Vladimir Soloviev’s tale of the Anti-Christ received much attention when Pope Benedict XVI mentioned it in Jesus of Nazareth, depicting the Anti-Christ as a theologian with a doctorate from the University of Tubingen. While the Anti-Christ is a Scripture scholar, he refuses to acknowledge and bow before the key (the whole) that makes sense of everything (the parts) in Scripture: the Slain Lamb (Rev. 5). But beyond this, I think there is something that we can all learn from Soloviev’s depiction of the superman who Satan decides to make his son. Quick note: this “something” is not Soloviev’s depiction of the Anti-Christ as a vegetarian! Do not be upset if your particular candidate is now disqualified. But I digress. We can all learn from Soloviev’s depiction because it fosters a greater awareness of the evil, selfish tendencies in ourselves and encourages us to pray for the grace to avoid such spiritual pitfalls before becoming sons of Satan. Soloviev’s depiction of the Superman is as follows:
“At the time, there was among the few believing spiritualists a remarkable person – many called him a superman – who was equally far from both, intellect and childlike heart [that is, the few believing Christians have these]. He was still young, but owing to his great genius, by the age of thirty-three he had already become famous as a great thinker, writer, and public figure. Conscious of the great power of spirit in himself, he was always a confirmed spiritualist, and his clear intellect always showed him the truth of what one should believe in: the good, God, and the Messiah.
In this he believed, but he loved only himself. He believed in God, but in the depths of his soul he involuntarily and unconsciously preferred himself. He believed in Good, but the All Seeing Eye of the Eternal knew that this man would bow down before the power of Evil as soon as it would offer him a bribe – not by deception of the senses and the lower passions, not even by the superior bait of power, but only by his own immeasurable self-love.
This self-love was neither an unconscious instinct nor an insane ambition. Apart from his exceptional genius, beauty, and nobility of character, the reserve, disinterestedness, and active sympathy with those in need which he evinced to such a great extent seemed abundantly to justify the immense self-love of this great spiritualist, ascetic, and philanthropist. Did he deserve blame because, being as he was so generously supplied with the gifts of God, he saw in them the signs of Heaven’s special benevolence to him, and thought himself second only to God himself? In a word, he considered himself to be what Christ in reality was. But this conception of his higher value showed itself in practice not in the exercise of his moral duty to God and the world but in seizing his privilege and advantage at the expense of others, and of Christ in particular.
At first, he bore no ill feeling toward Christ. He recognized his messianic importance and value, but he was sincere in seeing in him only his own greatest precursor. The moral achievement of Christ and his uniqueness were beyond an intellect so completely clouded by self-love as his. Thus he reasoned: ‘Christ came before me. I come second. But what, in order of time, appears later is, in its essence, of greater importance. I come last, at the end of history, and for the very reason that I am most perfect. I am the final savior of the world, and Christ is my precursor. His mission was to precede and prepare for my coming.’
Thinking thus, the superman of the twenty-first century applied to himself everything that was said in the Gospels about the second coming, explaining the latter not as a return of the same Christ, but as a replacing of the preliminary Christ by the final one – that is by himself.”
This “just, proud man” wanted to bring peace to the whole of humanity, uniting the world around himself. But an “ardent hatred” and a “burned envy” consumes him at the thought that Christ is indeed, the Risen One. He attempts suicide but is upheld in the air by “a strange figure gleaming with a dim phosphorescent light” with eyes that “pierced his soul with their painful penetrating glitter.” Not getting into the details of the story, the superman hands himself over to this strange figure and becomes, in Lego movie terms, “the Special.” He attempts to bring peace to the world and unity to the Church. However, in refusing to acknowledge Christ he inadvertently brings about the unity of the Church by persecuting it! He forgot that he is a bit player in the drama of salvation. The story ends by explaining the Anti-Christ with a simple proverb, “All that glitters is not gold.” We must take off any vestige we have of the glittering Anti-Christ and put on Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
You can read Soloviev’s tale here: http://www.goodcatholicbooks.org/antichrist.html