Original Research - Special Collection: Eben Scheffler Festschrift

The dangerous role of politics in modern millennial movements

Pieter G.R. de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 3 | a5626 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i3.5626 | © 2019 Pieter G.R. de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 June 2019 | Published: 14 November 2019

About the author(s)

Pieter G.R. de Villiers, Department of New Testament, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


This article investigates the political nature and involvement of millennialism as a religious phenomenon. It, firstly, offers a brief analysis of how millennialism shifted from a significant, but marginal role player in the history of Christianity to become part of the mainstream religious discourse in recent times. It then seeks to explain how this came about by analysing the way this development continues and resonates with the political language and thought of the 19th-century religious discourse in the United States and in early modern England since the 16th century. It finally investigates the dangerous consequences of politicising eschatology by specifically analysing the role of Israel in millennial expectations.


millennium; millennialism; millenarianism; chiliasm; left-behind literature


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