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The Glenn Beck, Mahdism & Antichrist series

[ by Charles Cameron ]


Glenn Beck has a new documentary coming out tonight on Mahdism and the Antichrist.

He calls it “the documentary that you will not see on mainstream television” and to get to see it, you have to be a subscriber to Beck’s Insider Extreme channel on the web. But then that fits with Beck’s emphasis right now — he doesn’t mind crying shame on the media for not carrying the documentary, but he doesn’t want unbelievers to see it either — he told his radio audience today:

Make sure you see it tonight at nine o’clock. And if I may recommend that you watch it with some friends. Invite some friends over, some like-minded people, don’t try to get any converts in. Pull up the nets, man, pull up the nets.

So okay — it won’t be on “mainstream television” but it will be seen in a million “like-minded” homes, and it will influence them, it will influence their perspective on Islam, and on the Middle East.

Here’s a description of what they can expect, drawn from Joel Rosenberg‘s blog today. Joel is the author of the apocalyptic thriller The Twelfth Imam, has seen the rough cut and will be appearing on the video, along with those he lists here:

Tonight on his website, Glenn Beck will premiere his new documentary film, “Rumors of War — Part Two.” As with Part One, I was interviewed for the film…

The documentary examines current events and trends in the Middle East and the Islamic world from various vantage points — Biblical End Times theology, Jewish End Times theology, and Islamic End Times theology. It discusses the latest threats from the Radical Islamic world to Israel, the West and our allies. It features a wide range of Jewish, Muslim and evangelical Christian authors and commentators in a balanced yet provocative and fascinating way. Among them:

  • Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N.
  • Reza Kahlili, former CIA agent inside Iran and author of A Time To Betray
  • Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind novel series
  • Brigitte Gabriel, author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It
  • Joel Richardson, author of The Islamic Antichrist
  • Dr. Zudi Jasser, president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy


The thing is, Beck doesn’t know a whole lot about these things, and his advisers get things wrong — sometimes flat out wrong, sometimes just out of proportion — too.

I aim to review Beck’s documentary along with its predecessor, and the books of Joel Richardson and Joel Rosenberg, and also take a look at some other books and articles that cover the same materials with greater scholarship and less religious special interest — notably the works of David Cook, J-P Filiu and Timothy Furnish — clear up some of this issues in which definitive corrections are in order, suggest areas where the preponderance of evidence and informed commentary leans away from Beck’s position, and raise again those urgent questions which remain.

Because from where I sit, Glenn Beck has hit on one of our blind spots — and is giving us a dangerously distorted mirror in which to view it.


Here’s Beck talking about the upcoming documentary this morning on his radio show:

Tonight, you don’t want to miss, on Insider Extreme, something that we have been trying to tell the story for quite some time, and I have told it to you many times before, the story of the Twelfth Imam, well this is not the full story of the Twelfth Imam, this is what people Middle East believe about the Twelfth Imam, or the Mahdi as the… Sunnis? Sunnis are in Egypt, Shias are in, ah, is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around? I think it’s S.. Shias are in Iran. One believes in the Twelfth Imam, the others believe in the Mahdi, same guy, it is the… the… you would know it as the Antichrist. It is the, it has every earmarking of the Antichrist, every single one, I mean, he makes a peace for seven years with Egypt, he viol… — I mean with Israel, he violates it, he marks people with a number, he beheads people if they don’t submit, I mean it’s all there. It’s all there. And Ahmadinejad says that he is alive and well and orchestrating the things in the Middle East.

Did you get that? He’s not sure: “is it Shias in Iran or is it the other way around?”

If Beck has been working on this documentary for a year now, let’s hope he does in fact know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, and that he’s using the popular gag technique of pretending not to know, so his audience — who haven’t all been working on a documentary and may well not know — can feel all the more strongly “he’s one of us”. And besides, Sunni, Shia, it’s all the same, Mahdi, Twelfth Imam, no difference at all, right?

So that’s the level of required accuracy that’s tolerated here. Which side was it wanted to keep slavery? I forget now, I think it may have been the South. Belfast — now is that Catholic, or Protestant?


And one last quick note from the same post on Joel Rosenberg’s blog:

As far as I can tell, Glenn Beck is leaving the Fox News Channel in part because Fox is opposed to him devoting so much time on his program to End Times issues, Bible prophecy, Iran’s eschatology, and the linkage of these things to left wing efforts to sow seeds of revolution and chaos. It’s too bad, really.

That’s an interesting data point.


There will be plenty to talk about, anyway:

the new documentary, Joel Rosenberg’s thriller, which I enjoyed, Joel Richardson, with whom I correspond and whom I like, the new Mahdist video in Iran which is causing quite a stir, and may or may not be an “official” Iranian production, the vexed question — vexed in all three Abrahamic faiths — of whether you can hasten the coming of the Awaited One and if so, how, and the implications of all this both in the United States and in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear program…

The Glenn Beck, Mahdism & Antichrist blog series, coming up.

12 Responses to “The Glenn Beck, Mahdism & Antichrist series”

  1. J. Scott Says:

    Hi Charles, I’m truly interested in this series about Beck. I don’t know much about him, but what I do know gives me pause. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the New Testament is probably aware of the passage in I Thessalonians: "2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief." Or the passage in St. Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
    As for me, those who sensationalize the "end times" are doing it to line their pockets first (and this stuff sells big time)—because wouldn’t someone who was "sure" spend all their waking time converting as many as possible before that "hour?"
    Thanks for a great post! I may even make room for some John Walvoord (I’ve not reviewed Millennial Kingdom in 25 or so years:))!

  2. Seerov Says:

    These Fox documentaries are blatant psychological operations.  There will be a strike on Iran at some point.  These films are necessary to gather support for such a strike.  This is a function that Fox serves.  These are powerful films that use horror movie music on top of disturbing images to actually program viewers minds.  The mind has troubling separating the media from reality.  This is why people sometimes feel a little jumpy after watching a horror movie.  Some part of the mind was programmed by the movie into believing what it just saw and heard.  Wars and rumors of wars also tend to give the hoopleheads a sense of power.  With unemployment not going down, they need something to feel better.
    Of course Fox has its counterparts on the political Left who make similar films about RIGHT WING DANGER IN AMERICA!!!  MSNBC is to Right-wing whites as Fox is to Muslims. 

  3. david ronfeldt Says:

    possibly apropopos what you are up to here, and broadly interesting in any case, is the following extract i just read from a 2010 interview with the late daniel bell, where he remarks about messianism vs utopianism:
    “In a way, I consider myself a utopian.  There’s a book I’ve started to write — I’m not sure I’m ever going to finish it — about the historical tension between messianism and utopianism.  And it is an attack on messianism.  Because I would argue that too many problems of the last two thousand years or so are due to messianism.  A messiah has a great vision, usually of redemption.  Messianism requires following a leader.  It requires pulling everybody into the scheme of a leader.  Whereas utopianism basically consists in co-opting people to build things together.  There is no overall, overarching scheme.  
    “But the historical difficulty of utopianism is precisely that it doesn’t have a messiah, or a similarly overarching, emotionally powerful actor.  So that the tension between utopianism and messianism is frequently to the unfair advantage of the messianic.  I believe more and more that if we can have utopian movements we’ll do better than if we have messianic movements.”
    more at http://www.the-utopian.org/post/3217295807/the-last-word
    i’ve never seen utopianism and messianism contrasted this way.  i’m more accustomed to expecting messianic leaders to promise they’ll create utopias.  bell illuminates a dark contradiction lurking in that kind of expectation / promise.

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    Seerov says, "These Fox documentaries are blatant psychological operations."   
    Non-governmental psyops for the home market, yes, in effect – but I don’t think Fox is behind this one, as it happens – there’s a suggestion that Fox balked at Beck’s end times narrative, and that’s why they let him go…  

  5. Charles Cameron Says:

    David writes, "i’ve never seen utopianism and messianism contrasted this way.  i’m more accustomed to expecting messianic leaders to promise they’ll create utopias.  bell illuminates a dark contradiction lurking in that kind of expectation / promise."
    This looks like it might be a reworking of the "cult" narrative with "charismatic" leader which I have some problems with, but I’d need to see more detail to know…
    I wonder where Bell would put the late Lubavitcher rebbe, whose formula, according to some of his followers, seems to have been "I’ll be Moshiach if you’ll add good deeds into the mix" – see this fascinating billboard.

  6. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi Scott:
    I don’t think Beck is preaching a "date certain" for the End. 
    I do think he’s painting a dangerously inaccurate portrait of Islamic end times theologies to inflame believers in various Christian versions — in a way that’s calculated to arouse what I can only term "false armageddons" – what a concept!

  7. Charles Cameron Says:

    Another point, David, which I’ll return during the course of my overall analysis — Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have traditions of one sort of another that tend to defuse eschatological fervor of the kind that Richard Landes terms semiotic arousal.  The rabbi featured in Beck’s film quotes a Jewish saying of this sort, but doesn’t mention the Prophet’s use of a closely parallel tradition.

  8. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Beck is a transmission belt. As with any temporal institution, when a Gentile is baptized and confirmed as a Latter-day Saint (aka Mormon to you Gentiles), they find themselves a part of a community where the overlap between institutional doctrine and tribal folklore is not entirely clear. It doesn’t help when other Saints are ignorant of where the dividing line is as well. While most Saints (especially here in Zion) lean to the right, some Saints are more right-wing than others. There is a curious strain of thought among these poor souls that mixes unreconstructed (John) Birchery, LDS folklore, borrowed Pentecostal eschatology, and cherry-picked LDS doctrine. They take the standard conspiracy theories that have been flowing through the sewers of the Western mind since the Middle Ages and add touches that seem to align it with LDS eschatology. Beck, as a convert, is drawing on propositions that certain members of our church would tell him are doctrine and shaping it to find common cause with Pentecostal beliefs. He may see this as helping to spread the Good News to every kindred, tongue, and people, saving more souls, and bringing on the End Times. From an informed LDS perspective, this conflates Things Eternal with things temporal. We have our own beliefs about the unfolding of the End Times without sullying them with Pentecostal superstition and passing political and ideological fashions. He who runs the Big Show knows the times and seasons of the time to fulfill His Purposes. Nothing Brother Beck does will move that Great and Dreadful Day forward or backward one iota.

  9. J. Scott Says:

    Hi Charles, While Beck may not be promoting a "date certain," I get the impression he is attempting to establish circumstantial evidence of "something dreaded." It is good to remember the power of confirmation bias; Biblical passages are vague enough in eschatology to allow anyone to fill in the blank and use the Scripture as the source of their "authority."
    I concur with @Joseph Fouche that "nothing" of Beck’s efforts will "move that Great and Dreadful Day forward and backward one iota;" yet his activity will get traction in the minds of many people (many of whom are bright and not normally given to nonsense) who will take him seriously—is that not demagogic? My guess is , "yes."

  10. Charles Cameron Says:

    M. Fouche:
    Thank you. 
    As you may imagine, the points you raise are of keen interest to me.  Is there something I should read to get a sense of Latter-day Saints eschatology other than McConkie‘s The Millennial Messiah: the second coming of the Son of Man — which is, shall we say, very long and largely devotional?
    What you describe — plus its echoing ramifications for the apocalyptically-inclined in the Islamic worlds — is my concern here.

  11. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Most of the sources I’m familiar with are largely devotional. Some are shorter than others. I need to dig around to find the right work. It’s important that internal LDS terminology is properly contextualized. LDS beliefs overlap with those of other Christian denominations but LDS usage differs enough that Latter-day Saints and other Christians don’t know they’re talking about the same things. 

  12. Hans Says:

    [Hello, Charles. What you are seeing here is what I encountered on the web. Any reaction?]
        How the Antichrist Survived 70 AD

         Preterists claim that the “Antichrist” and the “great tribulation” were fulfilled during the 70 AD period.
         If so, why do we find that the arrival of the Antichrist was still expected by writers who lived during and after 70 AD?
         Polycarp (70-167) wrote that “He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead.”
         Justin Martyr (100-168) said that “[Antichrist] shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians….”
         Irenaeus (140-202) wrote that the ten kings (Rev. 17)”shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the church to flight.”
         It’s not true that Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) “revived” futurism because it was never lost during the Middle Ages or prior to that period of time.
         Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) stated: “There remains only one thing – that the demon of noonday [Antichrist] should appear.”
         Roger Bacon (1214-1274) spoke of “future perils [for the Church] in the times of Antichrist….”
         John Wycliffe (1320-1384) referred to “the hour of temptation, which is coming upon all the world, Rev. iii.”
         Martin Luther (1483-1546): “[The book of Revelation] is intended as a revelation of things that are to happen in the future….”
         (Google or Yahoo “Famous Rapture Watchers” to see quotes from many Christian leaders throughout the Church Age which prove that they expected a future Antichrist and a future great tribulation.)
         Preterists use Matt. 24:34 (“This generation will not pass….”) to try to prove a 70 AD fulfillment of “Antichrist.” Since many of them see “these” (Matt. 25:46) fulfilled in the future in Rev. 20, why can’t they apply futurism as easily to Matt. 24:34? After all, the word “this” is the singular form of “these”!
         Church history is fascinating, right?

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