Faculty, School of Global Studies, Foundation Academy of Amsterdam
Stripping the thief in the night: Decolonizing Pentecostal Eschatology as a Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic
For a few decades, a growing number of scholars, including philosophers, have become interested in eschatological topics; the final events of human history or the last things. But the most interested group with a strong emphasis on eschatology is none other than the oneness Pentecostal movement, including many Evangelical groups. Most of them predict world events based on interpretations of biblical text. Before the end of December 1999, Year 2000 bug, also known as Y2K problem or Millennium bug, was used as an example by many Pentecostal preachers for the imminent fulfilment of end times bible prophecy. Then, the Y2K problem turned out to be a failed prediction. Despite of critics, many Pentecostal adherents continued to embrace and uphold the doctrine of rapture theology, particularly among oneness Pentecostal believers. For that reason, decolonizing Christian eschatology is crucial because it goes to the heart of the oneness Pentecostal eschatology.
Like many other Christian denominations, the oneness Pentecostals perceived eschatology as one of the central “Apostolic” teachings, to some extent, shapes their social behavior and public engagement. Although oneness Pentecostal eschatology takes different forms, the popular form is rapture theology–”a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV). This kind of eschatological thought is becoming popular again in the outbreak of COVID-19. This paper examines the rapture theology which is the popular eschatological thought (dispensationalism) among Pentecostal churches, especially oneness Pentecostals and some Evangelical churches. Using Oneness Pentecostal Movement as a primary reference point, I explore the possibility of decolonizing the Christian eschatology in response to the global outbreak of COVID-19. Put it differently, decolonizing the Pentecostal eschatology, in the process, it become more attentive, sensitive, and responsive to global socio-economic-political crisis, particularly in reference to the pandemic outbreak of Covid-19.