This past week a heckler was escorted from a speech by President Obama for calling the President ‘the Antichrist’. If you want to read about it or watch the video, here are some links.
I find this story very interesting for four reasons:
First, I passionately believe that the Book of Revelation was a spiritual-political commentary on the Roman Empire of the first two centuries. It was written in a Jewish style of literature called Apocalyptic. I do not think it is about our day nor is it about the end of the world. It is an inspired (and thus scripture) movement of prophetic imagination to call for (in hope) a preferable future.
but that is not how I was taught to read the Bible. I was taught to read it in one hand with a newspaper in the other (as they say). I was told that we could see events (like the Bear from the East) being fulfilled in the Soviet Union or Israel. I no longer believe this but am fascinated by those who still do.
Second, there is no such thing as the Antichrist. Now, scripture does speak about an antichrist spirit – it is all in the books of 1 and 2 John of the Bible and there are 4 references – none of them are what get thrown around these days. The idea of THE Antichrist is actually a horrible amalgamation of nearly every bad-guy in the Bible mashed into one. We take the Man of Lawlessness (from Thessalonians), the Prince (from Daniel) and a whole bunch of other baddies from the Old and New Testament and transform them into one galactically bad figured called THE Antichrist. In reality, there is no such thing.
Third, if there was such a cosmic bad-guy, do you think that you could just pay $250 dollars for entrance to a fundraiser and yell at him because he let gays into the military? Don’t you think that he would destroy you with like… I don’t know… beams of hell-fire from his eyes or something. You can’t just yell at the Antichrist and get away with it. What are you thinking?
Fourth, if this were the “End Times” and Obama was the Antichrist, then what would be the mark of the Beast? (referenced in Revelation 13:16) Ask yourself: what global system in place today requires you to submit and be qualified in order to participate (buy or sell) in the economy?
The answer: capitalism. If this is the “end times” that we live in, then capitalism is the that mark of the beast that you must submit to – which explains how a loaf of bread could end up costing a bag of gold. Yet, I don’t hear any of the Left-Behind style dispensational End Times Christians coming out against capitalism. Weird… it’s almost like we are reading our Bible through a cultural lens that is not very consistent…
So in the end, I’ll restate that the Book of Revelation was a spiritual-political commentary on the Roman Empire of the first two centuries. It was written in a Jewish style of literature called Apocalyptic that we are not too familiar with these days – which leads to a lot of misunderstanding. I do not think that it is about either our day nor is it about the end of the world. I think that more Christians should say this out loud so that it is clear – not all Christians think that way.