Monday, March 10, 2014

Hal Lindsey Needs to Thank the Old School Unitarians and Universalists

They were apocalyptic. They were also the first who believed history would terminate in universal liberal democracy (i.e., "millennial republicanism").

From the above link:
The late eighteenth century was another age of widespread apocalyptic expectation, when the promise of the American Revolution, followed by the greater and more radical expectations raised by the early years of the French Revolution, revived among a number of English Nonconforming sects the millenarian excitement of Milton and other seventeenth-century predecessors. "Hey for the New Jerusalem! The millennium!" Thomas Holcroft exulted in 1791. [] Preachers such as Richard Price, Joseph Fawcett, and Elhanan Winchester, as well as Joseph Priestley, who was not only a great chemist but a founder of the Unitarian Society, all interpreted the convulsions in France in terms of the prophecies in both the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures. They thus invested the political events of the day with the explosive power of the great Western myth of apocalypse and expanded a local phenomenon into the expectation that humanity, everywhere, was at the threshold of an earthly paradise.
Price, Fawcett, Winchester and Priestley were all theological unitarians and/or universalists.


Tom Van Dyke said...

"In the Civil Wars in seventeenth-century England, for example, there were fervent apocalyptic expectations among radical parliamentary sects that were shared by Oliver Cromwell, as well as by John Milton."

Go for it, Jon.

I cannot think of a greater theo-philosophical gulf than between the Enlightenment and the Judeo-Christian apocalypse.

Who is the Hal Lindsey of America's Founding?

Jonathan Mayhew? Thomas Paine*?

Jonathan Rowe said...

Well their apocalyptic millennial republican political theology made them support the French Revolution.

Then again, the Hal Lindseys supported the recent wars in the Middle East which some term a "Jacobin" enterprise.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I see what you mean.

It makes Priestley and Price look kind of wack, not the great "rationalists" they're cracked up to be, though. More like Hal Lindsey.

I'm less impressed with the attempt to put it in the American context

but then again, it could have been in the air since 1600s England, and taken for granted. An interesting vein.

Elz Curtiss said...

For those of us who weren't present at the creation of this conversation, what is the reference to Hal Lindsey and who is said HL?

Daniel said...

Apocalyptic expectation can be intriguing. But it is important not to confuse the Millenarian with the more recent pessimistic apocalyptic. To the Millenarian, despite the bad stuff in the world, we can see signs that God is preparing to unveil an era of justice and peace. Lindsey's view (which I think emerged in the late 19th century) stands that on its head; the signs we see are signs that an era of evil and death is about to emerge.

Same scriptures. Wild visions. Irrational hopes. But radically opposed world views. Priestly's expectation is that he will be able to participate in the transformation of the world. Lindsey's expectation is that he will be removed from the world.

Jonathan Rowe said...

This was HL's book that was his claim to fame. Likewise put his name into YouTube and lots of interesting things come up.

Tom Van Dyke said...

@Daniel: Yes, I remember now, Lindsey talking about pre-tribs and post-tribs.

Tom Van Dyke said...