Fragile Millennial Communities and Violence

John Walliss

in The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195301052
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Fragile Millennial Communities and Violence

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  • Religion
  • Religious Studies
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Christianity
  • Alternative Belief Systems



This article focuses on the twin factors of millenialist predisposition towards violence and the crossover from a volatile disposition to the actual practice of violence. It reviews the literature that has emerged in religious studies and the social sciences in response to the complexities of fragile millennial communities. It focuses on two broad themes or questions: first, what are the factors that predispose apocalyptic or millennialist communities to become involved in violence; and, second, what factors lead apocalyptic or millennialist groups from being predisposed to volatility to actually becoming violent. The necessary millennialist conception often leads to violent measures. In the face of a prophetic failure, charismatic leadership may employ violence, to realize the prediction or, obscuring the failure, or both. Finally, this article concludes that despite the violent nature of apocalyptic beliefs and rhetoric, the majority of millennial groups possess a passive orientation, believing that it is the role of God, and not themselves, to inaugurate the final scenario.

Keywords: millenialist predisposition; violence; religious studies; fragile millennial communities; apocalyptic beliefs

Article.  8232 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity ; Alternative Belief Systems

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