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Revisiting: Putin as Antichrist?

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.

Some groups think Trump is the Messiah?

So I’m checking out the blog of a fundamentalist who claims that Trump is indeed the Antichrist at the End of the World–not sure whether to believe, but curious how he counters objections and explains his points.  Then I come across this:

But nevertheless, Orthodox Jews do believe their messiah will be Jewish and of the house of David – which is true of the True Messiah, Jesus. But they do not recognize Jesus, and so they still search for their Jewish messiah, a false christ, the Antichrist. Please watch my video.. https://youtu.be/F-UxKCzsURI – This video observes that some Orthodox Jews are searching Donald Trump’s ancestry to find a link to King David. –Brother James, Misconception: Antichrist Will be Jewish and Not a Gentile

The video led me to this article in the Christian Post: Some Rabbis in Israel Believe Trump Could Be Messiah or His Forerunner, End Times Author Says  Lots of crazyness is there; especially note this:

“We would say the second coming is about to happen, but their messiah is going to be a false messiah. He’s going to be the anti-Christ, right? I also don’t believe Donald Trump is the antichrist. So I think the smart ones in Israel are looking at him right now, saying, he is God’s, what we would call, John the Baptist. He is God’s messenger. When he takes over in January there is a 5777 countdown to the appearance of the messiah,” Horn added.

The Jerusalem Post reported last month that Shas Chairman and Minister Aryeh Deri said Trump’s election could herald the coming of the messiah due to the blow he expects the next president will strike against the “non-Orthodox Jewish hold on the U.S. government.”

(So–If Trump is the forerunner, could the messiah be–Putin?)

Some groups think Trump is the Messiah? 1

I checked the Jerusalem Post link and did a little googling, and there is indeed such a person as Deri making such claims about Trump.  Meanwhile, Netanyahu has been doing everything he can to benefit from friendship with Trump, which has been fulfilling his wishlist.  Netanyahu has been playing into Trump’s narcissism, even naming a Golan Heights settlement after him.  ABC News reports an Israeli group is selling a special-edition Trump coin.

From Henry Siegman’s What my escape from Hitler’s Germany taught me about Trump’s America:

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has presented itself to the world as an avatar of democracy and guardian of the moral truths the world needs to learn about the Holocaust. Yet its governmental leaders and a majority of its Jewish citizens—led by its prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu—have fully embraced Trump (as well, in some instances, as the authoritarian leaders embraced by Trump).

Giant posters and photographs of Trump were recently plastered on the streets and public places of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Declaring “Trump is a friend of Zion” and “Trump Make Israel Great,” they expressed adoration of the man who doubled down on his insistence on the moral equivalence of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the Americans who took to the streets to express their abhorrence of these racists and anti-Semites.

So I don’t know how pervasive a belief in Trump as the messiah/forerunner actually is in Israel.  But there are certainly groups pushing the idea.  And to see a malignant narcissist such as Trump–one of the worst people this world has ever produced–viewed as a messiah is frightening.  He has a lot in common with, say, Hitler or Nebuchadnezzar.  Many of us see him as far more likely to be the Antichrist at the End of the World.  Or at least one of many antichrists which have popped up throughout history.

Meanwhile, I keep finding various accounts that some Evangelicals don’t bother fighting climate change because they see it as the End of the World rapidly approaching–meaning Christians finally triumph over their enemies.

Whether you believe or not that the Bible truly prophesies the End of the World, complete with plagues and the Beast (Antichrist) and one-world government etc., many people do believe and behave accordingly.  And we have several facts in front of us.

One is that climate change is real and is already leading to catastrophe around the world: erosion, fires, mass extinctions, floods, extreme heat, extreme storms, etc.  People are already losing their homes and being forced to move because of it; animals and other creatures are also on the move.  I’ve seen reports that farmers know very well that climate change is real, because they’re being forced to change their practices.  With or without prophecy, climate change could lead to the End of the World if we do nothing about it.

Another fact is that some groups of people are venerating Trump for various reasons, making him into a god.

No matter what you believe about biblical prophecy, these are very dangerous factors that could turn the End of the World into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather fight back, not sit back and allow this to happen because of our own stupidity.

 

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 and preterist, 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.”

Update 12/30/19: This is not specifically an “endorsement” because I haven’t checked out the site/videos yet.  But here’s somebody who is convinced that Trump is the Antichrist: Brother James Key

Update 6/23/20: Benjamin Corey, a “former fundie” who starts out planning to make light of the whole thing, ends up, as he puts it, “unsettled” by what he finds in biblical prophecy, here.  He updated his post a few weeks ago; things have happened since he originally wrote it that are alarming (such as COVID-19 and events during the BLM protests) and add more support to the idea that Trump could be an antichrist–or even the Antichrist.

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)

 

“Kingdom Come”: Left Behind Review, Part 1–Where the Old Testament Law is Reinstated

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0842361901, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

FINALLY!  After 5 1/2 years, I’ve made it to the end of this series!  It’s hard to believe it’s been so long–I could swear I just started this–But then, at my age, the years just fly by like the snowy owls we have around here: One moment you see it, the next it’s gone.

Now for my final review:

The Millennial Kingdom is described in the early pages.  Now Jesus is in charge of the whole world, and it seems rather Taliban-like: If you don’t get saved by age 100, you die and spend eternity in Hell.  (This does not apply to Jews.)

If you sin, you can get incinerated–or not.

And it seems that the Old Testament Law, which even the Apostles deemed too oppressive to put over Christians, is now back in effect, even the sacrifices and holidays!  Things which the Apostles and other Early Church leaders scolded their flock not to do, are now being done.

And now the Jews are the Chosen People again, and Gentile Christians are the “foreigners.”  What about everyone being equal?

First we have “The Millennial Kingdom,” a chapter which claims to describe what will happen during the Millennium.  Not what the authors think will happen, but what life will be like.  It’s things like [italics mine],

“Everyone will be assigned temporary housing until Jesus reconstructs the earth.”

An earthquake will have caused a residue that makes the entire planet sea-level.

“You may be a stellar student or an athlete or even a bit of a techie, but you will not have to be good with your hands.  You may not be a gardener let alone a farmer, and perhaps you always pay to have carpentry, wiring, or plumbing done around the house.  But in that day God will plant within you the desire–and the acumen–to do all those things yourself.”

How the heck do the authors know these things will happen?  Isn’t this all just speculation?

On page xli, we learn that the moon and sun are “supercharged by the Shekinah glory of Christ,” so you can’t go outside without sunglasses, and even at night it’s bright.  (I wear my sunglasses at night….)  It’s hard to adjust to sleeping in the light.

Sounds like the sun is going into supernova; isn’t that a bad thing, meaning the imminent end of the earth?  But then, at the end of the 1000 years, the earth is destroyed by fire from the heavens and from within the earth (p. 350)–Oh, hey, it IS a supernova!

And it sounds too frickin’ bright, not like paradise at all.  You need the night and its cooling for sleep; nocturnal animals need the night, too.

Also, now everyone speaks Hebrew fluently.  The rationale is Zephaniah 3:9, which says, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.”

How does that translate to Hebrew?  Why Hebrew and not some other language that’s actually still being used?  Hebrew is not designed for 21st-century life.  I bet their word for “cellphone” is English, not Hebrew!

What’s wrong with, say, a heavenly language?  How is Hebrew better than any other language?  Is it because the Bible was written in it?  The Bible was also written in Aramaic and ancient Greek–Why not one of those?

This version of the Millennium is also not the only one in Christendom.  It’s called premillennialism.  There is also post-millennialism and amillennialism.

Orthodoxy goes with amillennialism, or that the Millennium is symbolic of the time after Christ.  (More info here.)  Then at the end, Christ comes back, there is the Judgment (not a bunch of little judgments as in the Left Behind books), and then:

Thus, in its faith in resurrection and eternal life, the Orthodox Church looks not to some “other world” for salvation, but to this very world so loved by God, resurrected and glorified by Him, tilled with His own divine presence.

At the end of the ages God will reveal His presence and will fill all creation with Himself. For those who love Him it will be paradise. For those who hate Him it will be hell. And all physical creation, together with the righteous, will rejoice and be glad in His coming.

…When the Kingdom of God fills all creation, all things will be made new. This world will again be that paradise for which it was originally created. This is the Orthodox doctrine of the final fate of man and his universe.

It is sometimes argued, however, that this world will be totally destroyed and that God will create everything new “out of nothing” by the act of a second creation….

Because the Bible never speaks about a “second creation” and because it continually and consistently witnesses that God loves the world which He has made and does everything that He can to save it, the Orthodox Tradition never interprets such scriptural texts as teaching the actual annihilation of creation by God.

It understands such texts as speaking metaphorically of the great catastrophe which creation must endure, including even the righteous, in order for it to be cleansed, purified, made perfect, and saved….See full article at The Symbol of Faith: Eternal Life, OCA website

This also contradicts the LaHaye/Jenkins vision of the final end of everything after the Millennium ends and God’s opponents are incinerated: the earth is incinerated as well, replaced with a new one.

I’ve also noted that the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern part of the Roman Empire which lived on after the Western part fell into the Dark Ages, lasted for about 1000 years–then was laid waste by the Ottomans.

Since the Byzantine Empire was Christian, it works well as a literal Millennium–except for the end, of course.  How could God’s Empire end with the evil side winning Armageddon?

On page 7, Irene is in the middle of reminiscing about Heaven: “She was able to describe the very portals of the house of God, a great, cathedral-like expanse where the redeemed of the ages were arrayed in purest white….”

Hmmmm….Last I recall, from The Rapture, they were all nekkid.

Fans of the Slacktivist‘s Left Behind reviews, have joked about the Millennium’s “steaming piles of fresh produce, drenched in butter.”  Well, here they are on pages 2 and 11!

You see, meat is no longer used for food, despite the sacrifices (which are once again started in the Temple) and the eating of perfect meat after Armageddon (see Glorious Appearing).

So veggies drenched in butter are suddenly feasting food….I’m not quite sure I get the attraction….Where’s the cheese dip? the ranch dressing?

On page 13 is a reference to “new wine,” and we soon learn that people drink wine in the Millennium.  But…I thought “new wine” was actually grape juice, according to Evangelical lore, and that wine is evil, so we’re not supposed to drink it at communion?

(Seriously, that’s how I was raised.  It was a huge adjustment to take actual wine for communion in the Orthodox church, because I’d always taken grape juice.)

The hills and mountains now literally drip with “new wine” and flow with milk instead of water.  But….What if you’re lactose intolerant?  Chaim quotes some passage of the Bible where this image comes from.  Yeah….I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be a metaphor.

To be continued.

 

 

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