Monday, 2 May 2011

The Antichrist

The Antichrist is a character in the Bible who is destined to conduct a reign of terror at the end of time.  In this post, I want to summarise some of the characteristics attributed to the Antichrist both in the New Testament and in the later theological tradition.

The definitive work on the Antichrist was Thomas Malvenda's De Antichristo (1604), but in this post I want to translate in summary form the conclusions reached by Augustin Lémann in his 1905 book L'Antéchrist.

I - Things which are certain

1. The Antichrist will be a trial for good men and a chastisement for the impious and apostates

2. The Antichrist will be a man, an individual

3. The Antichrist will not be Satan incarnate, nor a demon in human form, but a member of the human race, a man, nothing more than a man

4. The Antichrist will seduce people through certain personal qualities

5. The origins of the Antichrist will be humble and obscure

6. The Antichrist will grow in power and will carry out conquests

7. The empire of the Antichrist will become universal

8. The Antichrist will wage a bloody war against God and the Church

9. The Antichrist will imitate God and will desire that he himself alone is worshipped

10. It is by means of satanic miracles that the Antichrist will ostensibly demonstrate that he is God

11. The domination and the persecution of the Antichrist will be transient, and the Man of Sin will be destroyed

II - Things which are probable

1. The Jews will acclaim the Antichrist as the Messiah and will act as his helpers in establishing his reign

2. The length of the persecution of the Antichrist will be three and a half years

III - Things which are uncertain

1. The nationality of the Antichrist [Lémann is sceptical of the idea that he will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan]

2. The name of the Antichrist [Lémann disapproves of attempts to work out what 666 signifies, though he thinks that it might have something to do with the Freemasons]

3. The seat of the empire of the Antichrist [The two candidates suggested were Jerusalem (in which case the Jews would have something to do with it) and Rome (in which case it would be the Masons)]

4. The temple where the Antichrist will be worshipped [The two candidates suggested were the Temple in Jerusalem and the metaphorical temple of the Church]

IV - Matters of speculation

[Speculations about the Antichrist had included the following:]

a) That the Antichrist will be born in Babylon, or in Syria, or in Egypt

b) That he will be conceived through illicit intercourse

c) That his education will take place at Bethsaida and Corozain, towns that were cursed by Jesus Christ

d) That his teachers will be magicians who, from his infancy, will imbue him with their ideas and will instruct him in occult knowledge

e) That he will know by heart the whole of Scripture and will be accomplished in every art

f) That, although his Guardian Angel will not be taken away from him, he will not be able to carry out any effective act in relation to him because of his obstinacy and the influences of demons on him

g) That the beginnings of his reign and of his power will be situated in Babylon, or in Capernaum and Corozain

h) That ten kings will form an alliance against him, but, once three have been defeated - the King of Egypt, the King of Africa and the King of Ethiopia - the other seven will surrender.  That he will suffer a naval defeat at the hands of certain peoples from the west, but that he will not take long to recover from this temporary defeat; and that, having triumphed over all his enemies, he will become master of the whole world.

i) That he will arrive at this domination not only through arms but by cunning and also by using temporal wealth as a bait.  That the demons will reveal to him all the money that is hidden and all the mines of precious minerals, with the result that he will possess gold and silver in abundance and will make use of it to corrupt people.

j) That he will perform, with the aid of the devil, all the miracles of Jesus Christ: healing lepers and blind men, making the paralysed walk, and resuscitating even the dead

k) That he will let fall his mask of hypocrisy and will exhibit terrible morals, giving himself over to disgraceful lust for women

l) We may add that even his palaces, his court, his clothing, his precious objects, his perfumes and his meals have not escaped minute description

m) That, finally, he will be beaten and exterminated at Apadno, on the Mount of Olives, when he tries to ascend into the sky, following the example of the Saviour