Millennial movements are often stimulated by someone claiming to have received a new revelation. In the study of religions, the term charisma refers to the belief that an individual has access to an unseen, superhuman source of authority. It is impossible objectively to validate the person’s claim: People either accept it on faith or reject it. If the individual’s claim to revelation or empowerment is not believed by others, then the person does not have this kind of socially constructed charisma.
Both prophets and messiahs have charisma in this sense. A prophet is someone who is believed to receive revelations, perhaps about the imminent transition to the millennial kingdom. Although also a prophet, a messiah is, in addition, believed to have the superhuman power to create the millennial kingdom. There can be religious apocalyptic prophets, such as Muhammad, and religious messiahs, such as Jesus Christ, who according to the gospels was also an apocalyptic prophet. There can also be secular messiahs, such as Adolf Hitler, who claimed to be empowered by “nature” to create the Third Reich as the millennial kingdom for the German volk (folk).
Millennial movements do not necessarily have to have prophets and messiahs. They may arise from the widespread anticipation and/or fears of a number of people, such as the diffuse Euro-American (white supremacist) movement in the United States at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, which includes Identity Christians, racist Neopagans, neo-Nazis, and secular survivalists and warriors expecting an apocalyptic conflict with the federal government.