Immanentize the eschaton

Immanentize the eschaton

To immanentize the eschaton means trying to make the eschaton (the transcendent, uncreated, spiritual, or future; the end of days, to trigger the apocalypse, see eschatology) in the immanent (within the limits of possible experience) world. More recently, it has been used by conservatives as pejorative against what they perceive as utopian schemes, such as socialism, communism, etc. It has also been used by Christian libertarians to criticize George W. Bush and the neo-conservative movement. [cite web | last = Callahan | first = Gene | authorlink=Gene Callahan (economist) | title = We’re Living in the Dream World of George W. Bush | work = | date = October 27 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2008-04-26 ] In all these contexts it means "trying to make that which belongs to the afterlife happen here and now (on Earth)" or "trying to create heaven here on Earth."


According to Jonah Goldberg, writing in "National Review Online" (on 16 January 2002):

In modern parlance, the phrase was coined by the late, great Eric Voegelin in "The New Science of Politics" in 1952. In the 1950s and 1960s, thanks largely to William F. Buckley's popularization of the phrase, Young Americans for Freedom turned it into a political slogan.

Buckley was the most notable of many US conservative readers of Voegelin's work.

Voegelin identified a number of similarities between ancient Gnosticism and those held by a number of modernist political theories, particularly communism and Nazism.

He identified the root of the Gnostic impulse as alienation, that is, a sense of disconnection with society and a belief that this lack of concord with society is the result of the inherent disorder, or even evil, of the world. This alienation has two effects:

*The first is the belief that the disorder of the world can be transcended by extraordinary insight, learning, or knowledge, called a "Gnostic Speculation" by Voegelin (the Gnostics themselves referred to this as gnosis).
*The second is the desire to implement a policy to actualize the speculation, or as Voegelin described to "Immanentize the Eschaton", to create a sort of heaven on earth within history.

One of the more oft-quoted passages from Voegelin's work on Gnosticism is the following:

The problem of an eidos in history, hence, arises only when a Christian transcendental fulfillment becomes immanentized. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton, however, is a theoretical fallacy.

Dispensationalist Christianity

The term has been used in reference to Christian sects that ascribe to Dispensationalism and work to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus and consequently the end of the world. This belief is similar to Gnosticism insofar as it values secret knowledge of the methods to immanentize the eschaton and of the manner in which the eschaton will be or is being immanentized. There are some small differences however: gnosticism in the ancient world did not involve a belief in trying to make heaven on earth, because in ancient Gnostic speculation the world was considered to be inherently imperfect and limited.Fact|date=June 2008 Ancient Gnosticism valued transcendence,Fact|date=June 2008 and thus perfection could not exist in the imperfection simply because one would like it to exist, one sought to transcend this world.Fact|date=June 2008

Catholic Christianity

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes an oblique reference to the desire to "Immanentize the Eschaton" in article 676:

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.

Popular culture

The phrase has been much used by Discordians. It is cited in the "Principia Discordia", and is referred to fifteen times in "The Illuminatus! Trilogy", the first of which is the first line of the novel, "It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton."

The phrase was also used in the debut single ("All You Need Is Love") by the "Illuminatus!"-inspired British band The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu: "With this killer virus who needs war? Immanentize the Eschaton, I said shag shag shag some more!".

It is the first phrase in the Illuminatus timeline taken from Neil Wilgus' book Illuminoids circulating on the internet.

The phrase furthermore occurs in the lyrics of The Shamen's song "Destination Eschaton": "So immanentise thy eschaton unto Ragnarök or nemeton, and beyond in the name of Adam Kadmon".

Immanentizing the eschaton is a stated goal of the intergalactic company of Landau, Luckman, and Lake, in Marvel Comics (especially Wolverine and Deadpool.)

ee also



External links

* [ Mailing list discussion of origin of the phrase]
* [ used as a slogan]
* [ discusses the meaning and origin of the phrase]
* [ blog entry discussing Eric Voegelin]
* [ National Review Online article from 2002] : credits modern origin to Voegelin, and popularization to William F. Buckley
* [ Oregon Daily Barometer online May 2005]
* [ Phrase used by columnist Ed Driscoll]
* [ Phrase used in a Discordian context]
* [ "The Howard Center"] : uses the phrase in a Christian context
* [ Book review on Culture Wars] : More on the Voegelin/Buckley use of the phrase
* [ "The Jihad of Chaos"] : uses the phrase in a CHAOIST context
* [ "News With Views" Book review by Phillip D. Collins] : uses the phrase in a Gnostic context

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