Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
A recent critic has blasted author Joel Richardson as “hateful” and “bigoted” for writing books that suggest the Antichrist will be a Muslim whose empire will arise out of the Middle East.
But is it really “hate” to draw parallels between the Bible’s coming villain and Islam’s expected Mahdi?
“[Richardson's] preachings about loving Muslims while despising Islam make him seem grounded in Christian teachings and compassionate in his beliefs,” Smith writes. “But his virulently bigoted views on Islam make him a dangerous character – and one that has found many adherents on the religious right.”
But Richardson says if he’s right that Islam is a tool in the hands of Christ’s greatest earthly enemy, used to deceive and destroy, speaking out is not “hate,” but genuine compassion.
“Exposing a hateful ideology is not hateful. It is honest, courageous and ultimately loving,” Richardson told WND. “Too many Christians are afraid to speak the truth in love. I refuse to remain silent as thousands of Muslims slip into hell every day. I love them too much and make no apologies for taking this stand.”
Involved in evangelism and ministry to Muslims since 1994, Richardson claims Smith’s cries of “bigotry” miss the whole point of his books.
“I was sad that the author of the article didn’t take the time to actually read my books,” Richardson said. “If he had, he would see the emphasis I place on loving Muslims, on seeing them as people who need Jesus.”
But isn’t it hateful, some might ask, to so demonize Islam by linking it to the Antichrist?
“Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, specifically attacks the most essential Christian doctrines of the trinity, the sonship of Christ, and the historicity of the cross. It specifically says that any who believe in these things are gross blasphemers, cursed by God and condemned to hell,” Richardson explains. “If that isn’t the spirit of the ‘anti’ Christ, what is?
“Yet when I as a Christian call this demonic, I get labeled the ‘hater,’ while the Qur’an – which condemns all ‘infidels’ to death and hell – is vehemently defended,” Richardson continued. “The left has become so possessed with irrational hatred, they cannot see how truly suicidal their worldview is.”
The Salon column also cast some aspersions on Richardson’s readers, the “religious right,” for being anti-Islam, anti-Obama and pro-war.
“These Christians are a reliable source for supporting hawkishness and military intervention in the Middle East,” Smith writes, “convinced as they are that Islam is the greatest source of evil in the world.”
He then quotes Matthew Duss of the Center for American Progress: “During the Cold War, the Soviet Union played the role of the enemy of Christianity, but now Islam has taken on that role.”
But here again, Richardson says, Smith misrepresents the purpose of “Mideast Beast.”
“It is clear the author of the article wants to show all Christians who study end time Bible prophecy as war-mongering pawns of the Republican Party,” Richardson told WND. “Yet I have openly been standing against the calls for war with Iran. On the very first page of my blog, I call on my readers to pray for Iranians and that war with Iran can be averted. It’s a shame that the author was so dishonest in this regard.
“Members of the radical left are increasingly becoming gross caricatures of themselves,” Richardson continued. “They point their fingers at us and scream, ‘finger pointer!’ Lord forgive them, they truly do not see their own hypocrisy.”
“Mideast Beast” completes and establishes the revolutionary argument introduced Richardson’s “Islamic Antichrist,” namely that the Antichrist will be a Muslim, whose empire will arise out of the Middle East.
Whereas most students of the Bible have long held that some form of humanism or universalist religion would catapult the Antichrist to world power, “Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist” endeavors to systematically prove the long awaited system of the Antichrist is not waiting for universalism, but using Islam today and is even now knocking at our door.