Geert Wilders: The Specter Of Islam Is Haunting The Free World
October 8, 2013
“A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of Communism,” Karl Marx once famously wrote. It took Europe almost a century to liberate itself from this scourge. Today, another specter is haunting not just Europe, but the entire world – the specter of Islam.
The biggest danger confronting the West today is not the economic situation, nor is it youth unemployment, nor the dire budget situation of our governments; the biggest danger is one of which we are reminded on an almost daily basis. And, yet, many politicians seem to fail to notice.
On the last day of September, 50 students of an agricultural college in Nigeria were gunned down in their dormitories by terrorists from the Islamic organization Boko Haram. Earlier in September, terrorists from the Islamic organization al-Shabaab killed at least 67 civilians, and probably many more, in a shopping mall in Nairobi. They separated Muslims from non-Muslims, allowed the Muslims to leave and then tortured, mutilated and killed the non-Muslims. Even children were murdered in the most vicious and cruel way.
In Egypt, every week dozens of Christians are being harassed, kidnapped and assassinated by Islamic thugs from the Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, Islamic rebels terrorize and murder Christians. In Lebanon and in Iraq, too, indigenous Christian communities whose ties to their native lands are many centuries older than those of the Muslim communities, are victims of ethnic cleansing.
Even in the West, we are not immune to Islamic terror. Europe experienced this last May, when two assassins with meat-cleavers decapitated a soldier in London. America experienced it last April, when Islamic murderers ignited pressure cooker bombs during the Boston Marathon and killed 3 people and injured hundreds.
Like the specter of Communism in the past, the danger of Islam is political. Islam is mainly a political ideology because its aim is political. What the London and Boston killers, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and other individuals and groups, causing pain and misery all over the globe, have in common is that, inspired by the Koran, they want to impose Islamic sharia law on the whole world.
They share this goal with an organization that is being held in the highest esteem by Western governments: the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC counts 57 member-states and forms the largest voting bloc in the United Nations. In 1990, it superseded the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights with its own Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. The Cairo Declaration is a document of unabashed Islamic supremacism. It explicitly states that all human rights and freedoms “are subject to the Islamic Sharia.”
Islamic law is barbaric and cruel. Flogging, mutilation and other corporal punishments, stoning and even crucifixion are permitted penalties under sharia law. It discriminates women, apostates and non-Muslims, who have fewer rights or no rights at all. In 2003, the European Court of Human Rights declared that “sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy.” And yet, few Western leaders seem to worry about the attempts to replace our basic liberties with sharia law.
Last July, German Chancellor Merkel called youth unemployment “perhaps the most pressing problem facing Europe.” A few years ago, President Obama called “cyber threat one of the most serious security challenges we face as a nation.” Today, the partial federal shutdown is claiming all the attention of America’s politicians. In Europe, the crisis surrounding the euro and the sovereign debts of the EU member states, is causing its politicians the biggest headaches. But neither of these serious problems endangers the liberties and values of Western civilization so fundamentally as the political aim of Islam to impose its laws on the entire world. And yet, not a single Western leader has dared to say that Islam is “the most pressing problem” or “the most serious security challenge” that the free world currently faces.
On the contrary, whenever confronted with horrible atrocities, Western leaders downplay the role of Islam. They claim, as British Prime Minister Cameron did after last May’s London killing, that “there is nothing in Islam that justifies these dreadful acts.” However, the justification of the dreadful acts is in the Koran. Verse 8:12 leaves no the followers of Islam in no doubt about what to do with infidels: “Strike off their heads, maim them in every limb!” it says. Muhammad’s book is full of similar verses that incite its Islamic readers to commit hostile and violent acts against non-Muslims.
Winston Churchill once said that “The people of Asia were slaves, because they had not learned how to pronounce the word ‘no’.” Today, the West must learn to say ‘no’ or it, too, will be enslaved. A specter is haunting the free world. Let us have the courage to call its by its name: It is the radical ideology of Islam with its political aim to abolish our freedoms and our democracy. It is by far the most serious evil afflicting the world today. And it is a much bigger threat to our civilization than all the other problems our politicians currently worry about and devote so much attention to.
Geert Wilders MP is chairman of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV)
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ISLAM & THE PAPACY IN PROPHECY
The prophetic connection between the Papacy and Islam has long been recognized by Christian thinkers. Thus, what I am proposing in this essay is by no means my own original interpretation of the antichrist. Bible students have for centuries seen the prophetic connection between Islam and the Papacy.
For example, Jonathan Edwards, the first President of Princeton University and one of the most respected American theologians, wrote in his book, A History of the Work of Redemption:
“The two great works of the devil which he wrought against the Kingdom of Christ are . . his anti-Christian [Romish or Papal] and Mahometan [Muslim or Islamic] kingdoms, which have been, and still are, two kingdoms of great extent and strength. Both together swallow up the Ancient Roman Empire; the [Papal] kingdom of the antichrist swallowing up the Western Empire; and Satan’s Mahometan kingdom the Eastern Empire . . . In the Book of Revelation (chapters 16-20) . . . it is in the destruction of these that the glorious victory of Christ at the introduction of the glorious times of the Church, will mainly consist.”
“This is one (the Papal Antichrist – ed.) of those two great kingdoms which the devil in this period erected in opposition to the kingdom of Christ, and was the greatest and chief I come now, (2.) To speak of the other, the second, which is in many respects like unto it, viz. his Mahometan (Islamic – ed.) kingdom, which is another great kingdom of mighty power and vast extent, set up by Satan against the kingdom of Jesus Christ: he set this up in the Eastern empire, as he did that of Antichrist (the Papacy – ed.) in the Western.
Mahomet was born in the year of Christ, 570, in Arabia. When he was about forty years of age, he began to give forth that he was the great prophet of God, and began to teach his new invented religion, of which he was to be worshiped as the head next under God. He published his Alcoran, which he pretended he received from the angel Gabriel; and being a subtle, crafty man, and possessed of considerable wealth, and living among a people who were very ignorant, and greatly divided in their opinions of religious matters, by subtlety, and fair promises of a sensual paradise, he gained a number to be his followers, and set up for their prince, and propagated his religion by the sword, and made it meritorious of paradise to fight for him. By which means his party grew, and went on fighting until they conquered and brought over the neighboring countries; and so his party gradually grew until they overran a great part of the world. First, the Saracens, who were some of his followers, and were a people of the country of Arabia, where Mahomet lived, about the year 700, began dreadfully to waste the Roman empire. They overran a great many countries belonging to the empire, and continued their conquests for a long time. These are supposed to be meant by the’ locusts’ that we read of in the 9th chapter of Revelation.
And then after this the Turks, who were originally another people, different from the Saracens, but were followers of Mahomet, conquered all the Eastern Empire. They began their empire about the year of Christ 1296, and began to invade Europe 1300, and took Constantinople, and so became masters of all the Eastern Empire in the year 1453, which is near three hundred years ago. And thus all those cities and countries where were those famous churches of old, that we read of in the New Testament, as Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, &c. now all became subject to the Turks. And they took possession of Constantinople, which was named after Constantine the Great, being made by him the head city of the Roman empire, whereas Rome had been until then. These are supposed to be prophesied of by the’ horsemen’ in the 9th chapter of Revelation, beginning with the 15th verse.”
Edwards view that the prophetic activities of the antichrist have been manifested through Christian history through the Papacy in the Western Roman empire and Islam in the Eastern part of the empire, was ably defended already in the sixteenth century by the two Reformers Luther and Calvin. I am indebted to Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, Professor of Theology and Church History at the Queensland Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Brisbane, Australia, for two informative essays:
Luther on Islam and the Papacy, and Calvin on Islam.
Francis Nigel Lee, Luther on Islam and the Papacy, (Lamp Trimmers, El Paso, Texas, 2000); Francis Nigel Lee, Calvin on Islam, (Lamp Trimmers, Texas, 2000).
These two lengthy essays of about 60 pages, provide a valuable collection of statements on Islam and the Papacy from the two Reformers.
The interest of the Reformers in Islam and the Papacy stems from the fact that they lived at a time when the Papacy had corrupted the Western Church, and while Islam was swallowing up much of what was left of the Eastern Church. In many ways the Muslim threat was as real in Luther and Calvin’s days, as the threat of Muslim terrorists is today.
After the Turks became Muslims in their homeland of Turkmenistan, most of them embarked on a war of conquest, exporting Islam to many countries. In 1453, they brought to an end the Eastern Roman Empire by capturing Constantinople. Then they subjugated Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine.
They continued their steady advance by subduing Albania in 1500, Moldavia in 1512, Romania in 1516, Montenegro in 1517, Serbia in 1521, Bosnia in 1527, and reached Vienna by 1529. By the time Luther died in 1546, the Muslims controlled even Hungary and Moldovia. This means that the two Reformers lived at a time when the Muslim threat was as deeply felt as it is today.
LUTHER ON ISLAM AND THE PAPACY
Luther saw both the Papacy and Islam predicted in such places as Daniel; Revelation; Matthew 24; II Thessalonians 2; I John; I Peter 3. For the sake of brevity we shall refer only to a few of his comments. He interpreted the two legs of the statue of Daniel 2, as representing the division of the fourth kingdom. The left leg became the Western Roman Empire, under the Papacy in Rome. The right leg, the Eastern Roman Empire, with its capital Constantinople, later succumbed to Islam.
Luther believed that the wrath of God had brought Muhammad and the Pope into the world to punish Eastern and Western Christians for abandoning the pure teachings of the Bible. When the Greeks despised His Word, He took it away and gave them [over to] the Turk and Muhammad. To the Germans and to the Italians, he gave them the Pope and with him all sorts of horrible things.
In Daniel 7, Luther saw the work of the Papacy and Islam represented by the emergence of the Little Horn from the ten horns of the fourth beast, which symbolizes the Roman Empire. In his Preface on Daniel, he wrote:
“He also indicates that one small horn shall knock off three among the top ten horns � meaning Mohammad or the Turk who now holds Egypt, Asia, and Greece. . . . This same little horn will fight the saints and blaspheme Christ something that we are all experiencing and seeing before our very eyes.”
In a sermon on Matthew 24:15-28, Luther expresses his views that Islam and the Papacy are but two different legs of the same antichrist. What unites the two together in Luther’s view, is the fact that both persecute Christians and promote false teachings. The difference is that Islam persecutes Christianity from outside, while the Papacy does it from inside.
In Revelation, Luther found several prophetic allusions to Islam. Commenting on Revelation 9:12-13, he wrote:
“The second woe is . . . the shameful Muhammad with his companions the Saracens, who inflicted a great plague on the Church with their doctrines and with the sword.”
For Luther, the central message of Revelation is the final victory of the Church over Islam and the Papacy. He concludes his treatment of the book saying:
“We can profit by this Book. . . . We can know that neither force nor lies, neither wisdom nor holiness, neither tribulation nor suffering, shall suppress the Church. But it will gain the victory, and overcome at last. . . . Great and perilous and manifold offences come upon the Church . . . This has happened before now, under the Papacy and Muhammad.”
Luther attempted in several ways to clarify the relationship of Islam and the Papacy to the antichrist. In 1532, he made one of the clearest statements:
“I am entirely of the opinion that the Papacy is the antichrist. But if anyone wants to add the Turk then the Pope is the spirit of antichrist, and the Turk is the flesh of antichrist. They help each other in their murderous work. The latter slaughters bodily by the sword; and the former spiritually by doctrine”.
Before commenting on Luther’s view of Islam and the Papacy as being two manifestations of the antichrist, let us see what Calvin has to say.
CALVIN ON ISLAM AND THE PAPACY
Calvin’s views on the prophetic role of Islam and the Papacy are strikingly similar to those of Luther. Calvin’s comments were largely inspired by his concern over the threat posed by the Muslim Turks, who had invaded Romania, Hungary, and besieged even Nice in France.
In 1543, Calvin in Switzerland wrote to Philip Melanthon in Germany, saying:
“It is not without the bitterest grief that I hear of the sad condition of your Germany! Nor are the evils which I dread, of a less serious kind than those which I bewail. . . . The Turk again prepares to wage war with a larger force. Who will stand up to oppose his marching throughout the length and breadth of the land, at his mere will and pleasure”?
In the tract on “The Necessity of Reform�ing the Church,” which Calvin presented in 1544 to the Most Invincible Emperor Charles V, he urged the emperor to delay the task of reforming the church in order to give priority to the Muslim problem, if he wanted to leave his posterity some empire. (J. Calvin: Tracts and Treatises, (Grand Rapids, 1958 rep.,), I:121-23.)
“Why do I speak of posterity? Because even now, while your own eyes behold it is half-bent, and totters to its final ruin!” (J. Calvin: Tracts and Treatises)
The so-called German Holy Roman Empire was fast disintegrating.
In the light of the Muslim threat to the survival of Western Europe, Calvin acknowledges that Islam and the Papacy are two manifestations of the antichrist power that will attempt to subvert the truth and destroy God’s Church. In his “Sermons on Deuteronomy” (18:15 and 33:2), Calvin explains:
“As Mahomet says that his Al-Coran is the sovereign wisdom, so says the Pope of his own decrees. For they be the two horns of antichrist”.
(J. Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy [1555f], (Edinburgh, 1987 rep.), p. 666.)
For Calvin, the common denominator between the two powers, is their appeal to higher revelations that supercede the Scripture:
“Muhammad and the Pope have this religious principle in common � that Scripture does not contain the perfection of doctrine, but that something higher has been revealed to them.”
(J. Calvin, The Gospel according to St. John, (Grand Rapids, 1961 rep.), II:82.)
In his “Commentaries on Daniel,” Calvin explains that the fourth empire represented by the iron legs of the statue of Daniel 2, is the Roman Empire which was later divided into the Western-Roman Papal and the contemporaneous Eastern-Roman Islamic Empire.
(See Francis Nigel Lee, Calvin on Islam, (Lamp Trimmers, Texas, 2000), p. 5.)
As noted earlier, Calvin calls them “the two horns of the antichrist.”
“The Turks have spread far and wide, and the world is filled with impious despisers of God”.
(J. Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Daniel , (Grand Rapids,1948 rep.), I:167,182)
In his commentary on Daniel 7, Calvin explains that the Fourth Beast represents the Roman Empire. Calvin notes that the Little Horn that sprung up from the Fourth Beast is interpreted by some to refer to the papacy and by others to the Turkish kingdom. He prefers to adopt a more inclusive interpretation.
“I have no doubt that in this vision [of the Fourth Beast], the Prophet was shown the figure of the Roman Empire. . . . The Prophet simply means that the Roman Empire was complex. . . . Some twist this to mean the Pope, and others the Turk. . . . I have no doubt that the little horn� relates to Julius Caesar and the other Caesars who succeeded him. . . . Some take this prophecy to relate to the kingdom of Turkey; others to the tyranny of the Pope of Rome.” (Lee n 10).
Calvin advocates a more inclusive view of the antichrist, which allows for the manifestation of both powers: the Papacy and Islam. In his “Commentary on Second Thessalonians,” Calvin clearly identifies the rising of the “Man of Sin” mentioned by Paul in II Thessalonians 2:3, with the Papacy. However, Calvin saw in the unprecedented apostasy predicted in the same text (II Thessalonians 2:3), the outcome of the Muslim invasion of Christian countries.
“The minds of ancients were so bewitched that they believed that Nero would be antichrist! However, Paul is not speaking of one individual, but of a kingdom that was to be seized by Satan, for the purpose of setting up a seat of abomination in the midst of God’s Temple. This we see accomplished in Popery”.
(J. Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Daniel , (Grand Rapids,1948 rep.),vol. 2, p. 21)
Paul predicted, however, not only the emergence of the Man of Sin, but also an unprecedented apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:3). Calvin rightly explains that
When the word apostasy is used without any addition, it cannot be confined to a few individuals. Now the word apostates can be understood only of those who have previously enlisted in the service of Christ and His Gospel. Paul, then, is predicting a general defection on the part of the Visible Church. As if he were saying, The Church must be reduced to a ghastly and horrifying state of ruin, before its full restoration is achieved”
(Lee n 24).
Calvin saw the fulfillment of the general defection predicted by Paul, in the massive apostasies caused by the Muslim invasion of Christian countries.
“The defection has indeed spread more widely! For, since Muhammad was an apostate, he turned his followers, the Turks, from Christ . . . . The sect of Muhammad was like a raging overflow, which in its violence tore away about half of the Church. It remained for [the Papal] antichrist to infect with his poison the part which was left.”
(J. Calvin’s Commentary on Second Thessalonians in his The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, (Grand Rapids, 1961 rep.) p. 400.)
Calvin died in 1564 at the age of 55, before he could write a commentary on the last book of the Bible. Yet on the basis of what he wrote on the Papacy and Islam in his commentaries on Daniel, Second Thessalonians, and First John, we can safely conclude that his understanding of these two powers as being the two horns of the antichrist, would have been reflected in his interpretation of Revelation.
ISLAM AND THE PAPACY 2 MANIFESTATIONS OF THE ANTICHRIST
Were Luther and Calvin correct in viewing the papacy and Islam as two manifestations of the prophetic antichrist? Were their views based on a correct interpretation of the relevant Bible texts, or were they influenced by the Muslim threat to the survival of Western Europe? Can we today legitimately embrace the Reformers view of the antichrist as including both the power of the Papacy and of Islam?
We shall attempt to answer these questions by examining what the Bible has to say about the nature and work of the antichrist. Our procedure will be simple. First we will define the major prophetic characteristics of the antichrist, and then we shall ask if the Papacy and Islam equally fulfill these characteristics.
DEFINITION OF THE ANTICHRIST
The term antichrist appears in the Bible only in two of John’s letters. He refers four times specifically to the antichrist (I John 2:18, 22, 4:3; II John 7). It is noteworthy that by the time of John’s writing (A. D. 90-100), Christians had coined a specific term, the antichrist, to designate the expected appearance of false Christs and false prophets. Presumably such a term was yet unknown a few decades earlier, since Paul uses other designations: the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition (II Thessalonians 2:3).
Linguistically, the term antichrist can denote a substitute or an opponent of Christ since the Greek preposition anti can mean either “in the place of” or “against.” In John the term is used primarily in the latter sense. The antichrist is not a Messianic pretender, but one who opposes Christ by denying His incarnation and Messiahship.
“Who is the liar, but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (I John 2:22).
“Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist”. (I John 4:2-3).
The genuine incarnation of Christ was denied in John’s time by Gnostic sects. In their view matter was altogether evil, and consequently they taught that Christ could never have assumed human flesh. His body was not genuinely human but only had a human appearance.
In John’s view this teaching was a deadly heresy because it undermined the validity of Christ’s atonement. Thus he identifies the propagators of this heresy with the antichrist:
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist” (II John 7).
In this passage, the antichrist is singular and specific (preceded by the article ho antichristos), but it is used to describe not one specific false teacher, but the many deceivers who were misleading the believers. In fact, in I John 2:18 the plural form is used (Now many antichrists have come) to describe these false teachers. This indicates that John sees the antichrist as a principle of hostility and opposition to God, manifested especially by those who denied the incarnation of Christ. This principle is designated by John as the spirit of antichrist (I John 4:3).
John’s definition of the antichrist fits perfectly Islam’s denial of the divinity, incarnation, and crucifixion of Christ. The Quran teaches that Jesus, called Isa, was simply a human being, born to a virgin called Mariam, who was the sister of Aaron and Moses (Surah 19:28). While still a virgin (Surah 6:12; 19:19-21), Mariam gave birth to Isa alone in a desolate place under a date palm tree (Surah 19:22ff). Christ was not killed or crucified, and those who said he was crucified lied (Surah 4:157). Isa [Jesus] did not die, but ascended to Allah. (Surah 4:158).
Muhammad adopted these teachings from Gnostic and Arian sects that had been exiled to Saudi Arabia. In other words, the very teaching condemned by John as “the Spirit of the antichrists,” eventually influenced Muhammad to adopt a Unitarian view of God and a strict human view of Christ that discredited His divine nature and redemptive mission.
The term “antichrist” can also be applied to the Papacy, not in the sense of John’s definition of the denial of the incarnation, but in the meaning of taking the place of Christ. This is a legitimate use of the term, which fits the historical claims of the Pope to be the Vicar of Christ and God’s representative on earth.
ANTICHRIST AS THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIAL 7
A fuller description of the nature and work of the antichrist, is found in Daniel 7. This chapter contains the well-known vision of the four beasts, representing the succession of four empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Out of the Fourth Beast emerges the Little Horn a power which has been rightly associated with the work of the antichrist. Much of the discussion of the prophetic outworking of the antichrist derives and depends upon Daniel’s vision of the Little Horn. Therefore, let us look at some of the identifying marks of the antichrist Little Horn of Daniel 7 to see if they equally apply to the Papacy and Islam.
A SMALL BEGINNING
The name “Little Horn” (Daniel 7:3) suggests a power that had a small beginning. Its roots existed prior to the Fall of the Roman Empire, because it uproots three existing horns or kingdoms. Gradually this small power was to become a dominant despot that “shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).
This distinguishing mark of the Little Horn fits well both the Papacy and Islam. The beginning of the Papacy was small. Initially the Bishop of Rome was regarded as “unus inter pares,” that is, “one bishop among equals.” But gradually, geographical and political factors contributed to the development of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. With the election of Gregory I in 590, (known as the first medieval pope), the papacy became a dominant religious and political power that exercised enormous influence during the Middle Ages.
Like the Papacy, Islam also had a small beginning. When Muhammad began preaching Islam in 610 in Mecca, he faced considerable opposition and was forced to flee with his band of followers to Medina in 622. But gradually he consolidated his power and systematically subdued all the tribes living in Saudi Arabia.
During the first century of Islam’s expansion from 632 to 732, Muhammad’s successors subdued Egypt, Palestine, Syria, part of Turkey, and all the countries of northern Africa. In 711 they crossed from Africa to Spain and crossed the Pyrenees into southern France, until they were stopped in 732 by the Frankish ruler Charles Martel. The expansion continued for the next thousand years. Truly, the description of the Little Horn as a power that began small but became exceedingly powerful and fits well not only the Papacy, but also Islam.
A DIFFERENT KINGDOM
The Little Horn shall be different from the former ones (Daniel 7:24). The difference is suggested by its political and religious agenda.
“He shall speaks words against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).
It would be a kingdom, but its rulers would be both political and religious leaders.
Again, this distinguishing mark fits well both the Papacy and Islam. Both powers claim the right to control people’s souls as well as their bodies. They have been different from all previous kingdoms, because they have exercised political power to promote their religious agenda. To this very day, leaders of fundamental Muslim countries like Iran, act as both political and religious leaders of their people.
UPROOTS 3 OF THE 10 HORNS
The Little Horn power would come into prominence after the breaking up of the Roman Empire. The aggressive thrust of the newcomer shall put down three kings (Daniel 7:24). The text says that three of the first horns were plucked by the roots.
Muhammad’s successors, known as the Caliphs, who like him, combined the priestly and kingly dignity, within ten years of the Prophet’s death, ruthlessly subdued Egypt, Palestine, and Syria three major centers of primitive Christianity and of the Roman Empire. Their wars of conquest continued within and without the boundaries of the empire, extending their territories all the way to India and Afghanistan.
ARROOGANT APPEARANCE AND BLASPHEMOUS SPEECH
Another distinguishing characteristic of the Little Horn is his arrogant appearance and blasphemous speech:
“The horn which had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and which seemed greater than its fellows” (Daniel 7:20).
“He shall speak words against the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).
This identifying mark of the Little Horn, fits well both the Papacy and Islam. The classical example of the arrogance of the Papacy is Pope Gregory VII�s humiliation of the Emperor Henry IV at the castle of Canossa. The emperor was kept in the outer court of the castle for three days with uncovered head and naked feet during unusually cold winter weather. When the Emperor was practically frozen, the door of the castle was open and the Pope accepted his confession and granted him a pardon.
The Little Horn “shall speak words against the Most High” (Daniel 7:25). Later parallels (Daniel 8:25, 11:36; II Thessalonians 2:3, 4), suggest that the Little Horn would magnify himself by claiming the place of God. History records many examples of such bold claims by the Papacy. At the Fifth Lateran Council in 1512, Pope Julius II, who distinguished himself as a military leader, a pope in arms, was acknowledged, not only as Shepherd, Physician, and Governor, but also as “another God on earth.”
Similar blasphemous claims have been made by popes in more recent times. For example, on June 20, 1894, Pope Leo VII asserted in his Pastoral Letter, “The Reunion of Christendom,” that “we [the popes] hold on this earth the place of God Almighty”.
The arrogant and blasphemous nature of Islam is self-evident. Islam is arrogant in accusing Christians of blasphemy for teaching that God is a triune Being and that Christ is His Son.
“They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity, for there is no God except One God.” (Surah 5:76).
Islam is arrogant in claiming that Muhammad is the greatest prophet sent by God, superseding even Jesus Christ Himself. It is arrogant in boasting that the Quran is the absolute and uncorrupted word of God, replacing the earlier revelations of the Old and New Testaments.
Islam is arrogant especially in commanding Muslims to slay the people who do not accept their faith:
“Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war]. But if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity [become Muslim], then open the way for them” (Surah 9:5).
A PERSECUTING POWER
A significant distinctive mark of the Little Horn is his persecution of believers:
“He shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).
During the course of its history, the antichrist power represented by the Little Horn, was to become known for persecuting God’s people.
This identifying mark of the Little Horn as a persecuting power has been historically fulfilled by both the Papacy and Islam. Regarding the persecuting power of the Papacy, it is significant that recently the Pope himself has apologized for the atrocities committed by the Roman Church against Jews, Muslims, and dissenting Christians. Unfortunately, his apology does not undo the suffering and loss of countless innocent lives.
The persecuting power of the Roman Church has been manifested in the extirpation of the Albigenses by means of a crusade, the establishment of the Inquisition, the cruel attempt to suppress the Waldenses, the bloody wars to exterminate the Bohemians, the burning of Hus and Jerome, and the countless other Christians executed before the Reformation. After the Reformation, ferocious cruelties were practiced by the Roman Church in England during Queen Mary’s reign; in France at the massacre of Bartholomew and the persecution of the Huguenots; in Spain, Italy, and Poland, in the attempts to suppress by the sword those who had embraced the Protestant faith.
Compared to the Papacy, Islam has persecuted Christians far more intensively and extensively. During the first century of Islam’s existence, Muslim armies, inspired by intense fanaticism, conquered the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, extending their control all the way from North Africa, to Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and part of Turkey. They succeeded in practically uprooting the Christian presence in these countries by means of the sword and forced conversions.
The persecuting nature of Islam is inspired by the example and teachings of its Founder, Muhammad. He fought all the pagans, Jews, and Christians in Saudi Arabia, until he subdued them, forcing them to accept Islam. For him, fighting was a way to practice his religion:
“My livelihood is under the shade of my spear, and he who disobeys my orders will be humiliated by paying Jizya [tribute]” (Hadith 4:162b).
Muhammad’s example was followed by his fanatical followers who systematically exterminated Christians or reduced them to a condition of virtual servitude.
A LAWLESS POWER
Another distinctive characteristic of the Little Horn is his disrespect for God’s sacred times and laws.
“He shall think to change the times and the law” (Daniel 7:25).
Rebellion against God is manifested in disobedience to His commandments. (II Thessalonians 2:3).
In I Kings 12:25-33, we find an interesting example. King Jeroboam of Israel was determined to wean his people away from the worship of God at the Jerusalem Temple. To accomplish this he built two altars, one in Bethel and the other in Dan (I Kings 12:29) and he appointed a feast for the people to attend on the fifteenth day of the eighth month. The date suggests that he wanted to lead the people away from the worship of the true God, by changing the annual feast of Tabernacles, which was the most important gathering of God’s people, from the fifteenth day of the seventh month, to the fifteenth day of the eighth month. By changing the time and the place of worship, Jeroboam led the Israelites into apostasy.
The most sacred time appointed by God to worship Him as Creator, Redeemer, and Restorer, is the weekly Sabbath. In the Scriptures, great blessings and curses are associated with its observance or nonobservance (Ezekiel 20:12, 20, 22:26-31; Isaiah 58:13, 14; Jeremiah 17:19-27).
The tentative conclusion that emerges at this point is that the claim of two Great Reformers, Luther and Calvin that the Papacy and Islam are the two legs or the two horns of the antichrist deserves serious consideration. We have found that both powers fulfill the prophetic identifying marks of the antichrist. Both powers emerged out of the divided territories of the Roman Empire, both promoted false worship, both persecuted God’s people, both attempted to change the sacred Sabbath time of worship, and both are to last until the fulfillment of the prophetic three-and-a-half years. We began this study by reflecting upon the new partnership that the Pope is determined to build with the Muslims. In the light of the prophetic role these two powers have played in promoting the false worship of God and the persecution God’s people, we can legitimately assume that this new partnership will play a major role in bringing about the final showdown that will usher in Christ’s glorious Return.