Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Identifying the Anti-Christ

Obama looking like the anti-Christ
It’s getting so hard to figure out who is the anti-Christ these days.  There are just so many  possibilities.  Do you think the anti-Christ is Donald Trump, who is one of many running for president? How about Barack Obama, who is midway through his second term in the White House?

Actually, most presidents, even the beloved Ronald Reagan, have been tarred with that canard.

If you want to go back in history to find someone thought as an anti-Christ, you could start with Antiochus IV, who lived more than 170 years before Jesus, and work your way past Emperor Nero, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, Bill Gates, Charles, Prince of Wales and Pope Benedict XVI.

There are websites that try to explain why the selected target is (or was) the real anti-Christ.

None of the claims have proven correct yet.  After all, the anti-Christ is supposed to be a mean dude, even if the term isn’t used in the Book of Revelation, the source of anti-Christ ideas. There, he’s
Artist image of the anti-Christ
called something else:

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.  It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.  It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. (Rev 5: 5-9)

Actually, the text includes information on two beasts.  No one is sure which one references the anti-Christ.

Barney anti-Christ
Still, the beast given “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” certainly sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, John F. Kennedy, Yassir Arafat and Barney the Dinosaur, all of whom have been labeled the anti-Christ.   Can’t you see Barney going toe-to-toe with Jesus?  Not really?

The reason why the people flinging around the term haven’t successfully pinpointed the real anti-Christ – other than because it’s absurd mythology -- is because they don’t understand the term.

“Christ” isn’t Jesus’ last name but a Greek word meaning “anointed king.” It comes from the Bible where all ancient Israel kings had holy olive oil dripped on their head, conveying the priestly blessing and allowing the king to rule in God’s name.  Other people were anointed, including prophets and world leaders like Cyrus the Great of Persia.

The anti-Christ then is an opponent.  Eventually, the word had two meanings: one derived from the book of Revelation and has come to mean some terrible creature who battles Jesus for world power.  The other, from the Gospel and epistles, refers instead to anyone who denies the divinity of Jesus.  The latter definition reflects the only four direct references to the anti-Christ in the entire New Testament. 

Here are the four lines:

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (2 John 1:7)

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22)

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18)

Kissinger as the anti-Christ
That means there are billions of anti-Christs running around these days, but none will be getting into a fight with Jesus.

The two definitions have existed side by side and are often confused.  That’s how French President Jacque Chirac, Joseph Stalin, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton can end up being identified as the anti-Christ without ever putting on their wrestling gear.

It also means that the religious fanatics of the world will continue to insist of looking for signs of the coming anti-Christ in the heavens and in the faces of everyday people. 

Based on the vast numbers already identified as the anti-Christ, you might feel left out if you are not on their list.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.net.  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1

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