Last time, we began to address Islam by looking at an official Iranian web page on Mahdism which revealed an Islamist global subjugation agenda of shocking proportions. (Of course, this was smoothly presented through turnabout rhetoric as a liberation struggle against Western Oppression in the name of "justice." The bald record of Iran's sad history since 1979 gives the lie to such pretensions.)
Overnight, as I followed up on the themes, I was led to Joel Richardson's online book hosted by the very useful Answering-Islam.org, namely Will Islam be our Future?
The book, first of all, takes an irenic, concerned stance that reflects an intercessor's heart and one who genuinely loves and has much experience in reaching out to Muslim people, despite serious death threats. He takes much time to warn against hate and violence, but notes that a serious comparison of the above topics will have painful implications, which many will indubitably find offensive and infuriating. But, the first principle is that we have to honestly face issues together, if we are to make progress.
I, too, request that what follows be taken in that spirit -- and invite correction if you can show me to be objectively wrong in the analysis below. [Note also my own engagement of JR on points where I think he has evident gaps in his thinking.]
Overall, I find that the work is a pioneering, breakthrough, frank, serious, honest and compassionate comparative analysis of Islamic and Biblical eschatologies that -- despite factual and analytical gaps and possibly debatable inferences over particular points -- IMHCO significantly moves the ball forward on eschatological thought. Indeed, in my further opinion, unless one reckons with the information, facts, perspectives and issues raised in this book, one is no longer current on Eschatology.
It is that important a breakthrough.
For instance, one of the first things that leaped out at me is a point raised in the fourth chapter: a reason why -- as we saw last time -- Iran semingly sees itself as the vanguard for the Mahdi's emergence:
The Mahdi’s ascendancy to power is said to be preceded by an army from the east who will be carrying black flags or banners of war. Sheikh Kabbani states:
Hadith indicate that black flags coming from the area of Khorasan will signify the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh. Khorasan is in todays Iran, and some scholars have said that this hadith means when the black flags appear from Central Asia, i.e. in the direction of Khorasan, then the appearance of the Mahdi is imminent. 17
In Islam there are two flags. One is white and one is black. Written across both flags in Arabic are the words, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger”. The white flag is called Al-Liwaa and serves as the sign for the leader of the Muslim army and is the flag of the Islamic State. The black flag is called Ar-Raya and is used by the Muslim army. It is also called the flag of jihad, and is carried into battle. One flag is governmental and the other is a military flag. 19
The book carries out a detailed investigation of Hadiths, Quran teachings and major Islamic commenters on Islamic Eschatology. It then, step by step, with frankness and compassion, compares biblical eschatological teachings [having first duly noted on the debates on that vexed topic]. In Chapter 18, it then summarises its well-researched findings, devastatingly.
Excerpting a few key findings -- apologies in advance if you find these painful or offensive, and please view this as an invitation to serious, honest dialogue [note also that there are specific points where I differ from JR, cf. my onward discussion]:
AntiChrist vs Mahdi: Bible: The Antichrist is an unparalleled political, military and religious leader that will that emerge in the last-days. Islam: The Mahdi is an unparalleled political, military and religious leader that will emerge in the last-days Bible: When Antichrist emerges, there will already be some form of system in place that will be poised to receive him as a Savior and to give allegiance to him. Islam: All Muslims are commanded to give their allegiance to The Mahdi as the final Caliph and Imam (leader) of Islam. [JR NB: Islam is already the second largest religion and will at present growth rates become the largest religion within a few decades. Islam is awaiting the coming of the Mahdi with a universal anticipation.]
False Prophet vs Islamic Eschatological Jesus: Bible: the False Prophet is a secondary prominent figure that will emerge in the last-days who will support the Antichrist. Islam: the Muslim Jesus is a secondary prominent figure that will emerge in the last-days to support the Mahdi.
End-times wars: Bible: The Antichrist and the False Prophet together will have a powerful army that will do great damage to the earth in an effort to subdue every nation and dominate the World. Islam: The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will have a powerful army that will attempt to control every nation of the earth and dominate the World.
New World Order: Bible: The Antichrist and the False Prophet establish a New World Order. Islam: The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus establish a New World Order. Bible: The Antichrist and the False Prophet institute new laws for the whole earth. Islam: The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus institute Islamic law all over the earth.
New, Global Religious System: Bible: The Antichrist and the False Prophet will both be powerful religious leaders who will attempt to institute a universal world religion. Islam: The Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will institute Islam as the only religion in the earth. Bible: The Antichrist and the False Prophet will execute [by beheading] anyone who does not submit to their world religion. Islam: . . . the Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus will execute [by beheading] anyone who does not submit to Islam.
Israel: Bible: The Antichrist is said to make a peace treaty with Israel for seven years. Islam: The Mahdi is said to make a peace treaty through a Jew (specifically a Levite) for exactly seven years. Bible: Jesus the Jewish Messiah will return to defend the Jews in Israel from a military attack from a vast coalition of nations led by the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Islam: The Dajjal, the Islamic Antichrist will gain a great Jewish following and claim to be Jesus Christ and fight against the Mahdi and the Muslim Jesus.
Jerusalem: Bible: The Antichrist will set himself up in the Jewish temple as his seat of authority. Islam: The Mahdi will establish the Islamic Caliphate from Jerusalem.
Theology: Bible: The antichrist spirit specifically denies the most unique and central doctrines of Christianity, namely the trinity, the incarnation and the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross. Islam: Islam doctrinally and spiritually specifically denies the most unique and central doctrines of Christianity, namely the trinity, the incarnation and the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross.
Now, there are two immediate, glaring gaps in the analysis:
 Islam is specifically, most emphatically monotheistic and against the worship of idols -- a major feature of the Antichrist system of Revelations 13.
 The fourth kingdom in Daniel 2 is obviously an extension/version of -- not just a replacement for -- the Roman Empire. (This cap of course fits the Western World very well, and its leader America; often called by Iran -- and not without some measure of warrant -- The Great Satan.)
On the first, JR suggests a key point: if a figure emerges who in the first instance fulfills the characteristics of the Mahdi, and leads the major Muslim countries and their allies on to a [partial?] defeat of Israel, that would indubitably draw to him a great many Muslims.
If such a figure also gains unprecedented power as a world leader, he would then become nigh impossible to resist. What would then happen --as La Haye and Jenkins suggest -- if such a figure is suddenly assassinated, and "rises from the dead"? [This can be easily faked in this age of spin . . .] Then, if his miracle-working assistant thereupon sets up a statue and demands worship on pain of death, who would be in a position to resist, save by embracing martyrdom?
A great many Muslims, would indeed immediately recognise this figure as an imposter and - to their credit -- would rise up against him even in the face of hopeless odds; but it would be far, far too late at that point. So, the root issue is whether th Islamic world as a whole is equipped to recognise and resist such a clever imposter /false Mahdi before it is too late. (Sadly, the current proneness to extremism does not give us much hope to us as outside observers. I would welcome correction here!)
(I suggest that at this point of unmasking as well, many Muslims would have their eyes opened to the Gospel and the true Christ, as would many of Israel, the latter in light of Zech 12 - 13.)
The second issue is more difficult.
JR baldly -- and correctly -- points out that the Eastern Roman Empire was succeeded by the Ottoman one when it fell finally in 1453. But, that successor empire is not of particularly Western/Roman character, which is what Dan 2 etc invites us to understand.
I do note, however, that as we see the European Union moving ever more to the South and East with Turkey [a major player in the scenarios JR discusses] knocking on the door for entry, that is suggestive. Similarly, as the demographics of Europe shift ever more and more in the face of a rising tide of Islam, we see through the mists the looming shape of Bat Ye'or's Eurabia.
So, the blend of European Apostasy and cultural loss of will, with an associated massive demographic collapse, and the rise of a resurgent Islam could make, say,
a suave, western-educated, cultured politically messianistic, postmodern charismatic figure ethnically from Turkey who appeals to European social idealism and United Nations-style globalist internationalism (while he also looks to many Muslim eyes like a Mahdi)
. . . into an all- too- potent possibility.
Now, is all of this mere indulgence in speculation that can provoke hostility and violence, or is it a plot outline for a novel to follow up on the Left Behind series?
It is a warning:
[a] to an increasingly apostate Western Culture ripe for even more deeper deception than at present, and
[b] to an Islamic culture that needs to ask itself some hard questions about its Eschatological assumptions and agendas.
For, the time when we could assume that the line between Good an evil passes between "us" and "them," instead of -- as Solzhenitsyn warned -- through the individual "desperately wicked" human heart has long since passed.
Let us therefore now enter into honest, frank spiritual, cultural and political dialogue, to see how we can avoid the catastrophe of a charismatic global dictatorship that seemingly starts out as paradise on earth, but then turns into an Apocalyptic nightmare.
May God grant us wisdom, in his mercy. END