I spend much of my time spreading the word about the message of the Four Signposts. One large hurdle to overcome in doing this is that this message is completely off of peoples’ radar because we’ve all been taught that nothing more prophetic must happen until the Rapture or Tribulation, supposedly. The Four Signposts demolishes this false notion.
From time to time though I run across the sibling of “nothing more must happen” which is “the Antichrist is undoubtedly Roman.” I sometimes forget that most people are still stuck in that eighteen-century old theory known as the Roman Antichrist. I forget sometimes that there is outright resistance to anything other than a Roman Antichrist. I was reminded again last week of the incredibly strong hold that this eighteen-century old theology of the Roman Antichrist has on the Christian theological community when talking to an influential pastor here in my city.
I remember the time shortly after 9/11 when I first got the indication to give serious thought to and actually try these two terms together in a Google search: “Islamic” and “Antichrist.” I believe that all by itself was divine revelation. I remember how crazy that sounded to me at first. And then when I found Joel Richardson’s work on the Answering-Islam website as a result of the search I couldn’t decide if the whole idea was crazy or offensive. At first. I stayed on it though because though it sounded crazy to me, it was the only alternative out there. Of course after studying the ancient and medieval world history and comparing to Daniel as I wrote about in Chapters 1 and 2 of my book Daniel Revisited, and looking at the history of the commentary of Daniel 2:40 in its Appendix, I’ve come to the conclusion that this whole notion of a Roman Antichrist is a complete and utter fantasy, built on presumption, historians’ exaggerations, and misunderstandings of some very intelligent men.
And yet the fact that Daniel has been sealed so successfully until the end-time and continues to be sealed for most is a great testimony to God’s perfect ability to seal anything He wishes. It is also the reason behind this whole issue of the Roman Antichrist being behind one of the greatest red herrings in the history of scholarship.
So it is not surprising what J.R. Church writes in one of his recent books, Daniel Reveals the Bloodline of the Antichrist. I cannot recommend this book as it only pushes for the usual deception that is the Roman Antichrist. To be honest, the only reason I read it was because a dear friend recommended it to me and I wanted to be able to talk about it with that friend. One section though got my attention like nothing else I have read in any prophecy book and it was because it made me profoundly sad. But I was also hopeful because perhaps the time has come when definite cracks are showing up in the wall that is this deceptive theology that stops people from seeing what is really happening in the end-times.
J.R. Church posed some good and relevant questions in his recent book Daniel Reveals the Bloodline of the Antichrist. He examines the prophetic passages in Daniel, realizes there are holes to the current and popular theological ‘logic’, and asks about the relevance between the visions of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 and if these visions might apply to the end-times. This is remarkable. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such intellectual honesty in the old school of prophecy.
On p. 140 he states he agrees with Hippolytus that the beasts of Daniel 7 are ancient and the fourth beast is Rome. So Church starts – as most prophecy experts do – by agreeing with a theologian who had absolutely no chance of reading correctly a prophecy that was to be sealed for another eighteen centuries. But then Church gets open and honest and writes:
“I suppose there will always be some nagging, yet unanswered questions. For example, why would Daniel repeat the whole scenario about the “times of the Gentiles,” after already doing so in Chapter 2?”
The answer, which he does not give, is found in my book Daniel Revisited. The answer is that it is not a repeat. Daniel 2 traced the time of the Gentiles, but Daniel 7 is an outline given to us to show us the end-times.
“Why would Daniel dream of a Medo-Persian ‘bear’ in chapter 7 and a Medo-Persian ‘ram’ in chapter 8?”
Isn’t this a wonderful question? Actually before I arrived at this Signpost interpretation I had always wondered about things like this in prophetic Scripture. Church is seeing some connection between the bear and the ram. The interpretation given in Daniel Revisited provides the answer. Chapter 7 of Daniel is the outline and Daniel 8 provides the details. The bear and ram are proclaiming the same event. The bear is used for specific reasons in the context of the four beasts, and the ram is used for specific reasons in the context of the ram and goat. They both proclaim the coming Second Signpost.
Church goes on,
“Why would he dream about a Grecian ‘leopard’ in chapter 7 and a Grecian ‘goat’ in chapter 8?”
Of course this question closely parallels the first question, and it is the same answer as before!
Continuing, Church then writes,
“I suppose there are no good answers to these questions. We have no alternative references throughout history.”
This is the point where my heart goes out to Church. He is exploring the edges of what is the Signpost interpretation. He does what so many theologians have done in the past centuries: supposing. “I suppose…” Then he flatly states that there is no alternative reference.
This reminds me of something I heard Dr. Jeremiah say on the radio recently while talking about the Antichrist. He essentially said the Antichrist will be Roman because Rome is the only realm he could come from for there is no other realm. Both Jeremiah and Church do not see the Islamic realm. In terms of geography it contained twice the area of land and sea that Rome ever did, and it did so even while the Eastern Roman Empire was still in existence. Church wrote, “We have no alternative references…” But of course we do, for there is Islam. For centuries theologians have denied what Islam plainly did to fulfill Daniel 2:40 as the fourth beast, and staunchly supported Rome for that position when there is no evidence. And by seeing Islam and reading Daniel 7:17 and Daniel 8:17, 19, we see those two chapters open up for us something completely different than what the last eighteen centuries worth of theology would tell us.
What made my heart go out to Church about this last quote of his is that he concludes there are no answers out there. And he reaches that conclusion because he, like so many others, can only see Rome. The grip of Rome is tight and ubiquitous.
On p. 141 of his book, Church goes on to explore the idea of the fourth kingdom (which unsurprisingly he names as Rome) as being different than the other three beast kingdoms in Daniel 7 and comes to an interesting place when he writes of the three,
“Could they also represent modern contemporary kingdoms?”
Wow, what a great question! He is touching on a break-thru here. But then the grip of eighteen centuries of theology gets a hold and he goes back to what is comfortable, safe, and well-known when he next writes,
“To suggest Daniel has seen something other than the ancient empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece in these first three beasts, goes against the consensus of the great theological minds of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Therefore the comfortable position is to assume that Daniel has simply dreamed about the ‘times of the Gentiles.’”
Simply put, Church does not foray into the unknown here because everyone else in the last centuries has said the same thing, and it is best to stay comfortable in the zone of what is known and supposed. I am not putting down Church here. I respect the man. And he is being so honest in these two pages. He is putting his thinking on paper. Now, without looking at Islam he does explore the idea of Daniel 7 being contemporary nations, but only by supposing that the lion is Britain, Russia is the bear and Germany is the leopard. I’ve seen this theory before. It is only the supposing of minds who do not know anything but Rome, and are still bound by the chains that are Rome, keeping themselves from seeing beyond the seals of Daniel.
Please believe me when I say I do not intend to come across as a know-it-all. I don’t know much beyond my own biblical and historical research. But this whole issue of seeing Islam or not, as the Antichrist’s background makes all the difference in seeing Daniel. Where most theologians go down the path of Rome unquestioningly, Church at least has used logic to arrive at some very interesting questions. All he lacked was the foresight to explore Islam and see how Islam’s history shines the light on Daniel to reveal what it is trying to say.
And as I said at the beginning of this post, I too was there – that Rome was the be all and end all and there was no other. I am thankful that God saw fit to point me down a path to even see the words “Islam” and “Antichrist” together. It is quite a mind trap to extricate oneself from – not unlike escaping the grip a cult can have on you.
I cannot recommend Church’s book, Bloodline, but because of a rare, wonderful and open intellectual honesty he reminds us of just how powerful the grip and mindset is of that red herring called “Rome.” Thank you, Dr. Church, and that is heartfelt.