Varieties of Christian Eschatology


Above I have offered a diagram to summarize most of the many conflicting Christian Eschatologies (End-Time Theologies) which have been generated by Christian theologians over the last 2,000 years. Today (9/2014) I am updating the first chart I put here on 11/2009. I have improved the chart, thanks to comments from my readers.  Better late than never, eh?  That plus the first chart was done in software I don’t have now, so I had to totally recreate them using new software — so I procrastinated for five years!

If I have to pick one, I’d say the A-Millenialist is my favorite Eschatology version — see my post on My Favorite Types of Christians. Atheists may ask, “Why would you have a favorite version if they are all silly myths?” Well, that is a long story but basically my strong pragmatist side feels that some wrong ideas are worse that others because of the way they are used.  And even wrong ideas, if used well, can be better than right ideas used poorly.

What is your favorite version?

As always, even after this new version, all corrections & suggestions are coveted !



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24 responses to “Varieties of Christian Eschatology

  1. good overview here! did you make all of these yourself?

    i really can’t speak to this as i really have no eschatology… well at least one that is defined and fits any of these catagories.

  2. Yep, Luke, made them all by myself on Photoshop !

  3. Oh my gosh! In Photoshop?

    We have a lot of time in our hands do we? ;0)

    Geeky me would have found some freeware especially for charts, after downloading it and installing it, I would’ve learned it, and then done the charts. In fact, I may still do that just for fun–or not.

  4. JoanieD

    Great charts, Sabio. I don’t know where I land on them though. I guess I figure life is going to continue pretty much the way it is until Jesus’ second coming and the heavens and earth will be renewed somehow. And then some of us will live forever with resurrected bodies and some of us will be destroyed. That looks like I am not dealing with the millenial thing at all.

  5. Thanx Joanie

    Yep, according the stories you embrace, the bodies of my son, daughter, wife, all my brothers, myself and billions of other people will be destroyed but you will live forever. Congratulations !

    No reason to wrestle with the doctrine if you are guaranteed a get-free ticket anyway.

  6. JoanieD

    Hey, Sabio, I have no idea WHO will be the ones to live forever or who will be destroyed. If we believe the words that Jesus is said to have said, people may be surprised at how it works out. Plus, some Christians believe that ALL may be saved in the end as everything and everyone will be in God. So do not be so quick to judge.

  7. Hey Joanie, thanx for stopping back in.

    Oh, trust me, I am not quick to judge. I am a universalist in the sense that I think we will all have the same eternal states. But you are not a universalist, though you rightly claims some Christians are — you aren’t one of those. Because you said, “… some of us will be destroyed.” And you said you are sure you won’t be destroyed. So it appears that it is you have been quick to judge. Don’t get me wrong, “judging” is an important skill. I just feel it should be withheld with evidence is insufficient, when it comes to deciding the fate of others.

    You may be interested this other posts of mine:
    My favorite type of Christians where I show how I personally prefer Universalist Christians.

    Gee, you might even enjoy the more normal post I am doing today about my son — I will finish it in the next half-hour.

  8. joanied

    Hi again, Sabio. Note that I did not say that I was sure I would not be destroyed. I said, “And then some of us will live forever with resurrected bodies and some of us will be destroyed.” I tend to WANT to believe that all of us “in the end” will be with God and I have spent time on the internet reading websites where Christians say this will be the case. I hope they are right and they could be right. But I also think that as humans we have free will and perhaps there will be some folks who will reject love even in the end. I don’t know. If we believe that Jesus said the words the Bible says he says, he seems to indicate that not all people will accept the love of God. I hope I am understanding this wrong. I want no one to be destroyed!


  9. Dug

    I toyed with universalism once, but quickly figured out that it denies free choice, so I no longer hold to that idea. There is an old saying “He who is convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”
    There is no such thing as a harmonious existence where everyone and every idea has equal weight. Therefore, an eternal bliss with God where people have diverging views of things concerning what God says is true would be no paradise at all.
    Plus, universal salvation implies that God’s ideas are SO great that no one will be able to resist how wonderful they are, so therefore they will “give in” and accept what God has to offer, even if they are kicking and screaming the whole way. To me, that violates the idea of personal freedom of choice.
    It is very clear to me that since the beginning, God HAS offerred all the goodness of Himself, yet there are the holdouts who refuse to accept even the good things, despite them knowing that they would be good for themselves. That’s because they value their OWN sovereignty more than they accept God’s sovereignty over themselves.
    For that reason, I cannot accept universalism. Plus, the other reasons I stated above.
    BTW, you asked about preterism in the undeception site. Well, your chart leaves out the return of Christ in 70 AD. Preterists are pretty unanimous on that. There is a percentage who believe that was His only “second coming”, and they are known as “full preterists” Another group believes there is a second-second coming somewhere in an undefinable future. They are known as partial preterists.

  10. Dug’s right – there are two types of preterism, full and partial.

    Partial preterism is reflected in your chart fairly well: the Second Coming and Last Judgment are in the indeterminate future. However, the Millennium began (they differ) during Jesus’ ministry, at Pentecost, or perhaps at AD 70.

    Full preterists argue that it ALL occurred by AD 70; the Second Coming, Last Judgement, and the Resurrection occurred at AD 70 and the (highly symbolic, obviously) Millennium ended by AD 70. Many recognize resurrection and judgment of individuals subsequent to AD 70 as ongoing, while others say that all judgment is complete.

  11. @ Dug and Steve — thank you kindly, I will work on additions.

  12. Pingback: Make’n Me-self Known « The Dread Pirate Scetis

  13. Fun charts! But while “post-trib” and “pre-trib” is a mini internal debate amongst the broader camp of “dispensational premillennialism,” you’re missing an important and legitimate group: “historic premillennialism.”

    Historic premillennialism is a legitimate position ranging back to the earliest days of Christianity, that still has adherents today (although I disagree with it). By contrast, dispensational premillennialism (and thus “pre-trib” and “post-trib” within it) is a very new, aberrational theology that is only popular amongst fundamentalists in North America (and various pockets they’ve evangelized).

  14. Thanx, Aaron, I will read up on them and maybe touch up the chart. But questions:
    (1) What version do you hold to? And which other Christians hold to that? If none, could our draw yours?
    (2) What denominations hold the various ones above?
    (3) Don’t a majority of Evangelicals hold a pre or post trib. I think due to the novels and movies of Trib people, they entered common culture and into Evangelicalism, no?

  15. Gary

    You could add pre-millennial dispensationalism, by taking the pre-trib pre-millennium chart, adding the dispensations, then add bulding the 3rd temple, Jesus presiding there, Israel taking over Iran and Iraq, etc…and with a little lamb being sacrificed in person by Jesus…if you want to make a really complicated chart…but seems like a lot of end of world people are into that. Then you can make the same chart, only having the temple being built in Missouri or Utah, and you’d have Mormons.

  16. @ Gary
    Yes, that would make it too complicated. I was hoping people could see the most popular concept in a simple glance. I hope it has helped some people understand the theological playground.

  17. I hold to amillennialism, and many, many folks would hold this position. It’s also very strong in the Reformed camp, but it extends far beyond them. Different views map onto different denominations, but I’m not sure that any denominations strictly necessitate one of the views — there are Reformed premillenialists (and even dispensational premillennialists), for example.

    Yes, many evangelicals hold to a dispensational premillennial position (“pre- or post-trib”). Dispensationalism is very strong in the charismatic and non-denominational flavors of Christianity. But again, it’s a relatively new, young theology, and very aberrational from historic Christian positions and perspectives.

    The ESV Study Bible has some extremely well-made graphics that correspond to each of the views, which may be available online somewhere.

  18. Wow… just wow. (chuckling). This will require more thought, eh, Sabio? You just love these charts and things, don’t you? Okay, I’ll come bak later. 🙂

  19. @ the warrioress,
    Yeah, charts help me learn. After our conversation and directing you here, I decided to update these. So I will be working on this and hopefully incorporating comments above. I think if Christians realize how many hugely different theologies there are in so many areas of their religion, then they may relax a bit more about Theology and understand its speculative nature.

  20. Good job with the charts Sabio. Here’s a Catholic reply to a comment you made years ago when you wrote: “according the stories you embrace, the bodies of my son, daughter, wife, all my brothers, myself and billions of other people will be destroyed but you will live forever.” You seem very well learned so I suppose you are aware that there is a middle ground between the strict fundamentalism you caricatured above (denying salvation to any non-Christian who has not explicitly accepted the Gospel), and the broad universalism which would see Hitler and Stalin and all serial murderers rejoicing together forever with all the saints in heaven (how anyone would believe that is beyond me).

    The Catholic position is that while Christ is indeed the *objective* way to salvation, God also sees the *subjective* dispositions of the heart of those who don’t explicitly believe in him. In other words, God is able to tell those who reject the Gospel out of conscious and malicious denial of the truth and/or of its moral demands, from those who are inculpably ignorant or even have legitimate intellectual objections to Christianity that they are unable to overcome in good faith.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it as such:

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”
    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

    I hope this helps. God bless!

  21. This is an awesome graphic that I’ll be coming back to a lot. When I was a Christian and I heard people say things like “they are preterists (or whatever) so stay away from them” I always wondered exactly what it meant about their eschatology, and now I’ll be able to know. Of course I never was convinced that someones eschatology was a reason to “stay away from them”.
    This is the second graphic I’ve found through Nate’s blog – his latest post links to another very cool one of the timeline of the New Testament books.

  22. Thanx, Howie. Yeah, if you keep in mind the various theology stances: hermeneutics, eschatology, soteriology, and more, you can see why there is such a wide variety of Christians. To debate with a Christian without:
    (a) getting them to tell you their favorite flavor (theology stances)
    (b) seeing how their belief serves their life
    is almost a waste of time.

  23. R Vogel

    I’m late to this party, but I think I see an error in your graphic on Preterism. My understanding is that the full Preterist view holds that all significant events happened in A.D. 70 including 2nd Coming and LJ. So there’s nothing left on the horizon. There is a spectrum of Preterism, so perhaps you were trying to strike a middle ground…

    Great graphic, though. This will be helpful in explaining to some of my christian relatives what they believe, and what other christians also believe. Funny how many christians think they way they do it is the way all christians (besides those horrible liberal christians) do….

  24. @ Everyone,
    To anyone following this post, I have finally (after 5 years) updated the diagram to include the suggestions/corrections generously given by readers. Thank you.

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