1. What does Soloviev suggest is the authenticity of religion, and how does the “power of the world” seek to corrupt it?
Soloviev discusses the coming of the Anti-Christ. Here, the opposite of Christ displaying the message of the devil creates terms that are agreeable and correlating to social standards. This causes the world to find it easy to support his ideals as they are easier to follow. He gives the world an easy way out catered to modern ideals of a more nationalist environment. This idea suggests that the authenticity or religion would stem from tradition. Here tradition is not in the sense of a practice used over time. Rather it is the saying that while ideals change, ideals of truth given to us by God remain eternal. The powers of the world corrupt this by twisting the virtues given to them into what’s more convenient, almost to the point where they become completely untruthful from their origin. This thwarts the system by allowing the people to either reinvent or abolish the teachings of the gospel.
The desires of the heart are pure. However society tries to use those desires and twist them into something more sinister. They create systems and ideologies that try to tell one what he desires in order to gain from it. “The Anti Christ” in this story does exactly that. He creates a system that is the antithesis of the bible in order to shift people towards devilish desires. He tries to gain the power of respect that people exude towards Christ in order to fulfill his need for attention after his jealousy for Christ. However with a revelation of the truth, the Christians foil his scheme through self-freedom.
2. How does the modern problem of the dictatorship of relativism parallel the story of The Anti-Christ?
According to Cardinal Ratzinger, relativism is a false form of Christianity “that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires”. In other words, it is adjusting Christianity towards one’s ideals or what one wants. It’s being a ‘cafeteria catholic’ who metaphorically puts every part of Catholicism they want on the tray, but omits the ‘foods’ or virtues they find more challenging from their plate. Many people do this having a faith “that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty.”
In The Anti-Christ, the Anti Christ uses this as an advantage. He bases a new bible and new teachings off of what people want rather than what they need. Thus people agree with him instantaneously. The bible includes beliefs that adjust to every religion throughout the world, unable to offend anyone. However it became so inclusive in that it expelled its very background as a faith. On page 5 he says “I shall unite it (humanity) by benefits which are as much needed by good as by evil people.” In order to include everyone’s beliefs, it became a system without beliefs. The new bible became relative to the point of anti-religion similarly to relativism. This bible also did not mention Christ physically taking Christ out of Christianity. The lack of faith also metaphorically takes Christ and his values out of Christianity as well. He later simplified the papacy and reformed the world socially rather than spiritually.
3. What challenges does relativism pose to the modern world?
Relativism poses the problem of the omission of Christianity all together. The bible itself is filled with teachings passed down from generations and generations. Yet the very anecdotes have miraculously applied to every time period without evolvements in the text. The bible unifies Christians with the same code of conduct. This code instills values derived not of the people or of a single society. Rather it comes from God, from heaven, from something greater than ourselves. If the bible’s messages are twisted to meet new standards, it is always changing. When the bible has temporary foundation with virtues that are subject to change, then why even have a bible at all? There is no security in religion that God’s original message is maintained when it can be easily and subjectively altered by a multitude of people throughout the ages. In Ratzinger’s homily he says “a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth…and it is this faith –only this faith- that creates unity and is fulfilled in love.” One can see the negative effects of an immature faith in the “Anti-Christ”. Here we see a society that is so focused on being “agreeable to be accepted” (Ratzinger, 8) to the point where they would bow down to someone who denied the power of Christ. The modern world needs to be aware of this as similarly they often succumb to values that are Anti-Christian because they are agreeable. For example, many people support gay marriage. In our time period gay rights have been well established and gay pride has become more accepted through the media’s portrayal of homosexuality with people such as Frank Ocean or Kurt and Blaine on glee. Not to say that this is wrong, but it has shaped the way people have defined marriage as it is now more acceptable to have a union between members of the same sex. However in the bible it defines marriage as something between a man and a man.
4. What hope does the modern world have to overcome this challenge?
In “A Short Story of the Anti-Christ” society supports the anti-Christ except a small select group of people. The Anti-Christ, at this point he is also the emperor, asks what they need from him. In other words, he asks what they value most in Christianity. The Elder John then replies “What we value most in Christianity is Christ himself. We are ready to accept any gift from you, if only we recognize the holy hand of Christ in your generosity.” This passage is powerful as it leaves us with a sliver of hope. The small group can overcome there surroundings by maintaining their authentic faith. They persevere by sticking to their values and having a genuine love for Christ. The society of the modern world needs to maintain strength within their faith in order to overcome relativistic ideals. The Christian community needs to maintain Tradition and put an emphasis on the bible rather than the media.
- “Do You Reject Satan, and All of his Pomps and All of his Pomp?” (definingjerica.wordpress.com)
- The Anti Christ and his agenda, Satanic vision (daileytalks.wordpress.com)
- Christmas in an Anti-Christian Age (flyoverpress.wordpress.com)