I do not know of a single time period where Christians did not believe that "the end time was near."

For many people in the centuries immediately after Christ's death, it's not unthinkable that they would believe "Well, Christ's returned to heaven; he probably just has to take care of some work, and will soon return for us."

For us, we look at the Book of Revelations -- and we say

  • Hey, we have the internet -- thus having the tech to fulfill the live stream of the death of the two witnesses.

  • The Mark of the Beast? Clearly we're moving towards a society with embeddable chips; so all our credit card, identity, etc ... will be some embedded chip -- and without it, people will not be able to buy / sell.

  • Earthquakes / wars ... destabilizing in the middle east: yep, yep, yep.


How did most Christians during WW1/WW2 view the book of Revelation? Were most of them convinced that the end war near? Given the sheer brutality of the wars, if one squinted at the wraths of God poured out and interpreted them symbolically, perhaps they could have been made to match up with the events happening at the time.

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    Not going to make this ana nswer, but I've never heard of any significant millenial movement during either WW1 or WW2. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 13:23
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    @Matthew7.7 Your questions are getting better every day. Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 17:11
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    @GilbertLeBlanc Well technically speaking Christ's birthday is negative infinity. -inf + 2000 = -inf. So he has already returned ;) :P Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 17:13
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    I don't think there were any polls at that time on this subject, so it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to give a factual answer. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 20:43
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    @Mr.Beatitude I think we could get a good idea from the works of popular figures of the time. I would file this under question type 4: Types of questions that are within community guidelines
    – user3961
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


While there must have been groups of Christians that understood these times as you suggest, the time leading up to the world wars actually was a time of great progress and optimism. While there certainly were premillennial groups, much of mainline Christianity during the 17-19th centuries was actually post- or a- millennial; that is, many believed that things would continue to get better and better until everyone on earth became Christians, then Christ would return. A nice example of this comes from my own tradition, whence the serial publication The Millennial Harbinger comes.

The increase in popularity of premillenialism (at least as it is commonly expressed nowadays) was actually the result of the great Wars. The wars called into question whether or not things actually were getting better—many argued that they weren't. So instead of thinking things would get better prompting Jesus' return, many people began to assume things would actually get worse, and would only get better by the direct intervention of God—hence the great tribulation, rapture, etc. of modern premillennialism. Interestingly, this falls nearly perfectly in line with the Apocalyptic movement in Judaism during the Second Temple Period out of which Christianity grew.

  • This is unrelated to the original question; but can you share a bit more about how "the failure of WWX being the tribulation" resulted in people's shift toward premillenialism?
    – user1694
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 1:55
  • I wasn't saying that WWX was viewed as a tribulation. I suggest you find a good history of American Christianity—that will probably be the best place to start. Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 2:12

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