2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 — “As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.”
St Paul wrote that warning to the Thessalonians mere decades after the death of Christ on Calvary. The vast majority of Christians in those days believed that Christ was about to return, perhaps St Paul himself never imagined that Christians were going to be anxiously reading his words for many centuries to come. To help the Thessalonians gain some perspective on the return of Christ, St Paul shares with them a sacred secret, a master sign: Christ will not come until the mystery of the man of sin is revealed to all. From Paul’s words we can glean that the ánthropos tis amartías was already active in those early days plotting a rebellion. We also learn that someone, presumably God, is limiting his actions but will allow the rebellion to occur just before the glorious return of Christ. At that time the man of lawlessness will be revealed and soon after… destroyed. When we repeat the words “Lamb of God Who take away the sin of the world” in our daily Mass, we are referring to that event. The destruction of the false god – the man of sin, the son of disobedience – coincides with Christ’s arrival to take the sin of this troubled world. On one side God is working to save the world and rid it of sin; on the other side the son of destruction, a false god is working to destroy the world by saturating it with sin.
2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 — For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming.
This mystery of iniquity has existed since apostolic times. It has been always opposed to the welfare of mankind. This mystery is to the Antichrist what the Gospel is to Christ. From the words of Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit we are given the diaphanous Word, the Gospel of life, the divine force that orders the new creation by coming into the heart of man effecting a positive change. By opposition the mysterium iniquitatis is a devious imitation of the Gospel and it has a sense, a direction that resists the will of God. This false gospel comes from the sinful heart of man opposing Christ, and is the result of complete corruption. From Christ we get the Good News but from the Antichrist we get the “bad news” preparing the world for his arrival and his deceptive staging of a false salvation.
Even the briefest account of the history of iniquity would fill many volumes and it is outside the scope of this article so I will attempt to sum up the concept by highlighting some of those events in history that are most relevant to understand this mystery in our age.
The origin, the source
1 John 2:18-19 — “Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.”
When the Roman Empire decided to move its capital to Byzantium (later Constantinople) the local bishop decided to claim the Papacy for himself. Rome was no longer the head of the empire, he reasoned, therefore Christians should follow the political center of power by moving the head of the Church to new capital. The response of the Catholic Church was clear: ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia. The center of the Church was going to remain with St Peter’s diocese. The Church was not subordinate to the Empire but to the Vicar of Christ. Yet that early Byzantine ambition did not go away. Among the oriental bishops fidelity to Rome was sometimes weak, sometimes strong until 1054 when the bishops of Rome and Constantinople excommunicated each other and many of the Oriental churches went their own way. It was to be a rocky road for them, as many heresies appeared first, the Muslim invasions followed, and finally the Soviets among a long list of tyrannical oppressors that multiplied the number of Christian martyrs.
By the mid 1400’s the troops of the Turkish Sultan were menacingly approaching Constantinople. They did not stop until they were defeated at the gates of Vienna. “The failure of the first [siege of Vienna] brought to a standstill the tide of Ottoman conquest which had been flooding up the Danube Valley for a century past.” As the Muslims pressed forward many Oriental Christians escaped Asia Minor seeking refuge in Catholic Europe bringing with them what Hans Urs Von Balthasar would call Der antirömische Affekt, “the anti-Roman attitude.” Less than seven decades after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, Martin Luther nailed his ninety theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517 thus initiating the Western Schism.
Those who still have in mind the words of St Paul of Tarsus quoted at the beginning of this article may begin to see the shape of that evil force acting through history. It is remarkable that both the German Reformation and the Muslims had in common their antipathy towards Rome. Even more remarkable is their negation of spiritual paternity. The Muslims do not believe that Almighty God is a Father. Their concept of God is different and they reject the Christian understanding of the paternity of God. The German Reformers never rejected that traditional concept but they ceased to recognize the Roman Vicar of Christ as a spiritual father. That dangerous negation had fatal consequences. “Once we get rid of the Pope, why not get rid of the King?” said the French Revolutionaries. Furthermore “If we can get rid of the King, why not get rid of the nobility?” said the bourgeois already made rich by their incipient corporations running profitable commercial ventures in the Orient and the Americas. It was not long before Marx and his followers emerged proposing to also get rid of the bourgeois.
Three major contenders emerged from this series of rebellions and the progressive destruction of the ancient post-Roman order known as Christendom or Western Civilization. We will analyze them in more detail later on: Liberal Capitalism, Fascist Socialism, and Communist Socialism. By 1918 they had managed to eliminate or emasculate all of the royal families of Europe. The most fortunate ones were transformed in convenient patriotic symbols. Others like the Romanoff were summarily executed or exiled in disgrace.
World War II was fought mainly to decide which one of those three postulants to world power was going to rule the others. The results of the contest were inconclusive but one of them, the Marxist component began to change its modus operandi. After many defeats in the military, economic, and political realms its advances in the cultural field can be considered a macabre masterpiece. Cultural Marxism has conquered the world and the hearts of the younger generations.
The main assault in this cultural war is directed against the Christian Church, the same Church that the Roman Caesars could not conquer, the same that Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin swore to destroy. It has been a long and tiresome battle that began in the dusty roads of Roman Palestine when a strange and mysterious man, Jesus of Nazareth appeared in history proclaiming: “Repent and believe in the Good News!” He and his followers would conquer Rome from the heights of Mount Calvary. His story is the most fascinating story ever told.
The Christian Conquest of Rome
St Jude Thaddeus, a Christian apostle and martyr, left us a clear and ominous warning in his only letter to the Church.
Epistle of St Jude 3-5 – “Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed those who did not believe.”
Christians are free; they have been liberated just like the ancient Hebrew nation was liberated from the Egyptian yoke. Yet that freedom can be lost through disobedience. St Jude is not referring here to a mere occasional slip in Christian loyalty but to a complete fall, a dangerous illusion resulting from the mad idea of wanting to live without God, even to the point of becoming the enemy of God and his people.
Today we can look back to Rome, the formidable world power that every superpower measures itself against. The ancient Romans began to design the idea of a Republic where the awesome powers of the State would be effectively apportioned for the first time: the Senate, the Tribunes, and the idea that the people should keep watch over their rulers to keep them honest. Our Lord came to that Rome, already degraded into a mere empire. Christ knew that the end of Rome was near and the world was not going to have the strength to raise again from the ashes of that domain consumed by public and private vice. Christ passed through that ancient empire almost without being noticed at first, leaving to a small band of Jewish followers the task of saving the whole world. For the most part the first Christian apostles were men without much education, power, or any weapon other than the power of persuasion and their inner witness of the most astonishing fact ever known by any man: their Lord’s return from the dead; the same Lord that was sending them to bring new life to a dying world.
That magnificent task was accomplished in a relatively short time, two or three centuries depending on the criteria applied to measure it. What counts is that the conquest of Rome by Christ and his followers was not military or political; it was the gradual conquering of the mind and will of millions of men and women across the vast empire, one soul at a time until a culture of death was changed into a culture of life.
Barbarian tribes mainly from Central Asia began crossing the borders in successive waves only a few centuries after the death of Christ. The Church helped to cushion the blow of the invasions, converting the invading tribes and helping them becoming Romans in a few generations. A post-Roman order grew around the Church. Christendom thus prevented the complete dissolution of the Roman order and in time developed the Western Civilization that later on would extend its influence throughout the whole world. It is important to point out that the conquest of Rome by Christianity was first moral, intellectual, and cultural before being a political and military conquest. In time, God’s enemy would attempt to imitate that strategy to try to destroy “the vineyard that the Lord planted.”
Order without authority
Recalling one more time the words of St Paul, he warned us of a time of rebellion against God and the natural order.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 – “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The Church has suffered rebels and heretics from the beginning. St Paul reveals that the mystery of lawlessness was already operating in apostolic times. Time passed and that malignant force brought heresies, and divisions among Christians that should have always remained as “one fold and one shepherd.”
As centuries went by the Church lost the North of Africa to the Donatist heresy first and then to Islam. The same happened to parts of Asia that had taken on the Nestorian heresy. In 1453 Christian Constantinople, already separated from Rome for five centuries fell to the Muslims about the same time that the last North African Arabs were expelled from Spain, a kingdom now consolidated under the crowns of Castile and Leon. That year Columbus sailed to the Indies unwittingly discovering a new world that later would be called America. Only a few decades later the Turks were defeated at Lepanto, and Vienna as the Muslim expansion came to a temporary halt. It was at that time that Europe consolidated its modern borders. Soon the Europeans would add the whole American continent and millions of souls to their domain but the mystery of iniquity was still active in the world. In Germany – scandalized by the luxurious life of the Roman prelates – one Augustinian monk started a rebellion against papal authority.
End of Part 1 – Continues on Part 2
 Man of sin, ο άνθρωπος της αμαρτίας, o ánthropos tis amartías.
 Mystery of lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience: μυστήριο της ανομίας, mystírio tis anomías.
 Matthew 15:19 – “For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.”
 Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History; Oxford University Press. p. 119.
 Roman legions evacuate Britannia in a. D. 406; Visigoths sack Rome, a. D. 410; Vandals invade Spain, North Africa, and sack Rome in a. D. 455.
Cultural Marxism (The Corruption of America) a film by James Jaeger.
Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, by Roger Scruton.
Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism; by George Gilder.
Wealth, Poverty, and Politics; by Thomas Sowell.
Liberalism: Sin, Inquity, Abomination; by Fr Horacio Bojorge, SJ.
Liberalism Is A Sin; by Fr Felix Sarda y Salvany.
This is terrific Carlos. A wonderful tour of salvation history. Interestingly, I just yesterday sent a friend the same segment of Second Thessalonians, along with evidence here in the U.S. that the man of lawlessness is being revealed.
I would say more, but it is late. Reading your post came immediately on the heels of watching a terrific BBC television production of Macbeth. Somehow, the two fit together.
I eagerly await the next installment and will send this fine work out to friends that I think might be receptive.
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Thanks to a caffeine surge the second part is published already. For those who can read Spanish, the whole thing is published in the ESPAÑOL section under the title Marxismo Cultural. It has been published in several magazines both in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
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I’m late to the table, but have devoured this excellent summary of Christian history and am about to tear into the next course without delay. I was particularly struck by St John’s comment about those ‘antichrists’ who ‘went out from us’. He appears to be referring to those who have been in the Faith but have rejected it in order to turn upon it. One can trace this effect back through the centuries with all the many heresies, the Great Schism and, of course, the Reformation. However, it appears so apt in these modern times. So many antiChristian communists and liberals were brought up in the bosom of the Church. Is it that they all desire to surpass God, that they envy His greatness which they feel humiliates their own insignificance?
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