Are We Racing Toward Armageddon?

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Mr. Baigent, author of Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World, was born in New Zealand in 1948. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Canterbury University, Christchurch, and a master's degree in mysticism and religious experience from the University of Kent, England. Since 1976 he has lived in England with his wife and children. Published in 35 languages, he is the author of From the Omens of Babylon, Ancient Traces, and the New York Times bestseller The Jesus Papers; the coauthor of the international bestsellers Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Messianic Legacy (with Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh); and the coauthor of The Temples and the Lodge, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, Secret Germany, The Elixir and the Stone and The Inquisition (with Richard Leigh). This article is excerpted from Racing Toward Armageddon.

The race toward Armageddon is the stumbling toward self-destruction.

Armageddon! The great battle against the Antichrist; when the red mist of a vast firestorm is to descend from above to envelope all living creatures in its deceptive embrace, leaving the god of war to spit out the pips.

According to the tricky and treacherous text of the final book in the New Testament, the book of Revelation, when the end time of the world dawns, a scroll with seven seals will be opened. With each seal a new horror will be unleashed against humanity. First, a great dragon will appear; this is later identified with Satan. Next will emerge a monstrous beast ominously rearing its seven heads and ten horns. Finally, a servant of this beast will arrive on the stage, a "false prophet" (16:13) -- the Antichrist -- who will lead his international satanic army against the forces of God. All these satanic forces will be gathered together "at the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon" (16:16).

Abruptly, a white horse bearing a divine warrior will appear from heaven, a warrior described as "The Word of God" (19:13), whom many interpret to be Christ; he will lead the "armies of heaven" (19:14) in a vast and bloodthirsty battle that will erupt against a background of terrestrial plagues and earthquakes. The three satanic allies will be defeated: the beast and the false prophet will be thrown alive into burning sulfur; their followers will all be put to the sword by the heavenly rider. According to the book of Revelation, God will take no prisoners -- except, strangely, for Satan, who will be quickly locked up in a bottomless pit. Then the calm following this mayhem will usher in a thousand years of peace.

But in a curious and unexplained twist, at the end of the thousand years of peace, Satan will be released from his prison for a short time. This act of apparent mercy will immediately lead to a second great war.

It does seem a very cruel trick for God to play upon the newly peaceful inhabitants of the world. God appears to be toying with Satan like a cat toys with a mouse, because this new satanic army will also be rapidly destroyed, permitting a shiny new Jerusalem to descend from the clouds -- a new Jerusalem from which Jesus will rule forever over a world where death is no more.

Personally, I have always wondered why, if Jesus is destined to be victorious, he and God should put themselves to so much trouble first. It seems to me that by delaying the inevitable, they are actually colluding with the beast, the false prophet, and Satan. It is also pointless, and the collateral damage so extensive.

But it does not seem pointless to approximately 59 percent of Americans who, according to pollsters, say they believe in the coming battle of Armageddon. And this is in addition to the millions of fundamentalist Christians worldwide who hold the same belief. Indeed, fundamentalist preaching has been pushing this kind of material out for years, material that does not allow for any doubt in the literal interpretation of Revelation. John Hagee, a prominent Texas fundamentalist preacher and author, clearly has none: "Armageddon is an actual battle, and the Antichrist is a living, breathing person."

It is evident from statements such as these that fundamentalist preaching operates in the service of fear -- fear of the big battle to come and fear of not belonging to the side of Jesus so as to benefit from the thousand years of peace.

Fear is all to these people, and every opportunity to spread it is taken. In January 2007 fundamentalist evangelist and former presidential contender Pat Robertson told his television audience that millions of people would die that year in a huge terrorist attack on the United States. He claimed that God had personally told him this but added, rather as an afterthought, "I'm not saying necessarily nuclear, the Lord didn't say nuclear." Which is, of course, reassuring.

Such an attitude is not so far away from that of the Islamic suicide bombers who are sure that upon their deaths they will go straight to paradise to enjoy the favors of seventy-two young girls, favors they have missed out on in life due to their restrictive beliefs.

This battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ is, according to thousands of Christian fundamentalist preachers, coming soon. In fact many are convinced that our modem military involvement in the Middle East is linked to this fiery end. In the book of Revelation, Babylon is the source of all evil and is ultimately overthrown; Babylon, of course, is in Iraq, which has presently fallen to U.S. forces and their allies. To Christian fundamentalists, the connection, and the importance, is obvious.

But the Christian fundamentalists are not the only ones to believe in a final battle. Muslims, too, with increasing urgency speak about the coming of their messiah, the Mahdi, who -- with the aid of Jesus -- will fight against the demonic forces of the Dajjal, the Islamic anti-christ figure. Especially important is the belief held by many Muslims that the Mahdi will rule from Jerusalem, which the Muslims claim as their own. Muslims who follow these beliefs expect the final battle to come very soon, and this is affecting their politics, which, in turn, is affecting all of our lives.

Jewish fundamentalists, by contrast, do not think of a battle to come, but it is hard to see how their end times can appear without one. For they hold that when the Messiah comes, he will rebuild the Temple, referring to Solomon's Temple, the very first temple, according to the Bible, to serve the ancient religion of the Israelites in Jerusalem, a temple that was pillaged and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. And with the Messiah's coming, they hold that Jerusalem will be wholly Jewish. There will be no room on the Temple Mount for any Islamic structures, nor will there be room for the Islamic population within Jerusalem, indeed within all of Israel -- which they define as stretching as far as western Iraq. They believe that the signs of the coming of the Messiah have already appeared; it will not be long now. The thousands of years of waiting are about to end. Of course, there are those who wish to hurry the time along and remove the mosques from the Temple Mount in advance of the Messiah's arrival. The anti-Islamic position of these groups is inflexible and runs very deeply. Their true relationship with Christianity is prickly and kept rather close, for they all depend upon the constant flow of funds donated to them by Christian supporters, but the tensions are there to see. For them, there is no need for compromise or tolerance; God gave Israel to the Jewish people, and that is all that needs to be said.

At its heart fundamentalism is a relentless progression deeper and deeper into intolerance and ignorance, which, unless opposed, will by default achieve its aims. Judged and measured against their own pronouncements, we must conclude that the fundamentalist religions of all denominations are opposing the free will and vibrancy of human life -- they are, paradoxically, performing the very task they attribute to the feared Antichrist: they are attempting to convert a distorted view of reality into such a skillfully packaged shape that it might be taken as truth.

Fundamentalist religions are humanity's greatest enemy. Blunt speaking, certainly, but time is short, and I see no reason not to call it as I see it. The fact we all have to face is that the fundamentalist religions leave no room for human frailty, for compassion, for forgiveness, or for creative freedom of thought. They are trying to return us to that time of darkness we thought was left far behind, where blind belief was considered more important than farsighted discovery, where the dogmatic was more valued than the tolerant and the false was more important than the true.

We simply cannot permit that future to occur; we must oppose that future with all the strength at our disposal. If, like those countless victims of the Nazi Holocaust, we are ever again asked to step into a cattle wagon for a trip to the Promised Land, we must remember that the correct response is always, emphatically, "No! Never again!"

But we need to move quickly for the fundamentalists are on the march; step by step they are encroaching upon the peaceful and tolerant high ground with their perverted idea of a heavenly realm filled with comfortable seats from which those who have been "saved" can eat their popcorn and watch the slaughter below. It all sounds like some deranged fantasy based on a dim memory of the Roman arena, for there is much blood in the message and so very little mercy.

Again Christian fundamentalist preacher John Hagee does not mince his words on this issue:

The first time He came to earth, Jesus was the Lamb of God, led in silence to the slaughter. The next time He comes, He will be the Lion of Judah who will trample His enemies until their blood stains His garments.

It seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that, like those who once packed the Roman Colosseum to watch Christians or Jews thrown to the wild animals, Hagee cannot wait to take his seat before the carnage.

Hagee's position closely resembles that of Islamic fundamentalist commentators for whom, of course, Jesus is an Islamic prophet. the Egyptian Sa'id Ayyub, writing in 1987, insisted that in the final days,

All of the books will be burnt at the end of the road. Those who sucked at deceit, spying, and hypocrisy will be burnt beneath the feet of the prophet of God, Jesus, and the army of Islam -- [Jews and Christians] . . . will be trampled under after the dawn.

We have good cause to be deeply worried about these people and those who read and believe their words. We must never let them near to the seats of power, else we will wake up one morning in a world where madness is called sanity and true sanity is viewed as a heresy to be ruthlessly destroyed. But, ominously, we can see this world creeping closer and closer.

The apocalyptic view of Middle East events held by recent U.S. administrations, most evidently with President George W. Bush, really began with President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. Famously, in 1981, Ronald Reagan revealed that he believed, "For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ." He later echoed this belief, stating, "I turn back to the ancient prophets in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if -- if we're the generation that is going to see that come about."

Two decades later, President Bush contented himself with advice from God. In 2003 He explained to the Palestinian prime minister, "God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam."

He seems to speak like Moses or Joshua; perhaps he really did believe that he was leading us to the Promised Land.

Copyright © 2009 Michael Baigent, author of Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World

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More Comments:

Arnold Shcherban - 10/1/2009

Thanks, at least, for finally admitting your real affiliations and heroes terrorists and mass-murderers, the conclusion I suggested a long time ago... But you would save yourself a long excurse back to history, if you had just mentioned more recent figures
with the same outstanding qualities, such as Reigan, Cheney, Bush, and the major current pretendent to the above-mentioned laurels - Obama, led by Clintonesque team.
In conclusion I would like to congratulate you and your esteemed group of heroes with the yesterday's report of EU that found Georgia (whose army and political leadership was created, trained and sponsored by the US) guilty of aggression, i.e. starting August of 2008 war, in direct
contradiction with Washington's claims
of the last year that unequivocally blamed Russia for the same.
But I'm sure that for the person who still insists that US troops found WMDs over Iraq invasion, EU's (or, for that matter, any argument and fact) resume is irrelevant.

Bill Heuisler - 9/30/2009

My dear Arnold,
Your benevolence is misplaced; in spite of my name I read very little German, but I appreciate the kind thought.

It's been so long since I've read your warm commendations. Thank you.
I am a little embarrassed by your admiration, but you must not gush. My reading habits can be yours also if you only apply yourself in English. If you like I'll send you a list of titles. Perhaps we can start with a tome by William Ayers...or a story written by another famous Socialist: Mein Kampf.
Let me know.

omar ibrahim baker - 9/30/2009

The objective of this article is to create not only a resemblance but, almost, an identicality, of spread and influence, between the fanatics in all three major monotheistic religions.
The article is done with a remarkable amplification on both the Christian and Moslem variety and a note worthy dearth thereof on the Jewish .
Be that as it may be, FACTS still matter.
And the major facts are (inter alia):

- With the Presidency of G. W. Bush, nothing of the far past, Christian fanaticism DID prove both its spread, general public acceptance and , of course, its influence in the ,politically, major Christian state, the USA, to the deep regret of a world wide majority and to, at least, a great many in the USA.

- Israel, the present citadel of Judaism, is presently ruled over by the Likud/ Israel Beituna of Lieberman with the unflinching support of the Settlers; the ultra of the declared and visible fanatics of Judaism .

- Islamic fanaticism is presently far of any position of influence in any major, or even minor, Islamic state .
Islamic fanatics are also, by public consensus, far of ever achieving such a position through general public acceptance versus the Christian and Jewish varieties which did through general pubic acceptance.

A minor fact is that the author cites, in his amplification, Mr. Roberston of presidential ambitions and world wide, multi confessional, fame and visibility and Mr. Hagee and juxtaposes them to a certain Sa'id Ayyub, that I, not an uninterested person, never heard of before!

Interestingly Ovadia Yosef, the grand Sepheradi rabbi in Israel , merits no mention although he would amply qualify to join Roberston,Hagee and this Sa’id Ayyb.

As ultimately only one of the many missives that indirectly, extol or fail to condemn by ommission , the neocon Judo/Christian pact against Islam, the facts therein do need both serious revision/amplification or, barring that , will leave this post as it seems to be: another missive in the service of that “cause”!

Arnold Shcherban - 9/29/2009

Sure you enjoyed religious tales, since they are so similar to your US-US-Uber-Alles ideological rants.

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/28/2009

I'm not superstitious about Armageddon, but it does look as if Obama has pushed Bebe N. into a prompt attack on Teheran, which could be a good start.

Craig Michael Loftin - 9/28/2009

People of all faiths and cultural backgrounds have been predicting the end of time since, well, the beginning of time. So far, these predictions have come true exactly zero percent of the time.

Steven Alfred Smith - 9/28/2009

The web site offers much great literature that is totally backed by your own bible ( . For so long we all have been deceived . Satan is the master deceiver and liar !! He loves masterminding deceit pretending to be an angel of the light while being the King of the airways .

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent called Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him

Satan has already fooled most of us . We follow holidays like Christmas and Easter that are pagan based and not the least bit biblical . While ignoring what God gave us 7 Holy Days each year that by taking part in them we get to see God's plan for humanity through them .

May27,2012 will be a monumental day as a lot of Biblical Scholars believe to be the day that Christ returns.

When Christ shared no one can know the time or day it was 2000 years ago . There comes a time when this has to be fulfilled
Amo 3:7 For the Lord Jehovah will do nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

I believe we are at that time
Mat 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not the angels of Heaven, but only My Father.
Mat 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man.
Mat 24:38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark.
Mat 24:39 And they did not know until the flood came and took them all away. So also will be the coming of the Son of Man.

These are all biblical scriptures that I learned while studying this website (

Lots of great end-time type stuff for those who love to learn about mans last days ruling over himself !!

We are actually given a 3 AND 1/2 YEAR PERIOD IN DANIEL 12 BEFORE CHRIST RETURNS and again in Revelation 13
Rev 13:5 And a mouth speaking great things was given to it, and blasphemies. And authority was given to it to continue forty-two months.
Again in Revelation 11 God inspired John to write this about the two end time prophets that God sends in the very end days of man's rule over himself
Rev 11:3 And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand, two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

If you want to seek out more great info check out this site . They have two wonderful informative books that they will send along for free when ordered

I believe that the end time events are already steadily coming to pass all around us . The sad thing is the world is so far from understanding that plainly is given all through the Old Testament and paralleled in many cases in the New Testament .

The Trinity , Christmas , Easter , Sunday all false doctrines and not biblically backed up by Scripture .

I dare you all to obey God when He commanded us to Text or prove all things and research it all for yourselves .

It all starts with the 7th day Sabbath that we were commanded to follow forever

Mark Reitz - 9/28/2009

I believe Armageddon was last on tour in Lancaster, PA on June 26, 2009.

John D. Beatty - 9/28/2009

Barack I of Cook County uses the same imagery to address his flock on health care or nearly anything else he REALLY wants to shove down American throats. Demagoguery is nothing new, strange, or unusual. All tyrants use it.

Nancy REYES - 9/27/2009

the paranoia is on the side of those who take things out of context, such as this paper.
There is a lot of discussion about end times in some churches, but almost none in other churches. And even those who argue rarely let it affect their personal behavior.'

However, end times theology is present in other religions, especially Islam, and bashing Christians without mentioning that the President of Iran's belief in the 12th Imman shows lack of intellectual seriousness.

Bill Heuisler - 9/27/2009

Mr. Baigent,
I enjoyed Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but I must take issue with you on a basic premise of this HNN article, more specifically, in the eighth paragraph you state, "But it does not seem pointless to approximately 59 percent of Americans who, according to pollsters, say they believe in the coming battle of Armageddon."

That 59% number is hard to swallow in that only one third polled were paying attention (biblically speaking). If so, the two thirds of Americans who don't even talk about Biblical prophecies can hardly be expected to believe in a part of those very prophecies.

Here's the write up accompanying the poll:
"A TIME/CNN poll finds that more than one-third of Americans say they are paying more attention now to how the news might relate to the end of the world, and have talked about what the Bible has to say on the subject. Fully 59% say they believe the events in Revelation are going to come true, and nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the Sept. 11 attack."

The Time Poll article is misleading and possibly referred to 59% of one third - or just under 20% of Americans believe in the coming of the events in Revelation.

Bill Heuisler

Arnold Shcherban - 9/27/2009

By just discussing the religious tales
one lends them some legitimacy.
Why do that?