Recently, COG Writer Robert Thiel of Church of God News wrote in “Ronald Weinland on Antichrist, the Pope, and the Abomination of Desolation”, “The False Prophet is the final Antichrist.” I have to admit I was a little surprised by that statement.
Frankly, as far as I can remember back, it always seemed to me that if any figure would qualify as “the” Antichrist (as in the ultimate Antichrist), it would have been the Beast. The False Prophet makes the world to obey the Beast, not himself.
However, HWA wrote in Just What Do You Mean … “Antichrist”:
In Bible usage, therefore, the term antichrist does not refer exclusively to a single political or religious leader yet to arise in our day.
~ Armstrong, Herbert W. (September 1981). Just What Do You Mean … “Antichrist”. The Plain Truth. Retrieved from: http://www.hwarmstrong.org/antichrist.pdf.
He goes on to remind readers that Jesus said many would come in His name to deceive people. Then, he makes a key statement:
Many use the term Antichrist to designate an end-time personality who will embody the sprit of opposition to Christ. This unbiblical usage is unfortunate.
The Bible nowhere speaks of an end-time Antichrist [bolding mine, italics on “an” in original].
… The Bible specifically mentions two such individuals who will come to be virtually deified by mankind. One is called the “Beast”; the other the “False Prophet.”
The term Antichrist is often applied to one or the other of these prophesied personalities. Often, preachers and prophecy buffs confuse the two and impute to one some of the attributes of the other. Some even blend, falsely, the two into one.
HWA goes on to state how Mussolini was one of the attempted resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire, represented by the 7 heads of the beast in Revelation 17. Now, let us consider that Mussolini was not a religious figure. In fact, neither was Charlemagne nor was Napoleon. His article never mentions the Beast as a religious figure at all. Instead, that distinction is given to the False Prophet.
I’ll just state for the record that it seems to me that even HWA was wrong on the point that the False Prophet would be the Son of Perdition of 2 Thessalonians 2 who would call himself “God” in the Temple, as the role of the False Prophet is to cause the world to worship the Beast – not himself! Yet, it is clear in 2Th 2 that the Son of Perdition is setting up himself to be worshipped.
So, I surveyed some other COG teachings.
David Pack teaches that both the False Prophet and the Beast are antichrists in The Antichrist – Who, What and When! He also teaches that it is the False Prophet in 2Th 2.
Garner Ted Armstrong stated in Who is the “Antichrist”?: “Believe it or not, the Bible says nothing about a specific individual called the ‘Antichrist.’” He seemed to be in agreement with Pack and HWA about 2Th 2.
I tried to understand Gerald Flurry’s ramblings to report what, if anything, he had to say about the subject. I guess it’s all in the past with him, though. Joe Tkach was the Antichrist according to him, at least as far as I can tell.
If the False Prophet is really the Son of Perdition in 2Th, then it stands to reason that he must in fact be a pope. The pope takes on such supreme titles as “Vicar of Christ” which literally means “in place of Christ”. The pope is called “Holy Father”, but Jesus said Our Father is in Heaven. This is the only way the False Prophet can exalt himself “above all that is called God” and “shewing himself that he is God” and yet cause everyone to worship the Beast.
However, LCG certainly does differ from some of the other COGs in that LCG teaches “an” Antichrist in the end times in the form of the False Prophet, while the other COGs teach “many antichrists”.