Dr Robert Thiel wrote me a cordial email about the article “The Pope and the Antichrist”. I will try to address his comments/clarifications/questions one at a time (yet without publishing the entire email chain). “Perhaps you will want to post my response and P.S.” Consider it done, and hopefully I didn’t get anything out of context along the way.
LCG does teach that there are and have been "many antichrists". Thus, the above appears to be slightly misleading as it may imply otherwise to some.
But we do believe that the final False Prophet will be what I have chosen to identify as the "final Antichrist" (though there will be multiple "antichrists" during his time as well). Essentially all false religious leaders are "antichrists" but a particular one is set to rise on the world scene. You comment that, "LCG teaches “an” Antichrist in the end times in the form of the False Prophet" is correct in that context.
I wanted to locate something definitive, seeing as I was basing the statement on comments on LCG’s website as well as Thiel’s. So I found the booklet Who or What Is the Antichrist? by Roderick C. Meredith. It does indeed appear that they teach multiple antichrists after all:
Yet, as we shall see, there have been in the past—and are now— many Antichrists! And underlying all of their deceptions is the “spirit of Antichrist”—the wrong approaches and false doctrines which have blinded billions of human beings from understanding God’s Truth. The “doctrine” of Antichrist is not understood by most of the world’s religious leaders.
~ ibid, p 3
So, I appreciate the clarification. I think in light of that, however, it would probably be best if that were stressed more in other more easily retrievable literature.
At the end of the day, though, I still think the best thing to do would be to avoid using that terminology altogether as most COGs do and apparently HWA did, and simply refer to the False Prophet and the Beast.
You are correct that LCG has different prophetic understandings than the various other groups (UCG/ICG/RCG/PCG/CGPFK) you mentioned or alluded to elsewhere in your post.
Differences in prophetic understanding are likely to greatly separate LCG from other COGs … as we get closer to the end. And to a degree, they have already.
If they all had the same understanding, then there certainly would be a lot less for me to write about. 🙂
I hope that the fulfillment of prophecy will bring true worshipers together, whoever and whatever else they may be. I’ll have more to say on that in another post, though.
As far as HWA’s old church, perhaps it should be pointed out that it did teach that a pope would be the Antichrist:
Is THE pope ignorant of the plain Bible statements that label him “the Antichrist” ? What deception will Satan use to keep the world from realizing the pope’s true identity?…
God declares that the endtime pope will be a false prophet, yet the pope has never declared himself to be a prophet. (Hill David Jon. Will YOU be Deceived by ANTICHRIST? Good News, October 1964.)
What LCG teaches is consistent with the above quotes.
It is interesting that you quote that particular article, although I did not realize it was the same one until just now. I was going to use it to point something out. I want to point out, as you acknowledge, that it was written by David Jon Hill and not either GTA or HWA.
What is really fascinating is that I cannot find anything that either HWA or GTA wrote that come right out and say, "The Pope is the Anti-Christ", and certainly nothing as obvious as that one. The belief that a pope, being the religious head of a counterfeit Christian church, is certainly the most likely candidate for the role of False Prophet is quite evident, but nowhere do I actually see the False Prophet called "the Antichrist" in their writings.
In fact, it is obvious that HWA all but said that it was the doctrine of "the Antichrist" that will be used at Jesus’ return because people will be deceived into believing He is the Antichrist and fight Him! For this reason alone, I believe there is good reason to avoid the terminology.
Also, you posted:
However, HWA wrote in Just What Do You Mean … “Antichrist”:
…~ Armstrong, Herbert W. (September 1981). Just What Do You Mean … “Antichrist”. The Plain Truth. Retrieved from: http://www.hwarmstrong.org/antichrist.pdf.
And the above is somewhat inaccurate. Keith Stump, not Herbert Armstrong, wrote the article in question.
I stand corrected. That copy (and others) has no direct attribution. However, http://www.herbert-armstrong.org/Plain%20Truth%201980s/Plain%20Truth%201981%20%28Prelim%20No%2008%29%20Sep.pdf has it as well as a copy at COG-FF’s site.
When UCG posted:
The Bible prophesies an end-time figure who opposes Christ—the Antichrist—but the meaning of the term antichrists encompasses more than just the end time.
This suggests that it also believes that there will be "an" end time figure as the Antichrist.
It seems you are correct. From the January/February 2004 Good News:
Recall Christ’s warning that false teachers would be on the rise through history, culminating in the vast and powerful deception of the last days. Of the time just before His return Jesus said, "False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).
These signs and wonders are the same ones Paul mentioned. They have happened at times throughout history—yet will grow in magnitude at the end of the age, reaching their height with the coming of the great false prophet, who also appears to be representing Christ but in reality is the Antichrist.
UCG seems to be using the term inconsistently and confusingly. Worse, it is unnecessary. The Bible calls one the False Prophet and the other the Beast. There is also a "Man of Sin" and/or "Son of Perdition". The term "the Antichrist" only seems to serve to muddy already murky waters. I agree with Stump that there actually are at least two antichrists on the scene at that time.
The term "Anti-Christ" is only used once in HWA’s The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last!, and that is in reference to the nations believing Jesus, upon His return, is the Antichrist. Likewise, booklets like Are We In the Last Days? and Who or What Is the PROPHETIC BEAST? are notably silent on the person of the Antichrist (the former doesn’t even contain the term).
Saying that there is “an” or “the” Antichrist, even as a final fulfillment, makes little sense to me. Why is the False Prophet the Antichrist and not the Beast (or, vice versa)? Aren’t they both working with the spirit of antichrist?
So, I am interested in 2 things:
1. Is there an adequate answer of why there must be one final fulfillment of antichrist, especially since there are 2 people involved?
2. I would also appreciate a quote from HWA or GTA on the subject that actually states that either a pope or the False Prophet is “the” Antichrist rather than both or many.