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.”

Explain How This Makes Sense

I grew up in a tradition that was (and continues to be) very anti-alcohol. It’s no surprise, then, that when the Lord’s Supper is served, it is served with grape juice and not wine (thank you, Mr. Welch). This is somewhat understandable, and not completely out of left field considering American history.

What doesn’t make sense to me, and what I’ve never been able to get a clear answer on, is why fundamentalists insist on the bread being without any leaven. I was taught that unleavened bread is used because it symbolizes a lack of sin, as well as because that is the bread Jesus would have used (following the traditional Passover meal). Wine, they say, has yeast in it, which would send the wrong message. Also, Jesus clearly did not drink alcoholic wine.

I’m unaware of any serious, modern biblical scholar that advocates a non-alcoholic wine. Even the textbooks we used in Bible college were silent on the issue. It seems quite clear, both from internal New Testament sources, as well as the ancient usage of the word, that the wine served by Jesus was indeed alcoholic.

So, here’s my question: why advocate unleavened bread as historical and yet use grape juice anachronistically?

Bookshelf 2008

This is a long post, but if you’re interested please read on.  For those reading from the homepage, I’ll break it up for the sake of space.

As I did in 2007, I kept track of what books I read in 2008. This may or may not be of any interest to you, but it’s useful for me, especially as the number seems to be increasing.  This list allows me to show not only my exceeding inteligence, but also how big of a nerd I am.  🙂

Here are some thoughts on the various books I read in 2008:  Continue reading

Review: Gospel of Disunion by Mitchell Snay

Mitchell Snay, Gospel of Disunion; Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) 265 pp.

Gospel of Disunion by Mitchell Snay provides an analysis of Southern religion, identifying it as a key factor in Confederate nationalism and eventual secession.  Snay is a good writer and researcher who does an excellent job in wading through all of the sources in order to come to the conclusion that religion and secession go hand in hand.
The importance of religion in the antebellum South, as well as the whole of the country, cannot be overstated.  Religion played a significant role in virtually everyone’s life, even those who were not religious themselves were affected by Christianity.  The prominence of religion in law, politics, and culture transformed the sectional conflict into a moral conflict with nothing less than orthodoxy being at stake.
According to Snay, religion is essential “in order to understand the origins and nature of Southern separatism” (Snay, 3).  The work seeks to “Foster a better understanding of the intellectual origins of Southern nationalism, the coming of the Civil War, and the dynamic relationship between religion and politics in American history,” (i).
Proving his case, the author points to three lines of evidence which show the importance of religion in understanding the secessionist movement.  First, that religion was central to the culture and society of the pre-war South.  Second, that the sectional controversy had a “strongly religious character” (4).  The attacks of the North against the South were not merely theological disputes amongst academics, but rather assaults against the moral and religious fiber of Southern society.  Finally, “religion played a major role in the formation of Southern national identity” (5).  To the Southerner, being Southern was synonymous with being Christian, a very particular brand of Christian at that.  Similar to how the early republic was formed by religion, so was the South, especially in opposition to what they viewed as the creeping Northern liberalism and unitarianism.

Continue reading

One of These is Not Like the Others

I saw an ad the other day for this VBS (if you don’t know about VBS, count yourself lucky).  The theme is dinosaurs and it asks some of the most important human questions:

  • Who made the world?
  • Why am I here?
  • How can I be right with God?
  •  What happened to dinosaurs?
  • Does God keep his promises?

Hmm, I think that maybe one of these questions doesn’t quite fit in with the others.  Check out their explanation of what happened to the dinosaurs, complete with biblical references and all.