Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Adversaries and Opponents

Who is the liar?
Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.
Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.
Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father,
but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. - 1 John 2:22-23

The term "antichrist" gets a lot of usage these days, especially in certain Christian fictional works about the last days. Truth be known, we have been in the "last days" since the Resurrection of Christ, and St. John reveals to us in his first letter to the universal Church how we may identify the antichrist. The antichrist is anyone who denies the Father and the Son. Simple enough, right? Perhaps. But I like to think about things such as this. For one thing, the antichrist can be viewed as the opponent of Christ or as the adversary, one who actively works against the mission of Christ and his body the Church in bringing salvation to the world. To that end, there have been any number of antichrists throughout history from the Roman emperors who demanded to be worshipped and adored, a prerogative of God alone, to the Gnostics who denied that Jesus was the Christ, to Arius who denied that the Son was one with the Father in divinity, to modern day antichrists such as secular humanists who attack Christ and the Church with great zeal. All of these denied the Father and the Son and as such were adversaries of Christ.

But I would like to delve even deeper. Who else is he that denies the Father and the Son? In the broadest sense, it is someone who rejects the will of God, someone who refuses to follow the Lord with their whole heart but rather turns inward to themselves and follows their own will. This is the same thing that Adam and Eve did in the beginning which led to the fall of man, and it should be painfully clear to all of us that this is the way which leads to ruin. When we sin, in a very real way, we become Christ's adversaries or opponents, and we interfere with his mission to spread the kingdom. We become antichrists. Shocking as it is, we find ourselves in the same position as the Roman emperors and the Gnostics of the past or the secular humanists of today.

The paradox of the cross is that Christ emptied himself of everything and became total giving, and while it appeared that through this giving, this sacrifice, that Christ was ruined through his death, the truth is that through his giving of self he was lifted up to eternal life. He who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life will save it. This is the will of the Father as revealed by the Son. (Notice how St. John emphasizes the unity of the Father and the Son; they are like a "group package", you can't have one without the other.) If we follow this plan of giving of self, we further the kingdom and fight the adversary.

Through the intercession of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, may Christ have mercy on us and save us.


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