This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
“We are on the brink of the greatest prophetic fulfillment in 2,000 years,” the Rev. Irvin Baxter Jr., the founder of Endtime Ministries, told listeners as he opened an April episode of “End of the Age,” his television program. “It appears that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place for the final seven years to Armageddon to begin yet this year.”
Mr. Baxter had spent decades finding signs of an impending final judgment in an amalgam of Bible verses and current events. His April prediction was based on, among other things, his reading of developments in the Israeli-Palestinian accord being pushed by the Trump administration.
“The way it appears to me that it’s coming down,” he told his listeners, “it is very likely that you and me and the entire world will enter the final seven years to Armageddon yet in 2020.”
Mr. Baxter, who was 75, died on Nov. 3. An announcement by Endtime Ministries said the cause was complications of Covid-19, a disease that, in other broadcasts, Mr. Baxter had implied was a punishment from God for the world’s sins, which to him included homosexuality, abortion and unmarried couples living together.
The announcement did not say where he died. The ministry’s headquarters is in Plano, Tex.
Irvin Lee Baxter Jr. was born on July 8, 1945, and grew up in Richmond, Ind., in the east-central part of the state near the Ohio border. His father was a Pentecostal minister and pastor of the Oak Park Church there.
One night in his teens, when listening to a traveling preacher at a revival meeting, Irvin Baxter was overcome.
“I heard someone speaking in tongues over the microphone system,” he said, and realized that the voice was his. He had found his calling.
He became a traveling evangelist at 19, and by 1973 he was pastor of the Oak Park Church, a position he held for more than 30 years. But he found himself devoting an increasing amount of energy to what he saw as a calling: to alert the world to prophecies that he thought were soon to be fulfilled.
In 1991, he founded Endtime Magazine. He also began a radio program and started marketing DVDs and other materials to sell his vision of the future. He left Richmond and the Oak Park Church and moved his Endtime business to Texas in 2005.
Mr. Baxter’s broadcasts were carried by various outlets, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network. He was quoted in news articles whenever end-times fears surged — in 2003 as the United States prepared to invade Iraq, in 2018 during a celestial phenomenon known as a blood moon.
His reach was moderate compared with that of famous televangelists like Billy Graham. One of Mr. Baxter’s regular “prophecy conferences” in Texas drew 2,500 people; Mr. Graham routinely filled stadiums. The Endtime Ministries Facebook page shows 211,000 followers; the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has 2.5 million.
Mr. Baxter was an ardent supporter of President Trump and his policies. That included Mr. Trump’s playing down of the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When you talk about the coronavirus, the choice is this: We either open back up as far as we can as fast as we can, or we close everything down,” he said in a program broadcast on Oct. 23. “If you close everything down like we did once — it had disastrous effects. President Trump is rightly saying we can’t do that again. The cure is worse than the disease.”
Mr. Baxter was hospitalized four days later, the ministry said.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Judith; three daughters, Karla Denise Sistrunk, Kara Michelle McPeak and Jana Gayle Robbins; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.