Pope Francis has positioned himself as the enemy of the American right-wing with his talk of economic inequality, global warming, his tepid welcoming of gay people, and his olive branch to Muslims worldwide.
Given how quickly he’s fallen out of favor with the religious right, is it any wonder that Rapture-watchers are now asking whether Pope Francis is “the Antichrist.” In fact, the question is so pressing that The Drudge Report explored it on Wednesday, pondering in a headline if the Pope was the Antichrist.
The spirit of the antichrist
Antichrist appears exactly five times in the Bible, and all of them are in John.
The first time, in 1 John 2:18, the name appears as a warning against people who deny Christ:
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
It’s worth noting that people have been writing commentary about the Gospel of John since the 3rd century of the common era. This is a long hour.
It appears several other times throughout 1 John (2:22, 4:3) and 2 John (1:7), all of them warning about individuals who would deny the divinity of Christ. Nowhere in John does it suggest the antichrist is a single individual; in fact, 1 John 2:18 even says that there have been multiple antichrists (see above).
This is because antichrist is not a proper noun; it’s a general noun, like anti-discrimination, anti-hate, anti-bigotry, or Antisemitism.
So already The Drudge Report is off to a bad start, but it gets even worse: there’s a long history of bloody violence between Catholicism and Protestantism, and Protestants throughout history have made it a hobby of accusing the Pope of being the Antichrist. It’s anti-Catholicism in it’s purest form, a phenomenon deeply rooted in the American religious right.
That the Drudge Report would indulge in this ancient blood feud shouldn’t surprise anyone. In their piece, the report links to a Charisma News article that explains “Why So Many People Think Pope Francis Is the Antichrist.” The answer is because they’re Biblical illiterates, but the post asks whether Francis’ role as the “Antichrist” is symbolic of the toxic “End of Days” theology and the second coming of Christ:
If you type “is Pope Francis antichrist” into Google, you’ll get about 425,000 results in .37 seconds. By way of comparison, if you ask Google the same question about Pope Benedict you only get 137,000 and it takes a little longer—.47 seconds.
Well, that settles it. Google is never wrong.
The Charisma News piece also cites a Gallup poll from earlier in July that found the Pope’s popularity has taken a nosedive among conservatives.
Also on the list of evidence convincing people that the Pope is the “Antichrist” is that the Pope has “warmed up to Islam.”
The author, Jennifer LeClaire, concludes by citing “chatter,” and asking if the Pope’s presence predicts the final days before the mythical and eternally delayed Rapture (it’s easier to get a flight from LaGuardia Airport that it is Jesus Airlines, clearly):
Could Francis be the final pope before Christ’s return? Could he be the Antichrist? Is he the False Prophet? The chatter continues.
Here’s what we know: More than 50 years ago, a Jesuit priest predicted the resignation of Pope Benedict—to the day—and now Tom Horn, who worked with Cris Putnam to unveil a 900-year-old prophecy buried in the library at the Vatican that describes a series of 112 popes, and others are looking at his research. “Was he divinely inspired? Was he demonically inspired?” Horn asks. “Because we know demons know things about times and dispensations, too.”
These are strange days in which we live. How do you feel about the Pope’s stand on homosexuality, Islam, capitalism and the New World Order?
The answer, of course, is no. There’s no such thing as the end of days, the Rapture, or the antichrist. But people will believe anyway, because they want the easy way out.
Feature image via Wikimedia Commons