A study: What we can possibly know (with some degree of certainty) about the Anti-Christ

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It is on the unquestionable authority of miracles that the truth of the Christian religion is established and believed by all those who are sincere seekers of the truth.

This impostor will make use of the same means to create objections against the Church of God.  According to St. Paul, his event will be sig­nalized by numerous signs and prodigies due to the operation of Satan; he will work all kinds of miracles, signs, and deceitful prodigies, whose “coming is according to the working of Satan, in ail power, in signs and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish,” (2 Thess, 2:9-10].  And we are told in the Apocalypse [13:13) that great will be the things which he will do to deceive mankind. “And he did great signs, so that he made also fire to come down from heaven unto the earth in the sight of men,” The same is said of him by the evangelist when he speaks of false prophets and false Christs. [Math. 13:22), “For there will rise up false Christs and false prophets and they shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect”.

Holy Writ furnishes three examples of the miracles that will be wrought by Antichrist: “He shall cause first to come down from heaven,” (Apoc, 13:13).  “He shall make the beast speak,” (Apoc, 13:15), And finally, he will pass for being dead (Apoc. 13:3), and then he will, as it were, raise himself to life, thus securing the admiration and homage of all men.  The holy Fathers are very explicit on this point and give many details on it.  St. Clement, in his workentitled Third Book of Recogni­tions, a work on which we may rely as being authentic in spite of the rude attacks made upon it, relates as coming from St. Peter himself that the accursed man will have power to perform miracles of beneficence like those of Our Saviour.  St, Hipollytus, in his work on the consumma­tion of time, does not hesitate to affirm wonderful things which he ap­parently held from apostolic tradition.  He will heal lepers, make the lame to walk, cast out demons, raise the dead to life.  He will know the most secret and hidden things.  He will move mountains, walk on the waves of the sea, turn day into night, and vine versa.  He will direct the course of the sun at will, and finally, appear as being the master of the elements.

He will therefore appear as having performed miracles similar to all those wrought by Jesus Christ, in order to eclipse His glory and purloin to his own advantage the honors due to the true Messiah.  But St. Paul warns us that all those miracles, so numerous and striking will be the work of deception.  “Therefore God shall send them the apparition of error to believe lying” (2 Thess. 2:11).  Those miracles will be deceptive in their origin, deceptive to their nature, deceptive in their form, decep­tive in their object.  Reason and faith, assure us that God alone can per­form genuine miracles.  “Blessed be the Lord and God of Israel, who alone doth wonderful things”.  (Ps. 71:18).  Hence we are sufficiently warned that those miracles which Antichrist would attribute to his own divinity are the work of Satan, the father of lies, who performs – and cannot perform any other than – false miracles.

The greater part of those prodigies will be optical illusions and dia­bolical charms.  Men shall be deceived by appearances, hence the reason why the Scriptures say that he will work miracles before the eyes of man and not in the sight of God (Apoc, 13:13).

Some of them, it is true, will surpass all human power and will be materially prodigious.  This, however, is not to be wondered at.  In the hierarchy of beings, man is naturally inferior to the angels, even to the fallen angel, who has preserved his natural qualities.  The devils are able to do things which are impossible to man, yet their deeds are miracles relatively and not absolutely, since it does not belong to the province of any created being to perform a miracle properly so called; this re­quires the intervention of divine power, which belongs to God alone. Consequently, of this latter order of miracles, Antichrist will perform none, although some of his prodigies, such as raising the dead to life, which he will seem to do, must have all the appearance of true miracles.

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Things concerning Antichrist that are certain

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I. Antichrist will be a trial for the good (Apoc., XIII, 7), and a chastisement for the impious and the apostates (II Thess., II, 9-11).

II. Antichrist will be a man, a human person.

“Antichrist is not a myth or a fiction, as Renan, in his silly fashion, tried to show.[17] Neither must he be confused with a sect, a collection of impious men, an atheistic environment, or a period of persecution, as certain pious persons have imagined. Antichrist will be a human person, appearing in an epoch of atheism and of wicked sectaries.”[18]

III. Antichrist will not be Satan in human form, but a man and only a man.[19]

IV. Antichrist will have great powers of seduction, owing to certain personal qualities.

“Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish.” (II. Thess., II, 9, 10).

V. The beginnings of Antichrist’s career will be lowly and obscure.[20]

VI. Antichrist will increase in power and make conquests.

VII. The rule of Antichrist will be world-wide.

“With the help which will be furnished him by the anti-Christian societies, this enemy of our Lord Jesus Christ will be able to form a gigantic empire in a short time.”[21]

VIII. Antichrist will wage a terrible war against God and the Church.

Father Lémann indicates some of the measures which, to judge by the experience of past persecutions, Antichrist will enforce more thoroughly and more cruelly than ever before. Two of them are: Proscription of Christian teaching and obligatory teaching of error. We can see them already in force in the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Father Lémann adds that “the schools without God or rather against God are a preparation for the second measure.” In that he is perfectly correct, for the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution, in the name of which these schools function in France, signified repudiation of membership of Christ, and was thus a declaration of war on the divine plan for order.[22]

IX. Antichrist will claim to be God and will demand exclusive adoration.

X. By means of diabolical prodigies, Antichrist will seek to prove that he is God.

“Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders.” (II. Thess., II, 9).[23]

“The question is often asked,” writes St. Augustine, “whether these expressions ‘signs and lying wonders’ are to be understood in the sense that the prodigies wrought by Antichrist will be only apparent, not real; or as signifying that the really extraordinary feats performed by him will draw on to error and falsehood those who accept them as proofs of a divine mission? The great Doctor replies: “This will be known later.”[24]

“This hesitation has given rise to two currents of opinion. Some think that the prodigies wrought by Antichrist will be real prodigies and that they will lead to the acceptance of falsehood, that is, to belief in the divinity of Antichrist.[25] Others hold that all the miracles of Antichrist will be false and unreal and that they will be accepted as true thanks to the action of the demon on the senses of his followers.”[26]

XI. The domination and persecution of Antichrist will be merely temporary. The man of sin will be destroyed (Dan., VII, 26; Apoc., XIX, 20; II Thess., II, 8).

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