Robert Ricciardelli has posted an important article Identifying the Antichrist by Joseph Mattera. This seems to have been copied from Mattera’s own blog. Mattera is Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York.
Mattera starts by clarifying the biblical definition of the antichrist, along the same lines that I took three years ago in my post Antichrists, Beasts, and the Man of Lawlessness (but Mattera might disagree with me about the Man of Lawlessness). Mattera rightly concludes that
The antichrist is a false spirit that brings false doctrine into the church; it is not a single person.
He identifies that false doctrine as Gnosticism, which he describes as
a heretical cult that did much damage to the church in the first few centuries, believed that the flesh was evil and that only the spiritual world was good. They even taught that the god of the Old Testament was evil (the god of the flesh who created the natural world and needed animal sacrifices to be appeased), and that the god of the New Testament was good; that true Christianity was really about attempting to get free from the flesh and to live in the spirit.
This is important because Mattera also argues that
A new kind of Gnosticism has crept into the church during the past 120 years. …
The ironic thing is, those preachers and authors focusing on the “last days,” identifying one man as the antichrist, the rapture, and the mark of the beast, have actually fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist because they take the practical application of the cross of Christ away from the realm of the flesh. … their teaching implies that the cross wasn’t for the reconciliation of the natural created order but just for our eternal spiritual life in heaven.
Mattera even manages to quote Jesus as praying against the Rapture!:
Best-selling books like the Left Behind series by Tim Lahaye are taking kingdom focus off the earth and into the next world, something totally foreign to the teachings of the apostles and Jesus, who actually prayed in John 17:15: “I pray not that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” Thus, praying against the rapture mentality!
In this article Mattera doesn’t mention the Harold Camping non-rapture debacle. He had given his view of this in an earlier article, before Camping’s date. But the new article is very timely. I’m sure many Christians are reconsidering the doctrine of the Rapture at the moment. This article offers a strong argument that it is fundamentally non-biblical, anti-Christian and wrong.