“The Last Days: The End of Hope or a Hopeful End?”

That’s the title of the 2011 Impact Seminar sponsored by the Brethren in Christ Church’s Equipping for Ministry program. The seminar, which will be held at seven locations across the U.S. and Canada, begins today in Harrisburg, Pa. (As you read this, I’m currently sitting in on the seminar at New Hope Brethren in Christ Church.)

Eschatology is, in my opinion, a fascinating topic. Especially today, with the popularity of the fundamentalism-flavored Left Behind book series and some Christian groups claiming that Jesus will return on May 21, 2011, this “end times” theology deserves concentrated scholarly attention. Plus, pastors need to know how to understand biblical prophecy and preach it responsibly and thoughtfully.

While eschatology has played a central role in scholarly analyses of twentieth-century fundamentalism and evangelicalism, few of our denominational historians have paid attention to its transformative impact on Brethren in Christ life and thought. Especially in the late nineteenth century and again during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the intellectual and emotional force of dispensational premillennial eschatology thrust many Brethren in Christ into evangelistic action — and often brought them into closer contact with their fundamentalist co-religionists.

There’s plenty of evidence to prove this, I think, but not since the 1970s has a church historian published substantially on the topic. Maybe some day…

Until then, here are a few links and a brief bibliography of pertinent books and articles to whet your appetite for Brethren in Christ eschatology. Enjoy!

From the search for piety and obedience:

“Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful”: Proclaiming the Dispensation in a Chilly Climate
The Rapture: Coming Soon To A Theater Near You?

Recommended books and articles:

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About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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One Response to “The Last Days: The End of Hope or a Hopeful End?”

  1. David E Byer says:

    California octogenarian Camp [www.familyradio.com] has four caravans touring the US proclaiming this date. They were in the Minneapolis/St Paul area this past weekend. I note their materials use the legal spelling of the word “judgment”. Our church congregation has scheduled a work day for 21 May 2011. We’ll see what happens.

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