Obama is not the Anti-Christ

Remember that “Obama is the Anti-Christ” video that was going around last week? Well, John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Biola, watched it, didn’t like it, and proceeded to demolish the arguments behind it.

Here is his summary of the arguments:

1. take a verse written in Greek (and spoken in Aramaic)
2. find Hebrew words that may (but probably are not) equivalent
3. listen to the sentence in English and hear what the words sound like
4. suggest that the President may be the Antichrist.

I didn’t make any comments at the time, but I feel that video, if it was made sincerely and not as satire, is wrong in so many ways.

First, it shows a complete ignorance of not only ancient languages, but also of even rudimentary dispensational theology. I will confess that I have not seen the updated video, but in the original, it explains that Aramaic is the most ancient form of Hebrew. A cursory check of Wikipedia would have shown that to be false at worst, and an extreme generalization at best. Claiming words Jesus spoke in ~30 CE (words that were subsequently recorded in a completely different language) can be defined by a language spoken 500 years earlier is ludicrous.

The video also somehow takes a passage referring to Satan and twists it into a passage about the Anti-Christ. Dispensationalism does not teach an equivocation of the man known as The Anti-Christ and Satan. (Not being a dispensationalist, I could be wrong.) While they hold that Satan may indwell the body of this man at a certain point, the Anti-Christ figure is never Satan himself.

Second, any good dispensationalist knows that you have to produce evidence when you assert a leader is the anti-Christ. I mean, a few twisted words here and there does not make an anti-Christ; at least bring some other prophecies into it to make your case. This video is basically just the Bible Code with a nice devil background. Put some more effort into it.

Which brings me to my third point: the Bible is not some code book that has to have all the right conditions in order to be properly interpreted. This video is not only American-centric, but it also robs much of the Scriptures from the Church. I mean, if Jesus was talking about Pres. Obama, then what did the disciples get out of it? How did the 1st through 20th century church benefit? This kind of interpretation makes the Bible about us and no one else.

Finally, as Dr. Reynolds states, this type of interpretation denigrates true martydom. If Obama is The Anti-Christ of dispensationalism, then why aren’t Christians suffering here in America? Let’s not kid ourselves and think we have it bad here; we have it better than almost anyone else in the world.

I don’t think it uncharitable to point out the flaws in the video. The people who produced it put it out there for all to see and have proven by their very words they do not understand the Bible. They are attempting to teach the world and are making all of us look like fools (even more so than usual). We can and must stand up and say “That’s not us.”

Rick Warren's Invocation

Rick Warren provided an unlikely invocation during President Obama’s inauguration today.  Following this summer’s posts on Christian prayers in the public sphere, I’d like to know what others think about the prayer.  He clearly did not bow to public pressure from just about every corner to “lighten” the prayer and not pray it in Jesus’ name.

I think he did an admirable job, clearly knowing a good portion of the people there were not interested in what he had to say, but nevertheless being unafraid to speak the truth.  Opponents of Warren may have something to say about his theology or methods, but you can’t say anything about this guy’s courage.  He prayed what needed to be prayed.

Here is the video of the prayer:

And the text:

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

The Scripture tells us Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Amen.

Archbishop Tutu on Obama's Election

Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus, on Barack Obama:

Obama’s election has given hope to people everywhere that change is possible, that this debilitating status quo of a polarized world of “them” and “us” can change. People the world over want the U.S. to take its rightful place as leader in the commonwealth of nations. They want to see a U.S. without the arrogant unilateralism that led to the disastrous Iraq invasion, to the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the refusal to sign the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. All this left the world resenting a bullyboy U.S.

The world now expects the new President to close down that abomination, Guantánamo Bay; to bring viable initiatives for peace in the Middle East; to bolster a good Bush project, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); to take real notice of Africa and other developing parts of our global village.

Today, those who want to end the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance, those who want to promote justice, peace and greater tolerance among different faiths are celebrating because Barack Obama is the new President of the United States.

From Time.com

Why the Obama Antichrist Email is Important

Since I first posted on the email saying the Bible teaches Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, I’ve received a number of emails and a few comments suggesting that I am any number of unmentionable things, including a racist anti-Christ.  Not once did I actually ever say I believed Sen. Obama is the anti-Christ (unless you count sarcasm), but people’s perceptions about my hidden intent made them believe I was saying just that.  In fact, even after making it clear I do not believe the email, people still wrote to me claiming I did believe it “in my heart.”

So why do I keep subjecting myself to this?  Aside from the humor of it (and don’t get me wrong, I find it amusing to no end), is there any reason to even bring up this crap?  I mean, it seems to be doing nothing other than getting people mad.  Well, I believe there is a purpose to posting on these emails, and it has everything to do with the Gospel.

First, it’s important because people actually believe this stuff.  I still know some co-workers who are against Obama because he won’t put his hand over his heart when the national anthem is playing, or he was sworn into the Senate with a Koran.  Even after pointing out, with proof, that it’s not true, these people still persist in believing he’s some kind of secret Muslim terrorist.

For some reason, and I really don’t know if I completely understand it, when some people get an email that confirms their suspicions, they hold onto that belief despite any and all evidence to the contrary.  So, these lies need to be brought into the light and mocked.  I suppose I’m contradicting myself, because I know they probably won’t change their minds, but the more absurd we can make these lies, the better.

I’m not telling people to support Obama, but if you’re going to be against him, be against him for what he actually does believe, not some lie you read in an email.  And the same goes for Sen. McCain.

Second, and perhaps the most serious, pointing out this email is important because someone, in the name of Christianity, is lying.  This email, and many others like it, are bald faced lies.  I don’t know the author, so it could be someone pulling a prank; I’ve often thought of making up an email about a supposed threat, just to see how long it takes to get back to me.  But assuming it isn’t, some person out there sat down at their computer and composed an email full of lies for the express purpose of defaming a man’s character (to say nothing of connecting it to an innocent man, Dr. John Tisdale).  This is serious stuff, and if I were the one doing it, my church would probably have something to say to me about it.

Finally, I find it important to bring up this email and mock it because it advances unbiblical teachings.  I have never tried to be a discernment blogger, nor do I think I’m smart enough to be one, but the crap in this email purporting to be biblical truth needs to be pointed out for what it is.  I don’t know of a single respected dispensationalist who teaches what is found in this email.  I know there’s a rich history of “discovering who the anti-Christ really is”, but not in serious academic circles.  If this is really what is being taught in some churches, then it is a sad commentary on the state of Christianity.

So, I bring up and mock this email, not because I’m a McCain supporter (I’m not), or because I’m a racist in the KKK (I’m not and I don’t even know where they would meet or how you would sign up), nor because I am the anti-Christ myself (I don’t think someone can accept Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and be anti-Christ) but because it’s full of crap and needs to be made fun of.

Dr. John Tisdale Responds to Obama Antichrist Email

I don’t know why I’m getting into this again, what with all of the tolerant, loving people who sent me hate mail, but Dr. John Tisdale has responded to the email going around saying Barack Obama is the anti-Christ.  I’ll admit I really thought it was just a made up name, but I guess the guy does exist and doesn’t like Barack Obama, but does not think the Senator is the anti-Christ.

Here’s the pertinent portion:

An email has circulated referring to “Revelation 13, a Muslim, age 40, etc.” that indicates I may have either originated and/or sent it.  The purpose of the email is to imply that presidential candidate Senator Obama might be the anti-Christ. I am not the originator of that email and have not sent nor forwarded it to anyone. It appears that someone was forwarded a letter I wrote to some friends about a speech Senator Obama made where he said “America is no longer a Christian nation, at least not just, but is a Hindu nation, a Jewish nation, etc.” Someone then added the portion referencing Revelation, etc. to my letter implying that I either originated it and/or endorsed it.  The font and style is not the same on the “Revelation, anti-Christ” email and the letter I wrote. The letter I wrote appears at the bottom of the “Revelation” email. Revelation 13 does not teach what the email says it teaches.

Dr. Tisdale wants me to know, however, that he does not support Sen. Obama.  if you want to see the rest of the email, read on, but please know that I really don’t care one way or another.  Please don’t flood my inbox with your hate; really, I just find the whole email forwarding culture fascinating, especially when it comes to completely made up stuff.  Getting to the bottom of this, for me, is like finishing a crossword puzzle. Continue reading