Yes, I know, I know. The application of the Man of Lawlessness is to the emergence of the clergy class in the early centuries. That point was repeated in the discussion of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians at the midweek meetings.
But is there anyone other than me that thinks a modern application would be more to the emergence of a modern-day atheist class, today’s apostasy, that turns upon the theocratic organization under the guise of “protecting people” from its “mind-control?”
Thessalonians 2:3. Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.
4 He stands in opposition and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?
6 And now you know what is acting as a restraint, so that he will be revealed in his own due time.
7 True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint is out of the way.
8 Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.
9 But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders
10 and every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth in order that they might be saved.
11 That is why God lets a deluding influence mislead them so that they may come to believe the lie,
12 in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.
Verse 4 fits an atheistic Man better than it does a clerical Man. Also verses 9 and 10–with the powerful works and wonders being the application of science, which enthralls them to the point that they forget all about God.
It certainly fits better with the line of Paul from the next chapter:
Finally, brothers, carry on prayer for us, that the word of Jehovah may keep spreading rapidly and being glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be rescued from harmful and wicked men, for faith is not a possession of all people.
It is not those with faith—even a skewed faith that might be ascribed to a clergy class—that most seek to further the “cult” meme today. It is those without faith.
it is all spot-on to identify the Man of Lawlessness with the emerging clergy class in the first century, with all the infusions of Babylonian and Greek philosophies that it embraced and spread. But today that Man is much weakened. He is casually respected as long as he stays in his place, but his place is much reduced. In the old days his place was anywhere he wanted it to be. He limps along trying to insist that he is relevant, and more and more people doubt that is the case.
The verses of 2nd Thessalonians remind me more today of an atheistic Man than of a religious Man.
There were some who thought I was trying to change space and time, what with a new interpretation of the Man of Lawlessness. I wasn’t. They pointed out that atheism came about because the clergy class of those early centuries wrestled away the wheel but then didn’t drive people anywhere, so that some became disillusioned.
They are right, of course, as regards the overall picture.
“Yes, in her [Babylon the Great] was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Rev 18:24
“All those who have been slaughtered” is a big category, and it is especially huge if we equate slaughter to death, since no one would have died at all were it not for rebellion back in Eden. Most die, not due to acts of commission, but due to acts of omission. The Man of Lawlessness does not teach biblical truth, and the sheep, as a consequence, are found roaming the hills, and land themselves into all sorts of mischief, atheism being one of those mischiefs. Had they not been force-fed a diet of spiritual junk food, they might not have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, asserting that not only are the doctrines untrue, but also is God.
So the origin of the Man of Lawlessness may be correct, but I am not sure that we keep up with its modern evolutions. Sometimes I think that we do the equivalent of railing about Egypt or Assyria, and don’t grasp that other heads have emerged in the seven-headed wild beast. The “apostates” that cause us trouble today are overwhelmingly atheistic. The media people, be it print or video, who “accuse the brothers day and night before our God” are almost always atheistic, Every general needs to know the enemy. We do ourselves a disservice if we imagine that today’s enemy is religious. It leads to miscalculations as to how to oppose him. Sometimes, for example, we imagine that explaining doctrine clearly will serve to rectify things.
“The clergy class still rears its ugly sting to inflict vindictive damage on true servants of God if possible (See the Russian affair).”
I don’t think that’s true, and it is a good case in point. Buy too much into this and it would appear that if the clergy were to disappear, attacks against us would be over. In fact, the clergy has practically disappeared from the standpoint of influence, and attacks come upon us full-throttle.
Nobody believes me on this. They just assume that the Russian Orthodox Church is behind the ban. They have said that they are not. I am inclined to believe them. To be sure, most there squealed with delight when the ban on Witnesses went into effect, like kids on Christmas morning, but the thinkers among them don’t like it. They think that the same legal reasonings being used against us could also be used against them. They also regard themselves as the true church, and THAT is now illegal under the new laws first applied to Witnesses.
The centerpiece of my “theory” is articles such as this one in the Daily Caller:
We fixate on the Russian Orthodox Church because we have not moved on from the days of the Roman Catholic Church in 1950s Quebec, and 1940s America and Europe, when religion truly did orchestrate the mischief. The anti-cult movement of today that would take out ALL religion starts with the biblical faith that is most clearly “no part of this world,” but it is hardly friendlier with other types. We should know the enemy.
Recently in field service a woman answered my companion’s knock and said she wouldn’t speak with us since she “follows the Word of God.” Thus, she drew “battle lines,” and it was hard to not respond in kind. My companion began to go where we so often go, where I used to go, and a silly little contest begins of searching for chinks in her “armor,” since we are loath to leave an “objection” such as hers unanswered. After all, we also think that we are following the Word of God.
After a time, I interrupted to say: “Look, you believe in God and you think we’re doing it all wrong. We believe in God and we think you’re doing it all wrong. We will steal sheep from your church if we can and you will do the same to us. Let’s just accept that as a given. Either way it is a search for God and a desire to worship him.” With that, I made a point about the “shocking disregard for Jesus” prevalent in the world today, and a brief defused conversation ensued. We parted with her thinking that we were, at least in some respects, on the same page. And we were. We both have a common enemy who is on the ascent.
The Western clergy is licking its wounds these days. It is the atheists who are riding tall. It may be correct to identify the Man of Lawlessness with a religious faction—it certainly was that way in the early centuries—but its latest manifestation is not religious and has no use for God, having elevated other concerns to that status.