I must be in tune with the universe or something because I just had an epiphany this morning. No, I'm not suggesting Charlie Brown is the Anti-Christ. But Lucy might be... (:
First of all, I realized this morning that I haven’t had any bad or apocalyptic dreams in quite a while. To the contrary, most of my dreams have been about family and doing stuff with them. There was no air of fear or negativity in them. Yesterday for example I dreamt about going to the beach with my brother-in-law. I had the dream at the same time my alarm turned on the radio, and the DJ was talking about the weather. I was listening to it while still in the dream and when the guy said that the temp would drop into the 20s, I looked at my brother-in-law and asked him, “Do you still want to go to the beach?” There has been this constant stream of positive, feel good dreams for quite a while.
About nine years ago, SyFy had a mini-series on called “Alice” that was a “reimagining” of the Alice in Wonderland story. It was really really bad, even for a SyFy special. Anyway, at the end of the show everyone turns on the Queen of Hearts as they all realize she has no real power or authority. She’s standing there trying to command everyone and no one is listening to her. Her “do this or else” threats are empty as there is no one willing to enforce it. They all just basically turn and walk away.
In bible prophecy there is something similar. A turning away (apostasy) from the church. Many biblical scholars have tried to understand how such a thing could happen but it’s all just speculation. L.A. Marzulli, a Biblical researcher, believes the only way that such a thing could happen is if aliens come down and say they put us here. The Catholic Church, NASA, and other governments around the world are currently laying the groundwork for such a disclosure of the existence of ET life.
While I think that would be really cool, the outrageousness of the possibility distracts from considering other possibilities to the original question: why would so many millions turn away from the church? Orthodox Christianity lends itself to the answer. The prophecy says that millions will be mislead by the antichrist. If you think of the prophecy as a metaphor and “antichrist” as an adjective, it could mean millions will be mislead by something that doesn’t follow Orthodox Christianity. With the Catholic Church now stating that ET’s are “our brothers”, this throws out ET disclosure as a reason for the apostasy because it has now become part of the Orthodoxy. While it’s true that many people would leave the church if ET life were to be officially disclosed, I don’t think it will cause the mass “abandonment of faith”, which is what apostasy is. It will surely cause a schism, but the prophecy specifically states apostasy, so we have to look at something else that could cause it.
I ask the question again, what would cause so many millions to turn away from the church? Well, lets look at human nature for a moment. People need something to believe in. We need faith. We need hope. We need something to make us feel needed and wanted. We need each other. We are social creatures, and religion is a social institution. People cannot and will not just abandon their life long faith unless there was something else to believe in. Something so different from Christianity that it would cause apostasy. It would have to be (at least perceived as) a positive influence and at the same time cause people to realize that Christianity was not the right way. It can’t be the antichrist, because the antichrist is a component of Christianity and apostasy is an abandonment of the whole. If you turn from Christ and follow the antichrist, you are committing heresy, not apostasy.
It also, in my opinion, can’t be a turning to Islam, because there is just too many similarities between the two religions. That, too, would be just heresy. Think about it. You’re trading one middle eastern prophet for another, but yet both speak of the same thing and of the same God by different names from different perspectives. It's essentially the same.
To use an analogy, you’re trading in your Honda for a Hyundai. Both are cars, so you’re not really getting anything different. Sure, one might be red and another white, or you might get a sun roof and pretty floor mats, but you’re still stuck driving a car around on the same roads at the same speeds, bound by the same rules of the road. For apostasy, you’d have to trade the Honda for a Cessna airplane or a Catalina yacht. You’re not just turning away from a particular brand or model, but saying “screw it” to all ground transportation and everything that goes with it. You’re still going to get to where you’re going, but you’re taking a totally different path bound by totally different rules in a totally different vehicle.
Going back to Alice, I see that scene with the Queen of Hearts as symbolic of the turning away. A better description, to get to my point, is an awakening. Everyone suddenly realizes the Queen’s (church’s) oppression and decides not to play that game anymore. There is no violence. No animosity. No hatred. Just a conscious choice to walk away knowing the oppressor was wrong in light of the truth. A truth that is relative to the individual. A truth that is not a commandment, but an agreement. An agreement that we each have a responsibility to ourselves and each other, and an understanding that for there to be an oppressor, there must be someone to oppress. An understanding that we can CHOOSE not to be either, and instead respect each other as an equal part (and whole) of creation.
This, in my opinion, is what the true apostasy of the church will be. The sudden realization that we are all one and we are all connected, and no longer need the church. There is no need to preach the gospel, because the knowing comes from within and the knowledge is shared by all. Everyone buys a plane or a yacht (spiritual enlightenment) and takes off. With that perspective, apostasy would actually be a good thing.
And all this came to me in, like, two seconds as I was in the shower this morning.