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.
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."
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.