[*] By analogy: if one needed to hunt for an invisible man walking through a forest, the hunter would look for the tracks and the disturbed bushes left as the invisible man passed by.
Now more than at any time in history, many Christians expect the Apocalypse and the Return of Christ. Although we cannot know “that day and hour,” there is reason for spiritual vigilance. Heresy and apostasy abound among Church pastors and teachers. In many formerly Christian nations, the flock stays out of the churches – and in other parts of the world, violent persecution of the faithful increases. Financial skullduggery, sexual abuse, and cover-up of ongoing scandals is common in ancient and new denominations alike, as shepherds play the part of wolves. Civil wars and international wars spread. Nuclear weapons proliferate to rogue states; Great Powers take up the idea of pre-emptive war; Cold War rivalries resume. Globalization promises prosperity for all, but brings debt-bondage to
Many orthodox Christians expect the current crises to climax with the establishment of a New World Order and the emergence of an evil spiritual/political leader, the Antichrist. Almost all who have written about this peril expect the Deceiver to be a Leftist, one who will complete the subversive work that the French Revolution began and that the Communists and secularists have carried forward. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote in 1977, “We do know that at the end of time, when the great conflict between the forces of good and evil takes place, Satan will appear without the Cross, as the Great Philanthropist and Social Reformer to become the final temptation of mankind.” Popular non-fiction works by dispensationalists Hal Lindsey and John Walvoord portray a “progressive” Antichrist who rises to power with the aid of an apostate, ecumenical “super-Church.” Christian writers of apocalyptic fiction, from the best-selling Left Behind series to the Catholic authors of Lord of the World and Father Elijah, have likewise painted the Final Enemy as a man of the Left. In this view, the Antichrist is the beast who brazenly attacks traditional beliefs about God and Christ, oppresses the faithful, and wages war against the Church – primarily as an external foe.
It may be that this is, indeed, the hour before the triumph of “progressive” religious and political globalists. The global economy is a house of cards; interlocking alliances may allow local wars to become a planetary holocaust; anti-U.S. political and military alliances grow. If the present U.S.-led global order collapses into rubble, then the Left’s globalists will likely have their chance at creating a New World Order.
If this open attack from the Left were the totality of the final contest, it is one for which traditional Christians are psychologically prepared. This would be the final conflict in the defensive war that traditionalists have been waging since the fall of the Bastille.
However, the faithful could very well be facing a sterner trial yet: a final spiritual temptation that comes from within our own camp. This would take the form of a “Christian” spiritual/political leader who promises to save us all from the Left – if only we follow him. Just as Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and other fascists promised to save their own nations from Bolshevism before World War II, this new global leader would offer the whole world protection against the Left’s New World Order. His initial weapon would be seduction, and hypocrisy would be his modus operandi – until his global position is secure.
Such an alarm might seem outlandish, a needless exercise in leftist paranoia – but it is a possibility of which all Christians should be aware. If we do not consider it, we will be spiritually unprepared – and prone to attack from this unexpected quarter. Evil does not necessarily come from our identified enemies; it can arise amongst our friends and allies. (Most perilously, it can come from ourselves. Examination of conscience is essential to spiritual survival.)
C. S. Lewis described how a pseudo-religious regime would work: “The loftier the pretensions of the power, the more meddlesome, inhuman, and oppressive it will be. Theocracy is the worst of all possible governments.. All political power is at best a necessary evil; but it is least evil when its sanctions are most modest and commonplace, when it claims no more than to be useful or convenient and sets itself strictly limited objectives.” He added, “The higher the pretensions of our rulers are, the more meddlesome and impertinent their rule is likely to be and the more the thing in whose name they rule will be defiled.” By proposing tyranny in the name of Christianity, a future “orthodox” ruler would perform an ultimate defilement. In 1940, Lewis warned against “pseudo-theology” of the extreme Left and Right: “Fascism and Communism, like all other evils, are potent because of the good they contain or imitate. Diabolus simius Dei. And of course, their occasion is the failure of those who left humanity starved of that particular good. … One of the things we must guard against is the penetration of both into Christianity. … Mark my words: you will frequently see both a Leftist and a Rightist pseudo-theology developing – the abomination will stand where it ought not.”
Our spiritual radar should scan the
entire horizon, and not just look to the Left. We
should not repeat the mistake that the French High Command made before
World War II, when they expected the next attack from
Careful study of the Scriptures, and prayerful meditation on their implications, can give us the 360-degree early warning system that we need now.
the Return of Christ: Chaos And Apostasy, Not Revival,
Dominion, Or A "New Christendom"
the Return of Christ: Chaos And Apostasy, Not Revival,
Dominion, Or A "New Christendom"
The time before the
Return of Christ will be an era of loss of faith, false teaching, and
immorality. Such is the consistent witness
of Scripture. Christ
said that before His Return, “because wickedness is multiplied, most
men’s love will grow cold” (Mt. 24:12), and “many will fall
asked, “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk.
The earliest tradition of the Church says the same. The Didache, a summary of Church teaching from the end of the first century, says: “For in the last days the false prophets and the corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall change to hate. For as lawlessness increaseth they shall hate one another and persecute and betray, and then shall appear the deceiver of the world as a Son of God.”
is no warrant for the idea that the Second Coming will be preceded by a
time of Christian revival, moral improvement, and earthly
implementation of Gospel values. If any
kind of seemingly orthodox “dominion” comes to power before the Return
of Christ, it will be a counterfeit of the
Christ warned that many false messiahs would come before His Return. They will say, “I am the Christ,” and they will “lead many astray” (Mt. 24:4-5). The followers of these “false Christs and false prophets” will seek converts, telling people that “he is in the wilderness” or “he is in the inner room.” Some of the false teachers will “show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (Mt. 24:23-26). After healing a man on the Sabbath (Jn. -16), He told His religious opponents, “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.” (Jn. 5:42-43).
Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote against the “man of lawlessness,” the “son of perdition” (2 Th. 2:3) who would lead people worldwide astray in a final spiritual deception before the Return of Christ.. This False Christ, when he appears, will not seem to be a raving demagogue, or a lunatic, or a charlatan. Nor will his reign begin with violence. He will be a counterfeit Christ, a seemingly plausible substitute for the real Christ – one so well-disguised that he could deceive “the very elect,” if that were to be allowed by God. The way of this “lawless one” is now being prepared in secret; when the one “who now restrains it” is removed, the Deceiver will appear openly (2 Th. 2:6-7).
When Christ came
St. Hippolytus of
Christ chased the
money changers out of the
Thus, Satan comes disguised as an “angel of light” and his servants, the “false apostles,” will “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. -15). The precursors and servants of the False Christ will not seem, at first sight, to be wicked. These “ravenous wolves” who wear “sheep’s clothing” (Mt. ) will appear to be pious and devout, strict and orthodox – but the reality will be otherwise.. Their fruit has been – and will be – evil, and Christ will not accept them or the works they claim to have done in His Name (Mt. -23).
Deceiver will be the one who “comes in his own name” (Jn. )
and “takes his seat in the
The Lawless One will come “by the activity of Satan,” with “all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Th. 2:9-10). The “miracles” and actions of the False Christ will be in line with the temptations offered to Christ in the desert by Satan:
· They will be materialistic, making it seem that man lives by bread alone (contrary to Mt. 4:4); and
· They will be sensational stunts, displaying pride and presumption rather than God’s compassion and love for His people (contrary to Mt. 4:7); and
· They will be oriented to the assertion of worldly power, as the Devil assumes rule of “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor,” and seeks to convince all mankind to “fall at my feet and worship me” (in accord with the Devil’s final temptation, as offered in Mt. 4:8-9).
For a brief time, the whole world will be in the power of the Devil and his servants, as represented by the dragon, the beast “rising out of the sea,” and the beast which “rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon” (Rev. 13:1-18). Scripture specifies this time as 42 months, or 1,260 days, or 3½ years. Symbolically, these warnings indicate a brief time – but they may also refer to a literal time of about 3½ years.
this period, the evil rulers will be “allowed to make war on the saints
and to conquer them” (Rev.
faithful will be “hated by all the nations” on account of the Name of
Christ (Mt. 24:9). Scripture
promises spiritual safety for believing Christians,
not immunity from persecution. As a “voice
from heaven” told
If those days were not cut short by God, “no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect these days will be shortened.” (Mt. 24:22) Such would be the seductive and coercive power of the Devil and his servants that unless their reign were cut short, everyone – including orthodox, obedient Christians – would fall. If the Last Trial is to test the faith of everybody, there will inevitably be a trap that could lure the Right as well as the Left. In the time of the leftist New World Order, the Left will be tempted by seeing the realization of its own rebellious desires. In the time of the False Christ, the orthodox and the rightists will be tempted by means of their own orthodoxy, religiosity, and habits of obedience.
Christ was preceded by a prophet, John the Baptist. In the same way, the False Christ will have his own prophet. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, ate “locusts and wild honey,” and wore rough garments of camel’s hair (Mt. 3:1-4). Just as the False Christ will invert the ministry of Christ, his forerunner will invert the ministry of John the Baptist. This false prophet may eat the finest food, live in “kings’ houses,” and wear “soft raiment” (Mt. 11:8) – perhaps, even a red velvet cap and a matching cape trimmed with ermine, “Gucci shades,” and red Prada loafers under a cassock with “shimmering, sequinlike details.” (As today’s secular writers know, The Devil Wears Prada.)
The False Christ will be a seductive, popular “messiah” – but those who know Christ will be able to use the Scriptures and their own relationship with God to resist the allure of evil.
When Christ returns, He will come “on the clouds of heaven,” (Mt. 26:64) and with glory, to reign over the Earth and to “put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. ). A careful reading of Scripture shows that the Return of Christ will be preceded, accompanied, and followed by an unmistakable sequence of events. These upheavals in the cosmos will be manifest worldwide – with no assistance needed from the mass media, or publicity agents, or the Church, or any political or religious movement. Nobody other than God will be able to do these things:
Immediately before the Return of
Christ, toward the end of the Tribulation,
there will be wonders in the heavens and signs on the earth, during
which “the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood”
(Acts -20, referring to Jl. -31).
these cosmic disturbances, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in
the heavens (Mt. 24:30), and the people of the world will mourn as they
look upon the one that they have pierced. “Every
eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the
earth will wail on account of him.” (Rev. 1:7)
The Son of Man will come “on the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30), accompanied by His angels. Christ
ascended in a cloud (Acts 1:9),
and the angels told the crowd of
disciples who had witnessed the Ascension that “this same Jesus will
come back in the same way as you have seen him go” into the heavens
The Return will be a sudden event that
is evident to everyone on earth, at once. The
faithful will rejoice, and the faithless will mourn.
Christ will not be proclaimed at the
contrast, the False Christ may arise from the earth to challenge the
real Christ. Beforehand, the Deceiver may
attempt to fake coming “in the clouds” with a pretended miracle. Or,
the Deceiver may explain (as the Theosophist Alice Bailey did, when
describing the coming of the future “World Teacher”) that “coming in
the clouds” is just a First Century way of describing travel by
Christ will send His angels to gather
all of His elect, living and dead, from wherever they may be.
come the gathering of the faithful dead in the
“first resurrection” (Rev.
afterward, the believers who are alive at the Return of Christ will be
transfigured “in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” (1 Cor.
who are chosen by Christ to be with Him will be taken up, suddenly,
from amongst their families, neighbors, and co-workers. This is when the wicked will be “left behind” – not
before the beginning of the Tribulation, but at its end.
The writers of the Left Behind books are in
error; Christians will go through the Tribulation.
Having gathered his own to Himself, Christ will
come to Earth to put down His enemies (Rev. 19:11-21).
He will destroy the False Christ “with the breath of his mouth
and will destroy him by his appearing and coming” (2 Th. 2:8).
The beast and the false prophet are to be
“thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur” (Rev.
will cast those who were on top of the world during the regime of the
False Christ down to the bottom of all worlds, and their doom is
· Then comes Christ’s Kingdom. This will begin with a feast that Christ will offer for His followers. Then, Christ will rule for a thousand years – a number symbolizing a long time (Rev. 20:2, 6). He will govern with an “iron scepter,” exercising equity and integrity, and judging on behalf of the oppressed (Mal. 3:4-5).
If these are indeed Apocalyptic times, what should Christians do? Scripture offers some suggestions – none of which include undue hoarding of supplies, or gathering guns, or sending money to the Temple Mount Faithful, or lobbying for restoration of a “Christian America,” or preemptively bombing the enemy-of-the-day, or counting on an early escape via a pre-Tribulation Rapture.
Remain awake, watchful, and sober,
discerning the signs of the times and looking for the Return of Christ. It is
because people know “neither the day nor the hour” (Mt. 25:13) that
they must “be ready” (Mt.
and evil-doers will be dismayed and caught by surprise at the Return. For them, the Day will come as suddenly and
disastrously as a thief. By
contrast, the faithful will expect the Day, and see it as the
fulfillment of their hopes.
Do not be shocked into loss of faith because of
the trials of the latter days. Judgment
will “begin with the household of God” (1 Pet. ), and will include the
leaders of the time. Indeed, those who teach the
faith will be “judged with greater strictness” than others in the
Church (Jas. 3:1). So, it appears that the
first of the Tribulations will strike the Church – and its hierarchs
Take up only spiritual weapons; as
The followers of Christ will receive sufficient
warning to await the Return with faith and hope, in the same way that
Act with love, obeying Christ’s commands as set
forth in the Sermon on the Mount
(Mt. 5:1-7:28) and elsewhere in the
Gospels. Pray for our enemies and
persecutors, for their salvation and conversion to the fullness of
Truth. In doing this, we are asking God to
bestow the greatest of blessings on them (Mt -45). Christ’s
teachings do not have an expiration date, and “will not pass away” (Mt.
a great extent, our fate at the Last Judgment will be determined by
whether or not we were merciful to “one of the least of these my
brethren” (Mt. 25:31-46).
· Above all else, remain loyal to Christ. “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 24:13) When Christ comes again, He will “save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. ).
 C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1946, 1965 ed., p. 291.
 Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ, Image Books, 1977, p. 10.
 Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination With Evil, Columbia University Press, 2000, pp. 258-259, for a summary of Lindsey’s and Walvoord’s works.
 Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, authors of a 12-book series beginning with Left Behind and ending with Glorious Appearing, Tyndale House Publishers, 1996-2004.
 Robert Hugh Benson, Lord of the World, Wildside Press, 2002 ed.
 Michael D. O’Brien, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, Ignatius Press, 1996.
 C. S. Lewis, “Lilies That Fester,” in The World’s Last Night And Other Essays, Harcourt, 1987, p. 40.
 Ibid., p. 48.
 “The devil is the ape of God,” from Tertullian.
 C. S. Lewis, letter of
 All Scripture citations are from the Revised Standard Version.
 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 2 Tim.. 4:3-4.
 Rev. 6:15-17; Rev. 16:9-11; Rev.. 16:21.
 “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the Heathen,” sec. XIII, vv. 3-4, in M. Basil Pennington, Alan Jones, and Mark Booth, eds., The Living Testament: The Essential Writings of Christianity Since the Bible, Harper and Row, 1985, p. 4. This text is also known as the Didache.
 See also Mt. 24:11; Mk. 13:5-6; Lk. 21:8.
 See also Mk. 13:21-23; Lk. 17:23.
 Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination With Evil, Columbia University Press, 2000, p. 61, quoting from ch.. 6 of Hippolytus’ On the Antichrist.
 Brooks Alexander, “The Coming World Religion,” Spiritual Counterfeits Project, 1983 pamphlet, p. 2.
 Archbishop Averky Taushev, The
Apocalypse in the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, St. Herman of
 See also Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14.
 Rev. 11:2; Rev. 13:5.
 Rev. 11:3; Rev. 12:6; Rev. 13:5.
 Rev. .
 See also Mk. 13:13; Lk. 21:17.
 Mal. 3:1.
 See also Mk. 1:2-6.
 Associated Press, “Animal rights groups ask
pope to drop fur,”
 Barbie Nadeau, “Fashion: The Pope Wears
Prada,” Newsweek, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10016674/site/newsweek/, viewed
 Lauren Weisberger, The Devil
Wears Prada, Anchor, 2006 – as listed at Amazon.com, viewed
 Mt. 24:29; Mk. 13:24-25; Lk. 21:25-26; Rev. 6:12-14; Rev. 8:12.
 See also Dan. 7:13; Mt. 26:63-64; Mk. 13:26; Mk. 14:61-62; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 17:24; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 22:69-70; Rev. 1:7; Rev. 19:11-16.
 Zech. 14:5; Mt. 16:27; Jn. 1:51; 2 Th. 1:7-10.
 Mt. 24:27-28; Lk. 17:37.
 Alice Bailey, The Externalization
of the Hierarchy, pp. 576-577, as posted at http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/externalisation/exte1247.html, viewed
 Mt. 24:31; Mk. 13:27.
 Rom. ; 1 Cor. , 1 Cor. -23.
 See also 1 Th. 4:15-18.
 Mt. 24:37-41; Lk. 17:34-35.
 Mt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25; Lk. 12:36-39; Lk. 22:16; Lk. 22:18; Rev. 19:6-9.
 Ps. 2:8-9; Ps. 110:5-6; Zech. 14:16-19.
 Mt. 24:32-33; Mt. 24:42-44; Mt. 25:1-13; Mk. 13:29; Mk. 13:33-37; Lk. 12:35-40; Lk. 12:42-46; Lk. 21:28-31; Lk. 21:34-36; 1 Th. 5:4-6.
 Mt. 24:48-51; Lk. 21:34-35; Rev.. 3:3.
 Zeph. 1:4-7; Zeph. 3:1-8; Mal. 3:2-3; Mt. 3:7-10.
 Gen. 6:13-7:10; Gen. 19:12-17; Jon. 3:1-10.
 Mt. 24:16-20; Mk. 13:14-18; Lk. 17:31-32; Lk. 21:21.
 See also Mk. 13:13; Lk. 21:17-19; Lk. 21:36.
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