Millenarianism

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Millenarianism (also millenarism) is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society, after which all things will be changed. Millennialism is a specific form of millenarianism based on a one-thousand-year cycle, which many sects of different religions believe.

Contents

History

A core doctrine in Christian eschatology is the expectation of the Second Coming and the establishment of a Kingdom of God on Earth. According to prophecies in the Revelation of John, this kingdom of God on Earth will last a thousand years or more (a millennium).[1]

The application of specific dates to the establishment or changing of the world has happened in many religions, and continues to this day, and is not relegated to the sects of only major world religions.

Theology

Millenarian groups claim that the current society and its rulers are corrupt, unjust, or otherwise wrong. They therefore believe they will be destroyed soon by a powerful force. The harmful nature of the status quo is always considered intractable without the anticipated dramatic change.

However, others who held millenarian views such as those held by the earliest Christians were condemned in 1530 by the Lutherans.[2]

In the modern world economic rules or vast conspiracies are seen as generating oppression. Only dramatic change will change the world and change will be brought about, or survived, by a group of the devout and dedicated. In most millenarian scenarios, the disaster or battle to come will be followed by a new, purified world in which the true believers will be rewarded.

While many millennial groups are pacifist, millenarian beliefs have been claimed as causes for people to ignore conventional rules of behavior, which can result in violence directed inwards (such as the Jonestown mass suicides) and/or outwards (such as the Aum Shinrikyo terrorist acts). It sometimes includes a belief in supernatural powers or predetermined victory. In some cases, millenarians withdraw from society to await the intervention of God[citation needed].

Millenarian ideologies or religious sects sometimes appear in oppressed peoples, with prominent examples the 19th century Ghost Dance movement, and the 19th and 20th century Cargo Cults.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 676, follows a discussion of the church's ultimate trial. "The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism [underline added], especially the 'intrinsically perverse' political form of a secular messianism."

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