Is Donald Trump the Antichrist, or does the book called Revelation say nothing about either person?
Donald Trump, the Antichrist? Things are pretty bad. Can we possibly have a POTUS more disastrous than Donald Trump? What a chilling consideration to make! Terrifying to imagine it, yes, I do think that we can have worse. In that direction, maybe we could take Ann Coulter’s recent nomination of Kyle Rittenhouse. He could perhaps out-Trump Trump.
But be that as it may, this country cannot survive another four years with Trump. And he stands shielded behind an army of brainwashed U.S. Christians, Catholics among them screaming, “save the babies!”
It’s easy to imagine apocalyptic scenarios with Trump. By apocalyptic, I mean what popular imagination understands by it. In other words, the stuff of “Terminator” movies and “The Walking Dead.” Scholarly takes on apocalyptic differ from Hollywood, though. But they are just as ethnocentrically anachronistic, I’m afraid.
Donald Trump aside, apocalypse is a nice German word pretending to be Greek. Following Bruce Malina and his fellow Context Group scholars, there is nothing apocalyptic in Scripture, including Apocalypse! As I alluded to in the previous post, the book called “Revelation” is astral prophecy, an ancient astronomic report drawing from Israelite and Mediterranean sky lore.
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Getting Revelation & Donald Trump Wrong
Along with bungling the genre of Mark 13 and “Apocalypse,” here are three more things about Revelation contemporary Christians get wrong—
Revelation is about the future. Is it?
Revelation is concerned about the coming of the Antichrist. Is that true?
Donald Trump is the Antichrist. Is he?
Let’s deal with these in short order.
Revelation Concerns the Forthcoming
First, following Malina and John Pilch, Revelation cannot be about the future. For one thing, ancient Mediterranean people like John the Seer didn’t view time the way we Western 21st century people do. Biblically, time is seen socially, not so much linearly.
Us 21st century Western Christians got socialized into “clock and calendar” time. But not so our Mediterranean ancestors in the faith. Instead, they filtered periods of duration through social relations and social transactions rather than linear sequences. This is social time. Calendars don’t count; people in relationships do.
That’s why the Deuteronomist(s) records one king (e.g., Jeroboam II) in relation to another competing king (Azariah) in 2 Kings 15:1-7. Why? Social time.
The most important part of the word inspiration is the prefix “in.” Inspiration happens in, folks. It happens in history and in culture. Prophecy, therefore, is not concerned with the future, but rather the forthcoming. It is not Nostradamus or Edgar Cayce predicting the future.
Prophecy of Donald Trump??
True prophecy is more like seeing someone pregnant—you know that there probably will be a birth soon. Or seeing someone sowing seed in a field—you know that the harvest should follow. Hence, prophecy concerns the forthcoming, not future. Consequently, prophecy goes according to Mediterranean Biblical time.
And that’s how John the Seer, or prophet, is. He’s an expert on God’s will for the here and now of his day, 2,000 years ago. So when he says Jesus is coming soon, he means soon. Soon as in very soon, and not 2,000 years later.
Antichrist: Missing in Apocalypse!
Secondly, and this may sound unbelievable to many contemporary Christians, but there really is no “Antichrist” in Revelation! There are some sky beasts in Revelation, correct! There is a Sky Beast over the Sea (Revelation 13:1-10) and a Sky Beast over the Land (Revelation 13:11-18). But these are constellations from visions depicting Genesis stories of mythical times, times before the Flood (Genesis 1:1—6:6)!
True, some New Testament Jesus groups did expect the Antichrist. According to these documents, this “man of lawlessness” and “man of perdition” would arrive soon. And yet this figure is not featured in Revelation.
1 John 2:18
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the Antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour.
1 John 2:22
Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the Antichrist.
1 John 4:3
…and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact, is already in the world.
2 John 7
Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the Antichrist.
False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. Look!—I have told it to you beforehand.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
We ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called God and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god—do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things?
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.
Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.
Antichrist: A First Century Reality
Incidentally, these other New Testament documents that speak about Antichrist all do so as if this person is already alive. Even if he is restrained by Roman authority, as the forger of “2 Thessalonians” suggests, this “lawless one” was active in the first century. He was going to be revealed back then.
Devilish Donald Trump
So finally we come to Donald Trump. Is Trump the Antichrist spoken of by these New Testament writings?
How can he be? Folks, the Bible was not written for, by, or about 21st-century persons. Therefore how can “Antichrist” be directly applicable to our times?
What about indirectly? Maybe. But we have to work very hard to build bridges of understanding whenever we read the Bible. By being respectful readers, we can find its relevance for God and us speaking to us today.
Donald Trump: Antichrist or Anti-Christ?
Now one caveat. As I just said, Antichrist is featured in the letters called “John.” Additionally, these documents provide a way of understanding Antichrist in the plural. Anyone who denies Jesus in the flesh can be thought of as an Antichrist.
Now consider all the ways we deny Christ in our fellow human beings. Think about racism. Or classism. Or misogyny. And how we criminalize the poor and migrants. Or our endless wars. So don’t these evils belong to the spirit of Antichrist? Can we not say that living and working accordingly, especially while calling yourself Christian, is to be, spiritually, an Antichrist?
While Donald Trump is not the Antichrist, he is undoubtedly anti-Christ in light of these social evils. So too are his blind followers.