Secular humanism has triumphed. Everything the late Victorians and Edwardians believed would bring human happiness has been achieved: technology has made it so no one needs to work for a living, the social sciences ensure a smooth-running social order, and in the name of tolerance, religious beliefs have been uprooted and eliminated except for a single holdout: a largely discredited and rapidly shrinking Catholic Church. Yet people are unhappy.
What has been created is a sterile world of crass materialism, a world without spiritual dimension, a world where people daily choose legalized euthanasia over the emptiness of existence. Out of this culture of despair, there arises a charismatic leader: Julian Felsenburgh. Soon the masses are in Felsenburgh's thrall and he becomes leader of the world. But in their eagerness for change, have the citizens of the world embraced the Antichrist and hastened the end of days?
Father Percy Franklin remains a bastion of stability, even as the Catholic Church disintegrates around him. Finally outlawed and driven underground, it is only this small and shrinking Church that stands against the "Lord of the World."