The Antichrist Problem
I'm in Miami right now, and there's an interesting phenomenon here that's been going on here for some time that I've been aware of, but my proximity to it has prompted some questions on my part.
For those of you that don't know, Dr. Jose Luis de Jesús Miranda is the Antichrist.
Now, clearly, this gentleman is either certifiably insane, or he's one of the slickest scammers on the planet. But the presence of guys like this presents an interesting problem for Christian eschatology- if Christians are expecting an Antichrist, how will they know when he comes?
Now, I realize that there is a distinction between "antichrists" and "The Antichrist." In Matthew 24, Jesus warns that "false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." Of course, Dr. Miranda has a response to this:
The Apostle Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda has not appeared to perform signs and wonders, He has arisen to reveal specific information of the authentic gospel of the uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7) written in the 14 epistles of the Apostle Paul, signs and wonders are not sufficient to claim you’re in the truth of the gospel. Peter performed many miracles, yet The Apostle Paul rebuked him to the face for not walking upright according to the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14) therefore these verses do not apply to the man Christ Jesus. In his first coming he performed many signs, in his second, he would appear with power, with the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16), it is written that God himself would judge the secrets of men with the gospel of Paul (Romans 2:16), We hope that the eyes of your understanding will be enlightened to discover that the Lord Jesus Christ has returned.That's all well and good, and far be it from me to intercede when different groups of Christians squabble over their respective interpretations of their sacred writings, so instead of pressing the "is Dr. Miranda an antichrist?" question, how about the "is Dr. Mirando the Antichrist?" The guy is clearly taking several cues from Revelation, including persuading his followers to have "666" tattooed on their bodies, as a sign of their allegiance to him.
Now, what I find interesting (and what I tried to ignore as much as possible when I was a Christian) is, how would Christians be able to tell if someone was The Antichrist or not? The entire length of Revelation reads like the fevered dream of a schizophrenic, and even the most literal Christians exercise some metaphorical license when studying it, so how can we make any sense of it at all? In the popular "Left Behind" series of religious fiction novels, the Antichrist is the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and this is an opinion that is shared widely among Christians. Why should it be some foreign diplomat whose only qualification is the international power at his disposal, and not a Puerto Rican preacher in Miami, who claims to be Jesus Christ reborn and the Antichrist in one man, and whose followers blaspheme orthodox Christianity and tattoo the number of the Beast on their bodies?
I would think that Christians who took their faith seriously would consider a guy like Dr. Miranda, even if he is a nutjob, to at least be a potential threat. And even if the Antichrist is a theological necessity, much like the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, it should at least be celebrated. After all, the appearance of the Antichrist is part of the sequence of events that heralds the return of the bona fide Christ, is it not?