Soloviev and His Tale of the Antichrist

In 1900 Russia's great mystic-theologian-philosopher gave a chillingly accurate look into a future no one then envisioned

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In his Tale of the Antichrist, Vladimir Soloviev details a vision of how events might take place in the 20th century and into the 21st that usher in the Antichrist, and then how that monstrous person would act.

Although Soloviev died in 1900 just as the 20th century began, he clearly showed himself a mystic, that’s along with him also being one of the greatest of philosopher-theologians named in league with the likes of Cardinal Newman — who a little earlier had given lectures on the times of the Antichrist — and even very close to Aquinas. St. John Paul II mentioned or specifically wrote about Soloviev several times. Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, referred to him.

Before getting into his Tale of the Antichrist, which is in The Three Dialogues and the Story of the Antichrist, the last work Soloviev completed (on Easter Sunday) before he died at age 47, a few quick facts about him will set the scene.

Soloviev was Russian Orthodox but, as John Paul II described him, a figure who “noted with great clarity the tragic division among Christians and the urgent need for their unity…” Soloviev worked for Eastern-Western unity under one religious head, the pope, and in person got Leo XIII’s blessing for his work. Four years before he died, Soloviev became a member of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church.

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi said Soloviev had foreseen the 20th century’s problems “with striking clarity.” His teaching was “at once prophetic and largely unheeded.” And he “predicted with prophetic clarity all of the disasters which in fact occurred.”

“The accuracy of Soloviev¹s vision of the great crisis that would strike Christianity at the end of the 20th century is astonishing,” noted Cardinal Biffi, a scholar on Soloviev. “He represents this crisis using the figure of the Antichrist.”

Enough for the introduction. More on Soloviev in the next installment. Now, a look at his Tale of the Anti-Christ.


The Stage Is Set

Soloviev frames his vision as a story written by a priest named Father Pansophius and being read by a gentleman to a couple of listeners.

Right away, he jumps into the future by stating, “The twentieth century was the epoch of the last great wars and revolutions. The greatest of these wars had its distant cause in the movement of Pan Mongolism which originated in Japan as far back as the end of the nineteenth century.” China became heavily involved. Europe was invaded.

Not long after the defeat of the invaders, the European states started to reorganize. The old institutions become extinct. Soloviev says: “Europe in the twenty-first century represented an alliance of more or less democratic nations — the United States of Europe.”

Sounds a lot like the European Union.

And as a precursor to the Antichrist, look what Soloviev says about education, foreseeing not only the Communists but also what happened in many Western countries, including the United States:

“Such ideas as God creating the universe out of nothing were no longer taught even in elementary schools. A certain high level of ideas concerning such subjects had been evolved, and no dogmatism could risk a descent below it. And though the majority of thinking people had remained faithless, the few believers, of necessity, had become thinking, thus fulfilling the commandment of the Apostle: ‘Be infants in your hearts, but not in your reason.’” [All italics are Soloviev’s.]

(Or as today’s translation of 1Corinthians 14:20 goes: “[S] stop being childish in your thinking. In respect to evil be like infants, but in your thinking be mature.”)


The Arrival of Antichrist

Then a “remarkable person” showed up on the scene who many thought of as a “superman” because he seemed to be of noble character, a great writer, thinker, philanthropist, sympathetic to all in need. His great intelligence “always showed him the truth of what one should believe in: the good, God, and the Messiah.”

Soloviev says, “In these he believed, but he loved only himself. He believed in God, but in the depths of his soul he involuntarily and unconsciously preferred himself. He believed in Good, but the All Seeing Eye of the Eternal knew that this man would bow down before the power of Evil as soon as it would offer him a bribe – his own immeasurable self-love.”

He was so enamored of his own gifts that he thought “himself to be what Christ in reality was,” notes Soloviev. This man came to believe he was to be the world’s final savior.

He didn’t look or sound like he was going to be in league with the devil. He even said he was “called to be the benefactor” of humanity. Soloviev sees his as saying that Christ divided humanity by good and evil, but this imposter now came to “unite it by benefits which are as much needed by good as by evil people.”

This Antichrist showed himself as a kindhearted humanitarian who appeared to love all forms of life. He was a vegetarian, was concerned about ecology, and was an ecumenist.

There was only one thing he could not do when he asked himself if he could say, “‘Lord, Jesus Christ, forgive me, a sinful man’? Shall I not be compelled like an old Polish woman to prostrate myself? I, the serene genius, the superman! It cannot be!”

Then came the final peg when the devil, wily as ever, easily enrolled him as the Antichrist. Soloviev gives a chilling description of their meeting. With it the Russian mystic-theologian masterfully alludes to the temptations in the desert.

It was easy for this appointed Antichrist to convince masses of people to join him. People thought his ideas were the answer to everything. “[E]ven some former critics and adversaries came over to his side.

His idea: “Absolute individualism stood side by side with an ardent zeal for the common good…” Put another way, anyone could do whatever he or she wanted to do or to believe.

Soloviev saw this moral relativism coming as he says that the Antichrist then “was agreeable to all, so that the word of Christ was fulfilled: ‘I have come in the name of the Father, and you accept me not. Another will come in his own name -- him you will accept.’ For it is necessary to be agreeable to be accepted.”


The Tiger Cages Nations

The Freemasons in the European Council have a hand in getting this man elected as president of the United States of Europe then giving him the next title of Roman Emperor — emperor of the world — as the Antichrist promised peace to the world, and food and prosperity under his rule. Governments around the world joined the United States of Europe.

The emperor gave the people bread — and circuses as he enlists the help of a great magician who comes to Rome from the Far East seeing this Emperor “as the last savior and judge of the Universe.” The magician, as Soloviev describes, knew “the semi-scientific, semi-mystic art of attracting and directing at will atmospheric electricity.” Nations were “now given the possibility of never-ending enjoyment of most diverse and extraordinary miracles.”

With these descriptions, Soloviev seems to envision radio, movies, TV and Internet. Now the people had it all: peace, food, and endless entertainment.


Few Real Christians

Naturally, real Christianity suffered. “Its followers had greatly diminished in numbers and barely included forty-five million people in the whole world,” writes Soloviev, “but, morally, it had made a marked progress and had gained in quality what it had lost in numbers. People who were not bound to Christianity by any spiritual tie were no longer counted as Christians.”

Same happened with the Protestants and Russian Orthodoxy. Of the latter, Soloviev observes that once these political events had altered the official position of the Church, Russian Orthodoxy “lost many millions of its sham and nominal members; but it won the joy of unification with the best part of the ‘old believers,’ and even many of the deeply religious sectarians. The revivified Church, though not increasing in numbers, began to grow in strength of spirit.” Certainly sounds close to what Benedict XVI once said.

The Holy See was banished from Rome and made its way to St. Petersburg. But, Soloviev says, “In all the other countries, particularly in North America, the Catholic priesthood still had a good many representatives possessed of strong will, inexhaustible energy, and independent character, who welded together the Catholic Church into a closer unity than it had ever seen before…”

As those true to the Faith look to the Gospel and Church Fathers on the Antichrist and see the nations led astray, the exposure of this wicked leader begins. Of course, he confronts them, but in a way not expected.

He invites the true Christians to send representatives to meet with him where he has transferred his imperial residence to Jerusalem where he built luxurious palaces and a huge temple to unite all cults.


The Showdown

Do real Christians invited to the meeting capitulate?

What does Pope Peter II, the head of the Catholic delegation, do? Soloviev tells us this pope “had no trust in the Emperor, and looked at him with a disapproving eye,” particularly after a surprising circumstance concerning the Emperor’s magician who “Peter regarded as a doubtful Catholic and a certain fraud.”

And how about Elder John, the leader of the Orthodox delegation? What is his response? The same for German theologian, Professor Ernst Pauli, who headed up the Protestant contingent.

Soloviev masterfully presents the drama of this showdown as the Emperor insists, “My sincere love for you, my beloved brothers and sisters, thirsts for reciprocation. I wish you to recognize in me your true leader in every enterprise undertaken for the well-being of humanity, not merely out of your sense of duty to me but mainly out of your heartfelt love for me.” (Check out Thessalonians 2:3-5)

One of the participants intones “the gates of hell will not prevail” and another of the three leaders asks this Emperor to confess only one thing for them to accept him: “Confess now and before us the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came in the flesh, rose, and who will come again — Confess his name…” the masks coming off the Antichrist.


The Final Confrontation

“Anathema! Anathema! Anathema!” shouts one of the leaders.

One of the horrific responses includes banishing Christians who practice their faith from all towns so as not to disturb all others. People were pleased with killing and silencing those who exposed this diabolical tyrant, and even held festivities straight out of Revelation 11:1-10.

Then comes Revelation 11:11 in another dramatic moment as Soloviev casts light on the scene of Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper that all may be one, and the part Elder John and Professor Pauli play in its fulfillment as the “unification of churches…took place in the midst of a dark night.”

Soloviev continues to Revelation 12 with visual fulfillment as the “great sign appeared in the heavens; it was a woman, clothed in the sun with the moon beneath her feet and a wreath of twelve stars on her head. The apparition remained immovable for some time, and then began slowly to move in a southward direction. Pope Peter raised his staff and exclaimed: ‘Here is our banner! Let us follow it!’”

Soloviev envisions the reaction of the Jews when they also learn this unmasked wicked imposter has led them astray from the real Messiah, and then the final say with Heaven’s answer.


And So…

Among Cardinal Biffi’s many insights on Soloviev’s vision, he says Soloviev warns us to guard against this danger. The cardinal explains, “Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Son of God, the only savior of mankind, cannot be transformed into a series of worthwhile projects and good inspirations, which are part and parcel of the dominant worldly mentality.”

No, “we cannot and must not renounce the Christianity of Jesus Christ, the Christianity that has at its center the scandal of the cross and the astonishing reality of the Lord's resurrection.”

More on Soloviev’s essential mystical insights in Part II.