Trump, Putin, and the Antichrist

I was raised in premillennial dispensationalism during Rapture Fever. I’ve tried to set that all aside and be more amillennial, after much study and becoming Orthodox–but those alarm bells keep going off these days.  Many people have been wondering if Trump is actually the Antichrist, if maybe it’s time to take those End of the World predictions seriously after all.

It even trended on Twitter a while back, not seriously but jokingly–though some people pointed out alarming prophecies that sounded like him.  Shortly after, I tweeted that Trump can’t be the Antichrist if he gets impeached.  But then he said we were pulling out of Syria, and I tweeted that I take that back because here he goes and sparks Armageddon: His actions allowed captured ISIS members to escape, and Turkey and Putin to get what they wanted in Syria–along with one of our military bases.

However, Putin seems a more likely contender for the Antichrist, with the Russian Orthodox Church as his Prophet.

Trump may be too much of a puppet of other nations to be the Antichrist, too easily manipulated by Putin, Erdogan, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, etc.  Putin’s definitely smarter than Trump, and he’s got the Russian Orthodox Church in his pocket (the Prophet).  The last two patriarchs are rumored to have been KGB agents.  The church blesses nuclear weapons, and separated from the rest of us when the Ecumenical Patriarch allowed the Ukrainians to form their own church separate from Russia.  Putin’s tentacles have been reaching all over–all documented as truth, and not conspiracy theories, by intelligence agencies of various countries.

He’s even got members of the GOP doing what he wants, along with Trump.  We see signs of this in both the Mueller Report and the Ukrainian debacle, along with reports in the news of politicians being benefited by Russians, Saudis, and others.

(Such as, McConnell is accused of allowing the end of sanctions against companies owned by an oligarch named in the Mueller Report–so that one of those companies could build in Kentucky.  Also, a group of aides and former officials are accused of working around Congress in a potentially illegal deal to get nuclear power to Saudi Arabia–and fill the pockets of many.)

GOP House members have been pushing conspiracy theories that are confirmed by government officials (particularly Fiona Hill in the latest Impeachment Hearing) to have come straight from Russia’s propaganda machine, his cyber war to turn the West against Ukraine and weaken NATO.  The biggest proponents of these conspiracy theories in the hearings included Nunes and Jordan, trying to shout down and ridicule and silence witnesses and House reps who told the truth.

Through Trump, American Evangelicals are falling into Putin’s trap as well, supporting Putin’s own tool to bring down our democracy.

As an amillennialist, I believe that the events commonly attributed by dispensationalists to the End Times refer to events that have already happened in history, either before or after the apocalyptic books (Daniel, Revelations) were written.  Also, that several events referred to by Jesus happened in AD 70, when Jerusalem was besieged with devastating results.  (Josephus describes the horrific events, complete with cannibalism.)

But the Bible also refers to antichrists not as a one-time event, but as a spirit that continually emerges.  A good run-down of the various interpretations is here.  My studies, including of Orthodox interpretation, have led me to believe that the prophecies refer to things that have happened, and things that will continue to happen.  I thought we didn’t hold to any part of premillennial dispensationalism, but some Orthodox sources say the prophecies refer to the End Times as well.

So you can say that Antiochus Epiphanes was an antichrist.  Nebuchadnezzar was an antichrist.  Caligula was an antichrist.  Hitler is the most obvious antichrist of the twentieth century, with the state-supported church as his prophet, bringing the whole world into Armageddon, then finally defeated.  But he’s certainly not the only one even of that century.  Soviet Russia was full of the spirit of antichrist.  Communist China is also filled with the spirit of antichrist.

Trump is shaping up to be an antichrist of the 21st century, throwing our government into disarray, systematically setting himself up as a dictator until nobody is left around him but sycophants and justices who’ll do what he wants.  The great irony is that Evangelicals, after spending decades warning us of the Antichrist, didn’t recognize him and are now worshipping him, becoming his Prophet.

But there are many people in power now who qualify as an antichrist: Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Erdogan, Orban; the crown prince of Saudi Arabia is certainly shaping up to be one.  Trump is doing his best, but we still have the workings of democracy trying to get him in check.  But are any of these the Antichrist at the End of the World?

That one can’t be answered until it happens.  However, there are some significant elements now in the world that make it possible: Climate change, for one.  We’re getting countless accounts from scientists warning us that the clock is ticking and if we don’t make drastic changes, we could soon see the end of human life on Earth.  This has been going on since the Industrial Revolution, but never faster than now.  Yet governments keep ignoring the warning signs because their fat cats don’t want to lose money.  Another element is the computer age.  Putin has been infiltrating the elections of various NATO countries not with the military, but with the Internet.  He’s found it easy to manipulate millions through Twitter bots, not just in America but in the UK and probably other countries as well.  There are ridiculous, unfounded rumors of body counts around the Clintons, but there are actual body counts piling up around Putin.

But then again, throughout history, antichrists keep meeting their end.  They all die eventually, after all–often prematurely.  Hitler met a spectacular end–like the hand of God–that led to the destruction of Nazi Germany and the deaths of many of the people in charge.  Kingdoms and empires are strong for a time, but always fall eventually, sometimes thanks to people rising up and fighting back.  We may still turn climate change around.  Trump is most definitely going to be impeached; there are many reports of his health deteriorating, and if enough people speak out, the GOP Senate could very well change their minds about removing him.  Putin could meet his own end in one way or another, or we NATO countries could finally win the cyber war.

Ever since my teens, I’ve seen various predictions of the End of the World from Christian “prophets” who turned out to be wrong.  I don’t want to say we are definitely heading into the End Times only to find out nope, wrong again.  Maybe, like every time before, the antichrist will fall but the world will keep turning.  But we do need to keep an eye out for the spirit of antichrist, and take care not to fall into his trap–whether he is “an antichrist” or “THE Antichrist.”

 

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Reblog: Will the Non-Christian be Saved?

From Orthodoxy in Dialogue, the kind of thinking that made Orthodoxy attractive to me:

However, we saw that Christ saves whom He wishes to save, with or without baptism. In other words, the work of Christ is achieved, through the Church, for those who have seen and joined the Church, and can be achieved by Christ loving whomever He wishes to love. In that, Christ does not need the church-establishment to save whomever He wishes to save. He has the ability of invoking His Spirit, His vision, and His love for all human beings, whether they belonged to organised religion or not.

In this reading you might be for Christ by His knowledge, not by yours, and therefore you have come through Him to the Father. Only the Father knows that. Your soul will not be saved in the last day unless you see the vision that Christ poured into you. In simpler terms, you will be a Christian in heaven and non-Christian on earth.

Read the whole article: Will the Non-Christian be Saved? by Metropolitan George (Khodr)

 

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End Times and Christian Zionism

To find a good interpretation of Revelation and other End-Time prophecies, you must look at the Church’s accepted traditions, not newfangled ideas (such as a Rapture before the Tribulation) which popped up in the last few centuries.  One good source is the Orthodox Study Bible.

Challenging Christian Zionism shows how Christian Zionism hampers the peace process in the Middle East.

A review of Left Behind,Fundamentally Unsound” by Michelle Goldberg, has a similar philosophy.

Glenn Scherer argues that “Christian right-views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment.”

This link from the Presbyterian Church (USA) describes Christian Zionism and includes many links on the subject.

This page from Cornerstone Magazine explains how Christian Zionism demonizes certain nations and disrupts the peace process in Israel.

This Catholic website explains, in the “Interpretation” section near the end, how the prophecies of the Beast have been fulfilled in the first century, in the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire.

Catholics, as well as many other Christian denominations, also believe in amillennialism.  Amillennialism would explain why John the Baptist and Christ kept saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

It was also the traditional interpretation of the Church: Though a few early Church Fathers and writers believed the Millennium was to be a literal thousand years, this was not the dominant belief.  In fact, it was rejected at the Second Ecumenical Council (p. 627-628, The Orthodox Study Bible).

This site describes the various interpretations very well.

Eastern Orthodoxy rejects dispensationalism.  Here is an Orthodox writer’s view of premillennial dispensationalism.

Here is the Orthodox view of Revelations.

Also see Left Behind–What is Rapture? by Dave Elfering.

And The $666 Question: How to Interpret the Omen? by Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos.

And, on page 13 of the June/July 2006 issue of the Orthodox Observer, “Revelation Also Speaks to Contemporary Christians” by Fr. Angelo Artemas.

 

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

 

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Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?

Though conservative Protestant denominations tend to agree that the answer is yes, this is by no means what all churches believe.  See above section on Hell.

From the Orthodox Study Bible:

–The Orthodox view is that unbelievers are judged according to the natural law, the law written on the conscience which every human being has.  We are naturally good; to sin is to act against our nature.

–Habitual sins can dull the conscience; the conscience is also the means by which unbelievers can ultimately be saved.  The goal is not man’s praise, but pleasing God.  This is based on Romans 2:14-16 and 29.

–Also, those of us who are aware of the Mosaic Law (particularly the moral one, which still stands) are also aware that it is impossible to keep it perfectly; it cannot make us righteous.

–We are accountable to both the natural and Mosaic Law.   Those who “become righteous by grace through faith fulfill in Christ both the natural and the Mosaic Law” (pp. 341-343, The Orthodox Study Bible).

Jesus Christ’s Parable of the Last Judgment (Matt.25:31-46) indicates that for many people the Judgment will become a moment of insight, recognition and conversion, while for others it may turn out to be a great disappointment and frustration.

Those who were sure of their own salvation will suddenly find themselves condemned, while those who perhaps did not meet Christ in their earthly life (‘when did we see Thee?’) but were merciful towards their neighbour, will be saved.

In this parable, the King does not ask people about matters of belief, doctrine and religious practice. He does not ask them whether they went to church, kept the fasts, or prayed for long time: He only asks them how they treated His ‘brethren’.

The main criteria of the Judgment are therefore the acts of mercy performed or not performed by people during their earthly lives.

According to the teaching of the Church, the Last Judgment will be universal: all people will undergo it, be they believers or non-believers, Christians or non-Christians.

If Christians will be judged by the Gospel’s standards, pagans will be judged by the natural law which is ‘written in their hearts’ (Rom.2:15).

Christians will take full responsibility for their deeds as those who ‘knew’ the will of God, while some non-Christians will be treated less strictly for they did not know God or His will.

The Judgment will ‘begin with the household of the Lord’ (1 Pet.4:17), that is, with the Church and its members, and not with those who did not meet Christ nor hear the message of the Gospel. —The Last Judgment

Also see:

An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions–Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou (Greek)

What about other Christians? (OCA)

Will the Heterodox Be Saved?–Archimandrite (Metropolitan) Philaret

The Catholic view:

Salvation Outside the Church

Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions–Pope Paul VI

Can people from other faiths be saved?

World Religions: A primer for Catholics

Vatican II for Gen-Xers

Can Non-Christians be Saved?

So, in the Orthodox view, what does it mean that Christ is the “Way, the Truth and the Life”?  It does not mean that belief in Christ is the only way to Heaven, or that Christ is a gatekeeper keeping out the unbelievers.  (One Orthodox forum poster jokingly referred to this belief as “Bouncer of Heaven.”)  Rather, it means that Christ is the Judge of who receives salvation.

How will people be judged if they were not properly taught about Christ?  We don’t know.  But, as my priest says, we who were properly taught have the responsibility to believe/live the faith, be an example of it, and pray for those who are not Christians.

And how do the Orthodox answer the question, “What’s the point of missions, then, if good Muslims/Hindus/etc. can go to Heaven anyway?”

The point of missions is not to get spiritual notches on your witness belt, or to increase believer counts, or to snatch people out of Hell. Our eternal life begins now, not in Heaven, and here we begin sanctification (“theosis”).

The point of missions is to spiritually feed the church and then the people outside the church, getting them started on theosis right here and now.

“You ask, will the heterodox be saved….Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins…” –St. Theophan the Recluse

For more on this subject, related to the concept of Christ preaching in Hades, see here.

 

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

 

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