Potential Problems With The Thesis
I believe it would only be responsible to address what I anticipate may be some of the arguments and objections raised against the thesis presented in this book. In this chapter I will address the potential difficulties that I have personally pondered myself and share why I feel as though they are easily resolved. In fact, some of the challenges may actually help shed even greater light on the details of how things just may unfold according to the biblical template.
Jumping to Conclusions
Throughout Christian history, many Christians have seen the Antichrist and his system in whoever happened to be their archenemy or boogeyman of the day. Many Protestants have singled out – and some still do – the Pope as the most likely candidate to be the Antichrist. More recent speculations have ranged from Mikhail Gorbachev to Saddam Hussein to Prince Charles. For quite some time Communism with its atheist doctrines was the favorite antichrist system for many. Before the European Union was formed, many speculated that when the number of participants in the EU reached ten, then the Antichrist would surely emerge as the ruler of the "revived Roman Empire." In the popular Left Behind series, it is Nicoloae Carpathia, a Romanian politician who plays the role of Antichrist. A whole book could be written about all of the various missed and zany speculations of Christians over the years. In fact, just such a book has been written.
Paul Boyer, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, in his informative, though quite jaded book entitled, When Time Shall Be No More, 1 thoroughly examines pre-millennial belief throughout the history of the Church. Boyer succeeds in demonstrating the repeated gullibility and hastiness of Christians who have only too often been all too quick to jump to conclusions regarding the identification of the Antichrist or his system. In our times, I would hazard to say that the occupation of some end-time teachers of speculating about the identity of the Antichrist and his system has become a bit of a sport and an industry.
So perhaps the challenge might arise which asks, "Aren’t you doing the same thing? – Aren’t you just taking today’s boogy man (Islam) and making it into the Antichrist system?" I don’t believe so. Here’s why: I didn’t go looking for a way to identify Islam as an antichrist system, but rather I went looking to befriend Muslims and get to know Islam. And I still love Muslims. But through my journey of understanding and becoming intimately acquainted with Islam, the material covered in this book pretty much forced itself on me. It is not through any negative feelings or biased agenda that I have come to the conclusions that I have in this book, but rather the information speaks for itself. Also, the simple fact of the matter is that someday the Antichrist system will emerge. When it does, will we simply look the other way for fear of being the next gullible Christian to falsely identify the Antichrist? When the real thing arrives, will the Church allow the fear of looking dumb to cloud her discernment?
At this point, my response to those who would challenge the idea that Islam is the primary driving force behind the Antichrist system would be to issue a challenge to show biblically why it is not. What aspect of the Antichrist spirit and system as described in the Bible does not line up with the spirit and doctrines of Islam? What weaknesses are there in the argument that has been presented here? And if not Islam, then what other system fulfills the long list of biblical requirements necessary to fulfill such a role?
Ultimately, the purpose of this book was not so much to prove a point, but merely to present the information to the Church. I believe that in doing so, I have fulfilled my responsibility before God to warn the Church regarding this undeniably startling information. This book is ultimately about turning the reader to the Scriptures and prayer in order to study and meditate to see if these things are so. If it is, then many others will follow with their own insights and add to what has been presented here. And of course, certainly world developments will continue to substantiate this theory as well. But rather than viewing this information as some form of end-time trivia, or merely some interesting information to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, I appeal to every reader to take this information as a strong warning to remain both prayerful and watchful. The days that we are living in have an intensity to them that requires a diligent attitude of both prayerfulness and watchfulness. We all need to be aware of world developments both naturally and spiritually. If ever a day existed that demanded such a high level of sobriety, then surely these are the days.
We now turn to some potential "holes" in the argument:
The Antichrist Himself Demands Worship
Perhaps the most strongest argument that could be made against the idea that the system of Islam will fulfill the role of the Antichrist system is the fact that despite all of the specific parallels and similarities between the two, the simple fact is that the Antichrist demands personal worship and surely Islam does not allow for the worship of any man. Indeed this is the big problem that Islam has with Christianity. While I am plainly speculating, I believe that a thoughtful examination of this future scenario can clear up any doubts that might attempt to negate the notion that Islam is the Antichrist system.
The first point that needs to be remembered is that while the Antichrist accomplishes much in the first half of the seven years of his rule, he does not actually demand to be worshiped until after the middle point of this seven years. It will not be until after the Antichrist has achieved several significant military victories and gained a great measure of allegiance that he will invade Israel and establish his position of authority in the Jerusalem temple. It is at this time that Paul the Apostle explains that Antichrist will "set himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4) This is also the time that Paul said that, "the man of lawlessness is revealed." (2 Thessalonians 2:3) While many Christians with discernment will already have recognized the Antichrist by this point, it will not be until the middle of the "week" or seven years that the Bible says he will be fully "revealed."
We need to understand that the Antichrist will not demand worship until well after the fact that he has been universally acknowledged and accepted by the Islamic world as the Mahdi. The Imams, mullahs, sheikhs, and the Ayatollahs; all of the world Islamic leadership, will have given their allegiance to the Mahdi. To deny him after this point would be the ultimate shame for Islam. It would come at a time when Islam will universally be experiencing its greatest rush of vindication and fulfillment. In the midst of all of this incredible elation, to suddenly declare and acknowledge that an absolute evil charlatan has deceived the entire Islamic world would simply be unthinkable. Once the deception has taken place and it will be impossible to undo. The hook will have been set.
There will be other very important factors at play here as well. Throughout this time period, the False Prophet, whom the Islamic World will believe to be Jesus, will be working as the Antichrist’s miracle-working "campaign manager" as it were. As Paul the Apostle says:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
So the followers of the Mahdi/Antichrist are already in a deep spiritual state of deception. This deception is founded on a combination of factors including some very powerful psychological dynamics as well as the spiritual dimensions that Paul describes above. Because "they refused to love the truth and so be saved… God sends them… all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders… in every sort of evil that deceives… a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie." This is strong language. And it is God himself who literally sends the delusion. Having already rejected Him, God himself causes them to become cemented in their own poor decisions. It is a very similar picture to the manner in which God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that he could accomplish his purposes for his people Israel. Indeed, Pharoah’s Egypt was in this sense a foreshadowing of the coming followers of Antichrist.
The Bible also gives us a hint into one of the specific powerful delusions that will cause the world to awe over the Antichrist. He is said to experience some sort of deadly head wound and yet come back to life. It seems to be some sort of parallel to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Apostle John, in the Book of Revelation describes this fatal head wound for us:
One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Revelation 13:3
Of course this great event will be "promoted" and exploited by The False Prophet/Muslim Jesus:
He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. Revelation 13:12
Exactly what this "fatal head wound" will be is yet to be seen, but it is described in two ways; one, it "seemed" to be fatal and in the next reference it is simply called "fatal." The Antichrist is then specifically described as, "the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived." Whatever this is specifically referring to, it is undoubtedly referring to some form of false sign that the Antichrist/Mahdi and the False Prophet/False Jesus will use to deceive and capture the wonder of the people. The very "sign" that Jesus pointed to as the greatest vindicating fact of His earthly ministry was His resurrection. The Antichrist, as the ape of Christ may indeed fabricate his own counterfeit resurrection as a response to the central redemptive event of all time.
And of course, another important factor to consider here is that it is will also be at this time that those who do not support the Antichrist/Mahdi or give Him the worship that he demands, will be killed under the new globally enforced Islamic Law.
He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. Revelation 13:15
Speaking of this specific time, Jesus says:
So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Matthew 24:16-22
Clearly, multitudes will be killed. Multitudes will not accept nor worship the Antichrist/Mahdi. I believe that it is quite likely that at this time multitudes of Muslims will see the evil person that the Antichrist really is and will turn to the true Jesus for salvation. Who knows?
So we need to try to envision this total scenario: The Antichrist/Mahdi has emerged. The entire Islamic world acknowledges him as such. Having been primed throughout their entire lives psychologically, doctrinally, and spiritually to receive him, much of the Islamic world rallies to his cause and joins his ranks. He gains several military victories and grows in power as an unparalleled world leader with an equally unparalleled military force under his control. All the people of the earth stand in awe and say, "Who is like him and who can make war with him?" On top of all this, the other man whom the Islamic world has been awaiting, the Muslim Jesus, is also on the scene and is openly declaring the Mahdi to be Allah’s man of the hour. Along with the False Jesus’ stunningly powerful rhetorical skills, he will be performing "all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders" to deceive and hook as many people as possible. Among these great signs is one that seems to utterly amaze the people of the earth. The Antichrist undergoes some form of false resurrection from the dead. He recovers from a "fatal head wound." And as if all of this is not enough, the Antichrist then proceeds to accomplish that which the Muslim world has been longing and yearning for probably more than any other event conceivable: He utterly defeats Israel and establishes the Islamic Caliphate from Jerusalem. Islam is now vindicated! It is now mere inches away from its absolute final victory over the entire earth. And it is now, in the midst of all this, that the Mahdi throws the ultimate curve ball. In the same way that Christians view Jesus to be the incarnation of God, so the Mahdi now declares himself to be an incarnation of Allah, and as such, he demands to be worshipped. A novel more suspenseful has not been written.
Satan often masks his true identity with something wonderful in order to allure and then hook his victims. In most cases, Satan’s true nature is eventually revealed. When this happens, it is the absolute mercy of God. In such cases, God is giving the deceived person or people the opportunity to see the real face of evil behind all of the make-up. For some, the mask of deception will not be removed in this lifetime. For these, it will be too late. But for those who have the opportunity to see the truth behind what has been holding them sway, as I said, it is the mercy of God to their lives. When the Antichrist demands that he be worshipped, his true identity will be revealed to many. The mask will be removed and many eyes will be opened. For many however, an utter determination to believe in the legitimacy of the Madhi and Islam will overwhelm them. These would rather be swept up into a great deception with an Islamic nature than to acknowledge having been wrong all along. Oddly enough, the choice that will suddenly be set before them will be to worship the Antichrist/Mahdi who will be claiming to be Allah incarnate or to turn to Jesus, who is Yahweh – the God of the Bible, incarnate. All of the excuses that Islam used to cling to in order to reject Jesus, namely that Allah would simply never become a man and draw near to us as such, will be taken away. In allowing the Mahdi to be "revealed," God will be showing great mercy to the followers of Islam. When the Antichrist is revealed, Islam will finally be fully "unveiled." This will be a final demonstration of God’s wonderful ability to turn even the most horrific time in history into an opportunity for multitudes to find repentance. He will be giving them one last great opportunity in this world to turn to Jesus. To do so at this time however, will of course mean one thing: Martyrdom.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. Joel 3:14
While the Lord certainly speaks of allowing those who are deceived to continue in their deception, I believe that many Muslims will see the truth at this time and multitudes will find both salvation and possibly martyrdom at this time. Indeed, God’s mercy is strong.
The Problem of Unfulfilled Signs
Another objection that might be raised is the problem of unfulfilled signs. Some might argue that unless Muslims see the fulfillment of all of the Minor and Major Signs of Islamic apocalyptic tradition, including the one-eyed Dajjal, or several other significant signs, they will not accept a false Mahdi. This argument makes some sense, but is easily resolved.
First of all, the primary factor at play here is the flexibility of the Hadith traditions. In examining some of the Hadith about the Dajjal, for instance, we saw that while they were clear that indeed the Dajjal would be "one-eyed," the Hadith could not agree which eye was blind. One Hadith said he was blind in the left eye, while the other said it was his right eye. Due to the obvious corruption and inconsistency throughout the Hadith traditions, the Hadith are simply easy to ignore. I have personally found this reality too many times to count when discussing Islam with Muslims. A Muslim might quote a hadith as a proof text to validate his point for one argument, only to deny the "trustworthiness" of the very same hadith in another discussion. Many Muslims feel free to declare any hadith unreliable when it suites them and likewise to declare any hadith as fully reliable when it suites them on another occasion. There is no universal acceptance as to which hadith are absolutely authoritative and which are not. For those who find themselves within the system of Islam, the Hadith traditions create the perfect "loophole" to almost any argument that might be raised against the authority of Islam. The flexibility of the Hadith traditions creates the perfect fuzzy atmosphere for a false religion to thrive. It is a deceivers dream come true – allowing its adherents to remain in haze of circular reasoning without ever realizing it.
While I concede that some Muslims will be looking for various signs to be fulfilled, so long as the Mahdi is on the scene and accomplishing all that we have discussed for the cause of Islam, I really don’t think that any Muslims will actually reject the Mahdi simply because one or more of the particular "signs" of the last-days has failed to materialize. Simply stated, when Jerusalem falls to the Antichrist, very few Muslims will be protesting.
The best way that most Christians might be able to relate to this is to imagine how most Christians would respond if Jesus returned to the earth from Heaven and established His rule over the earth from Jerusalem. Imagine that almost the entire world is becoming Christian as Jesus’ teaches from the Scriptures from His throne in Jerusalem. Imagine that the restoration of all things is gradually taking place – powerful supernatural healings are in abundance. The Jews are restored to their Messiah and everything looks just perfect. Yet, in the midst of all of this, there never appeared an Antichrist or a "tribulation" or anything of the sort. Would most Christians thus reject Jesus? Or would they simply shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh well, I guess my eschatology was off a bit"? I think I know the answer.
And this is an excellent analogy because the Mahdi is in so many ways to the Muslim what Jesus is to the Christian. While I am quite sure that most Christians would not protest under such a scenario, but rather fully embrace Jesus, so will Muslims worldwide embrace the Antichrist/Mahdi despite the lack of several other confirming signs.
So although I’m sure that there will be other challenges to the thesis of this book, for now, I believe that we have sufficiently addressed the two primary potential objections that might be raised. In the next chapter I will share my own personal analysis and ponderings of the information that we have covered so far.
1. Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Studies in Cultural History), (Cambridge, Belknap Press, 1994)
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