Is Donald Trump the Antichrist? Are we really seeing the advent of the Beast from Revelation?
Donald Trump has begun his presidency with a rash of executive actions aimed at undoing a lot of what his predecessor achieved. His inauguration was marred by an unseemly row about the numbers attending and overshadowed by mass protests from women marching to express their disdain for him, though it's fair to say he probably doesn't care.
This is day four and already his is arguably the most divisive presidency in modern American history. So far there's no sign of it getting any better.
Well, is he the Antichrist?
Some would say so. One website, The Hypertexts, points out the sinister connections between Trump and the number 666. The family bought 666 Fifth Avenue. The Trump coat of arms at Mar a Lago contains three sixes. His company's building a $666 million tower at One Journal Square.
Oh, come on.
The Trump surname is an anglicised version of the German name Drumpf. In Jewish gematria - the cipher by which numerical values are associated with words - the value of the letters in Don Drumpf is 666.
Is this for real?
There's lots more, not all of which is entirely convincing. However, the site also points out that the Antichrist in Revelation will be a cultish figure, the centre of everyone's attention, and draws attention to some of his very questionable policies and statements. Rather sensibly, it says that even if Trump isn't the actual Revelation Antichrist, he might be one of the many referred to in 1 John 2:18.
It makes a change from people saying he's a sort of messiah, anyway.
Indeed. One of the troubling things about this election is the way Christians have described Trump in biblical terms, without any biblical warrant. Christian leader Lance Wallnau told a gathering of hundreds of Christians he believes God has anointed Trump to be a "secular Cyrus" who, like his ancient Persian counterpart, will usher in an awakening that will lead to the transformation of the United States. Trump is the 45th president and the reference is in Isaiah 45, so it must be true.
I thought the original Hebrew Bible didn't have chapters?
Back to Revelation, though.
Another Bible teacher has a slightly different take on it. In Steve Wohlberg's opinion it's America, rather than Trump, who is the beast. Wohlberg outlines Revelation 13:11-17, about the beast who comes out of the earth, and says that no other nation on earth today fits the specifications of this prophecy like the United States of America.
A bit niche, though, that view?
Probably, though Wohlberg says that by special invitation he was "invited to share his views on America's role in prophecy before an audience inside the United States Pentagon."
So is Trump a beast from Revelation or God's messenger sent to save the world?
Both, and neither. Revelation talks about the characteristics of powerful people who are opposed to God and goodness, who lust after power and wealth. There are plenty of them around. But the Bible also tells us to pray for those in authority, because they have the opportunity to do a lot of good. Trump, in biblical terms, is nothing special – he certainly isn't the fulfilment of any particular prophecy – but the Bible has things to say about people like him. It's important not to demonise him, but it's important not to divinise him, either. Christians should pray for him and hold him to account, just as they would any ruler.
That's not nearly as exciting as saying he's the Antichrist.
I think we've had enough excitement for a while, thank you.
Follow Mark Woods on Twitter: @RevMarkWoods