What is Millennialism?

Millennialism is the widely accepted notion that the current global society is on the threshold of a great life-altering event. According to millenarianism, this life-altering event will bring a period of peace and abundance for all the inhabitants of the earth. In other words, it will create a new world. This belief is supported by a large group of people, which may include religious groups, political movements or entire societies. Millennialism is the promise of the justice of a divinity, or divine figure, and with this justice comes the dissolution of current power structures. More commonly, the concept of millenarianism is associated with the Christian religion, although it is also a pillar of faith in both Jewish and Buddhist faiths.

Influence of Millennialism

Millennialism has had a profound impact on societies around the world. The idea that in the future a divine power will take control of the current situation on earth has given the faithful of millenarianism a continuous supply of hope and consolation over the years, despite the fact of having to face illnesses, suffering and, in some cases , oppression. However, it has also contributed to the sense of a looming end that some believers are eager to help. This desire for the new era has influenced some social and political revolts over time, in an attempt to inaugurate the era of promised peace. Some examples of this are: the Jewish-Roman wars, when Jews rebelled against the Roman empire and the Taiping rebellion, when Christians rose up against the Qing dynasty.

Two types of millenarianism

Millennialism can be divided into distinct categories of believers 2. The first category is composed of individuals who believe that the new era will determine a leader who will overcome the current unstable political and social situations. The second category is made up of individuals who believe that the new era will create a world in which no one is in power, where all human beings will be equal and free.

The first of these ideologies has served political leaders throughout history, helping them gain more power within their kingdoms or empires. This use of millenarianism as a means to gain more control was particularly common during the medieval period between 5th and 15th. At the same time, however, the second type of millenarian belief has worked against these same leaders by promoting opposition to imperialism and authoritarian regimes.

Modern Millenarianism

Millennialism has also been seen in modern history. During the 17th century, Puritanism had millenarian tones and eventually led to the English civil wars. Around the same time, a millenarian Jewish movement began all over the world. The Puritan movement made its way into North America and from the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening (both rooted in Puritanism) were characterized by a strong millennial belief. This ideology is often attributed to the foundation of many other modern religious movements, including: Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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