Who Is The Harlot?

Art by Pat Marvenko Smith, (C) 1992.

The Question: If the Western (aka "Roman," aka "Latin Rite" Catholic Church is the Harlot of Revelation, what are all those other Eastern and Middle Eastern (e.g., Coptic, Syriac, Byzantine/Slavic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc., etc.) Catholic Churches which broke away from it over 1,000 years ago and still retain all those bothersome Catholic distinctives?

The Response: Perhaps I am disqualified from responding to this question because I am not convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the Harlot of Revelation. Approaching Revelation with the presupposition that the RCC is the Harlot makes it a simple matter to discover "proof texts." As I recall reading, Islam is growing at a faster rate than Catholicism. Could it be that Islam will be the mother of the one-world religion? Or perhaps it will be based on Gnosticism. Or on some New Age spin-off. Frankly, I don't know. I also do not believe that we are so close to the Day of Wrath that it is possible to identify the Harlot, or the Antichrist or the False Prophet.

The term antichrist is found only in the three epistles of John, and they appear to point to an immediate doctrinal error -- the denial of the person of Christ. In his letters, John does not emphasize the future revelation of an individual, but rather on contemporary false doctrine.

The solution of the problem of the identification of Anti-christ would seem to depend upon whether light can be thrown on the question of whether he is primarily the great enemy of Christ or whether he is a false Christ. [Roy L. Aldrich, Facts and theories of Prophecy, p. 39]

The prefix anti- may be used to indicate either "instead of" or "against." A careful study of the five uses of antichrist in John's letters appears to point to opposition as opposed to replacement. To me St. John's words seem decisive that resistance to Christ, and defiance of Him, this, and not any treacherous assumption of his character and offices, is the essential mark of the Anti-Christ; is that which, therefore, we should expect to find embodied in his name...and in this sense, if not at all, yet many of the Fathers have understood the word. [Richard C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 107] Personally, I believe that the End-Times villain is better identified as the False Christ, as Jesus referred to him in Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22.

The (Pseudochristos, false Christ) does not deny the being of a Christ; on the contrary, he builds on the world's expectations of such a person; only he appropriates these to himself, blasphemously affirms that he is the foretold One, in whom God's promises and men's expectations are fulfilled...

The distinction, then, is plain...(antichristos, antichrist) denies there is a Christ...(Pseudochristos, false Christ) affirms himself to be Christ [Ibid. p. 108]

In so much as no Catholic pope has as yet claimed to be Christ, though many have claimed the titles of Vicarius Filii Dei and Vicarius Christus, and none to my knowledge have denied the person of Christ, it does not fit the Scriptures to declare the Catholic Pope to be the Antichrist.

Similarly, I do not believe that the current Pope, or any pope in the foreseeable future, could be the False Prophet of Revelation 19:20 and 20:10. This person is described in Revelation 13:11-18. In verse 11, we are told that he rises out of the land, Israel, which makes him a Jew. In that same verse, we learn he has two horns like a lamb, which may be understood as meaning he has influence in religious affairs. The reference to the dragon in that verse identifies the source of his motivation as being Satan. He has been given authority by the first beast, the head of the empire and compels all the earth to worship the first beast as God (verse 12). His ministry is authenticated by signs and miracles, which deceive the whole world, who come to believe that he is Elijah returned (verses 13-14). The worship the False Prophet presides over is idolatrous and he has the power to condemn to death those who will not worship the beast (verses 14-15). He will have authority to control all commerce and will have a mark that will establish his identify for those alive in that dreadful day (verses 16-18).

Now, if the Catholic pope cannot be cast in either the role of the Antichrist or the False Prophet, could he possibly be the leader of the empire, or the first beast? I don't think so.

The beast will be a Gentile, for he rises from the sea, which is a reference to Gentile origin. [Revelation 17:15] We know that he will not appear on the scene until the Day of the Lord has begun. [2 Thessalonians 2:2] He will rise from the Roman empire, since he is a ruler of the people who destroyed Jerusalem. [Daniel 9:26] He is a political leader who has under his authority the federation of the seven heads and ten horns. [ Revelation 13:1; 17:12] His influence, which is world wide, [ Revelation 13:6] derives from the alliance he makes with other nations. [Daniel 8:24; Revelation 17:12] He rules over the nations in his federation with absolute authority. [Daniel 11:36] As the leader of the federated empire, he will make a seven-year treaty with Israel, which he will break in 42 months. [Daniel 9:27] He establishes an idolatrous religion and identifies himself as God. [ Daniel 9:27, 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:5] -- and he is received as God by the deceived people. [2 Thessalonians 2:11] The beast, or leader of the empire will be come the great adversary of Israel. [Daniel 7:21, 25; 8:24; Revelation 13:7] There will be a war and he will gain control over Israel and nearby territory [Daniel 11:42] and he will set up headquarters in Jerusalem. [Daniel 11:45]

When this guy, whoever he is, rises to power, it will be through the instrumentality of the harlot, the corrupt religious system he introduced and which is controlled by the False Prophet. The same false religion will seek to control him, so he destroys it. [Revelation 17:3; 17:16-17] He will rule for seven years before his reign is terminated by a direct judgment from God. [Ezekiel 28:6; Daniel 7:22, 26; 8:25; 9:27; 11:45; Revelation 13:5] This judgment will occur at the Second Advent of Christ, [2 Thessalonians 2:8; Daniel 7:22]and will be a manifestation of His Messianic authority. [Revelation 11:15] The kingdom over which the beast ruled will come under the authority of Messiah and will become the kingdom of the saints. [Daniel 7:27]

So, after going through all that, I believe I have shown, drawing from biblical sources alone, that the Catholic pope cannot be either the Antichrist (First Beast or leader of the Empire) or the False Prophet (second Beast). Further, I believe it clear that Catholicism cannot be the harlot of Revelation, for that false religion has not appeared on the scene as yet, and will not until the beast appears and creates it.

As to whether "all of Christendom with the exception of you guys [is] demonic, apostate, and run by Beelzebub," I rather doubt it. Of course, it should be borne in mind that not all who call themselves Christian merit the label, and that includes persons in the shadow of Catholicism as well as those who profess the Christian faith outside the sphere of Catholic influence.

So, Sir, it would appear that your questions are moot. And to think, you devoted all that effort to shooting down anticipated stereotypical responses. Sorry.

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