Deceiving the Elect?

There shall arise false Christs and false prophets,

and shall show great signs and wonders,

insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.

Matthew 24:24

Is it possible to deceive the elect?

Strictly speaking, the elect are those who will finally be saved, and as such any who may be deceived, will at last—by the mercy of God—be undeceived.

To assume that my own discipleship is so sound as to put me beyond the deadly allure of “false Christs,” however, would mark me as already deceived by the sin of presumption.

Knowing that we are all in danger of following false prophets, let us take careful note of the plural.

The Antichrist—of whom I speak more as a type than as an individual—takes various guises, but is always a simulacrum of Christ. As such, he must appeal to some part of our Christian sensibilities, through which he traps us into apostatizing from the wholeness of the truth.

This blogger takes no position on the date and time of the Apocalypse, which our Lord assures us will not be shared to our Outlook calendar. Nonetheless, it is evident to the eyes of faith that ours is an age of Antichrists.

Some appeal to us in some ways, and some in others. Against those whose errors offend us, we need no (spiritual) defense. “Let he that reads understand,” however, that our righteous revulsion at the wiles of one wolf in sheep’s clothing does not guarantee our immunity from the seductions of another.

To many, Vladimir Putin would seem like an unlikely candidate for a false Christ. For those still reeling from recent revelations of the depth and breadth of corruption in the Western world, on the other hand, the notion that the arch-villain on their television screen is a mightier counterpart to our noble Canadian truckers, seems difficult to resist.

Over at the Remnant, for example, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò weighs in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. To his credit, the archbishop—who has recently made a name for himself as a stalwart defender of the Traditional Latin Mass, and opponent of technocratic despotism—calls for a cessation of violence in that beleaguered land.

Sadly, at the same time, Viganò discredits himself with a deliberately slanted account of recent events and their historical context, followed by a blasphemous appeal to an earthly dictator as if he were a chosen vessel of divine justice.

Though promising to confine himself to documented “facts,” the cleric-in-hiding deftly cherry picks real or alleged faults of Ukraine and its Western allies, mostly plucked from openly propagandistic sources. At the same time, he conveniently omits the innumerable sins—similar, but often far worse—of the imperial aggressor.

Already, this is enough to make one wonder whether the retired prelate has somehow come into the employ of the KGB (lately rebranded the FSB).

But alas, our pied piper cannot refrain himself from asking, with feigned innocence, whether “perhaps Providence has ordained that Moscow, the Third Rome, will today in the sight of the world take on the role of . . . eschatological obstacle to the Antichrist,” ushering in “the restoration of Christian Civilization, contributing to bringing the world a period of peace from which the Church too will rise again purified and renewed in her Ministers.”

Meanwhile, Saint Putin is spilling the blood of innocents, uselessly sacrificing the lives of his own soldiers, and rounding up thousands of his own citizens if they dare speak against him—including priests who commit the crime of preaching peace.

It should be needless to say, but in our mentally disintegrating age let it be said, that Christ does not save us through masters of murder and manipulation, dress as they may occasionally do in coats of convenient piety.

“If any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him.”

Rather, if you long for Christ to come to our wounded world, start by seeking the real deal, and accept none of the many substitutes the world will offer.

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