It’s the End of the World As We Know It – Postmillennialism

13Jan12

Postmillennialism

I was working for a Christian record company as a traveling sales person. The sales force would get together several times a year to go over sales strategies, receive information on the new releases and pretty much just hang out and discuss music, movies, sports and theology.

Over a several month period I had become friends with a phone sales representative named David who seemed to know everything about theology. I found out later that his father was a truly brilliant thinker, theologian, author and apologist. His father’s work would become the single most important influence in my theological journey.

But several months before I met his father and had begun my spiritual and theological journey to the positions I now hold, I was sitting in the back seat of his car while he drove me and several other reps to a team meeting.

The conversation quickly turned to theology and that night’s discussion was the topic of eschatology. Everyone took their turns expressing their particular viewpoint, which was pretty much a unanimous expression of the popular Premillennial, Pre-Tribulation, Left Behind Rapture view. All except for David.

When David finally interjected he simply said, “I’m post…just not in the way you’re thinking.”

“Post?” I thought.

“You’re really Post-Trib?” Someone in the car finally asked.

“Uh, no…” David responded. “I’m Postmillennial!”

 

As was with the discussion on Amillennialism, the current chapter on Postmillennial will contain a bullet point breakdown of the key elements that separates this view from the other Millennial positions. There will be some crossover between the Amillennial and Postmillennial position in relation to the Interpretive Methods used and the timing of certain aspects.

As was mentioned in the chapter on Amillennialism, both the Amillennial and Postmillennial position share one very important element; the belief that the return of Jesus Christ takes place at the end of the Millennium. This is where the term receives its identifying name. But it should also be noted that the Postmillennial position has two distinctly different views as to regarding the beginning of the Millennium.

Most traditional Postmillennialist believes the Millennium is a yet future event. These Postmillennialist argue that the Millennium will be “golden age” for the Church in which the Gospel will have conquered the nations, the Great Commission having been literally fulfilled, and the world will remain “Christianized” throughout a one thousand year time period. Those who would adhere to this view of the initiation of the Millennium would include the Puritans and, most notable, the great preacher and evangelist, Jonathan Edwards.

The traditional view would be somewhat similar to the Classical Premillennial view of the Millennium (next chapter) except that they do not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will be physically present during this golden age for the Church. This view, though, also believes in the current Kingdom presence but in a more fulfilled and complete Kingdom presence during the Millennial time.

Most modern adherents to the Postmillennial position would find general agreement with the Amillennial position in terms of the initiation of the Millennium. Like the Amillennial position, the current position under consideration believes that the Millennium is the Church Age, which is also in turn, the Kingdom of God.

The Millennium begins, it is argued, at the first coming of Christ and will be consummated at the Second Coming of Christ. Please see the previous chapter for a more detailed understating of this position including a discussion on the binding of Satan found in Revelation chapter 20.

The primary interpretive method of most traditional Postmillennialist was the Historicist method, though a majority of current Postmillennialist would be Preterist or Idealist.

It should be noted that for the most part the outline below of key components of the Postmillennial position is that of the view in which the timeline of the Millennium itself began at the first advent of Christ. Some special notation will be given to show the different opinions between the traditional and more contemporary Postmillennial positions.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

 

POSTMILLENIALISM OUTLINED

1. The present Church Age is the Kingdom Age prophesied by the Old Testament Prophets. The “people of God” are expanded from ethnic Israel to include the Church. Traditional Postmillennialist would agree with this statement except for seeing the initiation of the Millennium as a yet future event.

2. Christ established His Kingdom at His first advent through the binding of Satan and His victory of the works of the Devil at the cross. Traditional postmillennialist would agree though the kingdom will find a greater fulfillment and purpose during the Millennium.

3. The binding of Satan has the specific purpose of limiting Satan’s influence on the spread of the Gospel and accomplishes the above stated goal of initiating the Kingdom.

4. Postmillennialism believes in a literal, physical expansion of the Kingdom of God in all facets of life. The nature of the Kingdom is primarily “redemptive” rather than political, though politics will be impacted as the nations are won for Christ.

5. The power of the Gospel is transforming in nature and through it people, societies and nations are redeemed and changed. This includes an impact on the arts, education, politics and morality of specific societies.

6. The “kingdom prophecies” (i.e. Matthew 13) are seen as literal and will find a physical as well as spiritual fulfillment in time and history.

7. The Kingdom expands gradually over time leading to a time in history where the world is converted by the Gospel. Though some in the Postmillennial camp have argued for a top-down, militaristic view of Kingdom victory, most Biblical Postmillennialist believe in a bottom-up victory of the Kingdom where societies and cultures are impacted through the Gospel and the changing of lives rather than the hostile changing of public and societal policies.

8. Satan will be loosed from his binding and is allowed a very short season in which to rise up an army (spiritual actions not militaristic) of apostates to wage war against the Church in spiritual and ideological ways.

9. Christ returns “after” His enemies are made His footstool. The return is a simultaneous event with the General Resurrection, General Judgment, and establishes the Eternal Order as proposed in 1 Corinthians 15.

Like the Amillennial position the Postmillennial position was widely held in both the ancient Church and the modern Church as well. Though many adherents did not have a detailed, systematized position those listed below are those that believed in the conquering of the nation through the Gospel before the return of Jesus Christ.

Early Church Adherents Include: Eusubius, Athanasius, Augustine

Modern Church Adherents Include: Bahnsen, Boettner, DeMar, Edwards, Henry, Hodge, Kik, Machen, Gentry, Murray, North, Owens, Sproul, Warfield * Calvin and Luther

One final note; both John Calvin and Martin Luther could as easily be listed amongst those on the Amillennial list as they appeared to at one time or another in their ministry to be attached to both views. The same could be said for Spurgeon as well as his many sermons on the present victory of the church in time leans to a Postmillennial position, though he also proclaimed a traditional, Classical Premillennial position as well.

 

EVERYONE IS A CRITC

Most critics of the position argue against the over-optimistic view of the Church and her victory over the nation in history. This appears to contradict the Scriptures that show the Church will be hated and persecuted throughout history. This view also appears to contradict the idea of a future apostasy of the Church expected by a future tribulation time.

Also, like the Amillennial view mentioned previously, there are difficulties in addressing the two different resurrections mentioned in Revelation Chapter 20.

Advertisements


No Responses Yet to “It’s the End of the World As We Know It – Postmillennialism”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: