Original Research - Special Collection: SPIRASA Spirituality 2018

The spirituality of apocalyptic and millenarian groups. The case of the Branch Davidians in Waco

Pieter G.R. de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a5152 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.5152 | © 2018 Pieter G.R. De Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 June 2018 | Published: 22 November 2018

About the author(s)

Pieter G.R. de Villiers, Department of New Testament, University of the Free State, South Africa


This article investigates the eschatological expectations of apocalyptic and millenarian groups from a spirituality perspective. It first analyses various historical examples of such expectations with particular attention to their sociopolitical consequences. A second part discusses the negative perceptions of, and violent responses to such groups by those who hold them in contempt as lacking spirituality. This issue is then specifically analysed in more detail in terms of the siege of the Davidian group, an offshoot of Adventism, in Waco, Texas, by law enforcement officials in 1993. An analysis of the group’s spirituality discusses their religious commitment, spiritual practices and use of the Bible as positive outcomes that they share with other millenarian groups. A concluding part spells out the negative characteristics and dynamics of their spirituality.


Millenarianism; David Koresh; Biblical Spirituality; Eschatology; Apocalypticism


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