Preface: This essay was originally published in late 2005 or early 2006. Because of formatting issues that arose when I switched Blogs, formatting errors rendered the piece almost unreadable; while editing the original, I noted that Wikipedia had been changed, CNN either lost or deleted past articles, and generally speaking, it appears that the Bush administration is still attempting to re-write history.
Interesting as it may sound, the Antichrist is not confined to references in the Bible, but predates the few Biblical references found in the 1st and 2nd Book of John. The Antichrist was first referred to in the Hebrew Book of Daniel - and to this day, some scholars are questioning whether the Antichrist was a man, Antiochus IV, who actually lived and was viewed by many Jews as the actual Antichrist; whether the reference is to a person who already existed or is to come in the future, is still fiercely debated by Biblical scholars.
Nevertheless, the history of the Antichrist deserves to be closely examined; throughout history, there have been several people, governments, and even technologies which have been labeled as the “Antichrist”, and to ignore history, and the consistency of adversaries being labeled as the Antichrist as it affects world politics, and the undeniable harm to innocents who are caught in the crossfire to the detriment of the world population, and now as it concerns the United States must be closely examined. It has been proven that history repeats itself, and a close examination of Antichrist’s history and subsequent results could help to stave off what could turn into a worldwide catastrophe by merely understanding the cyclic nature of the Antichrist myth and in that analysis, lies the key to qualm and perhaps mitigate the growing religiosity that is manifesting itself throughout the world.
Yet another difference that confuses the usual categories of eschatological interpretation is whether the book of Revelation is interpreted in a preterist, historicist, or futurist manner. A preterist is one who believes that most of the prophecies of the Apocalypse have been fulfilled in the past. The historicist (or presentist) considers the events of Revelation now in the process of fulfillment, while the futurist believes that the bulk of the book refers to events to come. Until the nineteenth century most premillennialists used the historicist method of interpretation while today the usual premillennial emphasis is futurist. Despite these qualifications, it is still necessary to refer to premillennial, postmillennial, and amillennial interpretations concerning the second coming of Christ if for no other reason than these categories are so widely used.
The Rise of Amillennialism
Early in his career Augustine had held a millenarian view, but due to the exaggerations and crude materialism of many chiliasts he abandoned the teaching. In support of his new theory he turned to Mark 3:27, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” The strong man was Satan, his goods Christians and he was kept away from Christians by being shut up in the abyss, the heart of the wicked. The first resurrection is figurative and represents the conversion experience while the thousand years are symbolic standing for the Christian era. Thus Augustine propounded the doctrine demanded by the times and, applying an allegorical interpretation he believed that the millennium was realized in the church. This doctrine was so fully accepted that at the Council of Ephesus in 431, belief in the millennium was condemned as superstition.
For the next 1,300 years Augustinian amillennialism remained the official teaching of the church. However, during the medieval period there was always an undercurrent of premillennialism among individuals such as Joachim of Fiora and the Spiritual Franciscans. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries their teaching was revived by various pre-reformation groups including the Hussites. However, the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century continued to hold the Augustinian view of the millennium; nevertheless they suggested changes in eschatological interpretation that led to a renewal of premillennialism in the seventeenth century.
A Premillennial Undercurrent
Martin Luther, for example, advocated a more literal approach to the Bible and identified the papacy with the antichrist. The attention that he called to the prophetic portions of the Bible led some Lutheran scholars to adopt a millennialist interpretation. John Calvin, like Luther, was not impressed with millenarian interpretation, possibly because of the activities of certain Anabaptist groups. Despite Calvin’s opposition, a German Calvinist, Johann H. Alsted (1588-1638), revived the teaching of premillennialism, putting it in a more respectable form.>
Alstedâ’s work was adopted by a learned Anglican scholar, Joseph Mede, who popularized the premillennial view in the English speaking world. Mede, called by some the greatest biblical scholar that the Anglican church has ever produced, was educated at Cambridge University and afterwards became professor of Greek at that institution. In his book, Clavis Apocalypticae (The Key of the Revelation) he considered that his great advance in the interpretation of prophecy was his discovery of the “synchronism” of prophecies. By that he meant that much of the prophetic teaching of the book applies to the same period and describes different beings or events during that time span. LINK
To understand the prevalence of the Antichrist myth, it is important to note the historical figures and governments that have been labeled as “Antichrist” and understand the implications to the United States as this cycle of religiosity expands, possibly more of a national security issue than Islamic terrorists themselves; Islamic terrorists represent only a small threat compared to our national security as opposed to a world that is quickly being convinced that the United States may indeed be the Antichrist. I believe that historians would agree that as a nation, it is vital to reverse course in some respects and help to avoid the universal condemnation of Americans as it begins to manifest itself on a worldwide scale. There is still time, in my opinion, to change attitudes and perceptions as it pertains to America, our government, and the citizenry - but it will take a President and Congress to understand and identify the dangers of the present course the Bush Presidency is pursuing.
Historical characters were often labeled as the Antichrist, as were their governments. To save space, I won’t name all of the ancients whom were suspected to be the Antichrist, but will limit it to a few that stand-out and were the most obvious.
This is a short-list, and fails to mention Antiochus IV as well as Nebuchadnezzar, nor were Stalin and Napoleon mentioned; even President Roosevelt was suspected of being the Antichrist for his passage of the Social Security act - that insidious act of assigning a number to all US citizens: