St. Paul prefaces this announcement of the Antichrist with an admonition that we not be “easily moved,” “terrified,” or deceived by reports seeming to indicate that his advent is nigh (2 Thes. 2:1-3). He does not say this, however, because everything is peachy in the world.
To the contrary, “the mystery of iniquity already works,” and though “that wicked one” who, in the end, “shall be revealed,” shall be killed with the spirit of Jesus’s mouth, in the meantime he will practice “all seduction of iniquity,” leading all who “receive not the love of the truth” to embrace his lies (2 Thes. 2:7-11).
In Wrath of God: The Days of the Antichrist, Father Livio Fanzaga does us a great service by reviewing what Scripture and the Church’s magisterium have to say about the Antichrist.
He helps us to see that the proper Christian attitude towards the dramatic events foretold of the end times is not to believe every visionary report of where, when, and how the end will come, nor to dismiss the very idea of a final spiritual conflict as superstition.
Rather, noting that the end times began when Christ died on the cross, rose again, and ascended into heaven, and will end with his final banishment of the devil and his minions, we are to recognize that all of Christian life is a struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, whose relentless attempts to thwart our salvation with various combinations of persecution and seduction will never cease until Christ returns to put them to an end.
Though it is not for us to know the day or the hour of the last judgment, Fanzaga reminds us, it is for us to know and heed the signs of the times—the marks that distinguish not only the Antichrist himself, but his predecessors in human history, so that we may recognize his lies for what they are, and reject them in favor of the truth.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, the Antichrist’s “supreme religious deception” will be a “pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.” The groundwork for this final deception is laid “every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological [final] judgment.”
I hope to revisit Fanzaga’s book in greater detail soon. For now, consider the implications of this sign. While it may not mean that the end has come, it certainly means that the army of the Antichrist is building strength in our world.
Let’s shrink it down a bit by unmasking the lie, disguised as humanitarian sentiment, that would glorify man in the place of God!
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