Isaac Newton, known for making many groundbreaking discoveries in science, mathematics, and astronomy, is “considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived.”1 Less widely known are Isaac Newton’s discoveries in the areas of religion, including his conclusion that the system manifested by medieval Roman Catholicism was the antichrist power.2 Unlike many of his groundbreaking math and science discoveries, this theory about the Bible’s antichrist was not unique to Newton. Notable others held the same view, such as King James,3 Martin Luther4 (founder of the Lutheran church), John Calvin5 (prominent theologian), John Wycliffe6 (Oxford Professor), Thomas Cranmer7 (Archbishop of Canterbury), John Knox,8 and most of the Protestant reformers.9
Why would Newton and these intelligent men, some of them founders of churches, cast a less than glowing light on an institution that runs orphanages, schools, hospitals, and has had apparently exemplary members like Mother Teresa and Pope Francis? Simply put, they understood the Bible’s prophetic book of Daniel in a way that many have forgotten. Rightly understood, this centuries-old perspective is not critical of any individual Catholic or Christian, but rather shines light particularly on the abuses of a medieval religious system to which millions of sincere Christians have belonged. The topic is of relevance to us today because many of these Bible expositors understood that these same abuses would return in a more marked and startling manner in what was to them the future. Some believe that future day is upon us.
What Did Newton Know?
So what did Isaac Newton and others know about the book of Daniel that brought them to their positions? (Note: To understand the next few paragraphs, you’ll want to refer to a Bible.) Here is a simplified overview. In Daniel chapter seven God, through symbols, foretells the rise and fall of four major world empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.10 Daniel describes four beasts representing these four kingdoms, including symbolic detail.11 Then in Daniel 7:20 the focus shifts from the fourth kingdom (Rome) to ten horns. What do these symbolize? Verse 24 shows that the ten horns represent the ten kings/kingdoms12 that arose out of the Roman Empire after its fall. In those ten horns, modern day Europe finds its origins foretold.
The focus then shifts to a “little horn” which is what these learned men understood to be the antichrist power (particularly the church of Rome that held sway over nations during the Dark Ages). Someone reading this tract might now ask how Daniel’s little horn is the antichrist, since they are two different terms. The term “anti” in “antichrist” means both “against” and “instead of”;13 hence many theologians, knowing this, understood the term “antichrist” to refer to individuals or entities which the Bible describes as attempting to assume Christ’s authority. Thus Wycliffe explains, “In the seventh chapter of Daniel antichrist is forcefully described by a horn. . . .”14
Another reason for these men’s interpretation is that the chronology of the “little horn” seems to describe the rise and rule of the Roman Church.15 Examples:
- Verses 23-24: The little horn, like Roman Catholicism, rose to power during and after the Roman Empire’s decline.16
- Verse 8: Similarly, little horn rose “among” the other horns, meaning the tribes that made up the European nations.17
- Verse 24: The little horn uproots three of the ten major people groups that overtook western Rome. Roman Catholicism rose to political domination by overcoming three antagonistic Arian tribes: the Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Vandals.18
- Verse 25: The little horn persecutes God’s “saints” (a biblical term for true believers).19 According to some estimates, the Roman Church’s Inquisitions, Crusades, and other church-and-state-united actions killed tens of millions.20 The English classic Fox’s Book of Martyrs provides some relevant and vivid accounts.
- Verse 25: The little horn thinks to change God’s law (the Ten Commandments). The Roman Church changed the day of Sabbath rest from Saturday to Sunday,21 altering the fourth commandment. Most Protestant churches have overlooked this unbiblical change.
At this point someone might say, “If this interpretation is true, then why haven’t I heard about it from my pastor or priest?” First, the little horn prophecy not only exposes the Vatican, but just about every other Protestant denomination. After all, the medieval church of Rome and its abuse of power is part of the dishonorable spiritual heritage of just about everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian today! And let’s face it; no one likes to air their dirty laundry. Second, in response to Protestantism, Roman Catholic Jesuits Francisco Ribera and Luis de Alcasar developed two alternative ways of interpreting the prophecies.22 These Catholic methods of interpretation are called preterism and futurism. Preterism points to the past to find the antichrist and futurism points to an unknown antichrist figure in the future. Surprisingly, the vast majority of non-Catholic Christianity now holds one of the two Vatican-originated views on the identity of the antichrist. These views have eclipsed the observations of careful Bible scholars such as Isaac Newton and others.
Why Bring Up the Past?
So why bring up a past that has been fuel for atheists and agnostics to ridicule Christianity? First of all, Bible prophecies reveal that before Christ’s Second Coming, the majority of Christian churches will adopt medieval Catholicism’s characteristics of false worship practices and oppression. Revelation chapter 13 paints a picture of the antichrist power, indicating that the spiritual descendants of medieval Catholicism will again hold religious and political sway on the earth. This power aligns itself with other “lamb-like” groups, including mainstream Protestant Christianity as seen in the United States (see Revelation 13:11-18). While many Protestant Christians join with this revitalized manifestation of the Roman Church, many true believers—from both the ranks of Catholicism and Protestantism—will come out from this false system of worship. These believers will receive Jesus with joy when He returns.
The second reason for revisiting Newton’s biblical discoveries: God does not approve of what many Christians (even some sincere ones) have done and taught in His name over the centuries. If you have been horrified by all the nonsense and atrocities done in the name of religion, know that the Bible resonates with your revulsion. Isaac Newton’s witness invites you to read the Bible on your own and study its prophecies. See if you too don’t gain a picture of a God who is much better, more loving and fair, than that portrayed by most religions. (If you want help in the study, go to glowonline.com.)
For centuries, Isaac Newton’s explanation of the law of gravity seemed to announce bad news for those who wanted to fly on their own power. In reality, cooperating with Newton’s statements of physical truth ultimately held the keys to physical flight. Similarly, Newton’s views on Bible prophecy point out keys to understanding history and the future. To explore further, try the Bible study offer on the back of this pamphlet.
References may be found at glowonline.org/daniel7
Cover image: ©www.photodune.net