I, Antichrist?

articles
Nov. 5 1999 3:30 AM

I, Antichrist?

I'm Jewish. I'm male. I'm alive. By Jerry Falwell's standards, that puts me on the short-list of candidates.

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"Billy Graham made the same statement a dozen times last year, but there was no comment about that," Falwell said. "But Billy Graham was not calling for the resignation of the president." Falwell, you'll recall, is no fan of Clinton's; he has even peddled a video accusing the president of murder.

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Falwell is right: Evangelical preachers are constantly accusing the Jews of harboring the Antichrist.

I asked Falwell if he knew the actual identity of the Antichrist. No, he said. "People might say, it's a certain person, it's Henry Kissinger, like that, but the Lord does not let us know that."

So there's a chance, then, that I'm the Antichrist?

Falwell chuckled a condescending chuckle. "It's almost amusing, that question. Of course not. I know that you're not."

Why?

"The Antichrist will be a world leader, he'll have supernatural powers," he said.

He got me there--I have no supernatural powers. I can't even drive a stick shift.

I pressed him further on the identity of the Antichrist, but Falwell wouldn't play. "We'll know the Antichrist when he arrives," he said.

Most evangelical leaders, in fact, refuse to publicly guess the name of the Antichrist--though, as Falwell suggests, Kissinger is a perennial favorite, at least among those evangelicals who believe the Antichrist will be Jewish. For most of their history, Christian leaders had been content to ascribe the characteristics of the Antichrist to the Jewish people as a whole. "Ever since the 2nd century CE, the very beginning of the Antichrist legend, Christians have associated Jews with everything unholy," Andrew Gow, who teaches Christian history at the University of Alberta, told me. In the minds of early Christian leaders, the church was the new Israel; God's covenant with the Jews was obsolete. Therefore, the Jews who remained on Earth were there to serve devilish purposes, Gow explained.

There are plenty of evangelical thinkers who differ with Falwell, who believe, like LaHaye, that the Antichrist will be a gentile who rises out of Europe. "The Antichrist is supposed to make a peace treaty with Israel," Ed Hindson, the author of Is the Antichrist Alive and Well?, explained. "Why would a Jew make a peace treaty with a Jewish state?"