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Revision as of 10:26, 10 May 2012 by Lausten
Eschatology refers to the ends times. There are a wide variety of beliefs in Christianity about how human existence will end.
- A process of humanity becoming more like Jesus through time with no specific end. Christians are expected to participate in this process.
- Primarily literalist interpretation of scripture, but allowing for some allegorical meaning, a complex system involving chosen people, the Second Coming of Christ, rapture, a great tribulation, Armageddon and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Christ will then reign for a thousand years and after a final judgment there will be a new heaven and earth. This system was created by John Nelson Darby and the Brethren Movement in the 19th century. The term “dispensation” refers to the divine order, the sections of Biblical history that have been defined by changes to the divine code.
- Hyper Dispensational
- Includes all of the Dispensational beliefs and adds the claim that there are two gospels, one of Peter one of Paul, and that Paul created the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. A hyper-dispensationalist would most likely define the beginning of the Christian Church in Acts 9 or later rather than at Pentecost.
- Progressive Dispensational
- Accepts many of the basic tenants of dispensationalism, but takes a more inclusive view of the Old Testament, seeing the New Testament not as a break with the old but as a continuation of God’s work.
- Some prophecies may have been fulfilled, but most have not. This view is combined with others.
- Attempts to link prophecies in the Bible to events throughout history and use them to predict the end times.
- Prophecies are symbolic of the ongoing struggle between the forces of good and evil.
- Orthodox Preterist (Partial Preterist)
- Most of the prophecies of the Bible have already occurred, either in 70 CE or during the time of the Emperor Nero. There will still be a second coming.
- Full Preterist
- Includes the Orthodox Preterist beliefs and that the second coming was a symbolic event. The judgment of Jerusalem occurred when the temple was destroyed in 70 CE.
- Post-tribulation Rapture
- Pre-tribulation Rapture
- Mid-tribulation Rapture
- Pre-wrath Rapture
- Eschatology is not a defining element of Christianity.
Eschatology outside or on the fringes of Christianity
Depending on the denomination, there are from 3 to 8 ranges. Disagreements over where the boundaries lie can lead to some dispensationalists calling other dispensationalists “hyper-dispensationalists”.
- Humans are evolving and increasing technology, leading toward a point of perfection.
- Humans go through cycles, sometimes living very long lives, others being more like other animals.
- Islam includes judgment, resurrection of the dead and fulfillment of a divine plan.
- Prophecies in the Old Testament book of Daniel speak of resurrection, judgment and divine retribution. They are referred to in Maccabees and claimed to be fulfilled in the New Testament.
- The perfection of creation will be restored. Each person is responsible for their own salvation and for the fate of the world.