WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Jan. 15 The Rev. Jerry Falwell said the Antichrist is probably alive today and is a male Jew, and that the second coming of Christ probably will be within 10 years. Falwell later said his comments were not anti-Semitic.

IN A SPEECH Thursday about the concern people have over the new millennium, Falwell told about 1,500 people at a conference on evangelism at Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist is male and is a Jew.

"Who will the antichrist be? I don't know. Nobody else knows," said Falwell, whose Sunday morning services at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg are carried by television stations nationwide.

"Is he alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish. Of course he'll pretend to be Christ. And if in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll be an adult at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere today."

According to the Bible, the Antichrist will spread universal evil before the end of the world but will be finally conquered at the second coming of Christ.

Falwell, the chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg and founder of the now-defunct Moral Majority, said Friday in Williamsburg that he did not intend for his statement to be anti-Jewish. He said he meant only that the Antichrist must be Jewish because Jesus Christ was a Jew.

"If he's going to be the counterfeit of Christ, he has to be Jewish," Falwell said. "The only thing we know is he must be male and Jewish."

Rabbi James Rudin, the director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee in New York, said the comment surprised him because he knows Falwell is a strong supporter of Israel and is not anti-Jewish.

"This is part of what I call millennial madness," Rudin said. "To single out any one man and particularly to identify him as Jewish plays into some latent and historical anti-Semitism from the past."


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