James D. Tabor
This article focuses on ancient Jewish and early Christian millennialism, which are found to be intrinsically inconsistent—there are no specific pointers towards marking the end of time; messianic figures appear in some texts and not in others; and God is humanized in some while others are exclusively emphatic on the transcendental paradigm. It makes the whole millennialist gamut essentially subjective. The groundwork was laid by the pre-Hellenic invasions of Israel and the context for the emergence of Jewish millennialism was provided by the widespread suppression under Greek emperor Antiochus. This article demonstrates that from the second and third centuries onwards, the trend increasingly tended from literal expressions towards symbolic subjective millennialism, to the extent that the former was considered inferior.
Clark H. Pinnock
In Christian theology, annihilationism designates the views of those who hold that the finally impenitent wicked will cease to exist after (or soon after) the last judgment. Annihilation is a term designating theories which contend that human beings may pass or be put out of existence altogether. The theories fall into three classes: pure mortality, conditional immortality, and annihilation proper. Alongside the large number of texts that depict hell as a place of death and destruction, there is some countertestimony too. There are three texts in particular, one in the Gospel of Matthew and two in the Book of Revelation, which need comment because they are cited as proof texts of the traditional opinion. Scripture aside, belief in the nature of hell as everlasting conscious punishing remains solidly traditional, which means that the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the reformers in this matter.
Michael A. Sells
This chapter, which looks at the actual or alleged cases of apocalypticism within contemporary Iranian Shi'ite, Saudi Sunni, and American Christian circles, evaluates the issue of contemporary militant apocalypticism, emphasizing the competition between its American Christian and Islamic versions. The hadith collections present contradictory reports regarding the end-time struggle between the Messiah Jesus and Dajjal. Militant near-term apocalypticism summons the power of religion, imagination, and personal conviction against any serious peace endeavor; demonizes those who work toward such endeavors; and sanctifies those who, once the tribulation or endtimes conflict is underway, kill the peacemakers. The apocalyptic messianism of American dispensationalists, and of the Salafi Sunni figures Safar al-Hawali and Ali al-Timimi, feature scenarios of Middle Eastern and global carnage ending with messianic triumph and theologically grounded rejection of Middle East peacemaking.
Stephen J. C. Andes
Revolution divided Roman Catholics during the twentieth century in Latin America. Although Catholic activists formed ranks on all sides of Latin America’s social conflict, revolutionary anticlericalism, land reform, and state education became important wedge issues that kept the Catholic Church hierarchy on the side of counterrevolution. This chapter surveys Latin America’s “Big Three” social revolutions, beginning with Mexico (1910–1940), Cuba at mid-century, and Nicaragua in the late 1970s and 1980s. Catholic political and social allegiances, as well as the similarities across the century provide the focus of much of the chapter. The chapter argues that Latin America’s Cold War added ideological pungency and superpower conflicts to the region’s already festering mix of social exclusion, poverty, and oligarchical hegemony. Some attention is given to the emergence of the liberationist perspective. The result of Latin America’s revolutionary century can be seen in a shift within the moderate group of Catholic leadership, both lay and clerical, toward a more empathetic view of the poor. The development of Liberation Theology, endeavouring to answer endemic issues of poverty and economic inequality, helped focus the Church’s mission in the region after the Second Vatican Council. The chapter ends with a final parting note regarding the election of Pope Francis and how Latin America’s first pope was formed within the region’s revolutionary twentieth century.
Kevin P. Spicer
Catholic and Protestant churches were on-lookers and sometimes worse, as their responses to persecution included forms of inaction that spilled over into complicity. Beginning with an examination of the corrupting influence of Catholic antisemitism on European Christians through the centuries and the role of religious prejudice in advancing racial antisemitism, this article explores the controversial choices and modulated actions of the Catholic Church. It gives particular attention to German Catholicism's response to the question, ‘who is my neighbour?’ and assesses the reaction and attitude of the Church hierarchy, especially Pope Pius XII (1876–1958), to Nazi acts of persecution.
Class apathy and a selective process of record keeping created fertile grounds for uprise in China. This article throws light on two of the earliest millennialist movements in China, namely, the Taiping Dao and the Wudoumi Dao movements that emerged from havoc, intending to create millennial commonwealth and practiced healing through confession. The Chinese Buddhist millennialism synthesized a modified version of the Indian concept of “kalpa” and the Buddhist teaching of the three ages where each age ends with the demise of a “Bodhisattva” and marks a decline based on the degeneration of Buddha's teachings. It states that the dark age graced by superhuman saviors shall witness the arrival of the Maitreya, the next Buddha incarnate. The Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) rhetoric about “a thousand years of prosperity” is also considered reflective of millennial views.
Stephen R. Haynes
Without Christianity and its centuries-long hostility toward Jews and Judaism, the Holocaust scarcely would have been possible. What difference has that recognition made to Christian traditions, institutions, and Christians themselves? This article addresses these aftereffects of the Holocaust, underscoring how reflection on Christianity and the Holocaust has produced challenging questions, fierce debates, and a voluminous literature. As with Holocaust studies generally, perspectives have evolved steadily in the decades since the end of World War II, with new developments catalyzed by important publications. It focuses on three salient issues in Christianity's unsettling and unfinished encounter with the Holocaust: the relationship between Christian belief and antisemitism, the role of Christian people and institutions during the Nazi era, and the post-Holocaust need to change Christian understandings of Jews and Judaism.
Karen L. King
This chapter considers the religious justifications for and against torture. It also describes the torturous narratives at Christianity's foundations, the notion of redemptive martyrdom, and the various ways in which Christian ideology has challenged as well as supported the torturous suffering of fellows and foes. Torture functions in the absence of the facts or against the facts. Despite legal censure, torture and claims of torture are omnipresent. The violence of torture depends on sex/gender differentiation for much of its public communication. Opposition to torture on religious grounds will not be efficient without addressing the fact that enculturated ways of thinking and structures of feeling cultivated in Christian stories, images, and theological discourses are entailed in a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors, both for and against torture.
Stephen H. Webb
No theologian has done more to show the political significance of eschatology than Jürgen Moltmann. For Moltmann, the subject matter of all theology should be focused on hope, and eschatology is the doctrine where Christian hope is most explicitly formulated. Moreover, Moltmann thinks that hope, more than love, is the Christian virtue most relevant for politics. If God intervenes at the end of history in order to silence all of our struggles and passions, then history is rendered meaningless. Moltmann identifies this catastrophic version of eschatology with apocalypticism. Moltmann did not repudiate liberation theology's advocacy of socialism as the primary means for advancing the kingdom agenda. In The Coming of God, Moltmann clarified his distinction between eschatology and apocalypticism by addressing the issue of millennialism. This article examines eschatology and politics, focusing on the views of Moltmann and the alternative views of George Weigel, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Oliver O'Donovan. It also discusses providence versus eschatology and Whittaker Chambers's views on the eschatological challenge of Communism, as well as the politics of progressive premillennialism.
This article focuses on the twin factors of millenialist predisposition towards violence and the crossover from a volatile disposition to the actual practice of violence. It reviews the literature that has emerged in religious studies and the social sciences in response to the complexities of fragile millennial communities. It focuses on two broad themes or questions: first, what are the factors that predispose apocalyptic or millennialist communities to become involved in violence; and, second, what factors lead apocalyptic or millennialist groups from being predisposed to volatility to actually becoming violent. The necessary millennialist conception often leads to violent measures. In the face of a prophetic failure, charismatic leadership may employ violence, to realize the prediction or, obscuring the failure, or both. Finally, this article concludes that despite the violent nature of apocalyptic beliefs and rhetoric, the majority of millennial groups possess a passive orientation, believing that it is the role of God, and not themselves, to inaugurate the final scenario.
This chapter offers an older notion of just war, particularly as it developed in relation to the changing place of Christianity in Europe and North America. The just war idea presents a way of thinking in which war itself is a kind of restraint. The norms of positive international law are determined with the hope that an appropriate set of institutions might transcend and thus govern the behavior of sovereign states, imposing the rule of law in cases where sovereign states (and their rulers) violate those norms intended “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The universality of norms is a project to be obtained by means of negotiation among sovereign states. The outline of just war presented reveals that the idea is a moving target, in which changes reflect the dynamic nature of social and political institutions.
This article begins in the early Middle Ages, and specifically addresses questions concerning the economic and political situation of Jewry in Western Europe. The period of the high Middle Ages follows, with a focus on developments in community life and the character of Jewish society. The discussion considers the Jewish foundation myths that were born in the twelfth century in an attempt to explain and interpret the social and cultural changes of the time. It examines the nature of the interaction and the form of discourse that characterized the medieval relations between a Christian majority and a Jewish minority culture. It also describes the legal status of the Jews in Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire. The article also discusses Jewish life in Spain, since, for a significant segment of the period under study, Spain was under Muslim rule.
Rosalind I. J. Hackett
This article describes African millennialism, which is a blend of traces of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions. Prolonged suppression and suffering under colonial exploitation provided the subjective background to apocalyptic movements. The Xhosa cattle-killing movement and the practice of mumboism in the colonial period and the Satiru rebellion are described in this article. Post-independence, issues of political reorganization and national consolidation grew in importance, and these compiled the grounds for more movements such as The Holy Spirit movement and the Lord's Resistance Army, although the latter spent more time slaughtering civilians than taking stock. The African continent offers a rich tapestry of millennial and apocalyptic movements that go back at least two centuries and still emerge today and will continue to challenge researchers on a number of counts.
The Rastafari of Jamaica represents the main millennial force in the Caribbean, which derives its impetus from European racism. This article deals with the advent of the Rastafari movement in the Caribbean, emerging around the theme of the repatriation of colored people to their original home: Africa. The prophetic parallel drawn between the coronations of Ras Tafari as the Emperor Haile Selassie (1930) and a mention of the event in crowning of the king and queen of Africa (1928), penned by Marcus Mosiah Garvey, intensified the aspirations for repatriation. The Rastafari movement began under the leadership of Leonard Howell, the man who proliferated the prophetic connection, proclaiming Selassie to be the messiah. A militant faction, the Youth Black Faith, incorporated the defining attributes of the Rastafarian—the dreadlocks, the coconut vessel, and the herbal diets. Although millennialist, the movement was far more institutionalized, engaging the state, society, and other counterparts, and had an expressly defined objective.
Millennialism is a prime philosophical resource pool for the American extreme right. The racial factor being central to the rightist affair and three basic tendencies nourish it: Christian identity, based on legacies of the dilapidated British-Israelism that claims that the lost tribes of Israel migrated westwards; staunch anti-Semitism, non-supernatural racist religions, secular in their fervency against both Christianity and Judaism; and Neopaganism, a revivalist motion, striving to revive ancient Nordic religions through reconstruction. These three pivotal elements cut across the American rightist-racist diaspora. Objective practices range from militarization in anticipation of apocalyptic conflicts with non-whites, purging efforts, the establishment of alternative churches that preach white supremacy and anti-Semitism, to more obviously nefarious things. William Pierce, author of the notorious Turner Diaries, established the Cosmotheist Church, believing in a postmillennial phase of quiteism, a process to achieve fulfillment by merging with God. The pre-millennial evolutionary occurrences include social purging of non-whites.
Eugene V. Gallagher
Millennialism encourages interpretation of historical or religious scriptures. A need to establish relevance between ancient scriptures and contemporary situations, makes such interpretations extremely positivist. This article examines three primary examples. The first two focus on the complex dynamics of the formation and uses of two texts from the Bible. The Biblical book of Daniel has been the source of many a theological effort to identify the time of the apocalypse. The Rastafarian movement capitalized on the maltreatment of colored slaves as the contemporary manifestation of the Babylonian forces. Reinterpreting the Bible reflected the urge to deny white Christian dominance. This article examines a contemporary millennialist text that attempts to legitimize its message by expressing its millennial hope in a scriptural mode. The discussion of each of those examples is intended to reinforce the contention that the decision to read the signs of one's time and elements of traditional wisdom as conveying a millennialist message represents an intentional interpretive decision.
W. Michael Ashcraft
Millennial optimism finds its expression in the progressive brand. It believes in a “changed” world wherein everything is in their ideal state. It is not expressly non-violent or in any way, God forsaking. The “ideal” world also envisions a purging of adversaries and a divine hand behind every occurrence. This article concerns progressive millennialism that came by the way of English Puritanism, when people refused to accept whatever was fed to them in the name of religion and resorted to “scientific assertion” of divine ways. It reflects a curious combination of science and divinity. The discovery of America added impetus by facilitating reform of the Anglican Church and hence, progressive millennialism. The revolutionary period witnessed both progressive and catastrophic millennialism, the former wrought in the hope of newfound independence and the latter, anticipating British retribution and the conclusion of the French Revolution and the post-civil war period, millennialism became instrumental in the proliferation of global Christianity and American interventionist worldview.
Robert P. Ericksen
This article examines the so-called Kirchenkampf (Church Struggle) waged by German Protestants in the Third Reich. It shows that it hardly represented forthright opposition to the Nazi state, as claimed by some of its veterans after World War II. Most Protestants were more supportive than resistant to the Nazi regime. Even the Confessing Church, once considered a resistance movement, showed considerable support for Hitler and little concern for the Jewish victims of his policies. The other side in the church struggle, the Deutsche Christen, sought to prove their Nazi credentials by separating Christianity from its Jewish roots, even suggesting an ‘Aryan Jesus’. Some Protestant individuals, such as Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945), did oppose Nazi policies at risk to their lives. More typical, however, was Gerhard Kittel (1888–1948), a renowned theologian who joined the Nazi Party in 1933, claimed a natural affinity between Christianity and Nazism, and engaged in polemics against Jews.
Repeated defeats at the hands of the Romans and the subsequent pan-European migration made the Jewish people pragmatic and their religion, rid off radical traits, with the exception of rare, obscure flares. Nevertheless, the painful memories and the hope of a holistic redemption always maintained presence in the Jewish psyche, waiting for the opportune moment to flare up. The resigned postmillennialism and rational, secular, European Jewish philosophy was content with the creation of Israel on the lost land. The subsequent turmoil, and the perpetual war footing of Israel reoriented the new generation of Jews in a catastrophic millennialism and radical ideas of redemption, inspired by the permanently belligerent milieu of its existence. It facilitated a tendency to aspire for a messianic age. Fascinated by prospects of a Jewish commonwealth and rebuilding of the temple on Mount Zion, the conservative Protestants have been funding the radical Jewish cause.
This chapter investigates the theological justifications for violence within the sources of the Christian traditions, and also reports the symbolic representations of violence in the history of the tradition. It then presents a consideration of some specific issues that have provoked Christian people, to condone or even resort to violence while believing themselves faithful to Christian teachings and values. The chapter introduces the theological justifications of St. Paul, Jesus of Nazareth, just war, Crusades, inquisition and heresy trials, and missionary movements. Christian people have acted in ways opposed to violence, and have also warranted violence over the centuries by referring to scripture and by developing theological interpretations. Additionally, they preserve connection to its history of involvement of violence in a variety of symbols, rites, and rituals. In general, Christian people are moral agents who have to make decisions about how to act and how to act religiously.