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Millenarianism

[mi-len-ee-uh-liz-uhm]
Millenarianism (sometimes spelled millenarism or millennarism) 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 in a positive (or sometimes negative or ambiguous) direction. Millennialism is a specific form of Millenarianism based on a one thousand year cycle, and this form is especially significant within Christianity.

Millenarian groups typically 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. In some who held Medieval millenarianism the world was seen as controlled by demons and even up to the nineteenth century Chinese millenarianism used something like this motif, but with "demon" having a slightly different cultural connotation.

However, others who held millenarian views such as those held by the earliest Christians were condemned in 1530 by the Lutherans (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 95.)

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 behaviour, which can result in violence directed inwards (such as mass suicides) and/or outwards (such as 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 or another metaphysical force.

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

Examples of the millenarian groups, movements and writings:

In politics, millenarianism is often, but by no means always, linked to radical ideologies that share a similar belief in a transformation of society. These can be based in secular or religious ideas. In this way millenarianism is closely linked to Apocalypticism.

See also

External links

References

Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages, revised and expanded (New York: Oxford University Press, [1957] 1970). (revised and expanded 1990) ISBN 0-19-500456-6 Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997). ISBN 0-8156-2687-8 ISBN 0-8156-0396-7

Other sources (anthropological): Kenelm Burridge, "New Heaven, New Earth: A Study of Millenarian Activities" (Basil Blackwell. Original printing 1969, three reprints 1972, 1980, 1986)ISBN 0-631-11950-7 pb.

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