Because I make friends with people who like to talk about religion and such, I often get to hear about really terrible eschatological theories. This article will cover 5 points which I think should be considered while talking about how the end of days will occur from the Christian viewpoint.
I am certainly not a Bible scholar, much less an expert on Christian eschatology. I am, however, a guy that reads his Bible on occasion and has a marginal ability to think critically. I think that testing many end times theories with these 5 points will quickly show whether or not they are worth your time.
1 – There are many Antichrists, not one.
- 1 John 2:18-19 “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”
- 1 John 2:22-23 “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”
- 1 John 4:2-3 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”
- 2 John 1:7 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
Anyone who denies Christianity is an antichrist. The spirit of the antichrist is arguably synonymous with Satan or the nature of Satan, but even Satan is just one of many antichrists.
2 – On The Man of Lawlessness
Also called the “man of sin.” First of all, this directly contradicts the idea that an Islamic leader could be the Man of Lawlessness. Shariah Law is intrinsic to Islam. Lawlessness is an interesting concept to me as an anarchist thinker. Anarchy might seem like lawlessness, but it’s not. Law would exist in an anarchy, just not centralized law. Modern satanism as per Aleister Crowley has but one law, “Do what thou wilt.” This seems like a kind of lawlessness, but even it has one law. If even doing whatever you want is not to be considered purely lawless, then lawlessness must not derive from the nature of the law-making, but instead from the enforcement of the law. In this view, the “Man of Lawlessness” is someone who is unable to be constrained by law enforcement. This could arise in various ways, most obviously by being at the top of law enforcement. Perhaps this could be a President, Dictator, shadow governor or some other rich or powerful person.
I have been challenged by someone who thought that an Islamic leader might be the Man of Lawlessness. When I objected that being a man of Shariah Law implied a man who was not a Man of Lawlessness my challenger responded that being a Man of Lawlessness merely meant being a man not of God’s true law, the law of Christianity. The problem with this argument, I think, is that it makes a multitude of people men and women of lawlessness.
Lastly, if it is argued that the man of lawlessness is the same as the son of perdition, it should be noted that Judas Iscariot was strongly indicated to be that person in John 17:12.
Atheism could also be lawlessness, as it is defined as lack of belief in something rather than belief in something. If law refers to religious law or God’s law, then I would assert that atheism fits the bill to a far greater degree than, for example, Islam.
3 – On The Beast
Like with “the antichrist,” there is no “the beast.” There are two separate beasts as well as a dragon all mentioned in Revelation.
4 – On The “God of Fortresses”
Certainly the God of Islam qualifies as a God of War, one of the alleged qualities of some bad-guy eschatological figure as per Daniel 11:36-38 which says this:
36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts.
While I agree that the passage is prophetic toward the end times, I don’t think it’s clear which figure this king is supposed to be. Additionally, I do not think it is clear at all who, if any, this man worships as his god. 36 and 37 might indicate atheism, self-worship or Satanism, but 38 seems to counter this. I would note that perhaps the wondrous number of people killed and wars conducted in the name of Communism or other secularist beliefs might justify honoring a God of War while at the same time not regarding any god.
5 – On The Synagogue of Satan and the Whore of Babylon
We have already mentioned that the evil end times figures might be Muslim or Atheist, but other theories abound as well. In Revelation 2:9 and Revelation 3:9 we read about Jews who are of the synagogue of Satan. In Revelation 17 and 18 we read about the Whore of Babylon. Many different people have identified the Whore of Babylon in different ways. As shown in this article, such identifications include Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope in particular, the Earthly Jerusalem, a “Spiritual Babylon” and even Christianity!
Speculation surrounding Babylon and related to end times abounds. Biblical investigations might start with Nimrod in the Old Testament and secular investigations usually center on either the Babylonian civilization or religion. Basically, Babylon had some kind of organized religion which we don’t know much about. Some people speculate that this mystery religion is related to any number of things including the synagogue of Satan, the Whore of Babylon, the origin of the Bible, the Illuminati and so on.
In conclusion I think there is a ton of bogus eschatology out there. With these points in mind we should really be able to do away with much of the junk theology thrown at us. On the other hand, many times it is not someone trying to throw theology at us, but our own curiosity. I think curiosity is a great thing. I encourage personal study, but I would recommend that people not get too stuck on theology which they can’t support from the Bible, the whole Bible and the real world. Lastly, there’s certainly nothing wrong with not knowing the details of how the world ends.