Instigators of the Apocalypse

Christian - Non-Fiction
427 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2015
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite

Sometimes, a superbly written and impeccably researched book is like a relationship: the more you invest, the more you get out of the experience. Instigators of the Apocalypse by Kevin Timothy O’Kane is a challenging, educational, and infinitely fascinating treatise that reads like the offspring of a historical fiction thriller and a doctoral dissertation in religious studies. O’Kane’s narrative focuses on the Book of Revelation and how it has been misinterpreted throughout history to foment war and strife. Beginning with the martyrdom of Ignatius in the second century AD and continuing through to present-day Islamic terrorism, O’Kane recasts known historical events in scholarly fashion and overlays the template of the Book of Revelation to make a comprehensive and persuasive argument that popular interpretations are flawed and that these misinterpretations of the Book of Revelation have been instrumental in undermining the ideals of Western civilization.

Kevin Timothy O’Kane possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of history and the sweeping mastery of church doctrine normally reserved for world religious leaders - a rare combination which can only be achieved through a lifetime of dedicated, purposeful study. What is even more remarkable is his gift for expressing complex, multi-layered relationships between fact and theory with a straightforward simplicity that renders them accessible to everyday readers. In plain, clearly sequenced steps, O’Kane codifies and clarifies major events in religious history and their relevance to current events as their dynamics play out through the ages and through the lens of revelations, misinterpreted: “The despots of the past and present are merely forerunners of the Antichrist who is yet to come. These tyrants witness to the reality of the future Antichrist but never accomplish his role completely.”

For those willing to pay close attention, Instigators of the Apocalypse by Kevin Timothy O’Kane has a great deal to teach. O’Kane’s wake-up call for a complacent world is great literature, prophecy and popular fiction all blended together to create a unique and compelling "end of days” narrative, both fascinating and foreboding.

Katelyn Hensel

Instigators of the Apocalypse by Kevin Timothy O'Kane is not your typical history book. It refuses to pull punches on the facts about the history of the Christian influence on wars, revolutions, and the like. There are also very damning and challenging passages in there that could be hard to accept. From the rise of terrorist groups that are very much alive and threatening today, it's interesting to see that they could have had their roots in Christian interpretations of the Bible and preachings from Christian leaders.

The Instigators of the Apocalypse is a pretty hefty read, for not only is it nearly 400 pages, those pages are jam packed with facts, speculation and analysis. As a Catholic, I've had interesting experiences with the church and with ministries - this helped me relate very well with the topic of the book, as I have felt first-hand what it's like to have passages of the Bible used to justify potentially charged issues.

Kevin Timothy O'Kane has clearly done his research on the subject of religious history and how it relates to some of the darkest periods of human history. I've come away feeling as though I've had a history course jammed into one book and then packed into my brain. I feel as though this is the kind of book that you could read multiple times and find new ideas or revelations with each perusal. Instigators of the Apocalypse serves to keep mankind on their toes, and to help them realize that even the best intentions can lead to darkness and death.

Melinda Hills

It is said that truth is stranger than fiction and the information presented in Instigators of the Apocalypse by Kevin Timothy O'Kane certainly qualifies. In a well-researched and clearly laid out format, O’Kane identifies the movements, counter-movements and possible future connections that have been created out of the numerous prophecies and interpretations of scripture, particularly John’s Book of Revelation. Many a quest for power or the attempt to overthrow the reigning government is directly related to an interpretation of this book and affects not only Christian believers but Muslims, Shintoists, Buddhists and others as well. From the early days of the Christian Church through the ages of history, variations in belief regarding the concepts of the Antichrist, the Tribulation, the Apocalypse and the glorious millennium have been the cause of civil unrest, persecution and outright war, adding another layer behind the basic historic facts that most of us have been taught. In fact, O’Kane unambiguously identifies the connection between this concept and the effects its interpretation still has on events 2000 years later.

Based on extensive research and a lifetime of study, Kevin Timothy O'Kane puts one of the greatest questions of all time into perspective – what will herald the end of days? While early Christians thought the Roman way of life represented the Antichrist, any number of individuals and factions have been put in that role since then including the Anglican Church, the natives overtaken by the Spaniards in South America, and many of the monarchs of Europe’s great nations since they raised themselves up as the lords of their lands. Instigators of the Apocalypse provides lessons on the consequences of false viewpoints regarding Revelation and points to the ultimate power of God, through the returning Christ, creating a new heaven and earth from which all enemies, including death, will have been removed.

Gisela Dixon

Instigators of the Apocalypse by Kevin Timothy O'Kane is a comprehensive all-inclusive book on the history of Christian eschatology and its effects on civilization throughout millennia. This book is a fascinating collection of historical data and events that were either directly or indirectly influenced by the Bible and its prophecies. Some of the notable ones include the Crusades and their rampage for control of Jerusalem, the voyage of Christopher Columbus, the takeover of Mexico, the brutal Mayan Inquisition, the English revolution against the British monarchy, the French revolution, the American Revolution, and of course, the infamous “peculiar” institution of American slavery. The book also discusses more recent events such as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and, of course, the rise of modern-day radical Islamic terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Such examples and many more are documented in detail to explain how the New Testament's book of Revelation was misinterpreted by people, and also attempts to open our eyes to the fact that we, as a human race, may be drawing upon ourselves an actual, real-world apocalypse as envisioned by John the Apostle.

I was extremely impressed with the sheer volume of data and facts that have been gathered and explored in this book. Kevin Timothy O'Kane has done a thorough job researching all of the facts, and his writing style is extremely engaging. Even though the subject matter can be grim at times, the writing is of such quality that the book continually drew me in and made me want to read more. This book reads almost like a history lesson, but with added conclusions and fascinating insights. Regardless of one’s views on religion in general, this book is a great read for understanding more about the world we live in and the history of civilization, because it is an inescapable fact that culture and religion are closely tied to each other and always will be. A thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating read, and one that I would highly recommend.

Fiona Ingram

In Instigators of the Apocalypse, author Kevin Timothy O’Kane sets out to prove how those with false interpretations of the Book of Revelation influenced wars and revolutions in the history of Western civilization. A monumental work indeed by O’Kane, and it is nigh impossible to encapsulate in this short review all that he manages to cover in his book. How does one go about condensing the history of Christian eschatology and how it has played out in the political arena and subsequently the battlefield? The author takes us right back to the beginning of Christianity in order to take us forward, covering decisive moments in history such as the Crusades, the Reformation, the conquest of the Americas, the Inquisition, and various revolutions including the American Civil War. The time span is centuries, and the litany of carnage and destruction is depressing. The history of the early Christian church is one of Roman oppression, divisive factions and sub-factions, and a large number of arguments over the literal or spiritual meanings behind much in the Bible; however, most were strongly focused on the divinity or lack thereof of Christ, and the literal or figurative meaning in the Book of Revelation. When would the end of days and the new millennium come, and who would be the Anti-Christ?

The ideal of the predicted ‘New Jerusalem’ has permeated religious belief down the centuries, even to modern times. Interestingly, the manipulation of various so-called Christian and Muslim prophecies spawned what can only be described as ‘disinformation’ that was used to serve various political purposes, and with dire consequences. This is such a turning point because the church, impatient for results, ultimately eschewed Jesus Christ’s message of peace and submission in the face of oppression, and turned to more violent means to achieve the final days. Ironically, once the subject of persecution, Christianity morphed into an excuse for the Crusades, which had bloody and tragic consequences. Subsequently, Islam, already conquering from the 7th century with jihad as its diktat, was as brutal and destructive, and conversion by the sword the order of the day. Jerusalem, what it meant and has come to symbolise historically and theologically, is a key point in this drama. One is left saddened and astonished at the madness that prevailed when both Christians and Muslims were gripped by a religious fervour that defied all sense, all morality, all true belief as would form the basis of any faith. Even more sadly, nothing has changed because the actions of ISIL in the modern day Middle East chaos seem to herald a return to those days of carnage in the guise of divine sanction. The territorial skirmishes between Palestine and Israel have focused attention once again on an age-old issue; possession of Jerusalem, I feel, more than anything else. The Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to exist and the intention to wipe out this nation also echoes the past. Current impending warfare between the Arab nations, based on their own religious schisms between Sunni and Shia sects and sparked by the unrest in Yemen, rings warning bells, given the extent of the various nations’ military might.

This is a complex topic, and possibly theology students would whiz through this book. However, the author masterfully achieves what he sets out to do and that is make his theory comprehensible to the lay person, or the ordinary reader interested in Christian eschatology and the role it has played in politics, both then and now. The author enlivens the facts by introducing key figures in this vast and sweeping historical landscape, some familiar, some not, and brings their own personal stories to life. His excellent and succinct writing style allows the reader to fully absorb a large number of complicated facts, but at the same time appreciate the ‘story’ behind the history. I was astounded by the far-reaching effects of charismatic leaders over the centuries, and how in many cases a single man’s opinions, beliefs and ambitions have shaped history and the political landscape today, in many cases with negative consequences. Tragically, faith, which brings comfort, solace and strength to millions around the world, can be twisted to wreak havoc and, with today’s access to modern weaponry, threatens to plunge the world into destruction. A fictional section of the book’s final chapter sounds a warning note. There are detailed end notes for the serious biblical scholar to refer to, testimony to the amount of research put into this fascinating, well constructed, very readable and thought provoking work.