Antichrist as (Anti)Charisma: Reflections on Weber and the ‘Son of Perdition’
1. Introduction: Obama, Antichrist, and Weber
Naysayers have refuted this particular claim, pointing out (among other things) that the Book of Revelation says nothing directly about Antichrist, his age, or his status as a Muslim. The association of Barack Obama with Antichrist, however, will not be easily turned aside. One video posted on Youtube from January 2009, titled “Is Barack Obama Antichrist?” opens with scenes of Hitler and his mesmerizing political performances before cutting to scenes of Obama on the campaign trail in 2008 . The implications are clear. This video goes on to claim that certain letter-sequences in the Book of Revelation link Obama to Antichrist. As of December 2012 it has garnered close 1.5 million hits. A more recent video posted in September 2012 confidently declares “The Antichrist is Barack Obama.” While ominous music plays in the background, this production combines scriptural citations with recent clips from the media to assert that the president meets an impressive 14 out of 16 characteristics required for being Antichrist .“The anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal....the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Is it OBAMA?”
1.1. Barack Obama as Antichrist/Messiah
1.2. The Scriptural Basis for Antichrist
Among other signs of the approaching end, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shine, and the stars will fall from the heavens.“And then if any man shall say to you, behold, here is Christ; behold, he is here: do not believe. For there will rise up false Christs and false prophets, and they shall show signs and wonders to seduce (if it were possible) even the elect. Take you heed therefore; behold I have foretold you all things.”
For Paul, the “wicked one” is an individual figure, whose coming will only occur after the “restrainer” or “restraining force” gives way. As discussed below, early Christians typically understood this restraining force as a reference to the power of the Roman Empire, meaning that Antichrist would not arrive until Roman power failed (, pp. 43, 61–62).“And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish, because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”
1.3. Antichrist as Corporate Evil
1.4. Historical Antichrists
2. (Anti)Charisma and End-Times
2.1. Antichrist’s Medieval Life
Emmerson’s point is well taken. Antichrist is not the true messiah. The “outward” parody of Christ’s life by Antichrist, however, is not just skin-deep. As imagined in this corollary status to Christ, Antichrist embodies an (anti)charismatic authority equally as persuasive as Christ’s, filled with (evil) spiritual inspiration and miraculous—albeit deceptive—powers.“Antichrist imitates only the outward forms of Christ’s life. His is essentially the opposite of Christ, a parodic imitation of the Savior in order to more effectively deceive the world. Although apparently like Christ, Antichrist is actually ‘contrary’ to Christ, ‘id est Christo contrarius.’ Nevertheless, Antichrist’s false imitatio Christi in order the better to deceive the faithful in the last days underlies many of his actions, from birth to death. In other words, the events in the life of Antichrist parallel those of Christ.(, pp. 184–85)
2.2. Antichrist’s Modern Life
Recovery from what seems to be a fatal wound (a reference to Rev. 13:3) will be one miraculous sign of Antichrist’s identity and a parody of Christ’s resurrection. For Lindsay, the Antichrist will hold sway as a demagogue, through the force of his personal, charismatic qualities: “He will have a magnetic personality, be personally attractive, and a powerful speaker. He will be able to mesmerize his audience with his oratory” (, p. 108).“Satan himself is going to give him fantastic power. This is one reason that Christians should not get too excited when they see a miracle. It may not be a miracle of God. Satan is a miracle-worker and he has been able to work miracles from the beginning…Satan is going to send this man, his masterpiece, with all sorts of signs and wonders and miracles”.(, p. 106)
2.3. The Political Landscape of the Apocalypse
2.4. Antichrist and Judaism
2.5. Antichrist and Islam
3. Antichrist and World Governance
3.1. The (Anti)Charismatic Office
3.2. The (Anti)Charismatic Economy
As early as the second and third centuries, Christian exegetes such as Hippolytus further explained that Antichrist will erect “incense-pans” for making pagan sacrifices everywhere, and that any who refused to sacrifice will be barred from buying and selling (, p. 29). In the regard, the (anti)charismatic economy of Antichrist reinforces his mission to undermine Christianity and install new forms of world-wide worship.“And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand, or on their foreheads, that no man might buy or sell, but he that has the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. He that has understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.”
4. Conclusion: Apocalyptic Heroes and the End of Charisma/(Anti)Charisma
References and Notes
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- 1In her article “The Charisma Mandate,” Zernike  explicitly discusses Obama during the 2008 campaign in the terms of Weberian Charisma.
- 2As noted by Gary Dickson in the introductory essay to this volume, Weber does not seem to have explicitly addressed the possible qualities and characteristics of specifically female charisma.
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Whalen, B.E. Antichrist as (Anti)Charisma: Reflections on Weber and the ‘Son of Perdition’. Religions 2013, 4, 77-95. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel4010077
Whalen BE. Antichrist as (Anti)Charisma: Reflections on Weber and the ‘Son of Perdition’. Religions. 2013; 4(1):77-95. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel4010077Chicago/Turabian Style
Whalen, Brett Edward. 2013. "Antichrist as (Anti)Charisma: Reflections on Weber and the ‘Son of Perdition’" Religions 4, no. 1: 77-95. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel4010077