Waiting for Antichrist : Charisma and Apocalypse in a Pentecostal Church: Charisma and Apocalypse in a Pentecostal Church
How can people believe that the supernatural end of the world lies just around the corner when, so far, every such prediction has been proved wrong? Some scholars argue that millenarians are psychologically disturbed; others maintain that their dreams of paradise on earth reflect a nascent political awareness. In this book Damian Thompson looks at the members of one religious group with a strong apocalyptic tradition--Kensington Temple, a large Pentecostal church in London--and attempts to understand how they reconcile doctrines of the end of the world with the demands of their everyday lives. He asks such questions as: Who is making the argument that the world is about to end, and on whose authority? How is it communicated? Which members are persuaded by it? What are the practical consequences for them? How do they rationalize their position? Based on extensive interviews as well as a survey of almost 3000 members, Thompson finds existing explanations of apocalyptic belief inadequate. Although they profess allegiance to millennial doctrine, he discovers, members actually assign a low priority to the "End Times." The history of millenarianism is littered with disappointment, Thompson notes, and the lesson has largely been learned: "predictive" millenarianism--with its risky time-specific predictions of the end--has been substantially supplanted by "explanatory" millenarianism, which uses apocalyptic narratives to explain features of the contemporary world. Most apocalyptic believers, he finds, are comfortable with these lower-cost explanatory narratives that do not require them to sell their houses and head for the hills. He does uncover a handful of "textbook" millenarians in the congregation--people who are confident that Jesus will return in their lifetimes. He concludes that their atypical beliefs were influenced by their conversion experiences, individual psychology, and degree of subcultural immersion. Although much has been written about apocalyptic belief, Thompson's empirically-based study is unprecedented. It constitutes an important step forward in our understanding of this puzzling feature of contemporary religious life.
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Waiting for Antichrist: Charisma and Apocalypse in a Pentecostal Church
Limited preview - 2005
African Antichrist apocalyptic belief apocalyptic ideas apocalypticism argues Atkinson audience Bible college Book of Revelation bookshop born-again Christians British Israelism Bruce Atkinson century chapter charismatic authority charismatic claims church members cognitive dissonance Colin Dye concept congregation conservative evangelical conspiracy theories cultic milieu date-setting degree of tension disconfirmation dispensationalism dispensationalist Dye’s Elim eschatology evangelical Christians evangelist expect explain explanatory millenarianism faith fieldwork fifty-year millenarians fundamentalist God’s groups healing high-tension ideological imminent interview Jeffrey Kensington Temple leaders London Maureen members of Kensington millenarian belief millenarianism millennial millennium ministry Morris Cerullo movement Napier pastor Pentecostal Pentecostal churches Pentecostalists percent plausibility structure preachers predictive millenarianism premillennialism prophecy belief prophetic question Rapture religion religious response return of Christ revival rhetoric routinization Satanic Second Coming secular sense social society speculate spiritual subcultural deviance suggests talking teaching ten-year millenarians theology there’s told Toronto Blessing tradition Tribulation worshippers