(This was originally posted on my Facebook Page, “Abraham’s Journey,” on Jan. 16, 2013.)
In March of 1993 I was told in a vision that the spirit of antichrist had already been in the world for centuries; that it was simple and seductive. It was simply the belief that good could be done without reference to God. People under its sway believe they are doing good even as things get worse and worse. This spirit was institutionalized with the Russian Revolution, which declared …that good can ONLY be done without reference to God. The Russian Revolution was one of satan’s most brilliant gambits. He inspired people to found a political and economic system that were both doomed to disintegrate under the weight of their own contradictions – solely to infect the world with the spirit of antichrist. While we were busy celebrating our ‘defeat’ of communism a generation ago, the West was already deeply infected with the disorder that communism was designed to spread.
Now I depart from what I have been specifically told to begin some contemplation. (For what it is worth, that is often the way God deals with me: tell me something specific and have me strain to comprehend all its implications. It is a way in which I stretch out my hand. I often go barking up the wrong tree, but I have come to learn, as I frequently recommend to my priests, to go back to first things – that which we know as opposed to that which we suppose.)
Revelations says the ‘mark of the beast’ will be stamped in the hand or the forehead of those who follow the beast. People, ever in search of a secret code, constantly try to make some ‘thing’ into the mark of the beast. This does not satisfy me, for going back to first things, it seems entirely contrary to the nature of God that the mark could be something that someone could accept innocently and unknowingly. That would deny free will. But what is usually contained in the hand or the forehead (the forehead was the seat of wisdom to ancient Jews) is an idea. An ideology is conceived in the mind, the forehead, and transmitted through books which are held in the hand as they are studied. We do choose freely which ideas we will embrace and which we will reject.
The temporal state is ever competing with God for supremacy. In ancient Rome, the Caesars overtly styled themselves gods, claiming to have brought their people into being and forcing people to call them ‘father’ in recognition of this claim. The history of Western Civilization has been, in large part, a history of the taming of the state’s attempts to overthrow God. The founding of America was a seminal moment in history. The Americans tamed the state, relegating it to the role of servant with limited duties while retaining sovereignty in the hands of the whole people. Europeans laughed at the naievete of the whole thing, for they could not imagine how a decentralized state could possibly care for the needs of the people. The genius of the Americans was that the people could care for themselves far better than the state could; that left to their own devices cultural institutions and voluntary associations would flourish abundantly by unleashing the creative genius of the people. The Americans recognized that government, the state, was a mindless beast, incompetent to care for people but with an unwarranted confidence in itself and a ravenous appetite for power and money. The Americans recognized that the existence of a strong, centralized government, which was incompetent to care for people, also necessarily enfeebled the very cultural institutions and voluntary associations that are competent. (Read Alexis de Tocqueville’s short, two-volume work, Democracy in America, for what is still the most masterful explanation of the miracle the Americans achieved.)
Religious faith in the supremacy of the state reached its zenith in the old Soviet Union, a mindless beast that enslaved people as it claimed to rule in their name for their benefit. A generation ago that beast suffered a mortal blow, a wound that seemed to be the death of the ideology. And now, in the heart of the country most responsible for its death, the beast has risen again. In many western countries, preachers and priests are being fined and even jailed for teaching or just reading portions of the Bible describing homosexuality as a sin. In America, private businesses are being destroyed, not for refusing service to homosexual marriages, but for even daring to refer them to other businesses that have no religious qualms about it. Catholic and other Christian social services are being forced out of arranging adoptions in some states because of their objection to same-sex couples, even though they have the best success rates. In the original nationalized health care proposal, medical students were to be denied a license unless they learned how to properly perform abortions. That battle is not over; just in a temporary truce. All new and renewed health insurance policies in America must provide for abortaficients and abortions. You may no longer have health insurance without actively funding the execution of infants, nor may you run a business without doing the same. As of next year, it is a crime not to have health insurance that funds the execution of infants. The government has decided that, as to religious freedom, you may believe any superstitious nonsense you want, but you may not live it. Caesar has seized things that belong to God and has literally decreed that, unless you accept the supremacy of the state, you may neither buy nor sell.
Do not think this a partisan statement. This ideology has swept the western world. While, in America, Democrats have taken the lead in assaulting liberties governments are instituted to protect, Republicans have behaved as noisy eunuchs, wanting only to have a seat of honor at the surrender ceremony. Traditional politics has been, for some years, a dead man walking. My participation in it for some time has not involved any real hope of changing things, but of locating noble souls and living solidarity with them.
Extreme statist ideologies ultimately collapse because of their own internal contradictions and their utter failure to understand the nature of man. Sometimes it takes decades for the final collapse to occur – and all along the way the statists continue to blame various classes of people for their failures rather than the illogic and contradictions of their policies. This means that in statist societies, after the first wave of oppression defines opponents as enemies of the state or the people and begins arbitrary arrests, when the policies still don’t work, they start defining some classes of supporters as secret enemies of the state or the people and begin devouring them. It is tragic in its consequences and pathetic in its predictable repeatability.
Some segments of society are already quietly – or not so quietly – planning for active revolt, accurately assessing that some sectors of government are deliberately trying to provoke a crisis. That is neither prudent nor necessary. God is taking an active role in human events for the duration of the storm. It will not take decades for things to collapse this time. They will collapse this year.
Christians will have some difficult decisions this year, particularly public safety officers, business owners, health care providers and clergy. The state has declared its supremacy and intends to enforce it. There will be great chaos and confusion as this preliminary battle is joined. It is appropriate to withdraw and to refuse when ordered to violate your conscience. It is even appropriate to defend with force when rights are attacked with force. Here, then, are two great dangers. Some of the deliberate provocations are designed to flush out the most determined opponents of the supremacy of the state, to vilify and then arrest them. Do no more than is necessary to defend those around you from assault.
Second, some Christians set a course and are eager to condemn those who do not come to the same conclusions as they do. This is just a more subtle iteration of the problem that man thinks he is sufficient to himself. Satan is the great accuser of mankind, even as God calls all men to salvation. If you are looking for the flaw, the thing with which to accuse your brother, it is not through God’s eyes you are looking, but through the satan’s. In all the confusion and terror, people will try – and often fail – to balance their duties properly. Some police officers will enforce unconstitutional orders, thinking that restoring public order is paramount. Many parents will maintain health insurance, though it makes them active participants in executing infants, in order to protect their little ones – or to stay out of jail so they can provide for their family – and it may well be the right decision for them. Do not condemn someone for making a mistake or for choosing a different bad choice than you do when no good choices are available. One is not marked by making a bad decision in a time of chaos, anymore than a wounded dog is marked for lashing out at his rescuer. One is marked for elevating the state, that mindless beast, to supremacy over God.
Know this: some who seem to be allies will crumble under pressure and become opponents. Others who seem to be opponents will, like Paul, have the scales fall from their eyes and become champions and heroes. Your call is to take responsibility for those given into your care; to humbly, with reference to God, take the next right step; and to be a sign of hope to those around you. That is sufficient as God actively intervenes in human history now. More than this risks venturing into hubris and sin.