A Ukrainian bishop recently argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "the Antichrist of our current time," as Russia continues to attack Ukraine.
On Sunday, the BBC's Global News Podcast featured an interview between religion and ethics producer Harry Farley and Ukrainian Bishop Yevstratiy Zoria. Zoria is a spokesperson for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. During the interview, the men discussed Putin's belief that Russia and Ukraine have a "shared spiritual space."
"What he's referring to is the arrival of the Eastern Orthodox Church to the region in the ninth century. He, along with many other Russians, see Russia's history dating back to that [ninth century] empire," Farley said, according to The Christian Post.
"Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church developed, became this huge power … within the Orthodox Church. But in 2019, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church split off from Russia and was recognized as independent," he continued. "Religion is hugely important for Putin's identity, for his psyche, he immerses himself in icy water to mark the festival of Epiphany, he wears his baptismal cross."
Farley then added that he believes Putin "sees himself as a kind of messianic figure, a savior, to reunite Eastern Orthodox churches under Moscow."
Zoria, however, pushed back against the messianic portrayal of Putin, arguing that the Kremlin leader is "really [the] Antichrist of our current time."
"He is [the] Antichrist because everything he does … is totally against [the] Gospel, against God's law," Zoria told Farley.
Farley then detailed the role religion is playing in the current Russian-Ukrainian war.
"Religion is very important to Russians. Seventy-one percent identify as Orthodox Christians, and added into that, more than half of Russians say it is important for a person to be Orthodox Christian in order to be truly Russian," Farley explained.
According to The Christian Post, he also argued that the "combination of strong religious identity linked to strong national identity" and the Russian Orthodox Church's close relationship with Putin are significant influences on the geopolitics of the Russian invasion.
As evidence to this argument, Farley noted that the "head of the Russian Orthodox Church … praised Putin just this week after the invasion."
At the time of this writing, the war in Ukraine is ongoing.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Matthew Stockman/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.