Revelation 13?

The other day I received a very disturbing email from a good friend of mine. He did not originate the thought, but was passing it along as something that, “… really makes you think about the pending Presidential elections.” The first question was, “According to the book of Revelation, how long is the Beast given authority?” The answer: 42 months. About the length, according to this email, of a presidential term. And then there is this startling kicker, supposedly describing the anti-Christ: “The anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40’s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal….the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything..

Do we recognize this description?

Take a moment, if you can, and pick up Revelation 13 and read the whole chapter. See anything that even remotely resembles this description? What you will find is the careful codespeak of John of Patmos as he describes Emperor Nero and the threat posed by the Roman empire to the Christ-followers of his day and his encouragement to them to stand firm in the promises they have first believed in. And that is about it.

I guess what troubled me most about this email was how absolutely incongruous this email was with my image of my friend. He is a very devout man, a great father, very successful professionally. Sure he occasionally voices spiritual and political opinions that are considerably to the right of mine, but I have never once ever heard him propound something as completely grotesque as this stuff. It made me sad. It made me mad. It inspired me to write back a very strongly worded rebuttal to his note. But it also caused me to wonder if thoughts like this are perhaps simmering away in the dark places of other people’s hearts. Please understand… this post is not intended to voice a political opinion about the virtue of one candidate over another. I would feel exactly the same way if someone mis-quoted Revelation to indicate that John McCain was perhaps a thinly disguised anti-Christ.

But it frankly gives me the chills to imagine that people might be carrying around and spreading thoughts like this, all under the guise of being “righteous defenders of the faith.” And if there IS this slimy undercurrent flowing just beneath the surface of polite discourse, how might it manifest itself in the days and weeks to come?

Unfortunately it is when I see and hear things like this that I have a bit more empathy with the views of people like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchins.

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