THE ESCHATOLOGY OF SHAKER CHRISTIANITY

KATHLEEN PATRICIA DEIGNAN, Fordham University

Abstract

The dissertation offers an exposition and theological analysis of "Christ's Second Appearing" as it was described by representative writers of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, the Shakers. Shaker eschatology was remarkably innovative and central to the distinctive character of the United Society, but in the wealth of scholarship produced on the Shakers in the past twenty years, it has never been subject to direct, systematic description and theological analysis.^ The dissertation uses standard categories of systematic theology to describe and analyze the major works of early nineteenth-century Shakerism, as well as some essay material from later in the century. It isolates three distinct religious genres: a gospel-type tradition represented by the Testimonies; explicitly theological works, including Meacham's Concise Statement, Youngs' Testimony of Christ's Second Appearing, Dunlavy's Manifesto, and Green's; Millennial Church; and more discursive and speculative reflections, usually found in journals, especially The Manifesto. Each of these genres also represents a distinct phase in the development of Shaker eschatology: the primitive expression of the early years; the classical expression of the middle years; and the Alethian or revised expression of the later years.^ In its development, Shaker eschatology moved from an early christological description of Christ's Second Appearing in Ann Lee, to a later ecclesiological description of the Second Appearing in the Shaker Church, to a final pneumatological description of the Second Appearing in its progressive realization in the world. Furthermore, all the works analyzed showed in various ways the Shakerism's notion of Christ's Second Appearing was from beginning to end a way of describing the advent and age of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Shakerism's realized eschatology was a radical pneumatology and its pneumatology, radically eschatological. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

DEIGNAN, KATHLEEN PATRICIA, "THE ESCHATOLOGY OF SHAKER CHRISTIANITY" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615730.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615730

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