Review: “How Democracy Will Elect the Antichrist”, Arno Froese, Olive Press Publishers, 1997.
Web site: http://www.midnightcall.com/
Reviewer: Erich J. Ritzmann
This book might well have been called an Introduction to Bible prophecy, as most of the 283 pages of this book proclaim a message which can be found in a half dozen prophets and Revelation. The actual rather more provocative title, How Democracy Will Elect the Antichrist, attempts to make this study in prophecy somewhat more tangible to the people of this present age. The author is comfortable in this type of study and he also prolific, a fact supported by many such titles listed at the Midnight Call web site.
The fourth beast in Daniel is commonly understood as referring to the Roman Empire. That is presumably why the knowledgable Jews were expecting Christ to set up his kingdom and rule with his iron rod 2000 years ago. Yet, the abomination which Jesus describes using the future tense, is described in the context of this fourth beast in Daniel. When one considers that the first three beasts were each conquered by a subsequent, the question remains how this fourth is subdued.
Most scholars acknowledge that Rome was never conquered – rather the previous power structures crumbled from within, leading to fragmentation and protracted periods of infighting. The character of the Empire changed dramatically in around the fourth century AD with the emperor Constantine declaring the officialness of Christianity as the state religion of Rome. The papacy can be traced through the ebb and flow of the fifth through eighth centuries, and ascendancy during the reign of Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. Subsequently, most of the medieval monarchs of Europe derived their authority to reign from Rome. The massive sectarian wars that were fought in the recent five centuries have resulted in even greater fragmentation, it seems. This protracted violence has resulted in foregone prosperity for modern Europeans.
The re-unity of Europe in recent years traces back to the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The prize for such unification is the elusive “peace” and prosperity. The unified currency and economic union are just the latest steps in what seems to be an inevitable trend. Interestingly, the author ties the model for a united Europe back to the success of the United States following that very bitter and bloody civil war more than a century ago. The relative peace and prosperity visible in the USA over the past century has prompted war torn Europe to unite again in the interests of economic competitiveness and the prospect of “peace”.
The author further argues that even as communism failed, so will capitalism in its rawest form -- what will prevail in its place is social democracy. He also argues that the forces that drove the States to become United, and those which drive Europe to become United, will prevail world-wide. Indeed, any casual observer of history will note that unilateral war is being replaced progressively by collective action. Even the Kuwait war, though fought largely by a US led coalition, was he says, paid for by the Germans and the Japanese. This seems consistent with what we are seeing more recently. The current G. W. Bush lead offensive against Saddam Hussein of Iraq, must only proceed with the consensus of world leaders. The reader may come up with many other examples of the trends for internationalization and globalization, beyond those cited in the book.
The author deals with the religious aspect of politics, which is most clearly visible in the atheistic nature of communism. Communism set itself against what is clearly visible in creation, against God. The system which replaces it will not deny the existence of God, but will deny Christ. He speaks of strong influences in the United States which are forcing references to Christ out of public life in state and in schools. The inevitable subsequent moral decay will manifest itself economically and the power of the USA will be diminished. This is in part already demonstrated in the increasingly confrontational nature of the atheistic left and conservative Christian right political forces in that country. The social democratic approach will gain prominence as it attempts to defang the radical activists on either side, and wins a measure of success using coalition building, concensus, and negotiation. As such, social democracy will promote religion which is conciliatory and inclussionary – ecumenical religion, in other words. The mantra of social democracy will be, as indeed it has been, emphasizing materialistic well-being for all, and the embracing of “modernism” to overcome the exclusionary tendencies in some religious and cultural practices.
So, the author argues, a United Europe will be the powerhouse of the world economy and the centre of the ecumenical movement, which will be the unification of the major world religions. Europe and its spheres of influence, will be the driving force behind a unified global system of government. It will be successful in building on the very real current successes of social democracy.
He provides interesting points in support of Europe as the centre of religious ecumenism. In particular he quotes Vatican journal articles which clarify that it is the intent not only to bring protestantism back under its auspices, but also that it seeks unification with the other major world religions. In addition to this, he illustrates the role of the Vatican nation by drawing attention to the fact that when world leaders come to visit the Pope, they are given an “audience” with him – much as a British subject might gain an audience with their Queen. He also describes the diplomatic relations between the Vatican state and the state of Israel. The Vatican it seems has yet a greater role to play in the power structures of the world than most of us non-catholics would realize.
Froese doesn't shy away from tough issues of interpretation, including the “whore of Babylon” discussed in Revelation. Even though his argumentation on this is at some points quite disjointed, he has a tendency of concluding with statements like “Do we need any more proof? Obviously not!” Though I am not sure that I would necessarily contradict him, these glib statements surrounding something that the Bible reveals as a “mystery”, does leave an unsettled feeling, even perhaps antipathy. In my mind he had certainly not yet proven the connection when he makes this statement and a few others like it.
The author also tries to tackle the issue of environmentalism rather clumsily. In fact, he leaves the distinct impression that environmentalism is demonic in origin. This gross oversimplification does not do any justice to the main point that he does make. That is: the non-Christian world puts a salvation-like hope in environmental policies, which distracts from the only true salvation, that in Christ. What he fails to deal with is the fact that scripture also states that God will destroy those who destroy the earth. The fact that we are stewards of His creation does not imply impunity from prosecution for the gross indulgences that humanity has witnessed in the name of free enterprise, material well-being and other great human causes.
When arguing towards his thesis, that democracy will elect the Antichrist, the author reflects back on experiences earlier in his life. Froese, originally from Germany, reminds us that Hitler made his way to power through a thoroughly democratic process -- it wasn't until well after he was elected that he became the unilateral dictator which gained him notoriety. He seems to suggest that Hitler and Napoleon tried to bring peace to Europe through conquest, but since the paradigm of the time has become peace through negotiation and compromise, the coming Antichrist will exploit the paradigm of this age. Much of this seems quite plausible, even quite likely, though hardly proven in the conventional understanding of the word. The reader can probably think of many other things about Hitler that remind of the coming Antichrist.
I started this review by indicating that the author demonstrates his familiarity with prophecy. He also draws fairly heavily on current affairs and historical analysis. If there is a deficiency to be found, it is the frequency with which he tends to be presumptuous about the logical tie-in amongst the many interesting facts that he juxtaposes. It might be said that the many facts at times confuse the reader rather than point plainly towards the conclusion that the author clearly wants to draw. He could have argued more cogently, certainly more cohesively. Occasionally stretching his credibility with the reader, in other places he qualifies his interpretation with a cautionary note that he is about to become speculative – oddly, these speculations were mostly conservative. To his credit, he clearly steers the reader away from certain well-known, yet dubious prophetic interpretations which do not accord with scripture.
This book is not overly academic – it is quite readable in fact. And its subject matter should be quite familiar to anyone who professes faith in Christ, or is perhaps wavering at the doorstep of faith. The words of prophecy in the scripture are given to encourage the believer; “... for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Overall, the book is a good book, and in spite of a few noted shortcomings, it is a recommended read. You can find this book in your church library, or at the Midnight Call web site.