Did Jerry Falwell think I was the Antichrist?

Previously published Slate articles made new.
May 15 2007 5:48 PM

The Devil and Jerry Falwell

Chatting with the late reverend about Judaism and the Antichrist.

(Continued from Page 1)

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."

Advertisement

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?"

Hindson suggested that Satan will make the Antichrist the leader of the European Union—the revived Roman Empire, eternal enemy of Israel—though Hindson disputed one popular idea advocated by Monte Judah, an Oklahoma-based prophecy-teacher, that Prince Charles is the Antichrist.

"There's no way Prince Charles is the Antichrist," Hindson said. "Satan can do better than that."

In his book, Hindson runs through a list of potential candidates. Bill Clinton is there, of course, as well as Saddam Hussein and Ronald Wilson Reagan (six letters in each of his three names. Get it?).

Of course, none of these men are gay.

"It says in the Bible that the Antichrist will have 'no regard for women,' and so many evangelicals interpret that to mean that he will be a homosexual," Hindson said, though he added that he's not entirely convinced.

This idea—the Antichrist as gay—strikes a chord with many evangelicals, just as the idea that the Antichrist is Jewish strikes a chord.

I gradually came to see how far-fetched it was to think that I might be the Antichrist. I'm not gay, I'm not famous, I wouldn't know a euro if I found one in my wallet.

Then it struck me: Barry Diller is the Antichrist.

There's no way to know for sure. But if you wake up one morning to read that Barry Diller is the head of the European Union (and that David Geffen is his deputy), well, remember where you read it first.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

A Simple Way to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.