When it comes to the end times, there isn’t much that I agree with Hal Lindsey about. Hal Lindsey, author of the huge (and phenomenally misguided) “Late Great Planet Earth” and rapture promoter wrote a column last week comparing the reception received by Barack Obama on his world tour to the reception that the Antichrist will one day receive.

After describing some of the detail of Obama’s trip, Lindsey says this:

And the Bible says that such a leader will soon make his appearance on the scene. It won’t be Barack Obama, but Obama’s world tour provided a foretaste of the reception he can expect to receive.

He will probably also stand in some European capital, addressing the people of the world and telling them that he is the one that they have been waiting for. And he can expect as wildly enthusiastic a greeting as Obama got in Berlin.

The Bible calls that leader the Antichrist. And it seems apparent that the world is now ready to make his acquaintance.

I am not sure that the rise of Antichrist is as imminent as Mr. Lindsey might believe as there are still a number of things that need to happen before he makes the scene, but Mr. Lindsey is right about the reception that the “man of sin” will initially garner.

Mr. Lindsey, by even making the comparison, opens himself up to the usual ridicule on this topic. I suspect he knows that and doesn’t really care that much. His remarks have been fodder for many, and let them have at it. However, I was particularly struck by the comments of Libby Purves in the Times Online. She writes:

On the other hand, nowhere that I can find in the Apocalypse mentions that the Beast or Antichrist wears natty tailored suits and a grin. It takes a bit of a stretch to see Obama as “a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. … and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion.”

In her remarks, Purves throws cold water on the notion that “Antichrist wears natty tailored suits and a grin.” No, I am afraid you are wrong. That is exactly what he will do.

First, Tradition (with a capital T) has always held that Antichrist will be an individual man. To hold otherwise puts you on thin ice. St. Robert Bellarmine, a saint and Doctor of the Church and one of the most learned men of his time, has this to say about the individuality of Antichrist and those who oppose this concept. The following is from Desmond Birch’s Trial , Tribulation, and Triumph quoting St. Robert Bellarmine.

For all Catholics actually perceive Antichrist to be one certain man, but all previously mentioned heretics in a manner peculiar to them teach Antichrist not to be a single person, but rather the Antichrist to be a single throne, or a tyrannical kingdom, or the apostolic chair of those who preside over the Church.

To deny the individuality of Antichrist is to be in league with heretics according to St. Robert Bellarmine. It is thus obvious that the language describing the beast is a literal mechanism, not a physical description. It is also a long held belief that during his ascent to power he be viewed as a “bringer of light” in a way similar to Mr. Obama, however on a much grander scale. Only after achieving power will his cruelty become readily apparent. This list of saints and scholars that support this notion is too long to list here.

We can certainly chuckle at the comparison of Obama to Antichrist, I know I did. But if we fool ourselves into thinking that he won’t be wearing nice suits and smiling, that he will visible as the beast from the beginning, then we are certain not to recognize him when he finally does make the scene. Laugh at Mr. Lindsey if you will, but on this point he is entirely correct.