Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession

Robert C. Fuller, Author Oxford University Press, USA $35 (240p) ISBN 978-0-19-508244-9
While the word ``antichrist''--the figure who ushers in the apocalypse of Christian end-time--appears but briefly in the Bible (1 and 2 John), the term has been all too frequently used throughout history by one group as a means of vilifying another group that appears to threaten the accusing group's worldview. Fuller, professor of religious studies at Bradley University, argues that naming the antichrist became a prevalent custom in the U.S. first because of the Puritans' apocalyptic tradition and subsequently because of feelings of vulnerability fanned by Native Americans and later by waves of immigrants who seemed to threaten the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. Fuller robustly explores the writings of those who at various and sundry times have railed against Catholics, Freemasons, and Jews (and even rock music and bar codes, for that matter) and seen them all as signs of the beast from the sea. He offers cogent psychological and sociological explanations for the hold of the idea of the antichrist upon the American imagination. If those explanations do not seem quite conclusive, however, it is because the extraordinarily arcane reasoning in naming the antichrist, so ably discussed here, ultimately itself escapes explanation. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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