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?