Eschatology

Authored by: Philip Tallon , Jerry L. Walls

The Routledge Companion to Modern Christian Thought

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782173
eBook ISBN: 9780203387856
Adobe ISBN: 9781136677922

10.4324/9780203387856.ch38

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Abstract

The importance of eschatology (the study of last things) in modern theology has had its ups and downs – mostly downs for a long stretch, followed by a precipitous rise in the twentieth century. Despite a decline in credibility during the Enlightenment, eschatology's current theological and cultural significance is hard to overstate. Christian theology has resurrected eschatology and popular culture has become anxiously obsessed with the end times. Visions of the world's end, secular and religious, now keep many book publishers in the black and make billions at the multiplex. The premillennial rapture has become an idée fixe for many American Christians, with numerous chart-dominating books forecasting or imagining scenarios of the rise of the Antichrist. Secular prophecies of ecological, nuclear, or viral devastation (along with metaphorical versions, be they virus-, zombie-, alien-, or ape-induced) simultaneously frighten and secretly reassure Westerners, secular and religious alike. Eschatology is a dominant (if not the dominant) obsession of our times.

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