As with any professional specialty, religious system, or hobby—and for Americans, the Apocalypse is all of those things crammed into the same burrito—there’s a frustrating “inside baseball” quality to any End-Times discussion. You’ve got a bunch of terms you may have heard before but don’t really understand. Some multisyllabic theological concepts that sound so esoteric they’d baffl e even Left Behind fanatics. Then there’s that perfect volume of clarity, the book of Revelation. Yep, the end of the world has a lingo all its own.
Which is why being stuck with some guy who’s convinced the planet is just one or two fulfilled prophecies away from doom can be annoying. Mostly because he’s so passionate, he’s practically spitting. But also because you have no idea what he’s yapping about. Seven Seals? Premillennial dispensationalism? What? It’s not too different from being cornered by a near-sighted model train enthusiast who’s prattling on about his N-Scale Bachman Spectrum Doodlebug and the elaborate environment he’s constructed for it to chug through. Only in this case, the teensy village with its wee bridges and sawmills and midget-bonsai fir trees is going to be annihilated by the fiery wrath of God.
And seeing how that’s the subject of this book and everything, this is probably a good time for a crash course on apocalyptic geekspeak. So park your Doodlebug and enjoy.
A chief fallen angel and/or demon of Satan who ascends from the bottomless pit to wreak mayhem, according to Revelation 9:11. He’s more than just your average chief fallen angel, though. This dude’s the King of the Locusts, which are deadly assassins loosed during the fifth trumpet blast for the purpose of torturing nonbelievers. Also known by the Greek name Apollyon, Abaddon is Hebrew for “destroyer,” and such names aren’t given lightly. Very horrifying.
Not to be confused with: The German death-metal band of the same name, renowned for their combination of classical music with melodic black metal and philosophical lyrics. Also horrifying, but in a completely different way.
Please use it in a sentence: Don’t select that mangy dog from the pound. It might be Abaddon.
The theological belief that there will not be a literal thousand-year earthly reign, or millennium, as described in Revelation 20. Instead, amillennialists interpret the “thousand years” more along the lines of “a really super-long time.” They explain that we’re already sailing along through the millennium—that the kingdom of God is now present in this world, through the institution of the Church and in the hearts of believers—and all the End-Times events in the Bible either have already taken place or are fi gurative. Up until the nineteenth century, this was the prevailing belief of most Christians. (See chapter 5 for a more in-depth discussion of amillennialism.)
Please use it in a sentence: Amillennialism, as a theory, was f rst introduced by Saint Augustine. Though, back then, he was just known as “Augustine.”
A false messiah and the primary tool of Old Scratch on earth during the Last Days. Usually predicted to be a final world ruler who deceives the masses by promising such yummies as international peace and a one-world government. He gets his followers good and seduced with a number of impressive tricks. These include (but are not limited to) performing fraudulent miracles, controlling the world’s economy, and break-dancing. (Maybe not that last one.) The Antichrist is akin to a devious evil twin of Jesus, in that his hidden agenda is not just the world domination thing but also to oppose Christianity by torturing and destroying all those who refuse to lick his proverbial boots. But not for long, as Jesus also has an agenda—to expose the Antichrist as a fraud, go medieval on his pointy satanic tail during the battle of Armageddon, and reign for a thousand years in his stead. According to dispensationalist theology, the Antichrist is scheduled to appear halfway through the Tribulation. There will be a parade.
Many people throughout history have been pegged as the Antichrist, including the Roman Emperor Nero, Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Gates. (See chapter 4 for more than you ever wanted to know about candidates for the Antichrist.) Being named a potential Antichrist is kind of an honor, if you can look past the whole “personification of evil” thing.
Please use it in a sentence: I blame the frequent crashing of my computer on Bill Gates, who is the Antichrist.
The devastating event—whether by supernatural forces, natural forces, or some sort of human action—that results in total destruction of society, the world, the universe, your kitchen sink, you name it. It’s often used synonymously with the Second Coming of Christ. Occasionally it’s used as another name for the New Testament book of Revelation. In fact, the word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalypsis, which means “the lifting of a veil”—a revelation. So now you know.
Not to be confused with: Apocalypse, the immortal mutant supervillain in the Marvel Comics’ Marvel Universe who didn’t get along very well with the X-Men. (This entry applicable to comic book fanboys only.)
Please use it in a sentence: I would prefer the Apocalypse to result from a wayward asteroid rather than nuclear holocaust, but I’m not saying why.