When First Baptist's Robert Jeffress proclaimed a couple of weeks back that President Obama is "paving the way for the antichrist," we dismissed it as a publicity stunt designed to sell copies of his new book on the end times.
Not everyone was so quick to call Jeffress' claim empty bombast. Take this Christian Post piece from over the weekend in which a reporter, apparently keeping a straight face, asks two Baptist biblical scholars -- or rather as the headline suggests "experts" on the Obama-antichrist link -- to weigh in on the controversy.
Darrell Bock, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, offers a slight rebuke to Jeffress, saying that while "believers are to keep watch and be alert" for the second coming of Christ and all that will entail, the timing is unknowable.
He points out that the U.S. is mentioned nowhere in the Bible and that previous attempts to prophesy the end times have, well, failed.
The second expert, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, is less cautious. Though he tells the Christian Post that "Identifying specific politicians with the antichrist of the last days is clearly absurd," Jeffress is generally on point.
"The rapid expansion of the powers of government and the growing dependency on the welfare state set the stage for the antichrist, since that is precisely what he is forecast to do," he says. "Dr. Jeffress is not personally attacking President Obama. He is simply attempting to explain to his people what is to happen next."
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Indeed, his reference to a specific political figure aside, Jeffress' is bread-and-butter Baptism. Here's what the Southern Baptist Convention has in its statement of faith under the heading "Last Things":
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
There are competing interpretations of how that will come to pass, but no one can say for certain that Obama isn't paving the way for the antichrist.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.