Some establishment media is still based: you can find good stuff if you know where to look. Like in the PI. Take this op-ed in the Manila Times, by one Richardo Saludo. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?”
…let’s go to Paragraph 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 675), the compendium of doctrines the faithful must profess. Subtitled “The Church’s ultimate trial”, the section predicts:
“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.”
So, before the last judgment and salvation when Jesus returns, the Catechism warns of a final apostasy or turning away from the faith…
…if Catholicism morphs into a religion heeding man’s wishes, not God’s, then that sounds like apostasy from the faith Christ founded. Indeed, it would fulfill the Catechism’s warning about “the Anti-Christ, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorified himself in place of God and of his Messiah” (CCC 675). This deception “already begins to take shape” when it’s claimed that humanity can attain in this world “the messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history” (CCC 767).
In such a disoriented time, God Himself must come and set things right. Amen.
Some fun can be had imagining a hacker snuck (you heard me: snuck) that in to the New York Times. Perhaps we might request the intercession for such a miracle from Saint Robert Bellermine, who wrote of these things in Antichrist, newly translated by Ryan Grant.
Antichrist is part of the larger body of work Disputationes de controversiis christianae fidei, published in parts around 1590. The book is an apologia for Catholicism, answering various protesting-Christian heresies which claim the Pope was, or a Pope would be, the Antichrist, these errors being then new.
Today, only a few small hard-core evangelical, Jack-Chick-tract-welding Dan-Brown-reading sects still believe the Roman Catholic Church will be the Whore of Babylon spoken of in the book of Revelation. Their arguments aren’t nearly as sophisticated as those put forth, and now forgotten, by early protesting Christians and answered by Bellarmine.
Most Christians of any stripe don’t anyway believe Antichrist will come in the form of a real person, whose presence and reign will signal the End Of The World. The literal end. The Final Finis. The Big Bye Bye. The Terminal Ta-Ta. The —- (you fill some in).
Because of all this, there is not much point spending time explaining the mistakes about the Pope Bellarmine took such pains to refute. We can still do something interesting with his book, for though it wasn’t his main purpose, Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Catholic Church and thus a man to be heeded, provided us with a primer on who the real Antichrist will be.
First, he will be a real person and not a concept. Before he arrives, Christ tells us the Gospel must be preached to the “whole world”. That seems almost a done deal, the exposure being complete except for a very few remaining isolated tribes.
Second, the complete “desolation of the Roman Empire” must happen.
[I]t must be known that the Roman empire was divided into ten kings, none of whom will be called “King of the Romans,” although all will occupy some provinces of the Roman Empire in the same way the King of France, the King of Spain, the Queen of England and by chance some others hold parts of the Roman Empire; at length they are not Roman kinds or emperors, but until they cease to hold these dominions Antichrist cannot come.
This is derived from various prophecies in the Book of Daniel and Revelation and was the opinion (or deduction) of Church fathers. After this desolation, “Satan will be loosed” and “Then there will be a great tribulation, such as had not been from the beginning of the world, nor will be” (Matthew 24). Enoch and Elijah, who never died, will return and tell the world exactly what it doesn’t want to hear. They will be killed for their troubles, be hung out to dry for three days, be resurrected, that miracle causing many to come to their senses.
Now everybody knows that 666 is the number of the Beast, but nobody has any proof of what that means precisely, though there have been a plethora of theories from a host of amateur numerologists. Bellarmine dissects a number of attempts, all of which (as is clear) have proven false. Some saints say curiosity kills, especially in regard to 666, as it could encourage worship of Antichrist. My idea is that this number will turn out to be banal and thus dismissable by those confronted with it.
Everybody also has heard that all will be required to have “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” on their forehead or right hand to buy or sell. That seemed far-fetched until the rise of our surveillance state and the au courant practice of banks excluding dissident right accounts. Implementing a world-wide system to do this systematically is still, we might guess, a decade or two out. The world is a big place, but shrinking rapidly. There is a reason for the neologism globohomo.
That bit should be emphasized, because it is clear, though Bellarmine does not stress it, that Antichrist worship will be worldwide, with events happening and with people coming to knowledge of those events with some rapidity. That kind of instantaneous communication and marshaling of official action would never have been possible even fifty years ago.
Antichrist’s birth will not be miraculous, though it may be painted as such. He will not be the devil incarnate, though he will be possessed by Satan, perhaps from birth. He will be a real man, made from a man’s seed, however implanted, in a real woman. The woman could be a prostitute or similar; she will at least be unmarried. She will be a Jew, probably from the tribe of Dan.
1) Antichrist will come particularly on account of the Jews, and will be received by them as if he were a Messiah; 2) He is going to be born from the nation and race of the Jews, be circumcised, and shall observe the Sabbath, at least for a time.
…Therefore, just as Christ first came to the Jews to whom he had been promised and by whom he had been awaited, and at length also joined the nations to himself, so also Antichrist will first come to the Jews, by whom he is awaited…
Antichrist will rule from Jerusalem, which will be “spiritually called Sodom and Gomorrah” (Rev. 11), and he will be the “king” of three nations, perhaps Israel, Syria and Egypt. his “kingdom” will subjugate the other seven of the ten remnants of the Roman Empire. This subjection won’t necessarily be by force, but could be obtained through diplomacy and could merely mean that Israel sets the pace. Rome itself, which is to say the Seat of the Church, will be overthrown, this time literally.
Antichrist, “will show himself zealous for Jewish laws”, and will attempt to or will rebuild the Jewish Temple, though Bellarmine thinks the attempt will ultimately fail. The “abomination of desolation” will be the mandatory ceasing of offering of the Mass. “Antichrist will command all temples of the world to be converted to his worship, and he will make he own person worshiped.” This implies a one-world, ecumenical-to-the-nth-degree religion. Note that this only has to be promulgated by leaders, and not embraced by all people. This no longer seems an impossible prospect.
Not surprisingly, Antichrist will openly deny Jesus is Christ. He will insist he himself is Christ. He will permit no idolatry. He will work miracles, all of which will be demonically assisted fakes. He will feign death via an injury to his head, and wondrously come back from simulated death. My own guess is that he will say he is harnessing quantum powers of the universe, or some such thing, and that others could do miracles, too, once they reached his, Antichrist’s, level of enlightenment; he’ll say that he is somehow the conduit for these powers. People will need such a greedy reason to follow him. I imagine many very minor “miracles”, also demonically assisted, occurring around the globe.
The Jews, always wanting a militaristic Messiah, will believe and follow Antichrist, and will probably find satisfaction in the great persecution (payback?) of Christians that follows.
But the Jews might not be the only tribe which enthusiastically accepts Antichrist. Muslims are awaiting the Twelfth Imam whose presence signals the End. But Muslims also believe Jesus himself will return and slay Antichrist. Buddhists see Maitreya coming, who again shows up for the final battle. Hindus say it will be Vishnu. And so, curiously, on. The world has always been waiting for its end.
What might not be clear is that many Christians might also accept Antichrist. This could be due to a false interpretation of Revelation 20, from which is derived a millennialism or chiliasm, a supposed 1000-year reign of Jesus on earth, a time in which there will be no war or pain.
In Revelation 20, John saw an angel bind Satan: the angel “set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.” The Church says we are in this period now, where the “thousand years” is lyrical for a long time.
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.” We are waiting for the expiration of these 1,000 years, after which it will be in the most frightening sense Hell on earth.
Yet some protesting Christians think this binding will happen after the Antichrist’s reign. These people say Antichrist’s advent will be preceded by a “rapture”, where the sinless (?) are snatched away before Antichrist wreaks his havoc. Others say the Millennium will first happen, then possibly a rapture, then a short period of Antichrist’s rule. Either way, it is thus not a stretch to see how these well-meaning but mistaken folks can be fooled into thinking Antichrist is on their side, since Antichrist will, at first, provide the peace they are anticipating. It is also likely not a coincidence that these Christians are ardent supporters of modern-day Israel.
After Armageddon, Antichrist will be slain. Satan will attempt to raise his body toward the heavens in a cloud, in mimicry of Christ’s Ascension; but he will be cast down on the way up.
There will be only two months left of this earth after Antichrist dies. A final moment for the survivors to make their last decision. After which, “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).
Bellarmine had the opinion, which he conceded was a guess, that mankind would get some 6,000 years of history (to pattern after Genesis’s six days), which in 1590 meant we had about 400 years to go. This coincides, thereabouts, with the same guess the Mayans made about 2012. Which is to say, about now.
It is true many have said “the time is now”, but that is nothing. We must avoid the One True Spartacus Fallacy, which says that because every man claimed to be Spartacus, there was no true Spartacus. Because so many have guessed wrong does not mean everybody will guess wrong.
My own prediction, not well thought out, is that we have some time left. If I was to wishcast, I’d say within two decades. But, more soberly, I’d say the End won’t come in our lifetimes. My reason is that this book review exists. There are still many in the world who avow Christianity, though the number of orthodox is shrinking fast. Too many people know about these prophecies. It would be bad strategy for Antichrist to come at a time when many are on the watch for him.
On the other hand, we have scripture (Luke 17:26-29):
And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
In other words, expect the Lord to come like a thief in the night. Motus in fine velocior.
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Categories: Book review