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Apocalyptic Christians Argue over Anti-Christ

An apocalyptically-minded “prophecy expert” casts a sceptical eye over Walid Shoebat’s claims that the Bible predicts a Muslim anti-Christ. Over to David Reagan, of “Lion and Lamb Ministries“:

God’s War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible…is a very expensive book ($29.95) and a very long one (512 pages). The writing is very tedious and difficult to follow. Even worse, the organizational format is chaotic and confusing…incredibly sloppy proof-texting can be found throughout Shoebat’s book. Whenever he wants to make a point, he goes fishing for a verse. When he finds it, he reels it in and applies it to the passage under consideration, whether it is related to that passage or not.

Indeed – and I’ve got more on Shoebat’s bizarre interpretations of the Bible here.

But don’t get your hopes up that Reagan has a more rational  appropach to Biblical interpretation; instead, he matches Shoebat’s pseudo-scholarship with an equally untenable, albeit more stale, “Hal Lindsey” scenario:

…The Middle Eastern Muslim nations will suffer overwhelming defeats in the Psalm 83 War and the Ezekiel 38 War before the Tribulation begins and before the Antichrist comes on the scene. The Antichrist, who will arise out of the revived Roman Empire will then launch a world war to conquer all nations, and during that war, he will be used of God to annihilate the remaining Muslim nations outside the Middle East.

Still, Shoebat can console himself with an enthusiastic notice from Ray Gano, who runs a website named Prophezine. Gano – who claims Jack Chick as his religious inspiration – tells us that

Walid has presented overwhelming proof that the Antichrist is not from the EU, and that he could come from the Middle East.

He has given overwhelming proof that the Catholic Church is not the one world religion, but the worship of Baal through Islam.

…Folks, all these years we have been chasing after some “decoy” called the EU and some false European Antichrist. Satan pulled the wool over our eyes really good on this one. While all of us have been looking to the west, Islam is here now, staring us in the face from the east…they await Satan’s anointed the Mahdi, they will return the world to the worship of Baal. He is named clearly in scripture as the Assyrian, The King of Babylon, The Prince of Tyre, The King Pharoh of Egypt. He hails from the Middle East and he is the Antichrist.

John Hagee, meanwhile, famously favours the idea that the anti-Christ will be a gay Jew.

Incidentally, the idea that Muslims worship “Baal” is a rehash of old Christian polemics, and is based on identifying “Baal” with a pre-Islamic “Hubal”, whose idol is said to have existed in Mecca inside the Ka’ba. Scholars suggest it was same as the “Abraham the Ancient” image that was removed by Muhammad (1). The 1996 Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible has the following for Hubal (I’ve Romanized the Hebrew script used for “Baal”):

…The comparison with Baalim is not convincing because Baal can also function as a generic term…Connections with the pre-Islamic deity Hubal are uncertain. There is too great a distance in time. The gap of nearly a millennium cannot be filled with the single reference to a deity hblw in a Nabataen inscription from the first century CE.

Muslims as “Baal”-worshippers is also nonsensical on phenomenological grounds. Members of a faith may reinterpret teachings and practices over the centuries, and we can see how a religion emerges from a context but comes to be seen by adherents having somehow dropped from the sky. However, the idea that a person can be deceived into thinking they are worshipping one deity when in fact they are worshipping another makes no sense. How is “Baal” worshipped if none of his supposed worshippers know anything about him or if they think they are doing something else? Some Christians object to Christmas because of its pagan origins, but it cannot seriously be held that therefore those who go to church on Christmas Day are somehow accidentally venerating a pagan deity. Once again we see paranoid conspiracy-mongering, this time raised to a cosmic level.

(1)  Francis E. Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam, p. 109-110.

UPDATE: Shoebat has responded to his fundamentalist critics, explaining that he gets “challenges daily, not only by Muslims that want me dead but also from Christians who are dogmatic about their views.” As a rebuttal, he gives a list of prominent Christians from the past who believed that the Bible predicts an eschatological and Satanic role for Islam in the “Last Days”. Of course, this is simply an argument from authority using sources that either pre-date or ignore serious historical-critical Biblical scholarship. His list weirdly includes the observation that “Hilaire Belloc foresaw Islam’s rise”. Belloc, of course, was also notorious for his anti-semitism [UPDATE: although see here].

29 Responses

  1. Are these people mentally ill?

    How can they manage to exist in the modern day and age with all the knowledge avaliable to them and hold such backward views of the world?

    Fascinating but horribly enlightning.

  2. […] Prophecy Controversies.. Posted on January 18, 2009 by pjmiller This evening I was reading a post at Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, which someone might find interesting. It concerns different prophecy views, even within the dispensationalist camp, on the end times and antichrist: Apocalyptic Christians Argue over Anti-Christ. […]

  3. His time is not yet, for first must come the precurser.

  4. Who is…?

  5. There is a disconcertingly sane book “Apocalypse Letter by Letter” by the late Stephen Paul which shows the conditions under which an Antichrist can arise. Even if you’re rabidly anti-Catholic, the author ( a scholarly amateur theologian who spent most of his adult live pondering the original Greek) shows how a more accurate translation of the book of Revelation gives heretofore overlooked details necessary to understand the last book of the Bible. His method is to look closely at the linguistic logic– to reveal meanings which have only begun make sense now, in our post-modern era.

    I highly recommend this surprising & refreshing book to anyone interested in this subject, no matter your denominational background.

  6. The book of revelation was allowed into the Canon by the Catholic Church in the 3rd century when the New Testament was compiled. It was not going to be added to the canon because of its impossible to understand symbols that were presented. St. Augustine talked the council into accepting it, stating:

    Of course no one will interrupt it literally…..well too bad for they have. That book has caused nothing but trouble, making a mockery of our faith; I wish Christians would leave it alone. No one has got it right in 2,000 years, I doubt that they can do it today either. It

  7. His method is to look closely at the linguistic logic
    So once again historical context and consideration of the apocalyptic genre in general go out out the window.

  8. I’m always amused by the American ‘Vangies who think that Barack Obama is the anti-christ of the Revelation.

    I find this funny considering that the last three republican presidents were substantially more likely to nuke the world than Obama is.

  9. You want to know about the antichrist? First he will fool the jews. Then the whole wide world. You think he will be Roman hee hee no but he will take over the Catholic Church, but his time is not yet. First must come the precurser, and who could that be? Look to Iran. You think you know Babilon then I suggest you read Bible again. Read how the dealers in gold silver and money the lenders sit afar off in boats as the City is destroyed. The kings who reside there are the leaders in the UN. The people from many nations are the immigrants. Babilon sits on many waters . Not the Babilon on Iraq. Need I go on?

  10. John is clearly one of the mentally ill, you couldn’t make this shit up…oh wait…someone did already and the pill was swallowed.

    Babilon is in Poland by the way.

  11. Don’t be an idiot Read the Bible ohh you can’t read hee hee

  12. I’ve read it, it’s rubbish and Babilon is in Poland, unless you meant Babylon, which isn’t.

  13. It’s really comical how all these “Biblcal Experts” claim
    to have figured out who the antichrist is and where he
    will come from. They also “know” the interpretation of
    “666*. They’re all fools. NOBODY BUT GOD knows all
    these things and when these things come to pass
    (who knows when) they will all be SHOCKED when
    they realize how wrong(and stupid) they have been
    thinking they have all figured it out. Only God knows and all others should JUST SHUT UP.

  14. you guys are all worried about “THE ANTICHRIST”…

    you need to be worried about an antichrist…
    The original was the Selucid governor who insisted on uniformity of religious expression and was opposed by the Maccabees. Then you had Nero and Diocletion.
    Modern varients were the French revolution, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and dozens of others follow the same scenrio: they become dictators, destroy churches that follow God first, make themselves God, and then persecute those who don’t…

  15. @Henry

    god doesn’t know shit.

  16. Belloc was NOT antisemetic.

    “In my opinion it (“The Jewish Peril” by Nestra Webster) is a lunatic book. She is one of those people who have got one cause on the brain. It is the good old ‘Jewish revolutionary’ bogey. But there is a type of unstable mind which cannot rest without morbid imaginings, and the conception of a single cause simplifies thought. With this good woman it is the Jews, with some people it is the Jesuits, with others Freemasons and so on. The world is more complex than that.” Hilaire Belloc

    Belloc also condemned Nazi anti-Semitism in his book “The Catholic and the War”(1940). To run a quote from his book:

    “The Third Reich has treated its Jewish subjects with a contempt for Justice which even if there had been no other action of the kind in other departments would be a sufficient warranty for determining its elimination from Europe… Cruelty to a Jew is as odious as cruelty to any human being, whether that cruelty be moral in the form of insult, or physical… You may hear men saying on every side, ‘However, there is one thing I do agree with and that is the way they (The Nazis) have settled the Jews’. Now that attitude is directly immoral. The more danger there is that it will grow the more necessity there is for denouncing it. The action of the enemy toward the Jewish race has been in morals intolerable. Contracts have been broken on all sides, careers destroyed by the hundred and the thousand, individuals have been treated with the most hideous and disgusting cruelty… If no price is paid for such excesses, our civilization will certainly suffer and suffer permanently. If the men who have committed them go unpunished (and only defeat in war can punish them) then the decline of Europe, already advanced, will proceed to catastrophe.”(pages 29ff.)

    Those are his own words. They do not sound anti-semetic to me.

    Finally, one can read his own words on his thoughts about Jews in his book ‘”The Jews” were he repeatedly condemns wild accusations against the Jews in works such as Websters and the protocols of Zion, which BTW is required reading in Saudi schools and used extensively by the Palestinian National Authority.

    He wasn’t perfect and he argued politics and issues within the context of the day, but he was not a ‘well-known’ anti semetic.

    dina

  17. Anyone who supports the culture of death is ‘Anti-Christ’.

    History is filled with Anti-Christs…from Nero, to muhammad, to Henry the VIII to Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

    I think it is a misnomer that there will be one specific anti-Christ.

    d.

  18. I agree with Mr. Dohle (above) who sees the Revelation to John as nothing but trouble for Christians. It’s popularity has risen since the late 19th century when the “end-is-nigh” evangelicals realized its potential as a limitless source of “validation” of any cockamamie prophesy they could come up with. The fraud continues.

  19. Revelation is probably the most remarkable literary work ever written. It conjoins the historical, the liturgical, the spiritual, and the prophetic in an incredibly meaningful way. I agree that it requires immense scholarship and a lot of study and understanding of the style of writing, its historical context, and that it has been overly simplified by too many who do not connect all these things. But to suggest that it should not be read is exactly opposite of what should be suggested. It is the only book in the Bible with an explicit blessing promised to those who hear and heed its words.

    As for the Antichrist, it is absolutely true that our primary concern sould be the Spirit of Antichrist which leads us away from truth in all its deceptions, but most particularly the deception of self-worship, or that salvation can come from man’s efforts and works. Secondarily, we need to be wary of all antichrists in the form of men who would lead us away from Christ, whether in violent and destructive ways, or in subtle yet convincing ways. And I do agree that all this speculation about the one final Antichrist is counterproductive, and most likely utterly incorrect. However, before we simply dismiss the entire concept of a final Antichrist as folly, reading the Church Fathers says otherwise. They were in agreement that there would, in fact, be a final man at the culmination of time that would lead an intense persecution of Jews and Christians, and that he would be the final Antichrist.

    However, a lot of stuff needs to happen before that time arises, and we ain’t there yet.

  20. OK, maybe I was too harsh on Belloc:

    …A good deal can be said to defend Belloc from his reputation for anti-Semitism. He opposed racialist ideologies of any kind, including proto-Nazi eugenics which were fashionable among the political Left as much as the political Right throughout the first half of the twentieth century, until they were rendered disreputable by Hitler’s attempt to implement them. And he was horrified by the anti-Semitic articles which appeared in The New Witness during the Marconi scandal before the First World War. Belloc thought that it was ‘unwise and deplorable’ that the editor, Cecil Chesterton, permitted them to appear.

    But he was unwilling to protest publicly lest he seem disloyal to this strange colleague. And sadly Belloc’s own writing is marred by a bitterly anti-Semitic tinge. Even though he condemned the Hitlerite persecution as soon as it began, he never acknowledged later the role he and his writings had played in inciting hostile views about Jews among Catholics.

  21. Henry is another of the mentally ill clearly.

    Also Dong is being a little harsh on Diocletion and Napolean, if Diocletion is in the anti-christ league then so should all the roman emperors. The point being, none of the people you list were the anti-chrsit because the anti-christ doesn’t exist, the misnomer is giving this fictional concept any air at all.

    And Diatribe dude, anyone who picks revelation as their fave bit of the bible from anything other than a comedy or horror perspective is clearly a religious nut, which this thread has been invaded by.

    I and many others dismiss the anti-christ and its not an act of folly, its an act of dismissing something that doesn’t exist or putting a bad idea out of its misery.

  22. […] Posts On the BusesApocalyptic Christians Argue over Anti-ChristLatvia-Based Anti-Gay Preacher at Atlanta ConferenceChannel 4 Highlights Nigerian "Witch […]

  23. What does it matter whether there will or will not be an anti-christ? There are dozens of leaders around the world who fit the bill already. Look around you, this world is a chamber with horrific death at every corner. Enough speculating about these fairy tales in the bible and help take action against the suffering that’s going on as we type.

  24. […] theories about a  coming Muslim anti-Christ (other fundamentalist criticisms can be seen here and here – it’s all a depressing farrago of nonsense on all sides). Shoebat’s letter is […]

  25. […] This is the magazine of “Lamb and Lion Ministries”, run by David Reagan. In in fact, Reagan does not think that the anti-Christ will be a Muslim, and in the magazine he has a long piece that instead favours the more usual (albeit just as nonsensical) “Revived Roman Empire” theory of the Last Days. I’ve blogged the unedifying debate here. […]

  26. The idea that you can be worshipping a deity other than the one you think you’re worshipping is a feature of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia book, The Horse and His Boy.

  27. […] One difference from Left Behind is that although the Saudi “pawn of Lucifer” is perhaps not the same thing as the Antichrist, the series appears to be exploiting the popularity of the “Muslim Antichrist” theory, as expounded on Glenn Beck’s TV show by Joel Richardson (who occasionally stops by this blog to make a comment). LaHaye’s Antichrist, by contrast, reflects 1990s Christian Right anxieties: he’s an Eastern European, and the post-Rapture Secretary General of the United Nations. Christian Right arguments over the identity of the Antichrist can be bitter. […]

  28. […] Bartholomew makes an interesting observation about this book’s politics: One difference from Left Behind is that although the Saudi “pawn of Lucifer” is perhaps not the same thing as the Antichrist, the series appears to be exploiting the popularity of the “Muslim Antichrist” theory, as expounded on Glenn Beck’s TV show by Joel Richardson (who occasionally stops by this blog to make a comment). LaHaye’s Antichrist, by contrast, reflects 1990s Christian Right anxieties: he’s an Eastern European, and the post-Rapture Secretary General of the United Nations. Christian Right arguments over the identity of the Antichrist can be bitter. […]

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