Is Griffith More Like Benson’s or Lewis’ Antichrist?

What marks the Antichrist for St. John is not the ability to lead the nations astray or using demonic powers, but by denying that Christ came in the flesh.

While watching Berserk, it struck me that Griffith is essentially a type of Antichrist. Griffith deceives the nations with his power and glamour, has an army of demons at his beck and call, and has gained his power from hell. What could be more like the Antichrist? Yet, this sort of Antichrist is more like how we imagine the Beast in the Apocalypse, even though the word “Antichrist” is only found in the epistles of St. John.

Most people neglect to consider the Antichrist in the terms of St. John, even though this understanding is of course linked to St. Paul reference to the “lawless one” (2 Thess. 2: 1-4) and the Beast of the Apocalypse (Rev. 13: 11-17). What marks the Antichrist for St. John is not the ability to lead the nations astray or using demonic powers, but by denying that Christ came in the flesh (2 John 1: 7, 2 John 4: 2-3). This John wrote to combat the Gnostic heresy of his times. Later, the Arian heresy would arise, which denied the divinity of Christ, and I have no doubt St. John would also have dubbed Arians Antichrists also (cf. 1 John 5: 5-11). Most heresies are Christological, and these tend to deny either the divinity or the humanity of Christ.

Both extremes fall short of the truth expressed in the doctrine of the Incarnation, which is expressed thus in the Athanasian Creed: “Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believes faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ….our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world….Equal to the Father, as touching His Godhead; and inferior as touching his manhood.” The spirit of the Antichrist never fails to attack the divinity or the humanity of Christ, who unites both natures within his Person.

The reason for this lies in that every man seeks the truth—the truth which will fulfill his being. The Church teaches that Truth is really a Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who fulfills the deepest longings of the human heart. So, the spirit of the Antichrist either makes people see reality as purely physical so they reject the idea of a divine Messiah (e.g. Materialism) or salvation as purely spiritual so that they reject the idea of Christ’s humanity (e.g. Catharism).

Two famous modern authors who describe these two sorts of Antichrists are Robert Hugh Benson and C. S. Lewis. Benson’s The Lord of the World describes a time when communists and the materialist worldview has triumphed. This novel was written before the world wars and reflects the proud confidence of the Progressive Era, which saw human civilization as progressing greatly in technology. And so, secular humanity ends by deifying mankind itself and comes to see a Vermont Senator named Bernie Sanders Julian Felsenburgh as deified humanity in its highest form. But, original sin still afflicts humanity, and the nations under the Antichrist rapidly pursue self-destructive behaviors, including persecution of the Church.  And then, the end comes.

On the other hand, Lewis and his generation had endured the sobering reality of man’s wickedness in two world wars when That Hideous Strength was published in 1945. Humanity—or, to speak more precisely, the West—lost confidence in itself. But, like those people mentioned in the Apocalypse who blame God because they were punished for their sins, they continued to turn away from God and sought the solution to their troubles in trying to reshape humanity. The villains in That Hideous Strength are precisely of this kind: they have all sorts of schemes for remodeling human nature and take their orders from a severed head, from which an evil spirit speaks. (And why not take orders from a severed head?  Do human beings really need bodies?)  In the end, these transhumanist Antichrists are defeated by a revolt of nature itself.

Which sort of Antichrist afflicts the Church during these days? Does it deny human nature or the human spirit? My own opinion is that Anti-Christian philosophies tend to deny human nature these days, along the same lines as Lewis describes. (People love speaking against marriage, family, patriarchy, and biological sex these days, don’t they?) Conversely, Griffith is the sort who tries to shackle the human spirit. He has droves of willing slaves, and by slavery they get food and protection, but not higher things.  What is the opinion of our dear readers?

Medieval Otaku is essentially a bookworm. His greatest loves are writing, anime, literature, history, religion, and foreign and ancient language, especially Japanese, Latin, and French. He hopes to become a full-time novelist one day, though each day offers endless ways to distract him from this happy goal.
12 Comments on this post.

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  • Gaheret
    28 June 2017 at 6:51 pm

    That´s a very medieval-otakuish title. The “latest” column in the right does not include the author, but I knew it was yours immediatly.

    The Antichrist… I remember trying to convince the chaplain of my school that Superman had nothing to do with him. In a way, I was wrong. The Antichrist is, in my way, some kind of Superman, althought not our fictional alien reporter from Smalville, Kansas, but rather a man who seems to have “surpassed” humanity and invites us to follow his way instead of the way of the Lord. From the book of Revelation, we may have a big, iconic individual with these attributes, but in the way there are a lot more who fit the description. Benson and Lewis are great in their depiction of modern evil. I would add to their work Vladimir Soloviev´s insightful “A Short Story of Antichrist”, in which he is a Bible scholar who is a doctor in theology by Tübingen´s University who has written “The open road to peace and prosperity”, Serial Experiments Lain transhumanist villain Eiri Masami, Dostoievsky´s magnetic and cold Prince Nikolai from “Demons” or the donkey disguised as Aslan in Narnia´s Cronichles.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your last remark. You synthetize what I have thought for a long time now. For us, the Universe is a Patriarchy, because its ruler is a loving and powerful Father. Still, this word is despised and vilified, identified with opression and answered with contempt and rebellion. But rebellion against fatherhood is diabolical in nature (St. John Paul II, by the way, said so in his “Sign of contradiction”), because the one who rebels seeks not to be a son, a daughter, being “free” of humanity, nature and body, having only self-given meaning, being one´s own principle, one´s own creator, “to be like gods”. But that´s not our way. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and St. Joseph were patriarchs: trusting men, sons who were also called to be fathers in the Father and kings in the King, and this didn´t lead them to supress or deny the glory, power, unique dignity or personality of women, youngsters and children around them, but rather affirmed it in a spectacular way, as St. Joseph with Our Lady and Jesus Christ, because just power is entirely subordinated to service and love. They tried to be custodians of those among them. I´m convinced that the West needs this sign of the patriarch, more than ever has.

    Rebellion against Nature (biology, body, sex, family) has always be deemed as more diabolical than abuse of Nature, because it involves a more disruptive effect (even when is not intentional or guilty) and requires more malice in the part of the rebel. Moreover, it brings its own punishment, as you have pointed. That´s undoubtely part of the Antichrists of our time, and I would add the rejection of the concept of truth, moral relativism and seeing the world as a product at the reach of the hand…

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    • Luminas
      30 June 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Most people who have a grudge against “the patriarchy” have this grudge for a reason, though. If you have been assaulted by a stranger (or more likely, a friend) who felt entitled to your body, or brutally abused by the husband who was supposed to protect you, or beaten by the father who was supposed to rule benevolently over you…How can you possibly *not?* How can you possibly view God as a Father if your father was an emotionally abusive, narcissistic drunk who yelled at your mother every two weeks and relied on you for emotional validation? You can’t. Although for many people (including me), it is a lot more complicated than that….

      Still, the one whom I love presented himself as a lover and a military superior to me, and not a Father. And there’s a reason for that.

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      • Luminas
        30 June 2017 at 1:03 pm

        Still, for everything that happened, it’s impossible for me not to love my own Dad. Probably because he never mistrusted me, never yelled at me (more than necessary ;] ), loved…me. With all his heart. I just wish it didn’t seem sometimes like I was the only person he trusted.

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        • Gaheret
          30 June 2017 at 8:25 pm

          Luminas! Were not for your comments, I would be the only multi-paragraph commenter here at Beneath the Tangles (and Medieval Otaku, probably), and that would be lonely and less interesting. I´m grateful. And I agree, also about the false split. “Corruptio optimi pessima”: some of my friends were hurt deeply by one or both of their parents, and that wounds are still present between them and God. I have a female friend that, loving Christ and Our Lady deeply, is physically incapable of standing in a Church or looking to her images. The trauma starts to come out, and she has to leave. She is healing little by little, though… I would say that, in fact, there is no thing as harmful as a good thing turned evil. Perhaps every human father will fail us someday, but when they actually hurt us, they wound our whole world, they create a hole in our hearts.

          I still thing that the ideal of the patriarch, the man-custodian-father, is different from its corrupted deviations: the man as a fearful predator, the man as a capricious tyrant, the man as a rigid and merciless punisher, the man as a timid Kitty Genovese abstentionist, the man as an uncompromising bystander. Only the one who fights to be chaste is capable of chivalry and self-control and thus, of seeing a woman as a person. Only the one who fights to be strong and trustworthy will be able to support people around him. Only the one who truly cares will try to serve them with all his talents and strenghts, and so on. Rebellion against false ideals is necessary, just and noble, “entitled to another´s body” is an aberration, and few things are more dangerous that a seeming saint which is evil in the inside, a pharisee, because he would distort our image of the good. But it cannot stop there: the fight needs rebellion and restoration, destruction and reconstruction, even if it´s little-by-little. My friend cannot enter a church now, but she can read theology, for example, and rejoice. Likewise, maybe you can love better a lover and a military superior today. “Not love yet, because it will be love for the wong thing, no hope yet, because it will be hope for the wrong thing”. We are sometimes wandering in the dark like that: we know which is only by which is not.

          A man will have to try to embrace true fatherhood (material or spiritual) in the end, only because there is no real alternative.

          I once heard that the main lesson of a good father is teaching his children how to play. A game has a purpose. It has its intrinsic rules: cheating is destroying the game. You must learn to win, to lose and that either way, you´re still yourself and you´re still unconditionally loved. You must get involved for the game to be enjoyable. You must put your talents to test, but not in a dreadful way, but in a stimulating one. You´re supossed to have fun. All these things have supernatural parallels which are important.

          I´ll pray for yours, by the way. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • medievalotaku
      2 July 2017 at 12:15 pm

      It’s interesting that you discussed Superman as a possible Antichrist. My father recalled debating with a professor of his over whether Superman was a Christ figure–offering a very this worldly salvation however! But, people opining on whether a character more reflects Christ or the Anti-Christ makes sense: the most famous Renaissance depiction of the Antichrist makes him look as our Lord is commonly depicted–yet, with a devil whispering at his ear. So, the two might appear similar to the eye, but the difference will be in the fruits of their deeds.

      What you wrote brings out a unique thing about Christianity: just power and authority are always tied to service. Sadly, the powerful often use their power for their own ends; though, among authority figures, fathers are among the least likely to tyrannize those under them. They love their children after all! But, Marxist philosophy hates the family, and so they conflate fathers with the tyrants in order to discourage people from forming families. And then, they attempt to paint fathers as stupid to further chip away at the ideals of the family and patriarchy. It’s all very insidious.

      In the case of Rebellion against Nature, besides having more malice, it also has pride raised to a special level of insanity. The absolute belief in the plasticity of human nature found in That Hideous Strength was bloodcurdling. They essentially desired to create a certain society without considering what makes for human happiness. How can a society be good without taking the highest good into account?

      I’ll try to read those works you mentioned. And, I’m happy to hear that you so eagerly picked up my article. 🙂

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  • Luminas
    29 June 2017 at 11:09 am

    That last screencap almost made me do a spit take. Because I have never seen this show, nor have the authors and I met. We’re separated by an ocean and a gulf of culture and understanding. But I have absolutely seen that image, because I “made it up.” I’m continually stunned by how basically universal certain imagery and associations are. On to the actual substance of the post here:

    “Which sort of Antichrist afflicts the Church during these days? Does it deny human nature or the human spirit? My own opinion is that Anti-Christian philosophies tend to deny human nature these days, along the same lines as Lewis describes. (People love speaking against marriage, family, patriarchy, and biological sex these days, don’t they?) Conversely, Griffith is the sort who tries to shackle the human spirit. He has droves of willing slaves, and by slavery they get food and protection, but not higher things. What is the opinion of our dear readers?”

    I think there’s a false split here. One necessarily would lead to the other, no? Granted I don’t agree with you on the structure of human nature as described here (as there isn’t a planet on which many of those I most love would fit into your “ordinary human nature”), but basically…Deprive someone of access to the spiritual and they necessarily also lose meaning in the human. Similarly, most modern anti-Christianity sorts deny both the humanity and the divinity of Christ, in a sense, positing that He was “just some weird guy” or (more commonly) that He was never a concrete, real person. Either that, or the atheist/agnostic simply doesn’t care. People with a more complex take on the whole subject posit that Christ did exist (because there is evidence of that), but that He was not Him. Instead, He was mythologized by the Christian communities thereafter and conflated with the divinity present in much more ancient human belief systems.

    I tend to err on the side of Him being real, because it seems very unlikely that someone else could simultaneously vehemently dislike and respect someone that does not exist so personally. : P

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    • medievalotaku
      2 July 2017 at 2:27 pm

      The image is quite interesting, but the most interesting thing about it is that it’s not universal. Most pictures with kings in them, which I recall, have the king’s face as part of the picture. (Griffith essentially holds the place of a king.) Most of the time, the focus is on the king. Even when it’s on his subjects, one can usually still see his face at least in profile. Kentaro Miura is renown for the detail his panels contain, and this still frame is likely borrowed from there. What does it mean for Griffith’s face to be hidden in this image? Actually, Griffith is very frequently shown from the back or such that we can’t see his face. Why? I don’t have the answer.

      You’re right that separating the human spirit from human nature is something like a false split, in that a body without a soul is a corpse and the soul without a body a ghost. Human beings only experience reality as a body-soul composite on this side of the grave, which is why the happiness of the saint–beyond all measure as it is–lacks some completeness which will only be fulfilled at the resurrection of the body.

      But, the interesting thing about people being a body-soul composite lies in them also existing on a kind of continuum. Some people live in a hearty and down to earth fashion, others are more rational, and a few seem rather angelic. The spirit of the Antichrist makes us want either to live solely by the passions or to deem our own reason God. Yet, when one lives either just by passion or by reason uncurbed by authority or tradition, it’s bad for both body and soul.

      I do think that atheists who are very passionate about denying God’s existence likely do think that He exists, but they hate Him. It’s very hard to passionately hate unicorns and leprechauns, because everyone knows these don’t exist. But, those who actually don’t believe God exists act like the agnostics you mention.

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  • MithrandirOlorin
    2 July 2017 at 6:02 pm

    My view of The Antichrist has become very unconventional. I don’t think he’ll be a Man of Peace.

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    • medievalotaku
      4 July 2017 at 1:16 pm

      It’s certainly impossible for the Antichrist to be a Man of Peace interiorly. Robert Hugh Benson in Lord of the World gives the theory that the Antichrist brings about world peace. This and a certain irresistible attraction makes people declare the Antichrist the ruler of the world. But, once the world is under his rule, his followers begin to persecute the disciples of Christ. Similar to Benson, Lewis also imagines the forces of the Antichrist working against the people within a nation at peace with other countries.

      To mention another thing about Lord of the World, Benson thought that if war had struck, this might lead people to seek God again. War often brings about humiliation and suffering, which God often permits to correct human arrogance. This idea struck me as rather interesting.

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      • Gaheret
        5 July 2017 at 5:19 pm

        That´s the Biblical idea of Plague, mostly forgotten today but present in all the Scripture, particularly in Genesis, Exodus, Jeremiah and Revelation: famine, disease, war and death, as well as catastrophes, floodings, cataclisms, fearful signs or forced exiles as last-resource, extraordinary means with which God creates an opportunity to save some who would be lost forever otherwise. We as Christians will always experience things like that, one way or another. When meditating this, I always remember Our Lord crying over Jerusalem and prophesying its destruction, a passage which always touched me: He will always be the one who suffers the most, but still, He will take the scalpel when it´s the only way, and I find that comforting.

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  • MarzocchiZ1
    12 July 2017 at 7:20 am

    An insightful article. I think however, the type of Antichrist differs for each region. The majority in the West faces the problem of materialism and “freedom of expression” so to speak (I call it the Greek problem mentioned by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 22-23), but from where I’m from the main problem is the persecution of the dominant religion against the rest (the Jew problem). There is a sort of elitism among the masses that “my religion is better than yours”.

    The persecutions can be quite subtle or straightforward. Politicians and governors are slandered and jailed essentially because they do not subscribe to the country’s official religion. Certain words are made exclusive for the dominant religion and cannot be used by others because they “may confuse the people.” Converting into the dominant religion entitles you to greater business and financial benefits from the government. Attempting to convert out of the dominant religion will earn you a trip to the religious “rehabilitation centre” for “re-education” until you renounce your decision.

    I hear there are still some nations in the West with a similar problem though. An acquaintance of mine related her experience at WYD Poland, where non-Catholics were particularly scrutinised, to put it in a polite way. Whichever form it takes I feel that it is the local diocese who are most suited to address and initiate the stand against the Antichrists at their respective regions.

    Disclaimer: it is not my intention to criticise any one’s belief/religion here. Coming from a multi-racial country, I come across people from all walks of life who I am good terms with; and I respect and welcome any opinion which differs from mine =)

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    • Medieval Otaku
      12 July 2017 at 1:51 pm

      I think you might more be thinking of the problem of religious tolerance than the Antichrist here. Christianity has traditionally promoted the ideas of freedom of choice and freedom of conscience–even if that conscience should be developed with the aid of Church authority. However, most people want to live in rather uniform cultures with a unifying principle based on race, religion, or political ideology–or some combination of these.

      America is very unique in the history of the world in having the primary test one of political ideology: we’re willing to accept anyone who believes people have a right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness as well as a preference for republican government. Monarchists, anarchists, collectivists, and other proponents of illiberal systems are tolerated, but they are lesser citizens than republicans/democrats with a preference for a liberal society. The obvious reason for this is because America would become something fundamentally different if it became, for example, a socialist state or a monarchy with a fundamentalist society.

      America’s political system and ideas (as well as other Liberal ideologies) have been very influential in the 20th century. But, other countries don’t share the same experience. Poland suffered from the ravages of the Germans and the Russians, which both tried to destroy their culture. Hence, they’re highly distrustful of anyone who is not Polish or Catholic. In general, one sees more prejudice in cultures which other cultures tried to mar or destroy (e.g. all Slavic countries) and less prejudice in cultures which have not had to deal with that (the United States and Canada come to mind). But, it’s hard to find a country which does not favor preserving its culture.

      The problem of the Antichrist is one of a false religion, atheism, or the diabolic persecuting the Church. (Of course, all false religion and atheism has the Father of Lies as its origin.) The unchristian acts of Christians harm the mission of the Church, but the Antichrist must necessarily be outside of the Church.

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