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Premillenialists and Scripturalism

Premillennialists depend on scripturalism to evaluate how biblical prophecies are being fulfilled in the present. Premillennialists use a literal belief of the bible to support the notion that Jesus will return to earth and eliminate evil to usher in a thousand year period of peace. Premillennialists can be separated into two differing philosophies; historicists, and futurists. Historicists evaluate prophecies relating to the end of time in the Bible and relate them to events in history, theorizing that these prophecies have already started being fulfilled over time. Futurists, on the other hand view most of these end of times philosophies as not having happened yet. Regardless of premillennialist’s view on which prophecies have been fulfilled, both schools of thought depend on scripturalism to defend their view. Scripturalism is the belief that the bible is both literal and inerrant, two attributes that are necessary to premillennialism. Premillennialists are not basing their estimate on the end of time on feeling or faith, each biblical prophecy must be taken as factual and literal in order to gain an accurate understanding of how close the world is to Jesus’ return. For historicists, their scripturalism is also affirmed by their premillennialist views, taking historical events as fulfillment of prophecy as proof that the bible accurately predicted the future. Essentially, scripture proves premillennialist views and premillennialist views prove scripture.

The focus on activism and totalism to reach purity is less of a priority to premillennialists as it is for postmillennialists. Postmillennialists believe that the reign of God is, to some extent, in the hands of humanity. This belief comes with attempts to purify the world in order to prepare or even cause the coming of Christ, meaning activism, implementing social and political rules based on fundamentalist views, and totalism, God having dominion over all aspects of society, would be extremely in purifying the entire world to usher in God’s reign. However, a decreased emphasis on activism and totalism does not mean that the concept of purity is irrelevant to premillennialists, it only changes the method in which purity is obtained. Because of belief that the rapture will divide good and evil, premillennialists often choose to separate themselves from sin and the sinful completely. Some fundamentalists choose to confront sinners to save them from eternal damnation, while others fear that any association with sinners may be misinterpreted or result in temptation to sin themselves. The fear of being eternally damned simply for being in the presence of sinners often leads many fundamentalists to avoid any situation where they fear they are prioritizing others over their own soul. This is an element of fundamentalism called separation, it is one strategy used to obtain purity that involves not only avoiding sin but creating communities of people devoted to living beyond the impurities of a modern secularized world. This strategy seems to relate to a premillennialist viewpoint as they don’t believe humanity needs to be in any certain state for Christ to return, but they do strongly believe in being personally prepared for the rapture.

The quest for purity is especially important to fundamentalists as most are regarded as being pre-tribulationist. A belief in pre-tribulation means fundamentalists believe the rapture will occur before a period called the Great Tribulation, an era in which the whole world is in violence and turmoil. In this time the Antichrist will violently persecute those who remain on earth after the departure of true, faithful Christians. The fear of the Great Tribulation radicalizes fundamentalists strategies to obtain purity, a factor that is less important to post-tribulationalists that believe they will see the period of Great Tribulation regardless of their purity because judgment will not occur until after the final battle of Armageddon.

However, regardless of their desire to separate from the modern, secular, impure world, fundamentalists cannot remain completely separate if they are to accurately predict the end of time, they must selectively embrace some elements of modernity. All elements of the end of times are seen as continually repeated throughout history. Dispensationalists, those who believe in dispensational theology, have divided history into eras, called dispensations. These eras are marked by God’s repeated plans for the salvation of humanity, each era ended in humanities failure resulting in God’s judgement. Dispensationalists have charted these eras and believe each apocalyptic element repeated throughout history will occur again in the present. In order to take note of current events that can point dispensationalists to a sign of the end of this era, dispensationalists cannot completely withdraw from modern life. They must stay aware of the news, current events, and global conflict. While they may choose to separate from impure society to avoid association with sin they must embrace enough of modern society to stay aware of the state of the world. This process of embracing select factors of modern life is an element of fundamentalism referred to as selective modernization.

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