Over the last few years I've become most persuaded by the historicist views of the Protestant Reformers, and certainly most persuaded by their view of the Antichrist as the papacy which they argue so well, and that gives me some foundation for rejecting other systems.
Today I read this from a Bible prophecy teacher, Dr. David Reagan and object to it because it contradicts the view of the Reformers:
I devote an entire chapter to surveying different attempts to identify the Antichrist — all of which are fruitless since the Bible clearly teaches that we cannot know the identity of the Antichrist before the day of the Lord, which begins with the onset of the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).This is the passage he says tells us we cannot know the Antichrist yet:
2 Thess. 2:2-4 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.Later addition: Dr. Reagan is wrong to say that we cannot know the identity of the Antichrist before the day of the Lord. What the passage actually says is the opposite, that the day of the Lord won't come until after we know his identity. The order of things is 1) the falling away, also called the Great Apostasy, 2) the revelation of the man of sin, also called the Antichrist, which could occur simultaneously with 1), and 3) it is after these things that the day of Christ will come, but it doesn't say how long afterward, just that it can't happen until after the apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin. /end addition.
Aside from that, Dr. Reagan's expectation of a future Antichrist is true only from within the Futurist eschatological system. However, all those he is answering are also within the Futurist system, as well as all those he agrees with. Most of Protestant Christianity is busy expecting a future Antichrist.
But from the Reformers' point of view the Antichrist was revealed back in 606 when the papacy was made official after the fall of the Roman Empire, which couldn't have occurred until then. That is, the Antichrist couldn't have been revealed before that. The Pope put himself in the seat of God himself, taking the title of the Holy Spirit, "vicar of Christ," and he "sits in the temple of God" which is simply in the midst of the people of God who are the temple of God according to the New Testament. This becomes clearer the more you know about the powers the papacy has taken to itself over the centuries, usurping all the titles of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The falling away was the apostasy of the Roman Church which increased over the centuries during which the institution was presided over by one Antichrist after another.
It was this apostasy and the usurpation of the role of God Himself by the papacy that eventually led the Reformers to recognize the Pope as Antichrist, repudiate the whole system and found the Reformation on the Bible alone.
If this understanding is correct, and as I say I've been persuaded of it, the Futurist system of eschatology actually serves to create a cover for the papal Antichrist and divert attention to irrelevancies. The Antichrist is here already. The Reformers knew it and the sad thing is that the entire Protestant world has been led away from recognizing him. And in fact many have accepted the RCC as a Christian church, and given the Antichrist himself the cloak he needs for his stealthy work.
And guess what: It was a couple of Jesuits who invented the futurist system:
This is from Wikipedia:
To counter the Protestant historicist interpretation of Daniel and Revelation, Roman Catholic Jesuit Francisco Ribera (1537–1591) wrote a 500 page commentary on the Book of Revelation. This commentary established the futurist interpretation of Bible prophecy. ... The futurist view was first proposed by two Catholic Jesuit writers, Manuel Lacunza and Francisco Ribera. ... today it is probably most readily recognized. Books about the "rapture" by authors like Hal Lindsey, and the more recent Left Behind novels (by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye) and movies, have done much to popularize this school of thought.The Jesuits have been working indefatigably ever since Ignatius founded their order, to bring down Protestantism and reestablish the Pope as ruler over the nations. They've plotted against Protestant monarchs and they've infiltrated the government of the United States and we've all been blind to it. They present themselves as helpful little lambs but there they are in all the places of power, in their own Jesuit universities where they can influence the next generation, at the right hand of political leaders where they can influence the running of the whole country.
How clever of them to invent an eschatology that has captured the attention of most of Protestant Christendom, getting us to focus on a future personage rather than the one who has already been revealed, undermining the Reformers' hard-won recognition of the Pope as the Antichrist.
Jesus can indeed come at any moment.