Friday, September 08, 2006

Eschatology: Glossary of Key Terms

In my previous paper, I referenced the following glossary[1], where italicized words from my paper appear. This will be a helpful aid for anyone who is confused by the vocabulary that is often used when describing the end times.
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amillennialism: The belief that the millennium of Revelation 20:1-7 refers to a time of fullness such as the current Church age and not to a literal one-thousand-year period of time. While amillennialists disagree about what the millennium is or will be, they do agree it will not be a future, earthly reign of Christ.

Antichrist: In the Bible (1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 7), a reference to both an anti-Christian religion and a particular individual who will embody that belief at the end of time. The antichrist will lead a one-world, apostate religion seeking to glorify man while denouncing God (see CCC 675-76).

apocalypse: From the Greek word meaning “unveiling” or “revelation”. In Christian doctrine it refers to the unveiling of Jesus Christ as King and Lord that will occur at the end of time at the Parousia, the Second Coming.

dispensation: An era of history with a distinct beginning and end. The two major dispensations are the Old and New Covenants (see CCC 1076). Dispensationalists commonly believe there are seven dispensations in history, each beginning with a test from God and ending with m an failing the test.

eschatology: Study of “the last things”, especially death, judgment, heaven, and hell (individual eschatology). This branch of theology also examines the nature of the Kingdom of God, especially as it relates to history, the Parousia, the end of time, and the Last Judgment (general eschatology).

eschaton: The “last things” or “last days”, referring to the Parousia, or Second Coming, and the judgment of mankind. It will be the culmination of salvation history, when the Kingdom of God will be fully revealed and realized.

futurism: The belief that all or most of the book of Revelation describes future events and provides readers with a detailed explanation of those approaching events. Premillennial dispensationalists are futurists, but not all futurists are premillennial dispensationalists.

historic premillennialism: An ancient form of premillennialism that teaches that at his Second Coming Jesus Christ will set up an earthly, one-thousand-year reign on earth. Historic premillennialism differs from dispensational premillennialism in its denial of a rapture event separate from the Second Coming and its rejection of a radical distinction between Old Testament Israel and the Church.

historicism: The belief that the book of Revelation provides a prophetic and chronological outline of Christian history. Historicism was embraced by Martin Luther and John Calvin, and a rigid form of it is taught today by groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists. There are valid elements and insights contained in historicism, and Catholics can benefit from them when they are studied with care and in the light of Church teaching.

idealism: The belief that the book of Revelation is not concerned with either past or current events, but depicts spiritual realities, especially the cosmic struggle between God and Satan. Sometimes called the “spiritual” interpretation of the book of Revelation.

Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven: The final and climactic reign of God, ushered in by the Incarnation, growing in the church, which is the “seed” of the Kingdom (CCC 567), and to be fully realized at the Parousia. The Kingdom is communion with the triune God, entered through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Last Judgment: The belief that Christ, at his Second Coming, will “judge the living and the dead” (CCC 682). Jesus spoke of this future event in various sways, using images of wheat and chaff being separated (Mt 13:24-40, 36-43), the sorting of the good and bad fish (Mt 13: 47-50), and the separation of the sheep and the goats (Mt 25:31-46).

midtribulationism: The belief of some dispensationalists that the Rapture—the removal of Christians from the earth—will occur at the midpoint of the seven-year-long Tribulation period.

millennarianism: In general, any belief in a future time of earthly utopia. Within Christianity it refers to the belief that Jesus will return and establish a thousand-year-long Kingdom on earth.

millennium: Literally, “a thousand years”. Based on Revelation 20:1-10, the meaning of the millennium has been disputed among Christians for many centuries. Dispensationalists believe it refers to a future, earthly reign of Christ, while most other Christians, including Catholic, Orthodox, and many Protestants, believe it represents the current Church age.

Parousia: Literally, “presence”, It refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the end of time, and the surrounding events.

postmillennialism: The belief that Jesus Christ will return after a millennial period, which will be a time of unknown length during which the majority of the world is Christianized. Most postmillennialists today re Reformed Protestants.

posttribulationism: The Second Coming and Last Judgment will not occur until after a time of tribulation has been endured by the Church on earth. This belief is held by most protestant denominations, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and the Catholic Church.

premillennialism: The return of Jesus will occur prior to the millennium, which is envisioned to be a an earthly, utopian period, usually a thousand years in length.

preterism: The belief that the events depicted in the prophetic texts of the New Testament—especially the book of Revelation and Matthew 24—have already transpired. Partial preterists believe most, but not all, of those prophecies have been fulfilled. Preterists regard the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70 as a key event in New Testament prophecy.

pretribulationism: The dispensationalists belief that the Rapture, the secret removal of Christians from the earth will occur prior to the start of the final Tribulation period.

prewrath rapture: A variation on the midtribulationism belief. Prewrath proponents believe Christians will be raptured out of the Tribulation immediately prior to the outpouring of the “great wrath” of God, sometime in the latter half of the Tribulation.

progressive dispensationalism: A recent version of dispensationalism that seeks to reconcile traditional dispensationalist beliefs with more mainstream Protestant eschatology. Progressive dispensationalists have revised older dispensationalist ideas about the relationship between the Church, Old Testament Israel, and the Kingdom, and have also advocated methods of biblical exegesis that recognize the unity between the Old and New Testaments.

Rapture: From the Latin (Vulgate) word meaning “taken up” or “caught up”, used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Generally it refers to the Second coming of Christ. However, dispensationalists believe it refers to the sudden, secret, and silent removal of Christians from earth prior to (or in the middle of) the final Tribulation.

reconstructionism: A Reformed Protestant postmillennial movement—also known as dominion theology—that teaches there will be a progressive growth in Christ’s Kingdom on earth, eventually resulting in a Christianized world.

Scofieldism: The form of dispensationalism taught by Cyrus I. Scofield (1843-1921), especially in his influential Scofield Reference Bible (1909). Major features include a radical distinction between the Church and Israel, a very literal interpretation of Scripture, and strong distinctions between the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of heaven.

the Tribulation: A future period of trial and testing signaling the end of the world, the final conflict between Satan and God, and the triumphant return of Jesus Christ (cf. CCC 675-677).

whore of Babylon: A title, taken from the book of Revelation (Rev 17:5), that has been applied to various entities throughout history. The early church Fathers and many contemporary theologians believe it refers to ancient Rome and/or any institution that defies God. The Protestant Reformers and many Fundamentalists today identify the whore of Babylon as the Catholic Church.
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[1] Carl E. Olson, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”?: A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today’s Prophecy Preachers (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), 359-366. Note that I have included only the most pertinent terms from his glossary. For definitions of these terms from a premillennialist perspective, see Van Impe, Jack, Jack Van Impe's Dictionary of Prophecy Terms.

1 comment:

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