A couple of years ago, during the “Trump’s the Antichrist!” fervor on Twitter (sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes serious), I posted the following:
Trump, Putin, and the Antichrist
(I also wrote more on the subject here.)
I noted that people were seeing Antichrist signs in Trump–heck, I was, too–but that Putin seemed a more likely contender. Of course, as even the Bible notes, you can have a bunch of antichrists before the end of the world (1 John 2:18). And there are many potentials in the world right now, as we have many authoritarian regimes. We voted Trump out, and cut off a large part of his power, which hopefully kept him from turning into Antichrist, even as people were revering him as the messiah and King Cyrus. Of course, this is still up in the air, because he still has so many minions trying to make it easier to steal elections that don’t go in his favor. But at the moment, he’s relegated to the old man yelling at clouds.
I also noted that even if Putin (or Trump) is the Antichrist, that doesn’t mean the world is ending, because so many Antichrist figures have already passed through this world without it ending. Hitler sparked WWII and yet the world didn’t end. But then again, I noted, we now live in a time of nuclear weapons and climate change leading to disaster. Maybe the end of the world is indeed nigh–especially when that madman in Russia is threatening nuclear war.
Turns out many other people are looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing not a dedicated leader, as Bush did, but a psychopath with no soul, as I’ve seen for many years.
Ever since an article in US News and World Report 20 years ago exposed all the reasons why he could be dangerous in the future, I’ve been wary of him. And this has been proved out over years of him invading countries, poisoning his enemies, fixing elections, jailing protesters, interfering with other countries’ politics, doing everything that screams “dictator.” We were warned back in the early 90s of what could happen if the void in former Soviet Russia was not filled quickly with a strong alternative to communism. In the late 90s, Russians were in poverty. And look who swooped in and took over. Now, according to experts such as Fiona Hill, it’s not Soviet Russia he wants to rebuild, but Imperialist Russia.
Now that Putin has invaded a sovereign nation without provocation and is bombing it into submission (and yes, it’s wrong for the US to do it, too), the cries of “Antichrist” are rising. See the following:
CBN–Who Really Is the Antichrist? Bible Expert Explains After Ukrainian Archbishop Calls Putin the ‘Antichrist of Our Time’
The Bible expert in this article notes the difference between fundie and Orthodox versions of the Antichrist because the archbishop said “of our time” instead of “the End Times.” He sees the many different antichrist figures throughout history. But Kinley takes the usual literalist view of the prophecies, which doesn’t give you the full picture of what they’re saying.
With literalism, you miss that many parts of the prophecies were fulfilled a long time ago, or how segments of Revelations are basically an ancient worship service. You miss how much is metaphor or allegory, and how the same prophecy can be fulfilled in the past, is being fulfilled in the present, and will be fulfilled in the future. You simply can’t approach them expecting everything to exactly match when it’s talking about beasts with seven heads rising from the sea. A more metaphorical, allegorical, and liturgical interpretation allows you to see how the Antichrist story plays itself out over and over again throughout history. The maniacal leader rises up, gets a cult to worship him and act as his religious backer, gains power, crushes his enemies, persecutes the resisters, and finally falls. Revelations is a primer on how to keep yourself from falling for the next Antichrist. If people looked at it that way, a lot fewer people would currently be kissing the ring of Trump–or of Putin, for that matter.
Kinley says Putin can’t be the End of Times Antichrist because he uses war to get his way. But that doesn’t fit my reading of Revelations, for one–the Antichrist is very warlike–and for another, we know that Putin has many dedicated followers. We hear about dissenters, but from my own personal experiences and the stories of people who know actual Russians, it’s very common for them to think he’s performed a “miracle” in Russia and that Russian propaganda is the truth. A couple of weeks ago, a dear online friend scolded us all for listening to “state media” when Putin was not invading Ukraine, but working to get rid of a fascist regime! The Antichrist figure may not start out making war, but first gains the love of his people by turning their lives around. Hitler did the same thing.
Now for articles about the Orthodox Archbishop who points to Putin as the Antichrist of our time:
THE PATRIARCH’S COMPLICITY IN THE INVASION OF UKRAINE by Igumen Vladimir (Tobin)
Ukrainian bishop says Putin is the ‘Antichrist of our current time’: ‘Against God’s law’
Ukrainian Bishop Calls Putin ‘The Antichrist of Our Current Time’
Ukrainian religious leaders liken Putin to anti-Christ, Hitler
Address by Metropolitan Epiphanius (February 27, 2022) (You can run this through Google Translate.)
The BBC interview with the archbishop (This seems to be it, though “interview” seems generous. It was just a couple of minutes, halfway through the podcast.)
Update 3/10/22: Evangelicals are getting into it, too: Russia’s war on Ukraine has some Christians wondering: Is this the end of the world?
Update 3/13/22: Articles examining the religious element of the invasion:
War is Evil–So why does religion inspire it?
Next Year in Kyiv? When it comes to Russian Orthodoxy, Kyiv is essentially Jerusalem.