Idealism (Christian eschatology)

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Idealism (also called the spiritual approach, the allegorical approach, the nonliteral approach, and many other names) in Christian eschatology is an interpretation of the Book of Revelation that sees all of the imagery of the book as symbols. [1]

Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology dealing with the "last things." Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning "last" (ἔσχατος) and "study" (-λογία), is the study of 'end things', whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, the end of the world or the nature of the Kingdom of God. Broadly speaking, Christian eschatology is the study concerned with the ultimate destiny of the individual soul and the entire created order, based primarily upon biblical texts within the Old and New Testament.

Book of Revelation Final book of the New Testament

The Book of Revelation, often called the Revelation to John, the Apocalypse of John, The Revelation, or simply Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ or the Apocalypse, is the final book of the New Testament, and therefore also the final book of the Christian Bible. It occupies a central place in Christian eschatology. Its title is derived from the first word of the text, written in Koine Greek: apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation". The Book of Revelation is the only apocalyptic document in the New Testament canon.

Symbol something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity

A symbol is a mark, sign or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences. All communication is achieved through the use of symbols. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, ideas or visual images and are used to convey other ideas and beliefs. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a blue line might represent a river. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Alphabetic letters may be symbols for sounds. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose may symbolize love and compassion. The variable 'x', in a mathematical equation, may symbolize the position of a particle in space.

Jacob Taubes writes that idealist eschatology came about as Renaissance thinkers began to doubt that the Kingdom of Heaven had been established on earth, or would be established, but still believed in its establishment. [2] Rather than the Kingdom of Heaven being present in society, it is established subjectively for the individual. [3]

Jacob Taubes was a sociologist of religion, philosopher, and scholar of Judaism.

Renaissance cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century

The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the middle ages.

F. D. Maurice interpreted the Kingdom of Heaven idealistically as a symbol representing society's general improvement, instead of a physical and political kingdom. Karl Barth interprets eschatology as representing existential truths that bring the individual hope, rather than history or future-history. [4] Barth's ideas provided fuel for the Social Gospel philosophy in America, which saw social change not as performing "required" good works, but because the individuals involved felt that Christians could not simply ignore society's problems with future dreams. [5]

Karl Barth Swiss Protestant theologian

Karl Barth was a Swiss Reformed theologian who is most well known for his landmark The Epistle to the Romans, involvement in the Confessing Church, authorship of the Barmen Declaration, and especially his five volume theological summa the Church Dogmatics. Barth's influence expanded well beyond the academic realm to mainstream culture, leading him to be featured on the cover of Time on April 20, 1962 and Pope Pius XII said Barth was “the greatest theologian since Thomas Aquinas.”

The Social Gospel was a movement in Protestantism that applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially issues of social justice such as economic inequality, poverty, alcoholism, crime, racial tensions, slums, unclean environment, child labour, inadequate labour unions, poor schools, and the danger of war. It was most prominent in the early-20th-century United States and Canada. Theologically, the Social Gospellers sought to operationalize the Lord's Prayer : "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". They typically were postmillennialist; that is, they believed the Second Coming could not happen until humankind rid itself of social evils by human effort. The Social Gospel was more popular among clergy than laity. Its leaders were predominantly associated with the liberal wing of the progressive movement, and most were theologically liberal, although a few were also conservative when it came to their views on social issues. Important leaders include Richard T. Ely, Josiah Strong, Washington Gladden, and Walter Rauschenbusch.

Legalism, in Christian theology, is the act of putting law above gospel by establishing requirements for salvation beyond repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and reducing the broad, inclusive and general precepts of the Bible to narrow and rigid moral codes. It is an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigour, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law at the expense of the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God's grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption. On the Biblical viewpoint that redemption is not earned by works, but that obedient faith is required to enter and remain in the redeemed state, see Covenantal nomism.

Different authors have suggested that the Beast represents various social injustices, such as exploitation of workers, [6] wealth, the elite, commerce, [7] materialism, and imperialism. [8] Various Christian anarchists, such as Jacques Ellul, have identified the State and political power as the Beast. [9]

The Beast (Revelation) two beasts described in the Book of Revelation; the first comes out of the sea, while the second comes out of the earth and directs people to worship the first beast; they are defeated by Christ and are thrown into the lake of fire

The Beast may refer to one of two beasts described in the Book of Revelation.

Exploitation of labour is the act of treating one's workers unfairly for one's own benefit. It is a social relationship based on an asymmetry in a power relationship between workers and their employers. When speaking about exploitation, there is a direct affiliation with consumption in social theory and traditionally this would label exploitation as unfairly taking advantage of another person because of his or her inferior position, giving the exploiter the power.

Christian anarchism Belief that anarchism is inherent in Christianity and the Gospels

Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that claims anarchism is inherent in Christianity and the Gospels. It is grounded in the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable—the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus. It therefore rejects the idea that human governments have ultimate authority over human societies. Christian anarchists denounce the state, believing it is violent, deceitful and, when glorified, idolatrous. Christian anarchists hold that the "Reign of God" is the proper expression of the relationship between God and humanity. Under the "Reign of God", human relationships would be characterized by divided authority, servant leadership, and universal compassion—not by the hierarchical, authoritarian structures that are normally attributed to religious social order. Most Christian anarchists are pacifists—they reject war and the use of violence.

It is distinct from Preterism, Futurism and Historicism in that it does not see any of the prophecies (except in some cases the Second Coming, and Final Judgment) as being fulfilled in a literal, physical, earthly sense either in the past, present or future, [10] and that to interpret the eschatological portions of the Bible in a historical or future-historical fashion is an erroneous understanding. [11]

Preterism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets some or all prophecies of the Bible as events which have already happened. This school of thought interprets the Book of Daniel as referring to events that happened from the 7th century BC until the first century AD, while seeing the prophecies of Revelation as events that happened in the first century AD. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Second Coming event in which Jesus Christ would return to Earth according to Christian religions

The Second Coming is a Christian and Islamic belief regarding the future return of Jesus after his ascension to heaven about two thousand years ago. The idea is based on messianic prophecies and is part of most Christian eschatologies.

Related Research Articles

Eschatology Theological views of the end of the world

Eschatology is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the "end of the world" or "end times".

The Olivet Discourse or Olivet prophecy is a biblical passage found in the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It is also known as the Little Apocalypse because it includes the use of apocalyptic language, and it includes Jesus' warning to his followers that they will suffer tribulation and persecution before the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. The Olivet discourse is the last of the Five Discourses of Matthew and occurs just before the narrative of Jesus' passion beginning with the Anointing of Jesus.

In Christian end-times theology (eschatology), postmillennialism is an interpretation of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation which sees Christ's second coming as occurring after the "Millennium", a Golden Age in which Christian ethics prosper. The term subsumes several similar views of the end times, and it stands in contrast to premillennialism and, to a lesser extent, amillennialism.

The concept of the kingship of God appears in all Abrahamic religions, where in some cases the terms Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are also used. The notion of God's kingship goes back to the Hebrew Bible, which refers to "his kingdom" but does not include the term "Kingdom of God".

Jürgen Moltmann German Reformed theologian

Jürgen Moltmann is a German Reformed theologian who is Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen. Moltmann has contributed to a number of areas of Christian theology, including systematic theology, eschatology, ecclesiology, political theology, Christology, pneumatology, and the theology of creation. He has received honorary doctorates from a number of institutions, such as Duke University (1973), the University of Louvain in Belgium (1995), the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania (1996), the Chung Yuan Christian University in China (2002), the Nicaraguan Evangelical University (2002), and the University of Pretoria in South Africa (2017). Moltmann was selected to deliver the prestigious Gifford Lectures in 1984–85, and was also the recipient of the 2000 University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Apocalyptic literature is a genre of prophetical writing that developed in post-Exilic Jewish culture and was popular among millennialist early Christians.

Jacques Ellul French sociologist, technology critic, and Christian anarchist

Jacques Ellul was a French philosopher, sociologist, lay theologian, and professor who was a noted Christian anarchist. Ellul was a longtime Professor of History and the Sociology of Institutions on the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences at the University of Bordeaux. A prolific writer, he authored 58 books and more than a thousand articles over his lifetime, many of which discussed propaganda, the impact of technology on society, and the interaction between religion and politics. The dominant theme of his work proved to be the threat to human freedom and religion created by modern technology. Among his most influential books are The Technological Society and Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes.

Hermann Kutter was a Swiss Protestant theologian. Together with Leonhard Ragaz, he was one of the founders of Christian socialism in Switzerland. He was heavily influenced by Christoph Blumhardt. He combined Blumhardt's expectation of a coming Kingdom of God with a belief in socialist progress. He saw Social Democracy as a "tool" of the living God, and its followers as unwitting servants of God. He authored 11 books.

Futurism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets portions of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel as future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.

Christian eschatology is the branch of theological study relating to last things, such as concerning death, the end of the world, the judgement of humanity, and the ultimate destiny of humanity. Eschatological passages are found in many places in the Christian Bible, with many being found in the Old Testament prophets, especially in Isaiah and Daniel. Many are also found in the New Testament books, such as Matthew 24, Matthew 25, the General epistles, the Pauline epistles, and the Book of Revelation. This article is currently a general overview of the different Christian eschatological interpretations of the Book of Revelation. The differences are by no means monolithic as representing one group or another. Many differences exist within each group.

Remnant (Seventh-day Adventist belief) in Seventh-day Adventist belief

In Seventh-day Adventist theology, there will be an end time remnant of believers who are faithful to God.

Seventh-day Adventist eschatology

The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds a unique system of eschatological beliefs. Adventist eschatology, which is based on a historicist interpretation of prophecy, is characterised principally by the premillennial Second Coming of Christ. Traditionally, the church has taught that the Second Coming will be preceded by a global crisis with the Sabbath as a central issue. At Jesus' return, the righteous will be taken to heaven for one thousand years. After the millennium the unsaved will be punished by annihilation while the saved will live on a recreated Earth for eternity.

Number of the Beast number occurring in Rev. 13:18 (“[…] the number of the beast […] is Six hundred threescore and six.”), associated with the Beast; either 666 or 616, depending on the manuscript; interpreted by scholars to be the gematria for Nero Caesar (“נרו

The Number of the Beast is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the Beast of Revelation in chapter 13. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the beast is 666. Papyrus 115, as well as other ancient sources like Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, give the Number of the Beast as 616, not 666; critical editions of the Greek text, such as the Novum Testamentum Graece, note 616 as a variant.

Inaugurated eschatology

Inaugurated eschatology is the belief in Christian theology that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus there are both "already" and "not yet" aspects to the Kingdom of God. George Eldon Ladd suggests that the Kingdom of God is "not only an eschatological gift belonging to the Age to Come; it is also a gift to be received in the old aeon."

Three Angels Messages the messages given by 3 angels in Revelation 14:6–12, which, according to The Seventh-day Adventist church, were given to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ

The "three angels' messages" is an interpretation of the messages given by three angels in Revelation 14:6–12. The Seventh-day Adventist church teaches that these messages are given to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own mission.

The Liberation of Theology (1976) is a book on theology written by Juan Luis Segundo, S.J., translated by John Drury, and published by Orbis Books.

Kingdom of God (Christianity) phrase in the New Testament

The Kingdom of God is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the Kingship of God. The Old Testament refers to "God the Judge of all" and the notion that all humans will eventually "be judged" is an essential element of Christian teachings. Building on a number of New Testament passages, the Nicene Creed indicates that the task of judgment is assigned to Jesus.

Kingdom of God (Christian denominational variations)

Denominations often have diverse teachings on the Kingdom of God. These denominations interpret the Kingdom of God in distinctly different ways.

References

  1. Stan Campbell and James S. Bell (2001). The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Book of Revelation. Alpha Books. pp. 212213. ISBN   9780028642383.
  2. Occidental Eschatology By Jacob Taubes, p.86
  3. Occidental Eschatology By Jacob Taubes, p.132
  4. Encyclopedia of time By Samuel L. Macey, p.186-187
  5. Karl Barth and Christian Unity - The Influence of the Barthian Movement Upon the Churches of the World, by Professor Adolf Keller, p.190-192
  6. Third Way magazine, April 1987, p.23
  7. Who rides the beast?: prophetic rivalry and the rhetoric of crisis in the churches of the apocalypse By Paul Brooks Duff, p. 70, Oxford UP 2001
  8. Christopher R. Smith, "Reclaiming the Social Justice Message of Revelation: Materialism, Imperialism and Divine Judgement in Revelation 18," Transformation 7 (1990): 28-33
  9. Christoyannopoulos, Alexandre (2010). Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel. Exeter: Imprint Academic. pp. 123–126. Revelation
  10. The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology By Millard J. Erickson, p. 95
  11. Eschatology. Indexes: the concluding volume of the series Dogmatic theology By Francis Joseph Hall, p.13