chiliasm(redirected from chiliast)
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[Lat.,=1,000 years], the period of 1,000 years in which, according to some schools of Christian eschatology, Christ will reign again gloriously on earth. Belief in the millennium, based on Rev. 20, has recurred in Christianity since the earliest times.
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chiliasma belief that Jesus Christ will reign on earth for one thousand years. See MILLENARIANISM AND MILLENNIAL MOVEMENTS.
(also millenarianism), a religious doctrine according to which the end of the world will be preceded by a thousand-year “kingdom of God” on earth. Chiliastic ideas expressed in a peculiar form the hopes of the oppressed strata of society for an end to social injustice not in the kingdom of heaven, but on earth.
Chiliasm originated in the Judaic doctrine of the Messiah, and it was further elaborated by the early Christians. Chiliastic motifs are vividly expressed in the Apocalypse—the earliest of the Christian literary works that have been preserved. In the second century A.D., chiliasm gained many adherents in the Roman provinces of Asia Minor. After Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, chiliasts were cruelly persecuted as heretics by the established Christian Church, which viewed chiliasm as an ideology that was hostile to the existing world order and that minimized the church’s “salvational” role.
Chiliasm gained renewed currency in Europe during the Middle Ages, when it was incorporated in many heretical doctrines (such as those taught by the Apostolici) that expressed the antifeudal attitudes of the peasant and plebeian masses. The chiliasts usually preached a gospel of passive social protest. It was only at times of wide-ranging popular movements that chiliasm took on a more active character, advocating the establishment of the “kingdom of God” on earth by force of arms—a course favored, for example, by the Taborites, the Anabaptists of the Münster Commune, and the Fifth Monarchy Men during the English bourgeois revolution of the 17th century. Chiliastic views can subsequently be observed among the Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other sects that reflect the ideology and psychology of the petite bourgeoisie.
B. IA. RAMM