Nov

16

2012

Joe Carter|8:56 AM CT

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.

4. Hitler

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."

6. Napoleon

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.

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Bible and Theology
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  • Ron Newberry

    How about Hal Lindsy himself

  • Antenicene

    The Reformers all thought it was the the Pope, but as of the 20th Century most of their denominational heirs have struck that language from all of their books. Every generation tries to find a scapegoat to wear that evil button: "Antichrist".

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  • Adam Hawkins

    Shame on Jeffress

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  • http://www.therebornmanifesto.wordpress.com Noah in NC

    Really folks, why can't we see what is right in front of us? Let us as the Church stop being blind and wake up to reality:

    Carpathia IS the antichrist!

  • http://brokenandundone.wordpress.com/ Bill

    Technically... if there is a tie for #5, the next position is #7. Just sayin' :)

  • Danny

    Oh, my bad...saw Gorbachev's name/face and didn't see Kissinger.

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  • Wood K

    Would be relevant to claim, that the Illuminati-belief, which is very common among nonbelievers to be a powerclaiming organisation pulling strings and soon to take over in a one-world-govermental organisation.

    Others claim that the movement towards unifying trends, movements and beliefs towards lesser diversity through tolerance and globalisation (just look at the oneworld.121212.org) will lead to the possible antichristian figure. That should not need to be problematic for most people, as most will have adapted to the postmodern tolerance-socity, and most will have adopted the cash-free socity through phonepayments, webpayments or event biometric payments for everything. Some then imagine a TonyBlair-role - or a post-presidential BarachObama in a kind of global UN-role for tolerance and peace (read intolerance and tribulation).

    Most scary is the thought, that only few will come through - when you look at the chaos/revolution in christian belief these days...

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  • Ken

    How about all the churches that don't have Christ as the cornerstone.

  • http://Www.corinthtoday.org Paul Cummings

    We decided a couple years ago to cut back our bills which meant going with a $15 a month TV package, somehow this still allows for about 12 "Christian" networks (DishTv). And I am constantly amazed at how often as I have flipped through our sparse channel selection and run across these 12 or so channels, how often they are speaking of the antichrist, end times and "the rapture" (it's always a premellinial post dispensational slant). People sitting around a table pointing to scripture and current figures in the world political landscape and making assertions about them fulfilling this or that from Daniel, Revelation and Isaiah. It's hard to believe that anyone with half a brain would even listen...but even more astounding that they have enough money to run an entire tv network! Geez.

  • John

    Seriously? This is being discussed on the Gospel Coalition? This unbiblical doomsday interpretation of the works of John? The Gospel is the good news of Christ, not the bad news about what some "Sci-Fi" authors write to strike fear in our minds and sell some novels.

    Revelation is a picture of what's going on in the world now, not some future far off place that will be set into action by 4 dudes riding on horses. The story of Revelation is a great accompaniment to the Gospel. It shows us that God is control over all things (good and bad) and is working for our good.

    The anit-christ isn't some specific individual, it's anything and anyone that leads us away from Christ and separates us from the kingdom. We've been living in the end times since Christ's ascension, and we will be until he returns ago. This is why missions is imperative: we must fulfill the great commission and preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to all peoples.

    • http://127project.net David

      ...And we have all been "Jesus juked" by John. http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2010/11/the-jesus-juke/

      • http://www.thekingsfellowship.com Steve, Winnipeg, Canada

        Jesus Juke? I agree.

        What about questions that challenge whether something should even be written about on someone else's blog? It's someone else's blog!

    • MarieP

      John, at the beginning of the article, Joe Carter wrote,

      "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."

      So, I don't think he'd disagree with what you said. You are right that Revelation is a great accompaniment to the Gospel! As one has so well said, the message of Revelation is "the Lamb wins!"

    • Joe Carter

      ***Seriously? This is being discussed on the Gospel Coalition? This unbiblical doomsday interpretation of the works of John?***

      I certainly hope you don't think that my writing about the topic is an endorsement of the "Name the Antichrist" craze.

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  • Andrew

    People really need to start reading their bibles more. First, the word "antichrist" only appears in 2 books of the bible: 1 & 2 John. It never even appears in the book of Revelation, so why is Revelation mentioned? Second, 2 John 1:7 defines what an "antichrist" is: "For MANY deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist." (emp added) So the keyword here being "many" and not that the antichrist is any one particular person. Third, 1 John 4:3 describes how the antichrist is "in the world already", so how can we be saying that Obama's re-election would lead to the reigning of the "antichrist", when the BIBLE clearly says that antichrists are in the world already.

    Read your bible. Don't just listen to your pastor or popular authors. When someone mentions something from the bible, OPEN YOUR BIBLE and read it for yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you. It doesn't take a theologian to discover the truth about this stuff. God bless :)

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  • Instead

    Relax. It's not what most of you think. Quit letting your fear control you.

  • Caryl Traugott

    Anyone who has done any research on Hitler knows he was heavily into the occult. He claimed to see "The Antichrist" and said he
    was "afraid of him". Coming from a man who was responsible for over 6 million deaths, if Hitler was afraid, the Antichrist must
    be even more terrible.