Southern Baptists aren't unified in their eschatology beliefs. Eschatology is the study of the end times and the biblical prophecies relating to them. Southern Baptists often hold very specific eschatology beliefs, with a certain number of Southern Baptists considering these beliefs essential. As a denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention allows for diversity of opinion.
Common Eschatology Beliefs
Southern Baptists all agree on a few principles of eschatology. The denomination’s Statement of Faith indicates that God will bring about the end of the world when and how God sees fit. Southern Baptists all agree that Jesus will return to earth personally and visibly. They believe in a bodily resurrection of the dead during the last days. They also agree on the existence of an actual and eternal heaven and hell. This is as far as the agreement goes.
A central component of all Southern Baptist eschatology is the return of Jesus Christ. Southern Baptists believe that Jesus will come back to Earth one day. They contend that His return will be visible and physical. This differs from certain denominations that hold to an allegorical view of Christ’s return. It also differs from those denominations that believe Jesus will return spiritually rather than physically. The return of Jesus is the starting point for all Southern Baptist eschatology.
Common Eschatology Views
The most commonly held Southern Baptist eschatology is known as "pretribulational premillennialism." In this view, Jesus will return to earth but not stay. He will rapture believers, removing them from Earth. Southern Baptists believe that a seven-year-long tribulation period will follow the rapture. They believe during the tribulation period that the Antichrist will conquer Earth, and they believe that Jesus will return again after the seven years and judge the living and the dead. Finally, they believe a 1,000-year-long Kingdom of God on Earth will follow.
Variant Eschatology Views
Another segment of Southern Baptists hold on to other views. One group believes the 1,000-year-long Kingdom of God isn't meant to be taken literally. Instead, they believe the Kingdom of God occurs here and now within the hearts of believers. This view is known as "amillennialism." Other Southern Baptists have a postmillennial eschatology. To them, Christianity will spread across the Earth, dominating the world. They believe once that occurs, Christ will return and reign on Earth for 1,000 years.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images