I’ve said it before, but just to lay out where I’m coming from I want to explain my background. I’m a Christian, normally considered part of the Evangelical tradition. I grew up Southern Baptist and have attended multiple churches with strong Baptist traditions. I received a M.Div. (Masters of Divinity) from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and have studied under men like Dr. Russell Moore, and Dr. Albert Mohler (full disclosure, I never had any classes under Dr. Mohler, only having the opportunity to benefit from having him as President of the seminary and thus attending chapel to hear him preach along with a couple of instances of getting to sit in a class under him, I give him only as an example of the quality of academics at SBTS). I note all that to explain why I feel I’m justified in saying that from a theological perspective, Donald Trump is an Antichrist.
Note that I’m not saying he is “the” antichrist. In fact, in the Christian tradition there isn’t even an agreement that there is necessarily one antichrist who is the anti-type of the antichrists we otherwise find in Scripture and in the world. However, looking at Scripture, Donald Trump fits the description of an antichrist, all the way down to the fact that Christians are supporting him.
What does the Bible say about Antichrists?
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 ESV)
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23 ESV)
Just from these sections we can already make the argument that Trump is an antichrist, but I want to do a little further digging. One of the most misunderstood books of the Bible is Revelation. Revelation discusses the antichrist, but does so in much more colorful language than other sections of Scripture. You see, Revelation is an apocalyptic book, meaning that is uses specific images and pictures to convey ideas. This was not something new to John’s readers, and is similar to the way C.S. Lewis used Christian imagery throughout his Chronicles of Narnia in order to express ideas that were deeper than just the surface level of the stories themselves. (Consider that Aslan is representative of Christ, and then ponder on what C.S. Lewis meant when he wrote, “Aslan is no tame lion.”)
In Revelation 13:11-18 what we read is this:
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
Let’s start building our case now.
Donald Trump Rejects Christ
I don’t care what Trump says about being a Christian, as far as just saying, “Yes, I’m a Christian.” If you read 1 John and 2 John (seriously, take 15 minutes to read them both if you’re interested, they are very short books) then you’ll see that John is telling the church that the very people he is calling “antichrist” are claiming to be Christian, but they are rejecting Christ. Therefore, just saying, “I’m a Christian” doesn’t prevent one from being antichrist.
Trump has said that he does not ask God for forgiveness. He directly stated he doesn’t do that, instead he just tries to make things better. This sounds great, from a worldly perspective, because it sounds like he is saying he actually goes out and tries to correct his errors. The problem is that this completely undermines the concept of Jesus as Christ. That Jesus is Christ means that he is the anointed one of God, he is the messiah. In the Old Testament that term simply meant anyone who was anointed by God for any of a number of purposes. However, in the New Testament, we see that the term has a much more developed theological meaning.
Peter says, “You are the Christ! The Son of God!” Thus indicating that the understanding of Jesus as “anointed” is not simply the idea of “a king” or “a savior” or “a” anything. He is “the anointed” one of God, the singular individual, unique to all others. Further, this anointing is understood, through the development of the gospels, as an anointing that leads to the redemption of mankind.
For Trump to say, “I do not ask God for forgiveness” means that he is rejecting the need of Christ as the savior and the way to God. He is essentially saying that he, in doing his own good works, can merit a relationship with God. Scripture teaches quite the opposite, where even Paul says, in Philippians 3 that even his good works, his zeal and his obedience to the law, were all in vain. It was all rubbish before God because his righteousness could only come from God.
This point addresses the first two points of Scripture above. Trump is antichrist because he rejects what Christ stands for and who Christ is. Trump is antichrist for the same reason that Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton is antichrist: Because if you reject the clear teaching of Scripture, then you are antichrist. Jesus himself said that you are either for him, or against him. He said both, “Whoever is not with me, is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” and “the one who is not against you, is for you.” Thus, the fact that Trump denies his need for forgiveness means that he rejects the premise of Christ as a necessary savior, and therefore he stands against what the bible clearly teaches, ergo, Trump is antichrist.
Yet, there is more than that, lets examine what Revelation 13 has to do with all of this.
Donald Trump Leads Others to Reject Christ
Notice what Trump calls for in his rallies. He says he is going to make them rich. He says he is going to punish those who have wronged them. Trump says he is going to build a wall to keep illegals out, and he is going to negotiate better trade deals to bring back jobs, and he is going to make America great again. In all of this what he does is stir up nationalistic fervor. And yes, this matters when you consider what a President should do.
Let’s compare Trump to, for instance, Cruz. Cruz talked about lowering taxes, making it so that people could compete in an open market. He didn’t promise farmers he would make them rich, but rather said that in fighting against the ethanol mandate he would allow them access to a free market where they could sell their product at whatever rate they wanted. He didn’t talk about punishing banks or other countries, but rather making government less intrusive.
The difference between the two is really the difference between what so many Democrats promise and what Republicans supposedly stand for. Trump promises to use the power of the government as a tool to better people’s lives. The government will punish their enemies and reward them. Cruz promised the government would get out of the way and then they could work hard for their own success. No, neither of them ever put it that way, but if you listened to what they said, that’s the gist of it.
So, how does this lead people to reject Christ?
Bringing Revelation into the Mix
Trump is doing the very thing that we see in Revelation 13. Many people think that the first beast that rises out of the sea in Revelation 13:1 is the antichrist, but that is a misinterpretation of Scripture. 1 John and 2 John both make clear that John equates antichrist with false prophets. Those who teach a false Christ, a false savior, are the antichrist.
Follow the flow of the story of Revelation, starting in chapter 12. Satan seeks to devour Christ (this goes back to the birth narrative of Christ) but is thwarted in doing so. Once he is thwarted he is defeated by the armies of heaven. We see this in Paul exulting, “O death, where is your victory! O grave, where is your sting!” From the time of the resurrection of Christ, Satan has already been defeated, thus thrown down as Revelation pictures it.
With that being the case, Satan decides to go and wage war on the offspring of Christ, the saints. This would be the church universal. We read that in Revelation 12, then we immediately see that he (the dragon) stands at the sand of the sea shore. Notice that the first beast rises out of the sea and has seven heads and ten crowns. This is important because John’s readers would have associated the seven heads of the beast with the seven hills of Rome. The idea is that this first beast is actually the kingdoms of the world. There are many kingdoms, and they rule from many places, but ultimately Satan wants them under his authority.
Yes, this has long been a Christian interpretation of what we see in Revelation 13. It ties back, again, to what Paul teaches in Ephesians 6. We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood. You can kill a leader, like Hitler, but that won’t destroy his ideas and concepts. Christians are at war with principalities, authorities, rulers, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of evil. These are the same forces that always seek to pervert those who have power. Equally this is one of the reasons that America is so exceptional, because with all of our power and ability, we have not acted as tyrants over the world and tried to rule like Rome, Greece, Persia, China, etc. Well, at least not yet.
Getting to the Antichrist
The antichrist in Revelation 13 is actually the third beast. The second beast (which starts the chapter) doesn’t have a flesh and blood body. You’ll notice this from the fact that the third beast gives the image of the first beast breath (bringing it to a kind of life) and gives it power. If there was a flesh and blood body, then you wouldn’t need to enliven an image, because the body would already be alive. Yet, at the same time, it has a kind of life from the fact that even though it is wounded it manages to survive and come back again.
From a theological perspective, if the second beast is a representative of the kingdoms of the world, then it makes sense, what John describes here. People see a nation in trouble, a nation that looks like it should be defeated, but suddenly that nation (or idea, or even a specific monarch, remember, apocalyptic language conveys an idea, a concept) makes a comeback, a kind of resurrection, capturing the imagination of the people. They then look to that as a source of salvation.
The third beast then, the one who receives power from the kingdom or political set up, then gives more power to that institution. He creates an image, a form of the institution, and suddenly everyone is supposed to fall in line with that particular form. You either worship the kingdom or concept, or you die.
We see this played out every day. In soviet Russia, you either worshiped the state through party participation, or you were executed. In Rome, you either burned incense to Caesar, or you were executed. In China, you either show obeisance to the government, or you will be punished. In many Islamic states, you either obey Islamic law (no matter your religion) or you will suffer. The idea is that the state must be worshiped, and no argument will be tolerated.
Because of the power of the government or system, the third beast is able to do many powerful works, which make people want to worship the beast all the more. He deceives them because they look to the beast as the source of salvation instead of looking to Christ. They look to the system to get them revenge instead of trusting in God.
Finally, notice that he makes them all get a mark, if they want to do business. Many have thought of this as meaning a microchip or other literal mark, but again, that isn’t the way apocalyptic literature works. Notice where the mark is: The right hand, or the forehead. Think of what John’s readers would have understood. Remember, this was a book written not just to some future group of Christians, but to Christians who lived 2,000 years ago.
The mark is the idea of service. You will either serve the beast with your labor (a mark on your hand) or with your thoughts (the mark on the forehead). Think about how this is actually being played out in our time today. Currently, if you aren’t willing to support the politically correct world view, you are in danger in your job (unless you are self employed, then you are at risk of being denied contracts) unless you actively support the system, regardless of what you actually think. We aren’t totally in this system yet, but the point is that this is the goal, to make it so that the only ones who can participate in the system are those who are beholden to the system.
When you think about it, this is what Trump is offering. The government, the system, will make sure you get your job back. The government will punish those who have wronged you. You’ll get rich because the system will be so great that you’ll benefit from it constantly.
You need an economic savior. The problem isn’t the moral degeneration of the country, where people choose to be lazy and demand government take care of them, or use the government as a weapon to attack others. The problem isn’t the crushing burden of the system that chokes off the attempts of people to find ways to serve one another that are mutually beneficial. The problem is that you don’t have Trump leading the system, controlling the system for you. He’ll be your savior, because that’s what you need, Trump to make America great again.
Trump won’t do anything to fight against the system that continuously wages war against humanity. He wont fight the spiritual decline of America, because he thinks it’s a good thing. Trump has benefited from the loose morality that lets him divorce and change wives when they are no longer convenient. He has benefited from a system that lets him buy political power and use his money to gain influence. Trump wants the system to stay in place, but he wants to be the one to pull the strings.
Trump is an antichrist because he wants others to worship the same system that he worships. He wants you to think that you can worship both God and mammon. He doesn’t care to lead you directly away from Christ, because he doesn’t care about Christ. He isn’t antichrist because he is intentionally waging war against the saints, but because he doesn’t regard God as important at all.
Ultimately, Trump is not dangerous because he is immoral, but because he is amoral. Trump has already bought into the system entirely. He is as vacuous a candidate as there can be, giving no thought to the moral questions and the theological issues that underpin those questions. He doesn’t care about who he hurts or what philosophy he takes, as long as it gains him power. He is an antichrist not because he is explicitly evil, shouting and screaming against God, but because he disregards God and morality all together. It’s easy to fight against someone who says, “Reject Christ or die” but it is far more difficult when the person never brings up God at all and only makes promises of prosperity and happiness.