Apocalypse Now(ish): Irvin Baxter's End Times Empire

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A particular worry is "one-world government" — aka the United Nations. He warns that President Obama may allow the U.N. to take over the United States and somehow prevent Christians from worshipping freely. In a thriller Baxter wrote a few years ago, titled Dark Intentions, the Antichrist is from the former Soviet Union. But a recent writing speculates that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon could potentially be the Antichrist (although he concedes it's "unlikely").

Baxter is also concerned with government surveillance; like many evangelicals before him, he's constantly looking out for the "Mark of the Beast" referenced in Revelation 13. The chapter refers to a strange, monstrous animal, and says that anyone without its mark won't be permitted to buy or sell.

As with everything in Revelation, it's not clear whether the book's author, John of Patmos, was referring to events that had already occurred or future prophecies. Baxter prefers the latter interpretation. He's warned that the Mark of the Beast might be ID cards to be issued under the Real ID Act of 2005, which mandated U.S. drivers to submit to ID checks to get or renew their licenses. False rumors circulated that people would be forced to have microchips implanted in their hands or carry a card that would allow them to be traceable by GPS.

In 2006, Baxter launched a "No National ID" campaign, and sent magazines on the issue to "every senator, congressman, governor and the President of the United States," he says. His website claims that "as a result of these and other efforts," the implementation of the bill was postponed until next year. (The Department of Homeland Security, facing boycotts from many states and complaints from civil liberties advocates, did delay the implementation of the bill, but there's no evidence Baxter had anything to do with it.)

Baxter also says that the Mark of the Beast could potentially be tied to President Obama's health-care mandate. A recent issue of Endtime claimed that language in the bill provides "a small, hidden back door that could be used to test a device like an implantable RFID chip on a small percentage of the population." In fact, the bill's language talks generally about the possibility of instituting electronic records or "patient-based remote monitoring systems," and doesn't refer specifically to microchipping anybody.

"The time is coming when you'll be forced to pledge allegiance to the one-world government," Baxter warns the Granbury crowd. But it may be possible for the United States to fight one-world government oppression and to oppose the Antichrist.

"I can't promise you, but I think we got a real good chance to opt out" of the Antichrist's reign, he tells them. Scripture says that in the last days, the Antichrist is still fighting wars, he explains. "I hope one of 'em is against us. I hope we'll say, 'We're out of here. We're one nation under God!" He has to stop at that point, engulfed in a prolonged wave of applause and shouts of "Glory!" and "Preach it!" from the audience.

The underlying message of Baxter's ministry is that all of this — one-world government, the reign of the Antichrist, the tumultuous last battle and the return of Christ — is set to happen imminently. "I would be guilty of criminal negligence if I did not warn in the strongest of terms that we are now in an unprecedented danger zone," he writes in Endtime's most recent issue. But he's also learned over the years not to get too specific, or make promises he can't keep. In 2006, he told The Dallas Morning News, "We have either just entered or we are just before the beginning of the seven-year period that will end in Armageddon."

These days, when talking to a reporter, he's a little fuzzier on the details. "I definitely could not do that today," he says, when asked whether he can pinpoint an exact date. "Once the final seven years begins and we know it begins, we have specific time-frames." At that time, he says, his math will be "pretty exact, within 45 to 75 days. At some point, we will be quite accurate."

A few years and a few thousand miles from Baxter, an English-Irish priest and theologian named John Darby could also see that the end was approaching. In the 1840s, Darby was particularly scandalized by the telegraph, which he saw as an invention of Cain and a harbinger of Armageddon.

Darby didn't see the events in the Bible, particularly the book of Revelation, as having happened in the past. He preached that many were yet to come, particularly a pair of verses from Thessalonians: "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord."

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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan