Kanye West says COVID-19 vaccine is 'mark of the beast;' Hank Hanegraaff responds

Kanye West and the Sunday Service Choir performed before 12,400 students gathered in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for the Strength to Stand Conference on January 19, 2020.
Kanye West and the Sunday Service Choir performed before 12,400 students gathered in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for the Strength to Stand Conference on January 19, 2020. | Strength to Stand

Hank Hanegraaff, also known as the "Bible Answer Man," weighed in on whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine could be the mark of the beast as referenced in Revelation 13:18 in response to comments made by Kanye West.

In a July 15 episode of his Bible Answer Man broadcast, Hanegraaff shared his thoughts on the issue after West told Forbes Magazine he was “extremely cautious” about the idea of a coronavirus vaccination. 

“It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed. ... So when they say the way we’re going to fix COVID is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious,” West said. “That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of Heaven. I'm sorry when I say they, the humans that have the devil inside them. And the sad thing is that, the saddest thing is that we all won’t make it to Heaven, that there’ll be some of us that do not make it.”

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In his podcast, Hanegraaff warned that West’s interpretation of Scripture is “as misleading as it is dangerous” and “completely indefensible.”

“I say this because biblically, the mark of the beast is symbolic is quite obviously a parody of the mark of the lamb,” he stressed. “Biblical interpretation matters. If we interpret the Bible incorrectly, we’ll think the Bible is a bunch of nonsense.”

“The mark in Revelation 13 symbolizes identity with the beast. And as such, identifying with Satan's kingdom is what will keep you out of Heaven, not getting vaccinated,” said Hanegraaff. “As Kanye West must surely know, the forehead and the hands of people are Old Testament symbols of their beliefs and behavior.”

Hanegraaff pointed out that in Exodus 13, “eating unleavened bread is likened to a sign on the hand and a reminder on the forehead of the children of Israel. And thus, the mark of the beast in Revelation is securely tethered to the Scripture.”

“Kanye West’s interpretation of the mark of the beast as a vaccination or silicon or microchip is tenuously tethered to thin air,” he added. “The multitudes who follow West should know taking on the mark of the beast is the intentional denial in thought, in word, in deed of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Rather than fearfully avoiding vaccinations, Christians should with “fear and trembling resist the temptation to be conformed to the evil systems of this world, systems that play fast and loose with biblical monikers and traffic in the selling of sensationalism.”

“Fall in love with the Word of God all over again, rather than falling in love with the words of social icons,” he advised. “How about loudly accepting the mark of the lamb? How about offering up your body as a living sacrifice by being transformed by the renewing of your mind?”

Such interpretations of Scripture are “toxic” to a watching and skeptical world, Hanegraaff warned. “It is so important that we stop falling for selling in sensationalism and … we learn to read the Bible for all its substantial worth … because Christianity is the only hope for western civilization.”

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that about 7 in 10 Americans say they would get a vaccine to protect against the virus if immunizations were free and available to everyone.

West is not the only person to suggest a COVID-19 vaccine could be used to prepare for the distribution of the mark of the beast. Earlier this year, Pastor Curt Landry warned his viewers that any coronavirus vaccine is from the “pit of Hell.”

“Do not pray, do not hope, do not think, ‘Oh, praise God they are going to have a vaccine,’” Landry said in April. “That vaccine is from the pit of Hell, OK? Do not pray for those vaccines, and do not take the vaccine. These vaccines are coming, they are not going to be good. They’re not good for you physically, and spiritually, they’re a set-up for what shall come later.”

Similarly, Pastor Ronnie Hampton, who later died from COVID-19, warned his congregation against the vaccine via social media. 

“They’re gonna come up with a vaccine and in that vaccine everybody is gonna have to take it … and inside of that vaccine there’s going to be some type of electronic computer device that’s gonna put some type of chip in you and maybe even have some mood, mind-altering circumstances … and they’re saying that the chip would be the mark of the beast.” 

However, such theories have been debunked by pastors and Christian leaders. Christian scholar Matthew Halstead used biblical analysis to explain that in Revelation, the “mark of the beast” is “by no means a medical procedure” or even a “physical or visible mark at all.”

“Contrary to some of the more fear-inducing theories that have in the past gained steam in some evangelical circles, the ‘mark’ is not at all something that could be accidentally taken either,” he wrote. “Why? Because the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-18) is a mark that is closely tied to the worship of the beast (13:12, 15; cf. 19:20; 20:4). Thus, the mark of the beast is a mark of loyalty and devotion to the beast.”

“So you don’t need to fear getting the beast’s mark by taking a vaccine — unless, of course, you plan to treat the vaccine as a sort of symbolic expression or 'unholy sacrament' (sorry for the oxymoron!) of your wilful and public rejection of the Christian faith that you despise. If that’s you and if that’s your plan, then it’s not the vaccine that’s the problem.”

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