Daily Archives: November 16, 2012

The 7 Most Popular Contenders for the Title ‘Antichrist’

On the Sunday before the election Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, said that if President Obama was reelected his victory would lead to the reign of the Antichrist.

I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes,” said Jeffress.

“President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

Does Jeffress think the future Antichrist will be an American president? He doesn’t say, though American presidents are a favorite choice in the “Name the Antichrist” game.

Historically, Christians have believed that the epistles of John indicate, as Kim Riddlebarger explains, “not merely one Antichrist, but a series of such enemies of Jesus Christ.” But that has not stopped believers throughout the ages from assuming that the title “Antichrist” refers to a specific individual—usually someone living in their lifetime who will usher in the Apocalypse. Although there have been thousands of suspects, here are 7 of the most popular candidates for the Antichrist.

1. The Pope
The all-time most popular contender for the title of Antichrist was not any individual but an office—the Roman Catholic Papacy. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Cotton Mather, William Tyndale, and a long list of other Protestants have considered the office of the papacy to be the Antichrist. But that has not stopped some Protestants from assuming that a particular Pope—from Pope Leo X toPope Benedict XVI— is the Antichrist.

2. Nicolae Jetty Carpathia
Carpathia is the fictional antagonist in the Left Behind book series written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. While no one thinks Carpathia is the actual Antichrist, he is the archetype for what many believe the Antichrist would be like: a charismatic European leader who becomes the head of a global organization (usually the United Nations). Although the sixteen Left Behind novels have done the most to sear the archetype in the public’s imagination, the template was created in the 1970s. In their mega-best-selling The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson proposed that the Antichrist would rule over a ten-member or ten-nation European confederacy (similar to the European Union, before it expanded to 27-member states).

3. Nero Caesar
Many Biblical scholars believe that the number of the beast in Revelation 13:18 is a numerical reference to Emperor Nero, whose name in Greek when transliterated into Hebrew, retains the value of 666, whereas his Latin name transliterated into Hebrew, is 616. Even though the label does not appear in the Book of Revelation, Nero has frequently been considered the first—though the first of many—Antichrists.

4. Hitler
For obvious reasons.

5. (Tie) Henry Kissinger / Mikhail Gorbachev
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the Secretary of State for the Nixon and Ford Administrations topped the “Most Likely to Be the Antichrist” lists. But Kissinger was bumped in the mid-1980s when the Russian apparatchik Mikhail Gorbachev arrived on the world stage. As a Soviet leader he filled many of the criteria on the Antichrist template (including high poll numbers!), though the strange birthmark was considered an an obvious sign that Gorbachev wore the “mark of the beast.”

6. Napoleon
Tsar Alexander of Russia called Napoleon the “Anti Christ and the enemy of God” because he liberated the Jews. But it was his improbable rise to power, anti-Catholic policies, and unquenchable hunger for conquest that earned the French Emperor his place on the list. For those who believe that Nostradamus predicted the rise of three Antichrists, Napoleon is often considered the obvious candidate to fill the first slot (with Hitler as the obvious #2).

7. (Tie) The American President
Every American president since George Washington has likely been suspected of being the one to usher in the end times. But Gerald Burton Winrod, a pro-Nazi evangelist from Kansas, deserves credit for the modern president-as-Antichrist trend. Winrod believed FDR was a “devil” linked with the Jewish-Communist conspiracy and that Hitler would save Europe from Communism.

Since Winrod’s day, almost every president has landed on the Antichrist suspect list. FDR, JFK, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have all been named be various individuals and organizations. The one exception to the rule may be Gerald Ford. Despite being a world leader during the height of the 1970s End Times craze, it’s unlikely anyone ever considered Ford a serious contender for the title of Antichrist.


Why Is the Twilight Saga so Popular?

The last Twilight Saga movie premieres tonight. Why are these films so wildly popular? Some credit Meyer’s descriptive writing style and alluring characters. Others point to Edward’s romantic charm—he is old-fashioned in many ways, respectful and protective of Bella, insisting that they remain chaste until they marry.


Disunity, Liberals and Roman Catholicism

Both inside and outside of the church, the cry for unity can be heard above all others. Unfortunately, within the visible church, unity often is sought at the expense of truth. Guest blogging for Kevin DeYoung, Jason Helopoulos discusses ecclesial unity, making an important distinction between institutional unity and theological unity. Without a foundation of truth, argues Helopoulos, true unity cannot be maintained. He writes:

[I]nstitutional unity can only be maintained if there is the second and more foundational kind of unity–theological. Theological unity is the ground for all institutional unity. No Theological unity, no institutional unity.


God’s Law vs. Man’s Tyranny

Our liberties are being stripped from us daily. From sea to shining sea, ridiculous restrictions are being placed on freedoms, and penalties are being levied against the people. The government is overstepping its bounds, and the American people are sitting back and doing little, if anything, to stop it. But this should come as no surprise.


Series: Why do I Always See The Sadness In Life? (How scripture breathes life when life seems dark) Is there a normative for internal experience? (Part 5 of 5)

Let me conclude our series by answering our letter writer’s final question: “What is life really like internally?” What should her emotional experience be like? It can be as variable as the psalms. Some psalms express the “minor key” of pain, threat, and need for God’s help. Some psalms express the “major key” of gratitude, joy, and confidence in the Lord who helps us, the maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121). Many psalms mix the two together, segueing from one to the other, in different configurations, or focusing more on one than on the other, always teaching us many possible trajectories for our faith to bring real life to our God. They liberate honesty about the sins and sorrows that make life a sad affair. Psalms will help our letter writer to be honest about life’s sadness without getting mired in sadness, or mired in attempting to take the temperature of her reactions. She can take her reactions somewhere constructive, bringing her life to her God, and so learning good things to give away to other strugglers.

The will of God in Christ Jesus for you is that you live unto God both in your sense of need (“pray without ceasing”) and in your sense of gladness (“rejoice always, give thanks in all circumstances”): 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18. Christian worship has always understood faith’s “moods,” the interplay of minor key and major key. So worship is candid about sadness. We sing of “how deep the pain of searing loss” and “the rivers of woe.” And worship is candid about joy. We sing out “O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant” and “solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know.”

(The lines just cited come from “How deep the Father’s love for us”; “How firm a foundation”; “O come, all ye faithful”; and “Glorious things of thee are spoken.”)

Some readers might be wondering why I did not approach this letter writer about the possibility that she is “chronically depressed,” and recommend she get checked out for the suitability of medication. No doubt, our sister has a melancholy streak, and her glass is always half-empty rather than half-full. But though our sister’s mood can be somber, her problem is not medical. Instead, she’s onto something important in facing sadness. There is an unspeakable sorrow at the heart of the world. All the Bible writers know that. All the great saints know that. All the great novelists and poets have known it. All honest men and women have known it. Only the self-deluded, who pursue their schemes for earthly joy, who expend their lives in climbing ladders to nowhere, fail to recognize the obvious. In the end, all is loss. And, whether the effects are subtle or grotesque, a madness of evil blinds the human heart (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

There is one more thing that needs to be said, and said again. We are surprised by joy, as C. S. Lewis put it. Life wins, gladness wins, hope wins. Death dies, sin disappears, all tears are wiped away. Our sister knows this, too, and by the grace of God will continue to grow in knowing this more and more thoroughly.

The mercies of God in Jesus Christ give certainty that sadness does not get last say. The past grace of our Father’s purposes and the self-sacrificing love of Jesus provide the indestructible foundation on which to build your life. The present help of Christ through his Holy Spirit works with you so you increasingly find the balance point between joy and sorrow. And the future hope of Christ promises that joy will sweep away all sorrows.

This is the final part of a series. Read the introduction to the series here. Read part 2 of the series here. Read part 3 of the series here. Read part 4 of the series here.


“There Arose Another Generation After Them Who Did Not Know the Lord”: A Post Election Analysis

By Dr. Andy Woods
Sugar Land Bible Church

Something transpired on November 6, 2012 that seemed unthinkable in the eyes of many. Despite an abysmal economic, foreign affairs, and moral record during his first term, the American people re-elected President Obama to a second term. You might recall 1979 when then President Jimmy Carter experienced an identical challenging first term as America