(Photo: Courtesy of First Baptist Dallas)
Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas continues to garner attention for his view that President Barack Obama's policies will lead to the rise of the Antichrist.
As Jeffress gathers headlines from media online and offline, a couple biblical scholars have weighed in on the controversial claim.
Dr. Darrell Bock, senior research professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post that "one always has to be careful about such claims."
"Believers are to keep watch and be alert, but given the poor track record of such predictions, I am very hesitant to make such points. So one has to be careful in making any such associations," said Bock.
"More problematic is that the USA is not mentioned directly anywhere in Scripture. We only have generic descriptions of how the world acts and conducts its business."
Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth Texas, told CP that "almost all the western democracies are doing exactly what Dr. Jeffress advocates."
"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," said Patterson. "Dr. Jeffress is not personally attacking President Obama. He is simply attempting to explain to his people what is to happen next."
Paving the Way?
The remarks of Bock and Patterson come not long after the release of Jeffress' most recent book, titled Perfect Ending: Why Your Eternal Future Matters Today.
Released Tuesday by Worthy Publishing, Perfect Ending focuses on what the End Times world will look like according to the Bible.
Among the arguments Jeffress makes in the book, one that has garnered attention from many news sources has been his claim that President Obama's policies will lead to the Antichrist.
"For the first time in history a president of our country has openly proposed altering one of society's (not to mention God's) most fundamental laws: that marriage should be between a man and a woman," wrote Jeffress on page 103.
"While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God's law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God's laws without any repercussions."
Jeffress had actually made the Antichrist-Obama link before, in a sermon preached at FBC Dallas in November 2012.
"I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes," said Jeffress in 2012.
"President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist."
In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Jeffress stated, "When I wrote this book, I had to ask the question: How will the Antichrist be able to usurp such freedom without any opposition."
"And my answer is that people will have been conditioned to the giving up of their rights long before this final dictator comes. And I think you see that in President Obama," said Jeffress to CP.
Political Developments and The End Times
For those looking for signs of the End of Days, it is very common to point to political developments at the national or international level.
In the recent past, various doomsday prophets have looked at the civil war in Syria, the global reach of the United Nations, updates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and other events as evidence of mankind nearing the end.
When asked by CP about the importance of looking to political developments when assessing prophecy, Patterson explained that "this is precisely what the Old Testament prophets did."
"Identifying specific politicians with the Antichrist of the last days is clearly absurd and has always been wrong," said Patterson.
"To point to the growth of governments, the weakening of individual resolve, and the concentration of power in the hands of bureaucrats are all clearly revealed in Scripture. The miracle to me is that anyone is surprised."
Bock emphasized to CP the call found in the Bible for Christians to "be faithful in our discipleship until he returns."
"Although one should be aware of what Scripture says on these themes, until we get to the events of the end, which will be obvious, we do not know at what time 'the thief comes in the night' as Jesus himself said," said Bock.
"Damage gets done to the credibility of eschatology when we overstep here. Be ready, but do not predict is the lesson."