Antichrist's revolution: some Anglican apocalypticists in the age of the French wars
Journal of Religious History
125 - 142
Item Usage Stats
The article deals with the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century development of early modern English apocalyptic thought which permitted the identification of the Enlightenment and its political manifestations in Revolutionary France with the prophesied Antichrist. The importance of this phenomenon is discussed and a framework for further discussion of it, taken from general theories of apocalyptic, is provided. However, the article is chiefly concerned to go beyond existing, inadequate explanations of the phenomenon, which advert merely to the French wars and certain contemporary conspiracy theories, and seeks its origins and relationships in wider currents of British thought in the period and before. Notably, reference is made to the concern of the insular Counter-Enlightenment with rationalist christological heresy, the continuing vigour of the English tradition of apocalyptic exegesis and to contemporary renewed theological and pastoral emphasis on supernatural and dogmatic religion. However, popular thought is also adverted to and the phenomenon is situated within the history of the ideology of the British ancien régime. Throughout, the normality and acceptability of this apocalyptic thought in its contemporary setting is emphasized, implicitly suggesting a need to restrain historiographical emphasis on modernizing patterns of thought in treatments of the period.