How do Christians envision the future?

29. Apr. 2024

From April 26 to 28, 2024, the annual conference of the Verein für Freikirchenforschung (VFF | Association for Free Church Research) took place on the campus of Friedensau Adventist University. This year's theme was "The future of the world between horror and hope".

A variety of global crises are leading to a growing interest in apocalyptic end-time scenarios. Both religious and secular apocalypticism warn of the end of the world. The decisive factor here is whether one is deprived of all hope or whether a perspective is conveyed.

One important view is that there are different, successive times of salvation ("dispensations"). What do we know about the background to this understanding? How did it develop? In which church contexts is it represented? How does it affect politics and society - and why in the USA in particular? Some conservative evangelicals there hold such views. But how does premillenarianism relate to this? Are there possibly parallels in (seemingly) completely non-religious contexts?

The conference program included lectures by scholars from the disciplines of New Testament, church history and systematic theology. Participation was also made possible online via Zoom. As part of the event, the general meeting of the Association for Free Church Research took place on Friday evening. The following speakers spoke:

Rolf Pöhler "Future concepts of modern Christian theology" | Gert Steyn "The parousia of Jesus" | Thomas Hahn-Bruckart "End-time concepts from the time of the Reformation to the revival movement of the 19th century" | Crawford Gribben "The emergence of dispensationalism in Ireland" | Daniel G. Hummel "How end-time concepts shape American politics and culture today" | on the topic of "Dispensationalism and its manifestations": Sven Brenner "Premillennialism: on the discussion within the Pentecostal movement" | Ulrike Heitmüller "Friedrich Heitmüller and dispensationalism" | Frank Lüdke "Why only a few Christians are present at the Rapture ... 'Darbysm' in the Early Community Movement" | Andreas Liese "No Lord's Prayer: Dispensationalism among the Closed Brethren" | Johannes Hartlapp "Review and Outlook: Concepts for the future".

The VFF deals with theological and church-historical topics from the perspective of the Free Church. It promotes academic work within the framework of free church research. To this end, the association also maintains a specialist library for the Free Church, which can be consulted at Friedensau Adventist University. Further information: The VFF conferences take place annually. The next one is planned for fall 2025.

VFF Jahrestagung 2024