JANUARY 9, 2020 BY JAMES F. MCGRATH
There have been a lot of discussion on blogs and elsewhere online about the possibility that U. S. president Donald Trump might be the antichrist. Ironically, and at the same time both disappointingly and rather refreshingly, this discussion hasn’t been among those who’ve been predicting the imminent arrival of the antichrist ever since Darby came up with and successfully promote his Rapture theology in the 19th century. Those very people are the ones who are following a world leader uncritically who is leading them to compromise their fundamental values and engage in acts that are at least tantamount to worship.
I’ve written about this before, on more than one occasion, and indicated that my proposal was offered tongue in cheek, not least because the Bible talks about many antichrists, but also because it is very clear to those who study works like the Book of Revelation closely that they are supposed to be understood about religious and political matters relevant to the initial readers in the first century.
A couple of days ago, however, I had a worrying thought. It hadn’t struck me until now that Trump’s right hand man, his vice president, is from the sort of conservative Christian circles that expects a single antichrist to bring about an apocalyptic war with the U.S.S.R…er, China…I mean, Iraq…oh well, I guess it’s Iran. The false prophets of this viewpoint distort scripture and their followers never lose faith in the underlying approach to the Bible no matter how many times its failure to offer an accurate interpretation of where world events are headed ought to have led them to address the issue.
Against all odds, this futurist view of the “end times” continues to be popular and extremely influential. And we’ve seen in the past how those with beliefs about prophecy and their own times can actually actively bring about the events they think are supposed to happen.
And so I started wondering whether some of the Evangelical supporters of Trump might not actually think he is the antichrist, and precisely for that reason, be goading him on towards doing things that they think the antichrist is supposed to do. Entanglements with Russia in one way, China in another, Iraq, and Iran – or in their thinking probably Gog, Magog, Babylon, and Persia. The move towards Brexit may have rekindled the idea that the European Union, long with too many members for the math to work, might still turn out to be the ten kingdoms that they find mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
In all likelihood, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and others who are poised to influence Trump (such as the pastor of the #MAGAchurch ) are probably not doing this. At least, not consciously. Whether they might be talking about their beliefs to Trump and in his presence and influencing him nonetheless, or simply prompting him in directions they think the “antichrist” “has to” go, is still worth considering as a possibility. Part of me is worried about myself for even exploring an idea like this, which seems too outlandish to be taken seriously. But we live in such strange and worrying times, that on another level it seems as though I ought to have thought about this particular possibility sooner.
What do you think? Might some of the Evangelicals who say that God raised up Trump for such a moment as this be thinking of him not as savior but as deceiver, not as messiah but as antichrist, and as a result be prompting him – again, consciously or not – to do the very things that they think the antichrist “must” do before Jesus returns?
Perhaps the biggest question is, if I did happen to be right, what could be done about it? Some Evangelicals think that these are matters of prophecy that will inevitably be fulfilled, rather than misinterpretations of prophecy and other kinds of biblical literature proffered by Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, and many others. But even if it is self-fulfilling misunderstood and distorted prophecy, the inevitability still seems worryingly to be there, as long as this misguided approach to the scriptures continues to be so widely accepted.
On this topic see most recently Benjamin Corey’s post asking whether American Evangelicals could recognize the Antichrist if they saw him.
Also take a look at these past posts on my blog on this and related topics:
See however this demonstration that Balfour himself is unlikely to have viewed his own actions as a fulfilment of prophecy (although it does not show that he was not influenced by those who viewed things that way).