The Truth About St. John's Vision of 'Apocalypse'

by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
New Solidarity, Feb. 16, 1987.

Among this week's readings from the British and French daily press, I note two prominent items on the subject of witchcraft, and, in London's Independent, what is, quite literally, a book review of St. John's Revelation. The Apocalypse, reviewed by Marina Warner. Warner identifies some of the worst of the popularized opinions on the Apocalypse's supposed symbolisms, and concludes with her own view, the latter not properly classed as "better" than the others, but perhaps "less worse."
The insistent intrusion of such themes into the daily press and other encounters, is to be expected these days. Not only are the presently passing days hard times for most around the world. Most typical of the state of current history, is the bearded Jeremiah of a religious fundamentalist, U.S. Surgeon-General C. Everett Koop, warning of an AIDS apocalypse, and yet insisting that the U.S. federal government should not fritter away its funds attempting to resist this pandemic. When all governments show themselves so horrifyingly impotent in face of this, and sundry other civilization-threatening conditions, the popular mind tends to be persuaded that governments are less than useless, and that only miraculous, divine intervention can save mankind, or themselves, from extinction.
St John's Apocalypse is the most controversial text of the New Testament. This controversy stems from two categories of causes. On the one hand, it was the most explicitly political book of the New Testament at the time it was written, and remains so in the world's present circumstances. Also, because most theologians are either ignorant of the explicitly political implications, or wish to avoid them, the Apocalypse is misread, and misinterpreted as either an allegorical or mystically symbolical writing. On the latter account, most of what is heard from the popular pulpits on the subject of the book's place in "Biblical prophecy," is theologically nonsense, and too often dangerously so.
Since the time of St. Augustine, Western European civilization, including that introduced to the Americas since 1492, has been wracked chiefly by a persisting struggle between the followers of Augustinus and those who have sought to make ancient Roman society and its philosophy of law the model for modern statecraft and philosophy in general. The tradition of Augustinus' influence represents tbe Good, and the advocacy of the model of Roman culture typifies Evil. That was the case as St John confronted it during the first century A.D.; that is the case today.

Not Symbol, Nor Allegory

If the Apocalypse is read in terms of the concrete realities of the century it was written, there is no part of that book which is either allegorical or symbolic. The same kinds of forces which John identified as arrayed in support of the "Whore of Babylon" then, are the concrete forces of Evil in the world of today. The outstanding difference is, today, that the inevitable decisive battle between Good and Evil, which John foresaw implicit in the nature of the contending forces then, is now coming to a head. In that political-historical sense, the Apocalypse might be called a "prophecy"; in any different sense, it is not.
The proper standpoint for reading the book, is usefully identified by reference to the themes of Friedrich Schiller's outline of the principles of a science of universal history. That is to emphasize, that there are certain elementary principles which underlie and determine the course of all human history, principles which persist in their full efficiency, no matter what changes in personalities, existence of nations, or forms of political institutions appear. If the Apocalypse is read from the standpoint identified by Schiller, and is also understood by aid of mastery of the work of such exemplary theologians as St. Augustine and Nicolaus of Cusa, we may see that what John reveals, is both the very essence of the contest between Good and Evil, and how, because of that essence, the outcome of this struggle must be ultimately determined.

The Great question

The Great Earthly Question posed by the mere idea of a Christian Church appropriately situates John's Apocalypse at the conclusion of the New Testament. The Christian Church is the body of Christianity, a body composed of many mortal "cells," each living and dying, while the body, the Church, remains seemingly immortal. Thus, the final outcome of the labor of the individual Christian, is located within the setting of the Church's immortality. The individual Christian's mortal life is the microcosm, the part, and the Church, the macrocosm, the whole. After all the other questions of the New Testament are answered, one final question then remains: How may the mortal part serve, and live within the final outcome for the immortal whole?
The individual lives and dies seeing humanity still in a wretched condition. That individual can not see the outcome of that process in which he participates, within the experience of a lifetime Yet, in a certain sense, he must see that outcome, at least to the degree that he may order his life's work to contribute to that result. He or she must see an efficient connection, between his choices of action day by day, and the way that action contributes, or fails to contribute to the final outcome. In the simplest terms, the outcome on which individual attention is properly fixed, is the assurance of the immortality of that Church of which he or she is a part, and which takes his mortality to a sanctified resting place when he dies. To the degree the individual is able to see this connection efficiently, his vision of that future is the motive and substance of his or her moments of mortal life today.
So understood, this Great Question of the Christian Church's assured immortality is no matter of idle speculation, nor an optional concern. Only by a satisfactory answer to that Great Question, can the individual mortal life attain its highest possible degree of ennoblement; only by aid of persons so ennobled, can the immortal work of the Church be caused to prosper.

Is Man Worthy of Being Saved?

Put the matter another way. Is man worthy of being saved? Or, restated once more: Is the human species ultimately doomed to extinction, or not? If mankind is God's highest creation so far, is this creation good enough, or must a better one yet take its place? Human existence is usefully seen as a long process of testing the answer to such a hypothetical question. Christianity says, that that ordering of society associated with Judaism, man's submission to God's decreed rules, is an insufficient condition for man's achieving his fitness to survive. Mankind requires a higher dispensation, a universal dispensation without respect to distinction of geography or parentage, or else man's clinging to the animal aspect of his own nature will require that his species bring about its own destruction. The cases of Sodom and Gomorrah illustrate this point, seemingly so prophetically, today.
In the ordinary, and wrong approaches to such questions, the attempted answer is posed in such terms as the supposed instincts respecting pleasure, pain, and survival, of the individual, the family, or the tribe. Whenever the question is posed in such "common sense" terms, the answers, whatever else they may be, will be absurd ones. John attacks the entire problem in a fundamentally different way.
The Great Question can be answered only by stating the whole matter of universal history thenceforth, as the progress and outcome of a struggle for absolute victory, between the forces of Good and of Evil. In Apocalypse, John says, in effect, we know what Good is; what must be understood is the personality of Evil, and by what means men and women will act to bring about total victory over Evil. Here, in the verb "act," is the key to the commonplace follies of those who speak of "Biblical prophecies."
Where John describes the personality of Evil, he is not using symbolisms. He names that personality by names well known to the Christians of his time. Those Christians also knew in what persons and political forces this personality of Evil. It was explicitly incarnate. Of these two points, so many among today's preachers purporting to interpret "Biblical prophecy," are pathetically ignorant.

The Whore of Babylon

The personality of Evil is clearly and concretely identified as "The Whore of Babylon." This is no symbolism; it is the name of a very specific mother-goddess, whose priestesses practiced prostitution as part of religious ritual, to such effect that the names of Ishtar, Astarte, Isis, and Venus, are venerated as the goddesses of the lesbian's and the whore's professions into modern times. The source of these whore-goddesses' cults, in Mesopotamia, in Sheba-Ethiopia, in Egypt, in Palestine, and among the Phrygians, is the worship of the whore-goddess Shakti by ancient "Harrapan"' culture of the Indian subcontinent, introduced to Mesopotamia through the "Harrapan" colony at Sumer. The Satan-figures of ancient Mesopotamia, Sheba-Ethiopia, and of Osiris, Apollo, Lucifer, are, like the Phrygian Dionysos, derivatives of the "Harrapan" Siva. The most powerful form of this Satanic cult then, was the Syrian Magicians' cult of Mithra, which had been established as the leading cult of the Roman imperial legions, through an agreement reached between Augustus and Syrian magicians at the Isle of Capri.
Then, the leading incarnation of this Satanic personality was the Roman empire. Although the city of Rome long rejected the inclusion of the Mithra cult in its pantheon, from the time of Augustus, it was an established cult of the Roman imperial legions, and ultimately the dominant cult. The war-like among the Romans rejected the Isis-Osiris cult of Ptolemaic Egypt as "too effeminate," an allusion to Osiris' association with homosexual practices. The Tiberius who, from the Isle of Capri, ordered the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, was a Mithra cultist. Increasingly, especially with the eruptions ensuing with the death of Nero, the Roman legions ruled the Roman Empire directly.
Today, the personalities and nations which were then the incarnation of the Whore of Babylon , have long vanished. Yet, the Whore herself persists in new incarnations, such as the Muscovite empire's Rodina, Matushka Rus, as she has over the many sweeping, and lesser alterations among political institutions during the intervening centuries. It should be clear, therefore, that the Whore of Babylon represents something more durable, more powerful than any among her sundry, ultimately transient incarnations. She is not a symbol for concrete political forces; those are but her temporary incarnations. They are not the force, but only its expendable instruments.
The "force" of Shakti-Ishtar-Isis and her homosexual consort, Siva-Satan-Osiris-Dionysos-Apollo-Lucifer, is the force of an evil cultural transmission. This cultural transmission does not nessarily tell men and women exactly what to do under each and all circumstances. Rather, it represents a system for determining the values used to select, and estimate the consequences of judgments for practice.
This cultural transmission can be analyzed as constructed out of elementary notions of the nature of God, the universe, and man in the universe. These elementary notions, and the usually unconscious values associated with them, determine how men and women influenced by that culture will tend to act, what sorts of political and other social institutions and policies they will prefer, and so forth. It is the specific set of ideas about God, the universe, and man within the universe, consistent with the worship of the feminist Earth-mother-goddess, which is the force of evil within society.
Christianity, as represented by the New Testament, presents an opposite set of notions respect ing God, the universe, and man within the universe. We are indebted to such great theologians as Augustinus and Cusa, for making this readily understood.

The Struggle of Good and Evil

So, the struggle between forces of Good and Evil is incarnate in the existence of society.
The heritage of Shakti and Ishtar, the Whore of Babylon, is consistent with various forms of oligarchical society, society ruled by a class of families, as in ancient Babylon, Rome, or in today's Soviet empire, which set themselves above humanity, as if these families imagined themselves to be so many gods of Olympos.
Christianity's God establishes the sacredness of the individual human life, such that all are equal under God's natural law, and no law is tolerable which is not consistent with natural law as accessible to human reason. He or she is best, who is humblest before God, and not before any families which presume to set themselves up as like gods. So, the war between Good and Evil, assumes the incarnate form of a life-death struggle between two opposing forms of political society, and between the opposing cultures typified by opposite qualities of society.
John attacks the question: To what consequence must the war between Good and Evil ultimately lead? Evil's persistence must bring the very existence of mankind into jeopardy, through such features as wars and pestilences. Evil must reach such a state, that it prizes its gains in power, so much, that it would prefer to allow humanity to be destroyed, rather than compromise the policies promoting such apocalyptic destruction. The men and women who then adopt the cause of Evil, and support its policies, by that adoption adorn themselves with the designating mark of the beast and seek to exterminate the men and women who are resistant to the policies of Evil.
This conjunction of the struggle between Good and Evil must emerge, because the essence of Evil leads it to no other result than this one. Evil cannot possibly be a permanent condition within the human species. The increase of power at the disposal of Evil, will, by itself, cause Evil to reach the point that it becomes, immediately, the cause of threatened extermination of the human species. That is Armageddon and the Apocalypse.
No symbolic philosophy is involved. "Signs" there are, but not symbolic signs; rather, there are crucial symptoms of the maturity of the disease.

Will We Build the New Jerusalem?

Will mankind, then, rally itself to destroy the Evil One and establish the "New Jerusalem," the world-triumph of Christ's Church? Does mankind have within it the means and will to be God's instrument in this necessary deed? John says that it does have this divine spark, and through Christ will act so.
The dangerous thing in some of the wilder pulpit presentations of "Biblical prophecy," is the proposition that the blessed ones are those who on the verge of Armageddon, do nothing but wait peacefully in the fields to be taken up in a Great Rapture. There is no predestination, except that afforded to those who rally to ensure victory in the last great war against the forces of Evil incarnate on Earth. Those who wait passively in the fields, doing nothing to win that war, are the "peaceniks" of the war against Satan.
Call what I have described "prophecy," if you must; and see the Soviet nuclear war mobilization, the pestilences, and the AIDS pandemic as "signs," if you must. Whatever names you choose, fight with every means in reach, not only against the Evil itself, but also against the wicked policy of indifference, which asserts that fighting Evil is "cost prohibitive." Take the New Testament out of confinemnt of the pulpit, and put its instruction into your good right arm every waking moment of the day, as John would have you do so.
That, Marina Warner, is my "book review."

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