Is a Cashless Society Preparing the Way for the Antichrist?
By Dillon Burroughs
Many books have been penned warning that our growing "cashless society" is a precursor to the Antichrist's coming to power. Should we be worried about the increased popularity of electronic banking, mobile payments, and credit cards? Are we somehow condoning the coming work of the one who will oppose the Christian faith in the last days?
Not exactly. Here's how Bible prophecy experts usually connect the cashless society with the Antichrist. Revelation 13:16-17 notes, "Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name." These verses state that those living in the last days will not be able to buy or sell unless they receive a special mark, called the Mark of the Beast, on his or her right hand or forehead. (Revelation 13:18 observes that the Mark is the number 666 or it is connected.) To receive it, a person will be required to worship the image of the Antichrist.
What the Bible does clearly state is that a global leader called Antichrist will control all financial exchange in the end times. However, some prophecy teachers take this idea to the next step. They reason that if the Antichrist is a person who controls global finance, it must be through some method. That method is most likely electronic, cashless banking that will unite currencies and global markets. The conclusions that then often follow are that Christians should not use PayPal or online banking. Whenever a country suggests a new global currency, these people say, "I told you so. The end is near."
A more nuanced and accurate approach is based only on what the Bible states on this issue. Scripture is clear there will be a day when a global leader controls all finance. It does not teach that credit cards, online banking, mobile purchases, or even a new form of currency are sinful.
However, in addition to biblical teachings, there are practical matters to consider. Certainly, identity theft has led to a focus on cyber-security. Passwords and safeguards are important to enact to keep our online financial records guarded from hackers. Even government transparency should be encouraged to keep a nation's leaders from unnecessary interference into an individual's personal information.
That said, there is also the consideration of the timing of the Antichrist's reign. If the premillennial view of the future is correct, then believers in Jesus Christ will be taken to be with Christ prior to the Antichrist's enforcement of the Mark of the Beast. Therefore, there is no need to fear that our online purchases or debit cards are serving to help prepare the way for Antichrist.
With the growth of cashless society in America and worldwide, we would do well to carefully monitor our digital financial purchases for personal safety reasons. However, Christians do not need to fear our emerging cashless society. Instead, we are to, "Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Those who live for Christ now need not worry about the future. We can gladly anticipate Christ's coming and encourage one another with what is to come (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Image Credit: Jason Howie; "Shopping with iPhone"; Creative Commons