That Joel Richardson is predicting a Muslim anti-Christ isn’t anything new. Richardson did, after all, publish a work in 2006 with the title, Anti-Christ: Islam’s Awaited Messiah; the book received an enthusiastic blurb on its front cover by none other than Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer himself,
“A fascinating and provocative work. A must read for priests and pastors, students and lay-readers everywhere.”
(RNS) Every age needs an Antichrist.
Protestant Reformers picked the papacy as their embodiment of evil. American colonists chose King George III and some Cold War Christians suspected the Soviet Union was satanically led.
Now, amid threats of Islamic terrorism, a nuclear-armed Iran and tumult across the Middle East, a growing group of American evangelicals say the Antichrist will be Muslim.
“I understand that I’m going to be viewed as a fringe, apocalyptic Christian,” said Joel Richardson, author of several books predicting an Islamic Antichrist. “But I fully own the idea that the Antichrist will be a Muslim and will come out of the Muslim world.”
These days, even the fringe has a faithful following. On websites, television programs, conferences and books, conservative Christians like Richardson warn that a Muslim Antichrist will lead army to arise and attack Israel, in fulfillment of the biblical prophets and the Book of Revelation.
From there, they say, it’s a short road to Armageddon.
“Today, we’re seeing the beginning signs of that exact prophecy coming to pass,” warns Richardson.
Scholars say the arrival of Islamic Antichrist prophecies was, well, predictable.
“I think the shift to Islam was just waiting to happen,” said Glenn Shuck, an assistant professor of religion at Williams College who has studied evangelicals’ views on the apocalypse.
A certain kind of Christian, sometimes dubbed “armchair apocalyptists” or “newspaper exegetes,” seems especially inclined to cast their foes as agents of the Archenemy. The Antichrist they identify, scholars say, often reflects the era’s deepest anxieties.
For many modern Christian apocalyptists, fears of big government are embodied in an Antichrist who will unite nation-states in a totalitarian One World Order.
Since 9/11, though, Islamist terrorism has ascended as a new threat, and lept from the front pages to apocalyptic thrillers like the “Left Behind” series and nonfiction books such as Richardson’s “Mideast Beast” and “Islamic Antichrist.”
Richardson, a 40-year-old decorative painter from Missouri who jokingly refers to his writings as “an expensive hobby,” presents his prophecies as straightforward interpretations of the Bible, including the Book of Revelation.