Thursday, July 4, 2013

End Times 2005-2012

ESCHATOLOGY OF THE "LATTER DAYS" The End Times, sometimes referred to as the "Latter Days," are associated with the Second Coming of Christ and the time immediately preceeding the Second Coming. Within Christianity beliefs about the End Times, technically described as an eschatology, are divided into three general categories: pre-millennial, post-millennial and a-millennial. The millennium is a period of time, generally thought of as one thousand years in length, during which peace and harmony reign over the entire Earth. The prefixes "pre-," "post-" and "a-" refer to the timing of the Second Coming. Three key concepts associated with the millennium are: the Tribulations, Dispensationalism, and the Rapture. The Tribulations, or time of troubles, are a period of suffering, upheaval, sorrow, war and natural disaster. Dispensationalism refers to the belief in a divine dispensation or ordering of events by God in a predetermined manner unaffected by and independent of human agency. The Rapture is an event in which all living believers are transformed and ascend to dwell with Christ until his Second Coming. Depending on the particular eschatological variation, the Rapture can occur before the Tribulations (pre-Tribulation or pre-trib), during the Tribulations (mid-Tribulation or mid-trib), or after the Tribulations (post-Tribulation or post-trib). In post-millennial eschatologies, Christ does not return to Earth until the end of the millennium, signalling the end of history and the beginning of his kingdom. For post-millennialists human agency-the actions of the church, governments and individual believers-are vital in bringing about the millennium which is thought of as an expression of God's Kingdom. In this view Tribulations are thought of not as a specific time, but as the trials of existence common to all life in the flesh. Since human agency is key to bringing about the millennium, the establishment of God's Kingdom is not seen as a specific dispensation. Similarly, since Christian believers are the ones responsible for bringing about the millennium, it would not work if they were whisked away in a Rapture, leaving no one to establish the Kingdom on Earth. In a-millennial eschatology, there is no millennium, no reign of peace and harmony, rather human existance, more-or-less as is, continues right up to the time of the Second Coming when Christ returns to make his final judgments. Though there are no specifically millennial Tribulations, a-millennialists often see tribulation-like troubles as the continuing judgments of God on the unrighteous. In the a-millennial view the Second Coming itself is a dispensation, an event ordered by God unaffected by human agency, but believers can effect the interim judgments through their actions. Of course with neither millennium nor Tribulations, there is no reason for a Rapture. Pre-millennial eschatology holds that the Tribulations are a very specific period, often seven years in duration, during which the Earth will be wracked with disaster and political upheaval. Most Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical Christians in the United States are pre-millennialist, and most believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture. This order of events is dispensational and not effected by human agency. For these believers, Christ returns and sets things to right, establishing the millennium of his Kingdom on Earth which is followed by the Eternal Kingdom. The End

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