There is so much ink and electrons spent on the question: who is the AntiChrist revealed by the Number of the Beast? Type "antichrist" or "666" into a search engine and watch the sponsored links to any number of sites theorising the matter appear.
So who can the AntiChrist be?
He snorted cocaine ... He dodged the draft....His friends knew him as an alcoholic womanizer with a bad temper....a complete failure at business until his wealthy friends rescued him. Yet within a few short years he was elected Governor of Texas, and quickly catapulted into the White House in spite of losing the popular vote. Then he was re-elected with last minute help from Osama Bin Laden, in spite of high disapproval ratings. He still couldn't think his way out of a wet paper bag without the advice of his staff .....and yet he's been able to declare an endless war and institute some of the most radical changes in American history ....
....... How has He done it?
I submit to you that George Walker Bush is the ANTI-CHRIST.
There follows here a glorious exploration of numerology, using multiple numbering systems, to prove that George W. Bush's name comes out to 666, the infamous number of the Beast. This particular example is pure whimsy (despite the emails he has received from people taken in, which he answers with a straight-faced tongue-in-cheek), but there are many more serious sites and cites regarding an attempt to prove that somehow the Bush administration fulfils Apocalyptic prophecy. There are rumours that even the late Pope John Paul II feared that Bush might be the AntiChrist, or at least a harbinger.
Of course, a huge number of rigid Protestants have attempted to prove that the entire office of Roman Pontiff over the centuries is the embodiment of the Antichrist. In this they are expanding a theory initially put forward by the Albigensian Cathars, a heretic Christian movement beginning in the eleventh century which the Roman church ruthlessly suppressed via Crusade and Inquisition in the 13th century. (A massacre at Bezieres of heretics and townsfolk alike was infamously ordered by the papal legate "Slay all, God will know his own", an utterance the Catholic Encyclopaedia hotly denounces as both "monstrous" and fictional) This Albigensian theory initially only accused the Pope of being an antiChrist, a term which originally referred to anyone perceived as a false prophet. The accusation has gradually been refined into the Pope being the AntiChrist. Luther certainly bitterly denounced the papacy as the AntiChrist, and popular Protestant art of the time often shows the AntiChrist wearing the papal tiara. The Roman Catholic church has countered with its own interpretations of the AntiChrist as one who will be separate from the papacy and enthroned at Jerusalem, an interpretation now widely accepted amongst the eschatological.
Interestingly, despite popular misconceptions, the word antichrist is never used in the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel or the Epistle of the Thessalonians, which are the three most popular books of the Bible used to refer to End Times prophecies. The word is used in only two books of the entire Bible, all in the letters of John:
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. (1John 2:22, ESV)The names used in Revelation are actually Beast, Dragon, Whore of Babylon and False Prophet. Thessalonians refers to a "man of sin" and "son of perdition". Daniel refers to a four beasts, and then a great beast with multiple horns. Certainly they are all meant to be figures that deny Christ, and thus are all antiChrists, but the idea that there is one ultimate AntiChrist corresponding to the Beast of Revelation is one that's developed over time and is never explicitly stated in the Bible - an excellent example of the biblical exegesis/eisegesis conundrum.
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. (1John 2:18, ESV)
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1John 4:3, ESV)
Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist (2John 1:7, ESV.)
And so we come to the effort over centuries to identify the ultimate AntiChrist by the number of the Beast, which is, depending on the scholarly authority one follows, either 666 or 616 (if the latter it means we missed the Apocalypse this year, as it was either on the 6th January for us Imperial Calendar types, or last week on June 1st for the American calendar types).
There's an impressive lineup of contenders :
Paul of Tarsus (alleged subverter of the true message of Jesus)
Nero (according to Preterists)
King Arthur of Camelot
Peter the Great of Russia
Various individual Popes and the Papacy itself (this was actually part of most Protestant confessions of faith until the early 1900s)
The son of Martin Luther (scion of an ex-priest and an ex-nun, of course he would be)
Charles, Prince of Wales or his son Prince William
George W. Bush
The United Nations
The European Union
Dick Cheney/John Ashcroft
The thing all these putative AntiChrists have in common is their political influence. As rotten.com point out:
"It takes a lot of bureaucracy to run the Antichrist enterprise, so he needs to be in charge of something. This provides a convenient excuse to (literally) demonize powerful people whom one resents. Feel free to designate your least favorite public figure as the Antichrist. Go on, try it! It's fun!"
It's David Hasselhoff that really is the Antichrist!
How can one explain the phenomenal global success of one of this country's least talented individuals? There are only three ways.
1. Mr. Hasselhoff actually is talented, but this goes unnoticed in his own country.
2. Mr. Hasselhoff has sold his soul to Satan in return for global success.
3. David Hasselhoff is the AntiChrist.
I vote for the latter -- and perhaps, after seeing the facts involved, the rest of the world will agree.
No, it's Harry Potter author JK Rowling!
(or the books pave the way to the AntiChrist at least)
But wait, there's more: Bill Gates? Paris Hilton, particularly now that she's singing? Even our cashless society itself?
The longstanding obsession with clarifying and anticipating the End Times prophecies sure does distract a lot of people from real things that are happening right here and now.
Crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo, where we've dedicated today to discussing the Apocalypse amongst our usual fare.