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Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession [Paperback]

By Robert C. Fuller (Author)
Our Price $ 33.59  
Retail Value $ 34.99  
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Item Number 160270  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.94" Width: 5.26" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1996
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195109791  
EAN  9780195109795  

Availability  82 units.
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Item Description...
The Antichrist, though mentioned a mere four times in the Bible, and then only obscurely, has exercised a tight hold on popular imagination throughout history. This has been particularly true in the U.S., says author Robert C. Fuller, where Americans have tended to view our nation as uniquely blessed by God--a belief that leaves us especially prone to demonizing our enemies. In Naming the Antichrist, Fuller takes us on a fascinating journey through the dark side of the American religious psyche, from the earliest American colonists right up to contemporary fundamentalists such as Pat Robertson and Hal Lindsey.
Fuller begins by offering a brief history of the idea of the Antichrist and its origins in the apocalyptic thought in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and traces the eventual 71Gws how the colonists saw Antichrist personified in native Americans and French Catholics, in Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and the witches of Salem, in the Church of England and the King. He looks at the Second Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century, showing how such prominent Americans as Yale president Timothy Dwight and the Reverend Jedidiah Morse (father of Samuel Morse) saw the work of the Antichrist in phenomena ranging from the French Revolution to Masonry. In the twentieth century, he finds a startling array of hate-mongers--from Gerald Winrod (who vilified Roosevelt as a pawn of the Antichrist) to the Ku Klux Klan--who drew on apocalyptic imagery in their attacks on Jews, Catholics, blacks, socialists, and others. Finally, Fuller considers contemporary fundamentalist writers such as Hal Lindsey (author of The Late Great Planet Earth, with some 19 million copies sold), Mary Stewart Relfe (whose candidates for the Antichrist have included such figures as Henry Kissinger, Pope John Paul II, and Anwar Sadat), and a host of others who have found Antichrist in the sinister guise of the European Economic Community, the National Council of Churches, feminism, New Age religions, and even supermarket barcodes and fibre optics (the latter functioning as "the eye of the Antichrist"). Throughout, Fuller reveals in vivid detail how our unique American obsession with the Antichrist reflects the struggle to understand ourselves--and our enemies--within the mythic context of the battle of absolute good versus absolute evil.
From the Scofield Reference Bible (no other book had greater impact on the American Antichrist tradition) to the Scopes Monkey Trial, Fuller provides an informative and often startling look at a thread that weaves persistently throughout American religious and cultural life.

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More About Robert C. Fuller

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Robert C. Fuller is Professor of Religious Studies at Bradley University. His many books have focused on a wide range of topics, such as the cultural history of psychology, alternative medicine, and contemporary American religious thought.

Robert C. Fuller currently resides in Peoria, in the state of Illinois. Robert C. Fuller was born in 1952 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Lancaster, Pennsylvania Bradley University Bradley University Bradley.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Us and Them  Jul 1, 2006
Anyone familiar with Evangelical Christianity of the last forty years could probably reel off at least a half-dozen proposed candidates for the Antichrist. In Naming the Antichrist, Robert Fuller demonstrates how often crises within the nation and the American Church have precipitated the naming of religious and/or secular forces within the country as minions of the Antichrist. In so doing, he connects the theme of a satanic influence seeking to undermine the nation's status as a bastion of true Christianity forming out of the experiences of the Puritan influence in the British colonies in America and passed down as a unique element of our American heritage.

Fuller begins his exposition with an overview of the history of the concept of an antichrist. His view of the Biblical texts largely assumes secular biases and is the most unsatisfying aspect of the book. However, it has little bearing on what follows and can largely be ignored. The book begins to hit home with the assumption of many Protestant Reformers that the papacy was the Antichrist predicted in Scripture. This assumption - born in the struggles of the Reformation and its aftermath - was gradually discarded by many European Protestants over time but became etched in the collective consciousness of those who left for America.

The Elizabethen Settlement, with a compromise between Protestant and Catholic sensibilities, was totally unsatisfactory for the Puritans who wanted a church completely devoid of any remains of Roman ritualism. Cromwell's bloody revolution and the tyranny that followed soured the English on Puritan ideals and after the Restoration many of their negan a trek that would bring them to America. With them they brought their intense hatred of Catholics as the legendary "other" as they sought to build their "city on a hill." With no Catholics around to dread, the Antichrist rhetoric was put on a back burner but there was an inherent assumption that they were building the great Christian society free of popish influence. On the occasions that their hegemony was threatened, the natural inclination was to attribute a sinister motive with Rome as the likely power behind the nefarious plot.

The ineveitable assertion of British control over the colonies with its Church and "popish" Common Prayer was, of course, an obvious source of displeasure. But even events within their own communities were seen as threats. The perception of threats from without and within engendered a sense of trepidation that could and did veer out of control when a loss of their beloved "perfect Christian society" seemed imminent. The events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials demonstrates how events that could not be explained by their categories of thought could be combined with this fear to produce tragic results.

Out of this foundation came a tradition of "naming the Antichrist" as a method of closing debate, separaing "us" and "them", villifying the enemy, and protecting the societal hegemony. Whether the enemy be Catholic France (in the French and Indian War) or later the British (in America's war for independence), the struggle was painted in apocalyptic terms with the enemy an agent of the devil himself. Of course, many prominent Americans who supported these causes were Englightenment thinkers who were aghast at their allies rhetoric but were grateful for the wide support it generated. Thus the sometimes strage allies we see today with intellectual neoconservatives and Evangelical Christians is itself a tradition with a heritage.

This pattern would continue throughout the 19th century. Americans attempted to construct their "perfect society" that would transform the world with evangelization, orphanages, soup kitchens, temperance movements, and other social endeavors and a postmillennial eschatology dominated. During stable periods, the antichrist rhetoric would recede but resurfaced when a threat was percieved. These could be in the form of Enlightenment philosophy, Freemasonry, or Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Europe. During the Civil War, anti-slavery forces in the North and pro-slavery forces in the South demonized each other as Satan's minions.

The loss of Protestant hegemony in the 20th century brought an end to the dream of the "perfect Christian society" and there was a retreat into a pessimistic view and a developing dispensationalist eschatology. Yet the overall pattern for "naming the Antichrist" has become such a staple of American life that it survived in new forms. Theological modernists who disagree with all that came before now seek to build their perfect society and demonize opposition in a more secularized form. Our political discourse is centered on the inference of nefarious motives by the opposition. And, of course, Evangelicals have continued the unbroken American tradition of pointing to an enemy as the son of perdition.

Throughout his analysis, Fuller resists the temptation to sit in judgment but takes the role of historical analysis seriously. He provides a framework for understanding how American Protestantism achieved its distinctive elements and how this affected the country's history. For those seeking to understand the American tendency to see itself as a land of destiny and to see all of its conflicts - both foreign and domestic - in apocalyptic terms, Naming the Antichrist is essential reading.

Thoroughly researched, fascinating and scholarly...  Feb 17, 2006
First off the reviewer who said this book reveals how "dangerous Christianity" is completely off the mark and does this book a disservice. This book is not a critique of Christian values, culture or doctrine - it is merely a well researched glimpse at the history of the "Antichrist" (as either an individual or group) throughout history from it's roots in antiquity up to the modern age.

It's true that throughout history individuals and institutions have used the image and language surrounding the Antichrist to demonize (pun intended) individuals or groups of people. Today we in the 21st century can look back on this persecution through the lens of temporal ethnocentrism and deem such behavior immoral. But that's not the goal of this book.

Naming the Antichrist is a sober, unbiased examination of the history of the "Antichrist" in doctrine and popular culture. It is a well researched, if somewhat dry read that is fascinating to history buffs and potentially valuable to students and other researchers.

Further, anyone who is interested by the concept of the Antichrist would do well to read this book - particularly in light of our modern era's fascination with dispensationalism and it's impact on world politics. Fans of Left Behind or Hal Lindsey can brush up on the historical underpinnings of some of the concepts they weave in to their fiction.

I give it four stars instead of five because it is a dry read at times. Fuller set out to write a scholarly work and succeeded.
Tells the truth that Christian conspiracies hide.  Jun 24, 1999
If you want to find out just how dangerous Christianity can be, READ THIS BOOK.
Fascinating and thought-provoking  May 8, 1999
A fascinating and thought-provoking book. A balanced and objective study of one of the most disturbing phenomenons of the 20th century. Prof. Fuller's chronological approach, starting with the early days of Christianity, immediately compels the reader to follow through the centuries and the rise and fall of the apocalyptic world-view and Christian extremism.

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