NRA: Can Nicolae handle this job?

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 122-125

I’m losing faith in the Antichrist.

This chart, from the authoritative “Bible prophecy” site tribulationinstitute.com, should be required reading for any would-be Antichrist. Nicolae Carpathia should have this thing memorized.

On paper, Nicolae Carpathia seems qualified, with all the unholy charisma he needs for the job. And here in the third book of the series, he’s finally allayed my earlier fears that he might not be evil enough. The pointless, arbitrary mass-murder of the last couple of chapters has settled that question. The slaughter of millions certainly qualifies as evil.

But the pointless and arbitrary aspect still worries me.

I’ve tried to give Nicolae the benefit of the doubt. He’s stuck with a prophecy check list that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so it would be unfair to blame him for pursuing the various quirky and irrational goals required by this assigned agenda. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you have to Antichrist with the evil schemes you’ve been assigned by prophecy, not with the evil schemes you wish had been prophesied.

The problem, though, is that even given all that, I’m still not confident that Nicolae Carpathia is up to the job. In the remainder of this chapter, we’ll eavesdrop along with Rayford Steele as Nicolae outlines his plans for the seals and trumpets to come and, frankly, I think what we hear is an Antichrist who’s in over his head.

Before Nicolae and his “seven loyal ambassadors” settle in to discuss their future plans, he first has to deal with another situation — one he ought to have foreseen:

The Middle Eastern ambassador was speaking. “Dr. Rosenzweig sends his most heartfelt and loyal greetings to you, Potentate. There is an urgent personal matter he wants me to share with you.”

“Is it confidential?” Carpathia said.

“I don’t believe so, sir. It concerns Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah.”

“The scholar who has been creating such a furor with his controversial message?”

Jerry Jenkins loves to have this kind of overlap between the Rayford sections and the Buck sections of his story. Since Buck Williams is currently flying to Israel to meet with Ben-Judah, he has the Antichrist council discussing Ben-Judah here as Rayford listens in.

That means this little boilerplate description wasn’t needed here to re-introduce readers to Ben-Judah, but that’s not really the purpose of that little bit there about “the scholar who has been creating such a furor with his controversial message.” Jenkins isn’t describing Ben-Judah there, he’s flattering his audience. He’s not reminding them of who the rabbi is, but of who they get to pretend to be in the fantasy world of this series.

The dangerous and “controversial” message of Ben-Judah, after all, is just mundane Christianity. But in the world of this novel, that’s an exotic and bewildering message, and anyone who believes in it is a heroic rebel and a danger to the powers that be.*

The problem here is that Ben-Judah’s Christian message also seems to be exotic and bewildering to Nicolae himself. That’s troubling. You’re never going to be a very good Antichrist if you haven’t bothered to learn anything about the Christ to which you’re the Anti-.

Know your enemy is good advice. Nicolae Carpathia ought to have the Gospels committed to memory. And he ought to be more intimately and instinctively familiar with those “Bible prophecy” charts than even Bruce Barnes ever was. But as we’ll see here, Nicolae seems lazily ignorant of all of that.

That ignorance raises questions about Nicolae’s strategy — shouldn’t he have a plan to counter the divine plan? And it raises questions about his motive — shouldn’t opposition to the divine plan be what drives him?

“One and the same,” the Middle Eastern ambassador said. “Apparently his wife and two stepchildren have been murdered by zealots, and Dr. Ben-Judah himself is in hiding somewhere.”

Tsion Ben-Judah is Exhibit A in the authors’ defense against the charge that these books are in any way anti-Semitic. One of the main heroes of the series is a Jewish rabbi! And that’s true. Tsion Ben-Judah is Jewish and he is always portrayed in a positive light.

But Tsion Ben-Judah is also a Jewish convert to Christianity whose wife and children were murdered by angry child-killing Jews. And I’m not sure that makes him as much of a shield against the charge of anti-Semitism as the authors seem to think.

“So what does Rosenzweig want from me?”

“He wants you to intercede on Ben-Judah’s behalf.”

“With whom?

“I suppose with the zealots,” the ambassador said, bursting into laughter.

Rayford recognized Carpathia’s laughter as well, and soon the others joined in.

“OK, gentlemen, calm down,” Carpathia said. “Perhaps what I should do is accede to Dr. Rosenzweig’s request and speak directly with the head of the zealot faction. I would give him my full blessing and support and perhaps even supply some technology that would help him find his prey and eliminate him with dispatch.”

We’re not told exactly who this “head of the zealot faction” is, but it seems he’d make a more enthusiastic and capable Antichrist than Nicolae Carpathia does.

Who, exactly, are these “zealots”? Well, they’re Jews. Not real Jews, but the vile caricature of Jewish people derived from centuries of lethal slander. What we have here in this “zealot faction” is Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ rendition of the same blood-libel that Christians have used to persecute Jews for centuries. These zealots are Christian-hating Jews, Christ-killing Jews and child-murdering Jews.

LaHaye and Jenkins don’t completely reject this vicious, racist stereotype, they merely qualify it a bit. It’s only a “faction,” they say. Only some Jews are Christ-killing, child-murdering monsters. Most Jews aren’t like that, the authors say. Or, rather, they say that most Jews aren’t quite so “zealous” about it.

And thus, they say, we are not permitted to regard these books as anti-Semitic. If they were anti-Semites, the authors protest, then they would say all Jews were zealously like this, rather than generously insisting that it’s only a fraction and a faction.

This ancient caricature, this hateful projection from Christian bigotry, appears here, as ever, as the enemy of Christ. This shadowy “head of the zealot faction,” in other words, is explicitly an Antichrist figure, a person who is anti-Christ.

This is part of the long, ugly pedigree of the singular, capital-A “Antichrist” figure and it lives on in the fever-dreams of “The Antichrist” in the premillennial dispensationalism of Tim LaHaye. The unmistakably Roman Beast of John’s Apocalypse has, time and again throughout history, been reimagined as a Christ-killing, child-sacrificing, Jewish “zealot.” So it’s not surprising that when this disturbing caricature makes an appearance here in this book in the person of the “head of the zealot faction,” he seems more enthusiastic and more focused on the agenda of “The Antichrist” than Nicolae does himself.

Nicolae himself seems content to take a pass on pursuing Tsion Ben-Judah directly, advising his lieutenant to give Rosenzweig the run-around. “Stall him for a while,” he says, hoping that the “zealots” will take care of things on his behalf. “Tell him that I have chosen to remain neutral on the subject.”

But Carpathia was not neutral. He had just begun to warm to the subject. Rayford heard the squeak of the leather seat and imagined Carpathia leaning forward to speak earnestly to his cadre of international henchmen. “But let me tell you this, gentlemen. A person such as Dr. Ben-Judah is much more dangerous to our cause than an old fool like Rosenzweig. Rosenzweig is a brilliant scientist, but he is not wise in the ways of the world. Ben-Judah is more than a brilliant scholar. He has the ability to sway people, which would not be a bad thing if he served our cause. But he wants to fill his countrymen’s minds with this blather about the Messiah having already returned. How anyone can still insist on taking the Bible literally and interpreting its prophecies in that light is beyond me.”

And that, right there, is why I don’t think Nicolae Carpathia is up to the job of Antichrist.

PMD “Bible prophecy” isn’t really about “taking the Bible literally,” of course, but still, “interpreting its prophecies” is exactly what any semi-competent Antichrist should be doing. Nicolae’s office should look exactly like Ben-Judah’s study, or Bruce Barnes’ old office at New Hope. It should be filled with all of the exact same check lists and charts spelling out exactly what is to happen and when during his reign here in the Great Tribulation.

Nicolae is in a chess match against an all-powerful God. That seems hopeless. And it would surely be hopeless, except for his secret weapon — a detailed, step-by-step account of every move his opponent is going to take. Studying those moves and preparing for what’s to come should be any Antichrist’s No. 1 priority, yet Nicolae seems not to take any of this “Bible prophecy” seriously or to consider it worthy of his attention.

If Nicolae had done his homework, he wouldn’t be surprised or confused by the enthusiastic converts Ben-Judah is winning over:

How anyone can still insist on taking the Bible literally and interpreting its prophecies in that light is beyond me, but tens of thousands of converts and devotees have sprung up in Israel and around the world due to his preaching at Teddy Kollek Stadium and in other huge venues. People will believe anything. And when they do, they are dangerous.

“Believe anything,” just so long as you are passionately sincere and sincerely passionate.

If Nicolae had done the assigned reading, studying his Scofield, Lindsey and LaHaye, then he would recognize Ben-Judah’s “converts and devotees” as the PMD version of the “144,000 sealed” from the book of Revelation — the army of singing, virgin martyrs that “Bible prophecy scholars” say will rise up during the Tribulation. And if Nicolae had studied this ahead of time, he might have put together a plan to deal with them.

But it seems, instead, that the rise of these 144,000 martyrs will be a surprise to him, a surprise for which he is completely unprepared.

I’m starting to lose faith in this Antichrist.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* This fantasy aspect is rather depressing, if you think about it. Christian readers are being offered a fantasy in which their faith is something vibrant and exciting, and those readers lapped it up — buying millions of copies of these books because they found it so appealing to escape into such a fantasy world. That tells us less about these books than it does about the sorry state of the hum-drum, mundane faith from which so many millions of Christians seem so eager to find an escape.

This same fantasy fuels more than book sales for American Christians. Much of the “culture wars” are a desperate attempt by complacent, comfortable American Christians to recast themselves somehow as people who might yet “create such a furor with their controversial message.” Dimly recognizing that the pampered privilege they enjoy isn’t anything like that, some Christians creatively seek new ways to pretend that it is. “Merry Christmas!” they declare, aggressively, to the Walmart greeter who wished them a happy holiday. Hah! There’s a controversial message that will create quite a furor!

 

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    First?  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Maybe Nicolae is just playing dumb, pretending he doesn’t know what’s going on.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    As for ‘tribulation institute’….  What’s up with the near 1-to-1 link between violent extremism and eye-crossingly bad gaudy-ass web design?   Yeesh.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The dangerous and “controversial” message of Ben-Judah, after all, is just mundane Christianity. But in the world of this novel, that’s an exotic and bewildering message, and anyone who believes in it is a heroic rebel and a danger to the powers that be.

    But Fred, I thought in RTCism, “controversial” meant “bad thing you should pay no attention to.”  

    I could buy that if Nicole was using it in the same manner, but you suggest that to be controversial is exciting and enticing (which for most people it generally is, RTCs not withstanding.)

  • Random_Lurker

    Did anyone else look at that chart and think “World Domination Bingo”?

  • GeniusLemur

    “tens of thousands of converts and devotees have sprung up in Israel and around the world due to his preaching at Teddy Kollek Stadium and in other huge venues.”

    Hey, dumbass, you rule the world. You control everything. Why exactly did you allow this “danger to our cause” and preacher for a religion in competition to your official one to speak repeatedly at stadium-sized venues? You really aren’t up to the job.

  • ChristianPinko

     I know, right? All it needs are some rotating skulls and a road barrier with a sign reading “UNDER CONSTRUCTION,” and they’re partying like it’s 1997.

  • flat

    The scene where Nicolae’s followers are laughing with him reminds me of the first chapter of deathly hallows.
    There are the death eaters laughing at the malfoy family who are getting humiliated vy voldemort until he says “enough” and then the laughing stops at once because of how terrified the death eaters are of voldemort. 

  • flat

    by the way for people keeping up a prohecy checklist this might be interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Russian_meteor_event

  • Lunch Meat

    The instructions on that chart for which squares to go to make it look like a board game. Which has me thinking…

  • Zach

    Do you really need a plan to deal with martyrs? Aren’t they one of those problems that solve themselves?

  • hidden_urchin

    ”…shouldn’t he have a plan to counter the divine plan?”

    This is why Adam from Good Omens is a better Anti-Christ. He doesn’t play by the rules.

  • Jon Frater

    On the other hand the Zealots also refers to a splinter group of Jews who tried to take expel the Romans from Judea and got their asses handed to them by the Empire around 70AD.

    But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. Hm?

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    It would be possible to have Nicolae be ignorant of Bible prophecy and just a pawn until he accepts the Devil as he master in the future, but that might make him a tragic figure.  You would think that would also be a better story because it would be a cautionary tale, but again this series is a na-na should have listened to us not a call to repentance.

  • Some Guy Who Hates Pants

    Crap his master

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Who, exactly, are these “zealots”? Well, they’re Jews. Not real Jews, but the vile caricature of Jewish people derived from centuries of lethal slander.

    Jesus Christ: The first of many, many Jews to die for Christians’ sins.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You would think that would also be a better story because it would be a cautionary tale, but again this series is a na-na should have listened to us not a call to repentance.

    I get the feeling that L&J do not know the difference between “na-na should have listened” and “call to repentance”.  Their world view seems predicated on the notion that what they believe is obviously right, and anyone else must simply be self-deluded.  

  • Eamon Knight

     I looked at it and thought “Aaaaahhh! The goggles, they do nothing!!”

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I suspect the Antichrist has secretly memorized the End Times Checklist and is only pretending to be an atheist. Indicating to others he has memorized the Checklist is risky, as his indications may be used (though with enemies like Rayford, they certainly won’t) as evidence for Christianity.

  • http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com/ Michael Mock

    “How anyone can still insist on taking the Bible literally and interpreting its prophecies in that light is beyond me…”

    Maybe he just means that he can’t understand how they could still insist on reading the Bible after he used his mojo to tell them not to. After all, everyone who’s left on Earth is there precisely because he or she was not a Real True Christian, so they shouldn’t have any defense against his mind-whammy. 

    “If Nicolae had done the assigned reading, studying his Scofield, Lindsey
    and LaHaye, then he would recognize Ben-Judah’s “converts and devotees”
    as the PMD version of the “144,000 sealed” from the book of Revelation —
    the army of singing, virgin martyrs that “Bible prophecy scholars” say
    will rise up during the Tribulation. And if Nicolae had studied this
    ahead of time, he might have put together a plan to deal with them.”

    …Am I the only one thinking, “Army of 144,000 succubi and incubi”? That should fix this singing virgin problem right quick.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     No coincidence here. I have no doubt Jenkins is at least partially
    conscious of the significance of his use of the word “zealots”. 

  • Michael Pullmann

    Good gravy, that chart. I understood the Zelda Timeline in Hyrule Historia better than that thing.

  • Jon Frater

     Yeah, I was trying to be subtle and sarcastic in the same sentence. Oh, well.

  • Vermic

    I take it this faction of evil Jewish zealots is separate from the evil Jewish bankers?  Because Nicky already absorbed those into his organization in the first book.

    The instructions on that chart for which squares to go to make it look like a board game.

    Yes!  From a distance the whole thing looks like a big pile of Monopoly properties.  Nicoale rules the world, so of course he’s the banker and he owns Marvin Gardens, Ventnor, and your soul.

  • flat

    off topic but now we know that Fred is going to write a real book I wonder what kind of genre it is going to be.
    I mean he has been doing his left behind posts for almost a decade now.
    So now he knows more about writing characters, plots, motives, backgrounds, macguffins, prohecies etc than I do.

    I am just curious what is going to happen.

  • Lunch Meat

    From a distance the whole thing looks like a big pile of Monopoly properties.

    I was thinking of something a bit more dice-rolling, war game style.

    “When a Christian have acquired five Persecution tokens, it becomes a level-three Martyr. Martyrs have +2 prayer but they cannot move or fight.”

    “When you have converted 144,000 Jews, proceed to the trumpet phase.”

    Or something like that.

  • Jim Roberts

    I was thinking of the Final Fantasy timelines I’ve seen, but close enough – it’s simultaneously dense and diaphonous.

  • dj_pomegranate

    The dialogue, though, you guys, it’s killing me.  They take something as simple as, “I hear his wife and kids were killed by the zealots.  And he’s in hiding,” and turn it into, “Apparently his wife and two stepchildren have been murdered by zealots, and Dr. Ben-Judah himself is in hiding somewhere.”  Does Tyndale House pay by the word?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BYRV35EWCL4AKVA3APJHDTND6A Steve

    Actually I thought of the Jeopardy board: “I’ll take Persecution for $400, Alex…”

  • Foelhe

    At first I wanted to cut LaJenkins some slack for this one. If Nic saw some of these ambassadors as a potential threat, I could see him playing off Christianity as obviously deluded, so they didn’t look into it as a weapon to use against him, get themselves converted, and run off. That could wreak havoc with the Antichrist’s org charts.

    But then he starts talking about how Ben-Judah is extremely dangerous and needs to be put down before he becomes a threat. So… no.

  • aunursa

    tens of thousands of converts and devotees have sprung up in Israel and around the world due to his preaching at Teddy Kollek Stadium and in other huge venues.

    Nicolae would normally have said “preaching in Jerusalem” but he wanted to show off that Jerry Jenkins did his research.

    Today it’s simply known as “Teddy Stadium” — the original Ted.  (Ted Turner Field in Atlanta is colloquially known as “The Ted”.)

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BYRV35EWCL4AKVA3APJHDTND6A Steve

    But if he *really* knew what he was doing, Nicolae would control all four railroads and both utilities.  And Indiana Avenue (statistically the most landed-upon spot on the board).  Then he’d have your soul *and* your money!

  • Dogfacedboy

    When I was little and my mom read to me from the book of Revelation, I heard that the Antichrist was this creature with seven heads and ten horns, and I couldn’t sleep for nights it was so scary.  Then later I heard it might be a supercomputer in Belgium, and I was less scared.  Now that it’s taken the form of this Carpathia fellow, he’s hardly scary at all.  Wish my mom had started with this version.

  • aunursa

    For his next trick, Nicky will recite the name of every major sports venue –
    in alphabetical order.

  • Darkrose

    Blinky text. Gotta have blinky text, and maybe some bad .wav files that play every time you click the page.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    This is good news, but how we do know he is writing a book?

  • Darkrose

    It reminds me more of the scene in Austin Powers when Dr. Evil is making his demands, his henchmen are “MWAH-HA-HA”-ing along with him, and he realizes it’s gone on too long and the laughter just sort of sputters out and everyone looks embarrassed.

  • flat

    He said it in an earlier post.
    And I am going to keep begging for more information until he gives in.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/02/12/blue-valentines-back-roads-and-building-your-book/#comment-797479136

  • Chris

    I think it’s consistent with the other characters.  The Trib Force spend all their time thinking about how they could *totally* oppose the Anti-Christ, but never manage to do anything towards that.  I’m guessing all the help Nick is saying he *could* give those dangerous zealots is just as much hot air, and he never really gets around to doing that either.

  • walden

    “I don’t believe so, sir. It concerns Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah.”
    “The scholar who has been creating such a furor with his controversial message?”

    Maybe Carpathia is just messing with Rayford.  This sounds so arch, it’s like he’s reciting dialogue in order to get Rayford all excited, meanwhile winking to the ambassadors actually in the same room to play along. 

  • misanthropy_jones

    Worst. Antichrist. Ever.

  • Scott P.

     He doesn’t control Israel, remember. The UN signed a peace treaty with Israel that left it independent.

  • Jessica_R

    A week ago the Charles played the original Die Hard and it was a great flick to see with a crowd, and still holds up in its own right. But what brings it to mind is that Nicolae should be Hans Gruber. Having everything planned, everything under control with contingencies in place should things not go according to plan. What makes the film work is that Gruber is smart, dangerously so. And as smart and tough as John McClane is, he has to constantly scramble to stay one step ahead of him. Gruber would look at Nicolae,and our “heroes”, with the same contempt he looks at the coked out executive who tries to bargain with him. In fact Hart Bochner’s yuppie toady comes off exactly as Buck would if  the writer was aware he was a colossal douchebag. 

  • Lori

    So, have the end times “experts” started explaining the meaning of the Russian meteor shower yet? 

  • ScorpioUndone

     did we crash their server? I can’t open the link. LOL

  • Akichan_am

    I’ve figured it all out! Nicolae thinks that he’s the HINDU version of the anti-Christ and he’s been reading up on that.

  • GDwarf

     

    As
    for ‘tribulation institute’….  What’s up with the near 1-to-1 link
    between violent extremism and eye-crossingly bad gaudy-ass web design?  
    Yeesh.

    I’m rather disappointed that there isn’t an animated cross trailing sparkles that follows your cursor.I do like that they note that the chart is their internet version. In case you thought you were reading a magical animated book, I guess.

  • GDwarf

     

    As
    for ‘tribulation institute’….  What’s up with the near 1-to-1 link
    between violent extremism and eye-crossingly bad gaudy-ass web design?  
    Yeesh.

    I’m rather disappointed that there isn’t an animated cross trailing sparkles that follows your cursor.I do like that they note that the chart is their internet version. In case you thought you were reading a magical animated book, I guess.

  • ScorpioUndone

    This is because Alan Rickman is one of the best film actors the world has ever known. I heard that there was no actual script for Die Hard, he ad-libbed all of it, and then dubbed Bruce Willis’ lines to make it work.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BYRV35EWCL4AKVA3APJHDTND6A Steve

    Actually the supercomputer would be more scary: it has more charisma, more personality, and could probably alphabetize much faster than Nicolae!


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