Book Review: The Man of Sin
Since it is 3 AM on what is supposed to be my night off from UPS, and I very sadly cannot sleep even if I try, I’ll go ahead and post this book review and see if it does the trick.
I recently finished The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist by Kim Riddlebarger. You may have noticed some preliminary remarks on this book that I made in this post, where I stated that I found this book disorienting. In fact, I think I even used the term “dazed and confused.”
236 pages later, that assessment still stands. The Man of Sin seems geared towards someone who has at the very least a basic familiarity with amillennial theology. It assumes a strong amount of grounding by the reader in interpretive methods and church history. Fortunately, this assumption is not so great that someone like me, having only read premillennialist works, can sit down and forge through it. And forge through I did.
If nothing else, Riddlebarger’s book will make one think. I believe that is his thrust all throughout the book; that is, he desires simply to cause the reader to rethink what one believes about the end-times and the Antichrist in particular. In that respect alone, Riddlebarger succeeds. I definitely have more to think about.
A failure of this book is in the way it treats amillennialism over and against other millennial views. Riddlebarger seems to bounce off walls (and not in an energetic, yappy dog or hyper child way) in his treatment of differences between amil and other views. It’s almost as if he is sitting in a room with various pieces of theology that are contra-amillennialism taped on the walls and throwing darts randomly around the room, at which point he attempts to show how the amil view is superior. Engaging in such eschatological rabbit-chasing, while informative and interesting, only confused me when trying to follow the argument Riddlebarger was attempting to make in most of the chapters of this work. But I must admit the cause of such confusion may well be my unfamiliarity with the point of view in which this book is presented.
Riddlebarger’s strongest contribution in this book is a historical overview of the Antichrist in the church. I enjoyed this chapter immensely and learned much about how the church has viewed the Antichrist through the ages, from Nero to the Papacy, on to today. After this is his final chapter, a summary of all the information in the book, stating Riddlebarger’s conclusions as to what the evidence shows. This chapter, more than any preceding one, helped me to understand what Riddlebarger wanted to accomplish in writing the book. If I were to go back and reread the book after finishing this chapter, I am certain that Riddlebarger’s presentation would be much clearer to me.
All in all, this is a very strong book, disorientation aside. It is the first scholarly work on Revelation (outside of commentaries) that I have read, and I am very pleased that it has done what I hoped–it has broadened my theological horizons. I would suggest that anyone considering reading it first gain a basic understanding of and familiarity with amillennialism, postmillennialism, premillennialism, and preterism before delving into The Man of Sin. Then and only then should you consider reading it. Until then, go ahead and purchase it if you like. The cover will at least look good on your coffee table until you’re ready to read it!