Protestantism and End Times
Millennialists concentrate on the issue of whether the true believers will see the tribulation or be removed from it by what is referred to as a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, a question which continues to cause divisions within evangelical Christianity. Amillennialists believe that the end times encompass the time from Christ’s ascension to the Last day, and maintain that the mention of the “thousand years” in the Book of Revelation is meant to be taken metaphorically (i.e., not literally, or ‘spiritually’).
End-times beliefs in Protestant Christianity vary widely. Christians premillennialists who believe that the End Times are occurring now, are usually specific about timelines that climax in the end of the world. For some, Israel, the European Union, or the United Nations are seen as major players whose roles are foretold in scriptures.
Among dispensational premillennialists writers, there are those who believe that Christians will be supernaturally summoned to Heaven by Jesus in an event called the Rapture, which occurs before the biblical “Great Tribulation” prophesied in Matthew 24-25; Mark 13 and Luke 21. The Great Tribulation is also mentioned in the last book of the Bible – the book of Revelation.
‘End times’ may also refer simply to the passing of a particular age or long period in the relationship between man and God. Adherents to this view sometimes cite St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, and draw analogies to the late 20th/early 21st centuries.
Post-Exilic Hebrew Books of Prophecy:2)http://dictionnaire.sensagent.leparisien.fr/END%20TIME/en-en/#Protestantism
Such as the Book of Daniel and Book of Ezekiel are given new interpretations in this Christian tradition, while apocalyptic forecasts appear in the Judeo-Christian Sibylline Oracles3)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibylline_Oracles and in the whole field of apocalyptic literature, which includes the Book of Revelation ascribed to John, the apocryphal Apocalypse of Peter4)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse_of_Peter, and the Second Book Of Esdras.5)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_Esdras
Most fundamentalist Christians anticipate that biblical prophecy will be fulfilled literally. They see current world and regional wars, earthquakes, hurricanes and famines as the beginning of the birth pains which Jesus described in Matthew 24:7-8 and Mark 13:8. They believe that mankind started in the garden of Eden, and point to Megiddo as the place that the current world system will finish, with the Advent of Messiah coming to rule for 1,000 years.
Contemporary use of the term End Times:6)http://dictionnaire.sensagent.leparisien.fr/END%20TIME/en-en/#Protestantism
Has evolved from use around a group of literal beliefs in Christian millennialism. These beliefs typically include the ideas that the Biblical apocalypse is imminent and that various signs in current events are omens of a climax to world history known as the battle of Armageddon.
These beliefs have been widely held in one form, by the Adventist movement (Millerites), by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in another form by dispensational premillennialists. In 1918 a group of eight well known preachers produced a London Manifesto warning of an imminent second coming of Christ shortly after the 1917 liberation of Jerusalem by the British.
Religious movements which expect that the second coming of Christ, will be a cataclysmic event, generally called adventism, have arisen throughout the Christian era; but they became particularly common during and after the Protestant Reformation. Shakers, Emanuel Swedenborg7)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg (who considered the second coming to be symbolic, and to have occurred in 1757), and others developed entire religious systems around a central concern for the second coming of Christ, disclosed by new prophecy or special gifts of revelation. The Millerites are diverse religious groups which similarly rely upon a special gift of interpretation for fixing the date of Christ’s return.
The chief difference between the nineteenth century Millerite and Adventist movements and contemporary prophecy belief is that William Miller9)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Miller_(preacher) and his followers fixed the time for the Second Coming by calendar calculations based on interpretations of the Biblical apocalypses; they originally set a date for the Second Coming in 1844.
These sorts of computations also appear in some contemporary prophecy beliefs, but few contemporary End Times prophets use them to fix a date; their timetables will be triggered by future wars and moral catastrophes, and accordingly believe that God’s judgment against the conflict-ridden and corrupt world is close at hand.
At least some Seventh Day Adventists are frightened of an end times scenario in which the United States works in conjunction with the Catholic Church. Short paperback books like National Sunday Law promise that, just in the day of the Roman emperor Constantine, Sunday religious worship will be enforced on pain of death: this is anathema to those who believe they must worship on Saturday.
SDAs interpret the “two horned beast” that “came out of the wilderness” and “spoke meekly” to mean the United States because it passed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was established in a thinly-settled part of the world compared to Roman and Byzantine Europe, and because it declared support for democracy, rule of law, and at least the rights of all white men, rich or poor.
Books such as The Pearl of Great Price do much to remind the reader that Christians of conscience have struggled to translate and read the Bible according to their own conscience. When caught, these Christians have not compromised their beliefs nor engaged in violence.
The SDAs would be the first in line to oppose the right-wing incorporation of religious agenda into politics, not only because SDAs and other Christians (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses) have been arrested and tried for offenses such as draft evasion, but because the politicalization of any religious agenda may lead to an official religion and not only first criminalize the losers, but if there is a power shift, also come to criminalize the ex-winners, too.
Amillennialism (Greek: a- “no” + millennialism), in Christian eschatology, involves the rejection of the belief that Jesus will have a literal, thousand-year-long, physical reign on the earth. This rejection contrasts with premillennial and some postmillennial interpretations of chapter 2011)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+20 of the Book of Revelation.
The amillennial view regards the “thousand years” mentioned in Revelation 20 as a symbolic number, not as a literal description; amillennialists hold that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current church age. Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent reign in the new heaven and new earth.
Many proponents dislike the name “amillennialism” because it emphasizes their differences with premillennialism rather than their beliefs about the millennium. “Amillennial” was actually coined in a pejorative way by those who hold premillennial views. Some proponents also prefer alternate terms such as nunc-millennialism (that is, now-millennialism) or realized millennialism, although these other names have achieved only limited acceptance and usage.
Amillennialism rejects the idea of a future “millennium” in which Christ will reign on earth prior to the eternal state beginning, but holds:
that Jesus is presently reigning from heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father,
that Jesus also is and will remain with the church until the end of the world, as he promised at the Ascension.
that at Pentecost, the millennium began (others believe it began after Christ’s Ascension), as is shown by Peter using the prophecies of Joel, about the coming of the kingdom, to explain what was happening.
and that, therefore the Church and its spread of the good news is Christ’s Kingdom and forever will be.
Amillennialists cite scripture references to the kingdom not being a physical realm:
Matthew 12:28, where Jesus cites his driving out of demons as evidence that the kingdom of God had come upon them.
Luke 17:20–21, where Jesus warns that the coming of the kingdom of God can not be observed, and that it is among them.
Romans 14:17, where Paul speaks of the kingdom of God being in terms of the Christians’ actions.
In particular, Amillennialists regard the thousand-year period as a figurative expression of Christ’s reign being perfectly completed, as the “thousand hills” referred to in Psalm 50:10, the hills on which God owns the cattle, are all hills, and the “thousand generations” in 1 Chronicles 16:15, the generations for which God will be faithful, refer to all generations. (Some postmillennialists and nearly all premillennialists hold that the word millennium should be taken to refer to a literal thousand-year period.)
Amillennialism also teaches that the binding of Satan, described in Revelation, has already occurred; he has been prevented from “deceiving the nations” by the spread of the gospel. This is the first binding he suffered in history after his fall from heaven. Nonetheless, good and evil will remain mixed in strength throughout history and even in the church, according to the amillennial understanding of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.
Amillennialism is sometimes associated with Idealism, as both schools teach a symbolic interpretation of many of the prophecies of the Bible and especially of the Book of Revelation. However, many amillennialists do believe in the literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecies; they simply disagree with Millennialists about how or when these prophecies will be fulfilled.
Though not much was written about this aspect of eschatology during the first century of Christianity, most of the available writings from the period reflect a millenarianist persective (sometimes referred to as chiliasm). Bishop, Papias of Hierapolis14)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis (A.D. 70–155) speaks in favor of a pre-millennial position in volume three of his a five volume work15)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis#Fragments and his sentiments were echoed by Aristion and the elder John16)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Patmos, as well as other first-hand disciples and secondary followers.
Though most writings of the time tend to favor a millennial perspective, the amillennial position may have also been present in this early period, as suggested in the Epistle of Barnabus17)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_of_Barnabus, and it would become the ascendant view during the next two centuries.
Church fathers of the second century that rejected the millennium were Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Cyprian. Justin Martyr18)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Martyr (died 165), who had chiliastic19)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennialism tendencies in his theology, mentions differing views in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew20)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialogue_with_Trypho_the_Jew, chapter 80: “I and many others are of this opinion [premillennialism], and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.”
Certain amillennialists such as Albertus Pieters21)https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Albertus_Pieters&action=edit&redlink=1 understand Pseudo-Barnabas22)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudo-Barnabas to be amillennial. In the 2nd century, the Alogi23)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alogi (those who rejected all of John’s writings) were amillennial, as was Caius24)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caius_(presbyter) in the first quarter of the 3rd century. With the influence of Neo-Platonism25)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Platonism and dualism26)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism, Clement of Alexandria27)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_of_Alexandria and Origen28)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen denied premillennialism. Likewise, Dionysius of Alexandria29)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_of_Alexandria argued that Revelation was not written by John and could not be interpreted literally; he was amillennial.
Origen’s idealizing tendency to consider only the spiritual as real (which was fundamental to his entire system) led him to combat the “rude” or “crude” Chiliasm30)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiliasm of a physical and sensual beyond.
Premillennialism appeared in the available writings of the early church but it was evident that both views existed side by side. The premillennial beliefs of the early church fathers, however, are quite different from the dominant form of modern-day premillennialism, namely dispensational premillennialism.
Medieval and Reformation periods31)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amillennialism#Medieval_and_Reformation_periods
Amillennialism gained ground after Christianity became a legal religion. It was systematized by St. Augustine32)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo in the 4th century, and this systematization carried amillennialism over as the dominant eschatology of the Medieval and Reformation periods. Augustine was originally a premillennialist, but he retracted that view, claiming the doctrine was carnal.
Amillennialism was the dominant view of the Protestant Reformers33)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation. The Lutheran Church formally rejected chiliasm in The Augsburg Confession34)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Augsburg_Confession—”Art. XVII., condemns the Anabaptists35)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabaptists (of Munster—historically most Anabaptist groups were amillennial) and others ’who now scatter Jewish opinions that, before the resurrection of the dead, the godly shall occupy the kingdom of the world, the wicked being everywhere suppressed.'”
Likewise, the Swiss Reformer, Heinrich Bullinger36)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Bullinger wrote up the Second Helvetic Confession37)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helvetic_Confessions which reads “We also reject the Jewish dream of a millennium, or golden age on earth, before the last judgment.” John Calvin38)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Calvin wrote in Institutes that chiliasm is a “fiction” that is “too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation.” He interpreted the thousand-year period of Revelation 20 non-literally, applying it to the “various disturbances that awaited the church, while still toiling on earth.”
Amillennialism has been widely held in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches as well as in the Roman Catholic Church, which generally embraces an Augustinian eschatology and which has deemed that premillennialism “cannot safely be taught.”
Amillennialism is also common among Protestant denominations such as the Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, many Messianic Jews, and Methodist Churches. It represents the historical position of the Amish, Old Order Mennonite, and Conservative Mennonites (though among the more modern groups premillennialism has made inroads).
It is common among groups arising from the 19th century American Restoration Movement such as the Churches of Christ,:125 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Christian churches and churches of Christ. It also has a following amongst Baptist denominations such as The Association of Grace Baptist Churches in England.
Partial preterism is sometimes a component of amillennial hermeneutics. Amillennialism declined in Protestant circles with the rise of Postmillennialism and the resurgence of Premillennialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it has regained prominence in the West after World War II.
Source: dictionnaire.sensagent.leparisien.fr | Source: en.wikipedia.org
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