As the pastor of megachurch First Baptist Dallas, Robert Jeffress is not one to shy away from the spotlight. Less than a year after christening a $130 million campus, Jeffress is unveiling a new book. And it includes a fresh controversy about President Barack Obama.
Perfect Ending: Why Your Eternal Future Matters Today has a title that could lead one to believe it's a self-help tome in the prosperity gospel à la Joel Osteen. But don't let the sparkling sunset on the cover fool you; this is end-of-days stuff. It's a revision of Jeffress' 1999 book, As Time Runs Out.
"I don't think Obama has a satanic shrine in the Oval Office or says to himself 'How can I destroy America?'" — Robert Jeffress
"There are so many messages today in the Christian world that deal with the here and now, and not much on the hereafter," Jeffress says, before quickly adding he has no intention of predicting the date and time for the end of the world. "It could be 10 years from now, or it could be 1,000 years from now."
Jeffress' book describes recent events in the Obama administration as proof that the world is on a downward spiral. As might be expected, there's been a bit of backlash to the characterization that the first black president is paving the way for the Antichrist, but Jeffress insists his book isn't about any one politician.
"My book is not about Barack Obama, and it's not really about the Antichrist. It's about the return of Jesus Christ," Jeffress says.
For Christians like Jeffress, the end of the world as we know it means the second coming of Jesus. Jeffress says the precursor to this is a world leader who will rise to power without any opposition and take away people's basic freedoms.
He says the actions of the Bush administration following 9/11, the NSA surveillance scandal and Obamacare are prime examples of this trend. Jeffress says his inclusion of Obama in the book has been twisted to mean he thinks the current president is the Antichrist.
"I don't believe Barack Obama is the only government leader conditioning people to accept government overreach into their lives," Jeffress says. "I don't think Obama has a satanic shrine in the Oval Office or says to himself 'How can I destroy America?'
"I believe he's doing what he believes is best for the country."
But Jeffress also believes Obama, like George W. Bush before him, is setting the stage for the end of the world. "We are being told that we need to give up personal freedoms for the greater good, and sometimes that's true, and sometimes it's not true," Jeffress says. "I think we are being conditioned right now to accept government overreach and it's preparatory of a final world dictator, the Antichrist."
Nevertheless, Jeffress insists Perfect Ending is not a "gloom-and-doom book."
"Short-term the forecast is dark and turbulent, but the long-term is bright and sunny for those who know Christ," Jeffress says.