By Charlie Johnston
“there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” – Luke 7:15
Of late, I have been getting an alarmingly large amount of speculation on such things as the mark of the beast, the antichrist, and various conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, most of it is not seriously grounded in evidence, theology, logic or history. We do talk here about serious, dire situations that many ignore. In society, many are in denial, ignoring any facts that suggest there are serious disorders that will lead to deadly consequences if not checked. So it has ever been at the edge of an epoch. But throughout history, those who are willing to consider such things often discredit themselves by not living a rigor which requires real evidence and logic, grounded in theology, philosophy and history. We do consider things here that many think (and hope) are unthinkable. Many readers have interests that I do not share and points of view with which I do not agree. But this is not just my site – I built it to be a safe place for serious people of various points of view and interests. But we must not let it degenerate into mere sensationalism, becoming storm-chasers instead of people trying to take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around us.
On conspiracy theories, there is latitude for some of that, PROVIDED you take the time and do the work to know what you are talking about and deal with serious evidence. If you want to talk about the Kennedy assassination, for example, you better plausibly deal with the massive forensic investigation by Gerald Posner and recounted in his book, “Case Closed” and the massive criminal investigation and timeline done by Vincent Bugliosi in his book, “Reclaiming History.” Sometimes things are not what they seem, but when you posit something seriously, you need to have serious knowledge and research to back it up, not just atavistic conspiracy fears. You know I am not credulous when it comes to government these days, but their offenses do not give us license to casually bear false witness.
As for candidates for the mark of the beast, people continue to speculate it will be some sort of ominous-sounding technology that will be forced on all. There is no moral agency attached to acceptance or rejection of some piece of technology, unless it is attached to a specific moral agenda. Most of my academic work has been in history. Throughout history, people have constantly posited that every new piece of technology that is ubiquitous is the “mark of the beast.” The first such fears I found were concerned with having books or pamphlets after the rise of the printing press. More recently I have heard that zip codes are the mark, smart phones, you name it; if it is a technological innovation that is innovative and ubiquitous in its time, it is so posited. The only thing more commonly (and wrongly) speculated on is the several candidates for the “antichrist” speculated on just about each and every decade since the Resurrection. Since there have been at least a thousand such candidates widely speculated on since then and there is no sign of it slowing, even with the constant procession of false alarms, eventually one of them may turn out to be right. But it will likely be pure chance if it does – and it is equally probable that we won’t recognize it until it has come and gone already.
I do not say that the mark of the beast is not here yet, but argue that it is – and as about 95% of authentic prophecy has always been, it has not been recognized because people are too busy looking for some innocuous thing that can randomly ensnare the guileless. The proposition that good can only be done without reference to God is at the heart of the spirit of antichrist – and the cultural and governmental coercive enforcement of that is, I believe, the mark of the beast. You embrace and submit or don’t – and take the consequences. It takes an active act of the moral will. It may be subtle, it may be seductive, but it must require an active act of the moral will for you to be held accountable. People keep looking for things that can be imposed on them instead of the mark of the cast of their heart, which reveals them to the heavenly host. Your heart marks you indelibly before God…for that is what comes out of you. Any mark imposed on you is already passing away and of no consequence in heaven.
There is a place for serious theological examination of prophecy from approved private revelation and from the Bible. I have great respect for those who do the exhaustive work to examine it carefully. Some of the friends of this site who are engaged in that include the French theologian, Peter B., Daniel O’Connor and Mark Mallett. I value what they do and like for all of us to be illuminated by it. Even so, it is not our focus here. People need to speak of their dark fears that are not firmly grounded in facts and evidence. I understand that. There are sites that are geared to routinely indulge that. This is not one of them.
I will not ban such things, but I will limit them, both when they start pulling our focus away and when they are not grounded in some plausible evidence or logic. Remember that mere assertion is not an actual argument and speculation is not analysis.
What is above is simply me, but what I tell you now is certain: those who focus entirely on acknowledging God, taking the next right step and being a sign of hope to those around them need have no fear of either the antichrist or the mark of the beast. It has no power over them. Those who focus on the latter while neglecting the former are vulnerable even if they accurately stumble upon it.
“Blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” – Matthew 23:24