently going through a massive apostasy in the Western world (Europe, North America, and places in South America and Oceania), and the Eastern world has gone through a massive apostasy under communism, the apostasy is not global in nature. There are still large regions of faith, particularly in Africa and Asia, in which Christianity is making great strides, even in the face of relentless persecution from communists and Islamists. Furthermore, the current apostasy in the Western world has a built-in auto-destruct timer, that makes it unsustainable. Secularism produces a childless culture. That's not speculative. That is a matter of historical fact. So every year, the average age of the Secular world gets older and greyer. To make up for this fertility crisis, Secular governments are forced to import immigrants from other lands, where they produce babies in greater quantity. In North America, immigrants are imported from Latin America, both legally and illegally, changing the character of the North American continent from Anglo-Protestant to Latino-Catholic. This trend will continue in the decades ahead. In Europe, the character of the continent is changing from Christian to Muslim. In my follow up essay (Defending Christian Culture and the Fall of Secularism) I predicted that the rise of Islam in Europe will eventually cause a backlash, and Europeans will have to choose between Christianity and Islam, because continuing in Secularism is a default choice for Islam. I predicted that Europeans would choose rather to return to Christianity, and that will set off a great upheaval on the European continent, which the rest of the world will watch in horror and wonder, 'how can we prevent this from happening here'. At that time, we will likely see a revival in Western Christianity. The massive apostasy we are witnessing today is merely a forerunner, or a full dress rehearsal, of the prophesied Great Apostasy that will come upon the whole globe at the end of the world. This current apostasy will end with the total collapse of Secularism, great social upheavals, and ultimately a return to the Christian faith. The next apostasy, the one of Antichrist, whenever that will be, will end with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

In this essay, I wish to further explore what that future major apostasy will be, and contrast it with the minor one we are currently experiencing. As bad as it seems now, it does not hold a candle to the one that will come at the end of days. Strong as this Secular delusion is now, it is nothing compared to the great delusion that the Antichrist will bring upon the world eventually.

Today, many of us here in North America, particularly those of us who live in the Bible Belt, are witnessing a panic amongst our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. For those who have not already given in to the Secular apostasy (and many Protestant churches have) there exists a feeling of dread, because many are convinced that the 'End of Days' are upon us. Within Protestantism there is an old heresy that goes back to the founder of Protestantism himself -- Martin Luther. You see, the first Protestants in Germany were told by Luther and his disciples that the office of the papacy is the prophesied Antichrist. Luther did this to frighten the people into following him, and it worked like a charm. The only problem is that in saying this, Martin Luther committed a Biblical heresy. He directly violated the Scriptures -- the very Scriptures he claimed to uphold above all things. I explained this concisely in my book Catholicism for Protestants...
QUESTION: Is the pope the Antichrist?  
ANSWER: While this question may seem ridiculous to many people, you might be surprised to discover just how many Protestants actually believe it, or are at least suspicious of it.  The notion comes from the first Protestant reformer himself – Martin Luther – in the sixteenth century, who asserted that the office of the papacy is the Antichrist.  That's not to say any particular pope, but the office of the papacy itself. So when German Protestants began to mix with English Protestants in the United States during the nineteenth century, you can imagine what an explosive combination this created.  As new American-style Protestant denominations were formed, the office of the papacy went from being the Antichrist on a purely philosophical level, to the actual incarnation of evil itself! 
This notion has become very popular among some Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal groups in the United States, and is a bit humorous when you really stop and think about it.  Before we start levelling the accusation of "Antichrist" at anybody, or any office, it might help to actually understand what the Bible has to say about it.  After all, the whole idea of "Antichrist" is a Biblical concept.  
So what does the Bible say about the Antichrist?  Well, for starters, the Bible tells us that the "spirit of antichrist" was alive and well even during the Apostolic age (1st John 2:18).  It also tells us that in order to be antichrist in any way, one must deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Jewish Messiah (1st John 2:22).  One must also deny that God the Son came to earth in the form of flesh and blood (1st John 4:3; 2nd John 1:7).  These are the only four times the word "antichrist" appears in the Scriptures.  So based on the Biblical definition, to be an antichrist (or even THE Antichrist) one must deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah and one must deny that God the Son came to earth in the form of human flesh.  Sorry, that's just the Biblical definition, and since the term "Antichrist" is a Biblical term, just like the term "Christ" itself, it has no real meaning outside this Biblical definition.  
Now since every pope since the time of St. Peter has affirmed that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messianic Son of God, that sort of disqualifies every pope in history from being an antichrist. Of course, the office of the papacy itself was literally founded on Saint Peter's affirmation that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messianic Son of God (Matthew 16:15-19), so that disqualifies the papal office from being antichrist.  Since the pope literally teaches, and his office is literally founded upon, the belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messianic Son of God, it is literally impossible (in every Biblical sense) for the pope, or his papal office, to be the Antichrist in any way.  Again, sorry, but the Bible speaks for itself here.  To assert that the pope or the papacy is somehow, in any way, the Antichrist, is to completely deny the plain and clear teaching of the Bible on this matter.  Now, if some people want to go ahead and call the pope the Antichrist anyway, then they can go ahead, but in doing so, the rest of us need to understand they are directly contradicting the Bible when they do this.
Now, it's important for Catholics to understand this, because Protestants have been running the pope-antichrist cabal for five centuries now. The latest version of this places the pope in the role of the Biblically prophesied 'False Prophet' who is not the actual Antichrist, but rather his buddy, who helps the Antichrist come to power. Sadly, many Evangelical Protestants are already accusing Pope Francis of being this character, simply because of the diplomatic decisions he has made, the distorted way the media reports on him, and an obscure prophecy allegedly made by a medieval bishop, which is probably a forgery, and when properly interpreted, points out this current pope as a good one. We Catholics have to understand that Protestants are just following a template that has been laid out for them for the last five-hundred years, and in particular, many of those in the Bible Belt are following a system of eschatology that was created less than two-hundred years ago, with proponents who have been forecasting the 'end of days' within their lifetime. Many of these proponents are senior citizens now, so they've been telling everyone the awaited time has finally come. The Internet is now abuzz with all sorts of articles and YouTube videos specifically telling us that Pope Francis is either the Antichrist or the False Prophet, and that we are about to enter the last seven years of world history (a Dispensationalist timetable).

This current panic in the Evangelical Protestant world may very well signal the end of something, but not the 'end of days'. When their foretold Rapture does not occur. When the pope does not turn out to be the Antichrist or False Prophet they expect. When the Great Tribulation and 'End of Days' does not happen in the timetable they expect. Many Protestants will lose their faith. The younger generations will see Dispnesationalism, and the pope-antichrist cabal, for the fraud that it is. When that day comes, it will only add to the doubt many young people already experience, and they will leave Protestantism in droves. This will happen soon -- within ten to fifteen years at most. Where will they go? Most will become Secular agnostics, so long as Secularism remains before it's ultimate collapse. After that, as I pointed out in previous essays, they will have to choose between Catholic Christianity and Islam, because Secularism will no longer be a viable option.

You see, what the Protestant Dispensationalists (particularly those in the Bible Belt) don't realise, is just how much they have riding on their end-times, rapture and pope-antichrist cabal. In fact, those that preach it, have everything riding on it. They have been telling their people that this is the time, since the 1970s, and the younger generation is expecting them to produce it! Because you see, if they don't, their entire eschatology collapses. Many of these Evangelical churches are built on that eschatology. When it collapses, they will too. Yes, they are facing the end of something, but not the end of the world. What they are facing is the end of their entire religious system.

It is more than the end of their religious system they are facing, for we are all facing the end of our Secular world system too, and when civilisations face the end of everything they are built on, people tend to get apocalyptic about it. In ancient times, Jews could not fathom a world without their Temple or their nation. So when the end of both came within sight, they wrote in very apocalyptic terms, using images of cataclysm and world destruction. The Romans did the same when the fall of their empire was within sight. Likewise, we Americans are doing the same thing, as we can see the end of our American way of life and the Secular world system, just on the horizon. Most Americans cannot fathom a world without an American superpower. In the minds of many, the world might just as well end all together. Indeed, that is being subtly taught from behind the pulpits of many Evangelical churches today. Many of them see America as synonymous with the Church. So the end of America, as we know it, means the end of the Church, and the end of the Church means the end of the world. History has seen this mentality play out many times over. It will see it play out again.

As I pointed out in previous articles, Secularism is weak. It is not a religious system at all, but rather the lack of one. It is a transitory system, that paves the way for a society to extinguish its Christian roots, and make way for a new Islamic era. That's all it's good for, and nothing else, as the fertility demographics demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt. So Secularism will die. It is guaranteed, as it becomes a victim of its own success. When it dies, Europe will be forced to choose between Islam and Christianity. When the people choose Christianity, all hell will break loose on the European continent as Muslims push back. Then this current age we live in will come to an end, and a new era will begin, but the Second Coming of Christ is still a long way off.

You see, the final Great Apostasy must be stronger than the Secular apostasy we currently live under. Because you see, in order to be sustainable, it must be religious in nature, like Islam is religious. It must not defy the natural order of procreation, otherwise, it cannot last. The final Great Apostasy must be so strong, so overwhelming, that it would nearly deceive even the truest of Christians, if that were possible (Matthew 24:24; 2nd Thessalonians 2:2-12). It must be messianic in nature. The word 'messianic' pertains to something that is 'of the messiah', meaning there must be some kind of a religious saviour involved. According to the Biblical prophecies, this messianic figure is the Antichrist, and in order for him to be the Antichrist, he must do a few things...
  1. He must totally deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah (1st John 2:22).
  2. He must deny the Trinity, and that God the Son ever came in the flesh (1st John 4:3; 2nd John 1:7).
  3. He must proclaim himself to be divine (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-4).
The messianic character of the Antichrist must be both obvious and overwhelming. We see the promise of future messianic figures in a few religions here and there. Christianity is not one of them, because according to Christianity, the true Messiah already came two-thousand years ago, and we hung him on a cross. There are some factions within Islam that call for a future messianic-type of figure, called a 'Mahdi', and it is possible that this belief might play a role in the end-times scenario. That however, doesn't seem to be enough, unless we believe the world will be converted to Islam. However, even Islam teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was real, and that he was the promised Messiah for the Jewish people. So in Islam we have a messianic conundrum. How can Jesus be the promised Messiah for the Jews, but not for the rest of humanity? And if the rest of humanity is waiting for another messianic figure, what are we to do with Jesus of Nazareth? Saint John of Damascus (AD 676-749) described Islam as the 'forerunner to Antichrist' but not the religion of Antichrist itself. Perhaps this Islamic nod to the messianic claim of Jesus of Nazareth is the reason for this. Whoever this future Messianic figure will be, he must be universal, so as to persuade Christians as well as Muslims.

I only know of one major world religion that teaches the coming of a future Messiah, and simultaneously denies the Trinity and that Jesus of Nazareth was ever any kind of messiah. That religion is not Islam. The only religion I know that teaches this is Judaism. While as Islam gives a nod to the messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth, Judaism gives him nothing. Occasionally, some rabbis might call him a 'good teacher' out of respect for their Christian neighbours, but since the time of the apostles, Judaism has directly opposed the notion that Jesus of Nazareth is any kind of messiah, and has simultaneously forecast the coming of another messiah. Consider the qualifications of Antichrist above. This meets two of the three. All but the last one is forecast by the coming of a future Jewish 'messiah'.

Now let's stop and think about this. In order for a messianic figure to deceive the Jewish people, wouldn't he have to be Jewish? Or are we to believe religious Jews will follow a Catholic Pope or Islamic Mahdi instead? That's ridiculous! Religious Jews are currently waiting for a future Messiah, and religious Jews simultaneously ignore both the Trinity and the messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth. This meets two of the three qualifications for the coming Antichrist, and the third one (the Antichrist proclaiming himself divine) is beyond their control.

Whenever the prophesied End Times are upon us, we will see a worldwide apostasy from the Christian faith, simultaneously coupled with a strong messianic (religious) delusion, that will promise humanity a solution to all of its problems, at the cost of denying Jesus Christ. This messianic delusion will be one in which a Jewish man will be put forward by Jewish leaders, as the promised messiah for the Jews and the saviour of the world. He will appear to fulfil all of the Old Testament prophecies of the promised messiah. Logically, it will all seem to fit. It's not going to involve any Catholic popes. If anything, the popes and bishops of the Catholic Church will be persecuted by this man.

It has to be this way. The word Antichrist literally means 'another messiah' or an 'imposter messiah'. No Catholic pope has ever claimed to be the messiah, and no Catholic pope will ever make such a claim. Because, as I pointed out above, the office of the papacy itself is found on the very affirmation of Saint Peter that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah.

Is this so far fetched? Would Judaism ever produce 'another messiah' or 'imposter messiah'? It already has...
  • In the early second-century (AD 133-135) Simon bar Kokhba was hailed by many Jewish leaders as the promised Messiah. He led their last rebellion against the Romans and was subsequently killed by them. His rebellion against Rome cost the Jewish people their homeland, as the Roman Empire then expelled all Jews from the region of Palestine. 
  • In the middle fifth-century (AD 440-470), appearing to fulfil many Talmudic requirements, Moses of Crete convinced many Jews that he was the promised Messiah and he would lead them back to the Holy Land by crossing the sea on dry land. Many Jews gave their life savings to him for the establishment of his kingdom. Upon his command, these Jews cast themselves into the sea, expecting a miracle. Some fell to their deaths. Others were rescued. Moses of Crete subsequently disappeared from the scene.
  • In the early eighth century (AD 720-723) Serene the Syrian preached in the district of Mardin in Asia Minor. He led a large messianic movement that opposed the legal precepts of Rabbinic Judaism. He was later captured by the Muslims and recanted his messianic claims.
  • In the middle twelfth century (AD 1160), David Alroy led a messianic military revolt against the Islamic Caliphate in Persia. He was allegedly assassinated by his father-in-law.
  • In the thirteenth century (AD 1240-1291) Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia led a messianic movement in Sicily based on the Jewish occult rituals of Kabbalah. It is unknown what happened to him.
The list goes on and on, well into the twentieth century. Judaism has no shortage of false messiahs, so it is no stretch to assume that some future Jewish false messiah will be what Christians have come to call the Antichrist. Previous false Jewish messiahs have also claimed themselves divine. So again, it is no stretch to assume that some future Jewish false messiah will do the same. 

The ancient Christians believed this to be the case, and I am far more likely to believe their testimony than that of some modern television evangelist...
'Christ arose from among the Hebrews, and he (Antichrist) will spring from among the Jews. Christ showed His flesh as a Temple, and raised it up on the third day; and he, too, will raise up again the Temple of stone in Jerusalem.' (St. Hippolytus, AD 170-236) 
'In every respect that Deceiver seeks to make himself appear like the Son of God. Christ is king of things celestial and terrestrial, and Antichrist will be king upon earth. The Saviour sent the Apostles unto all the nations, and he, in like manner will send false apostles. Christ gathered together the dispersed sheep, and he in like manner will gather together the dispersed people of the Hebrews. Christ appeared in the form of man, and he in like manner will come forth in the form of man.' (St. Hippolytus, AD 170-236) 
'Antichrist, the son of perdition will be born in Corozain, will be brought up in Bethsaida and shall begin to reign in Capharnaum, according to what Our Lord Jesus said in the Gospel: "Woe to thee Corozain … woe to thee Bethsaida … and thou Capharnaum that art exalted up to heaven, thou shalt be thrust down to hell." (Luke, 10:13) Antichrist shall work a thousand prodigies on earth. He will make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead rise, so that even the Elect, if possible, shall be deceived by his magical arts. Puffed up with pride, Antichrist shall enter in triumph the city of Jerusalem and will sit on a throne in the Temple to be adored as if he were the Son of God. His heart being intoxicated with arrogance, he will forget his being a mere man, and the son of a woman of the tribe of Dan.' (St. Zenobius, AD 337-417) 
'Antichrist will be possessed by Satan and be the illegitimate son of a Jewish woman from the East.' (St. John Chrysostom, AD 349-407)
It should not concern us if these are alleged 'prophecies'. That's not the point. The point is, this is what the early Christians believed about Antichrist. These men were much closer to the time of the Apostles than we are today, and therefore more familiar with their more obscure traditions concerning the Last Days. It is undeniable that Christian tradition has historically held to the notion that the final Antichrist is a product of modern Judaism, or at least an abuse of modern Judaism. Whatever the case, the historic traditions are clear. The Great and Final Antichrist will be Jewish, he will come from the Holy Land, and he will gather the Jews from around the world to the Holy Land for a final epic of world history. Interestingly enough, this is exactly how modern Judaism describes their coming messiah.

Many Evangelicals point to the restoration of the nation-state of Israel as a 'sign' that the end of days are upon us. However, it should be noted here that this alleged 'sign' happened without a messianic figure. It occurred entirely under Secular terms, with the help of the British and Americans, by a U.N. mandate. There is nothing messianic about it. This leaves a missing piece to the puzzle. Something does not fit. Neither Christian nor Jewish tradition are fulfilled, because we are missing somebody -- the messianic figure Jews will hail as 'Messiah' and Christians will loath as 'Antichrist'. Perhaps putting people of Jewish ancestry back into the Holy Land was part of God's providential plan, but as anyone outside the Bible Belt knows, there are still far more Jews living in New York City than in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem combined. Yes, a good number of Jews do live in Israel, but still a majority do not. The return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land is incomplete. The best Secularism can muster is less than half, and even then, most Israeli Jews retain their visas and duel citizenship with countries in Europe and North America. It's as if they're hedging their bets. In case things don't work out for them in the Holy Land, they can always move back. Don't underestimate this. Because if things really do go terribly wrong in Israel, they will move back, in ridiculously large numbers. The United States has provided a safe refuge for Jews for some two centuries now. Jews around the world know this. America is their insurance policy. It always has been.

The point of this essay is that we're missing a second key ingredient to the end times, and that is the Antichrist, or the one global Jewry will hail as the 'Messiah'. This is the one who is supposed to return Jews to the Holy Land for the promise of a material kingdom, based on worldly goods. That just doesn't exist. Instead we have a Secular State of Israel, driven primarily by a Secular and racist political ideology called Zionism. It was sponsored primarily by the United States and United Kingdom. It was founded by a United Nations mandate. Where is the messianic element? It's simply not there. We have religious Jews in Israel calling for a messiah, but one has not appeared to save them and further their cause. Historically speaking, it's almost as if the modern nation of Israel was artificially choreographed by big money in America and Britain. There really is nothing religious, spiritual or messianic about it. It's just a political agenda -- nothing more. That's not to say that it couldn't suddenly become messianic, but for the time being it's not, and because of this, many Evangelical Protestants in the United States have turned back to the old pope-antichrist cabal of Martin Luther. Having no Jewish messiah to call Antichrist, they turn instead to a Catholic pope and conspiracy theories.

END.

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Shane Schaetzel is a published author and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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