The anti-Christ Interest in the anti-Christ is …

The anti-Christ

Interest in the anti-Christ is something that seems to never wane. It is often a clever tool of certian groups of Christians, a way of casting an evil eye toward a rival group (sometimes even other Christians), if you will. I recall a woman, very devout, telling me that she had figured out who the anti-Christ was–I think she believed that the source was a Divine revelation that she had received–anyway after some rather convoluted reasoning she announced that Saddam Hussein was the Antichrist and he was the 666 referred to in the Book of Revelation. This was in the early 1990’s during the Gulf War. My problem with it at the time and even today as I write this is thta it suited her political beliefs as much as it did her religious beliefs. At the same time people like Ossama Bin Laden held Hussein to be something of a demon who was secularizing the Moslem world. So such demonizing of people often finds strange bedfellows.

In this country the topic of continues to hold the public’s interest. The “Left Behind” series continues to be a bestseller that rivals anything the secular presses can release. Televangelists continue to predict that the antichrist is in our midst and that the end it near. Now Bishops of the Midwest have released a pastoral where they warn that such publications might themselves be the “false prophets” that Jesus warned His followers to both be on the lookout for and not to fall prey to when they appeared.

I have often thought that whoever and whatever we conceive of as the antichrist can be a temptation away from the Gospel for us. We can demonize someone or some institution so that we do not have to apply the Gospel message to them. Again the Lord told us that judgment is not ours, it is His and His warning to “watch” carries with it the notion that we are ever to be vigilant for His coming under the many guises that He chooses to visit us in.

Here is some of the Catholic Bishop’s of Illinois Statement:

When Jesus told us to be alert and ready for his return, he also warned there would be false prophets. One of the most attractively marketed recent false “prophets” has been the Left Behind series, published by Tyndale House Press in Wheaton, Illinois. Since 1995, the series by Mr. Tim LaHaye and Mr. Jerry B. Jenkins has been a tool for active promotion of a fundamentalist theology of the end times in conflict with Catholic teachings. More than that, the series has been a vehicle for anti-Catholic sentiments by the way Catholics are characterized and treated in the plot line.

Promoted nationally in grocery checkout aisles, discount outlets and bookstores, over the Internet and even through book sale fundraisers in Catholic schools, these novels are now in the tenth installment of the adult series and the twenty-fourth volume of the children’s version. There are also two videos, (produced by Cloud Ten Productions) a board game, and other marketed items. These materials, about fictionalized end-times, popularize a common fundamentalist belief in a time of tribulation after the “rapture” (when the “good people” are secretly taken up overnight to Heaven) and before the Second Coming of Christ. This belief is not supported in Scripture.

Responding to similar fundamentalist agendas back in 1937, Pius XI, in “Divini Redemptoris” said any such speculations about a period when a remnant of the Church progresses towards its own ultimate victory might of themselves be a sign of the Antichrist:

The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism …

The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues:

The kingdom will be fulfilled then, not by a historic triumph of the church through a progressive ascendancy, but only in God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil … (676-677)

The scenario in Left Behind, of a “tribulation force” of born-again former sinners who attempt personally to derail the progress of the Anti-Christ, is broadly classifiable as pre-millenarianism. The pseudo-historical backdrop for the story ties apocalyptic scripture to specific events in history, an error known as pre-millennial dispensationalism. In later books in the series, the new Pope is depicted as instrumental in establishing a relativistic world religion encouraged by the AntiChrist and operated from New Babylon (formerly Rome). The Left Behind series is anti-Catholic in content and form, consistent with Mr. LaHaye’s other writings, in which he associates the Church with “Babylonian mysticism.”

Tyndale House, and by association Cloud Ten Productions, have made clear in their marketing that they feel divinely inspired to promote their theological agenda among the most vulnerable. A recent promotional mailer, created by the Christian Film and Television Commission for their second Left Behind video, claims: “God is using the “Left Behind” films, as He has used the books, to reach out and touch the lives of people who won’t go to church, but in their hearts are looking for the answers to life’s questions.” If there are any doubts that the aim of the Left Behind series is as much to promote a fundamentalist agenda as to make money, these marketing techniques should put them to rest.

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