It’s the End of the World As We Know It – Millennial Views Part 1

14Jan12

A DAY IS LIKE A THOUSAND YEARS

The first thing to note is that in most millennial views, the topic of the “Kingdom of God” and the Millennium and unavoidably linked. In fact, in many, if not all views, they are interchangeable terms. When one speaks of the Millennium they are speaking of the Millennial Kingdom of God

Some views will then place the promises of the Kingdom of God (Matt 13 for example) as current, actual and literally being fulfilled in the present, while an opposing view will argue those Kingdom prophecies will only find fulfillment in a future Millennial Kingdom on earth.

This brief description may appear confusing at the moment, but as we discuss further the differing views it is my hope that the reader will discover how the differing views use these term interchangeably. We will also devote a great deal of time to this subject in an upcoming chapter.

Below I have listed the four basic and primary positions:

MILLENNIAL VIEWS
Amillennialism
Postmillennialism
Classical Premillennialism
Dispensational Premillennialism

Many readers may hope at this time that some very quick bullet point type definitions would suffice and that continuing on to discussing and debating fun and exciting subjects like the Beast and 666 is just around the corner. But alas, to no avail, as things are quite as easy as they appear.

Why not?

It’s all the fault of Theological Math!

 

THEOLOGICAL MATH

Theological math is a funny thing. In Theological math 1 + 1 = 4 !

How is that possible and what do I mean by that?

Simple. In many respects the above mentioned four positions are actually just two positions. In a different respect they are actually four, and maybe even more, positions!

The reason for this confusion is that the Millennial positions contain both a “timing” element (when the millennium begins and ends along with its length) and a “nature” element (what things happen before, during and after and what exactly is the purpose and experience of the Millennium), and as a result the number of apparent positions double.

Let me try and explain. No, there is not enough time so let me sum up.

The prefix of “post” and “pre” in the above designations relate to how the adherents of the above view would argue for the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Those with the prefix “pre” would argue that the return of Christ takes place BEFORE the Millennium; hence the use of the prefix “pre” which simply means before or in front of.

The prefix “post” would then designate those who believe that the return of Jesus Christ takes place AFTER the Millennium timing wise. Here both the Postmillennial and Amillennial positions are in agreement. The “a” in Amillennialism literally means “no” or “non” Millennial, but that is a misnomer as we will see.

Amillennialist believe in a Millennium, but not in a literal one thousand years, so the name was attached to this view as a critique of the view originally and does not adequately describe the position in regards to the issue of the timing of the return of Christ. In actuality, the Amillennial position is “post” Millennial in that it believes that the return of Christ takes place AFTER the Millennium.

So, how does this relate to the differences between the views and how did the one view relating to the timing of the return of Christ (Postmillennialism) become two views (Postmillennialism and Amillennialism)?

As an example for explanation, both Amillennialism and Postmillennialism argue that Christ will return AFTER the Millennium and most agree that the Millennium itself is a present day reality. All Amillennialist and many current Postmillennialist believe the Millennium began at the first advent of Christ and will continue until and conclude at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Both views in question also argue that the Millennium itself is not to be seen as a literal one thousand years, but as a figurative long period of time.

Since the term “post” is in reference to the timing of the Second Coming of Christ as in relation to the Millennium itself, both Postmillennialist and Amillennialist are “post” Millennialist as they both agree that Christ returns after (post) the Millennium.

[It should be noted here that most historical Postmillennialist believed in a “future” Millennium that would last some length of time (possibly one thousand years) but that Jesus Christ would not return until the conclusion of that time period.]

But given the above mentioned agreement between Amillennialist and most Postmillennialist, there is also a great difference between the two views as it relates to that “nature” of the Millennium. Postmillennialist argue for the idea of an increasing time of prosperity for the Church culminating in a world wide acceptance of the Gospel, while Amillennialist argue that good and evil will have equal amounts of representation throughout the Millennial time (presently), and that this Millennial time will conclude with a great apostasy of the Church and not a time of success for the Gospel.

So, given this brief description of agreement and disagreement, it should be noted that the one view relating to the timing of the Millennium is “post” Millennial, but the nature of the Kingdom discussion causes a division of views and the creation of the Amillennial position.

So, even though both agree for the most part on the timing issue, there is great disagreement on the nature of the millennium. Hence, one view becomes two.

The same could be said for the two positions attached to the prefix “pre” in relation to the Millennium. Both Classical and Dispensational Premillennialism teach that Jesus will return “before” the Millennium they differ greatly in their view of the “nature” of the kingdom. Those differences and how they differ from the Amillennial and Postmillennial positions above are also vast and there is not enough time to discuss them here, but they will be painstakingly dealt with in future Chapters.

The differences between the Classical and Dispensational views extend even beyond the “nature” issues of the two views and also include some timing aspects as well. Those will be discussed here to help the reader understand how this Theological Math is impacted.

Though both “pre” views agree that Jesus return before the initiation of the Millennium, the Dispensational view adds a “two part” Second Coming of Christ which includes a “Secret Rapture” or special resurrection of the Church some time before the initiation of the actual Millennial time period. This time interval is most commonly believed to be a seven year time period, though many also argue for a 3 ½ year interval as well. There are other rapture views as well, all of which are events that take place BEFORE the Millennium.

The first rapture view mentioned above is commonly referred to as the “Pre-Tribulation” Rapture of the Church. This tribulational time is considered to last seven years and so the Pre-Tribulation rapture is said to take place before the seven year tribulation begins. Others have argued for a “mid-Tribulation” time period of possibly 3 ½ years before the Millennium begins or a “Pre-wrath” time period that is unknown, but does precede the Second Coming of Christ and the initiation of the Millennium by some determinable period of time.

So, even though both Premillennial views believe that Jesus returns before the Millennium, there are many significant events that take place within the Dispensational framework that does not exist within the Classical Premillennial timeline. The same is true for the “nature” issues as there are vast differences between the Classical and Dispensational views. These will be outlined in more detail in the individual chapters dedicated to each view.

Below are some quick definitions for the above views for a quick reference. Please note, though, that there will be a very detailed discussion of each particular view to follow and this should only be seen as a broad definition and easy resource.

Classical Premillennialism – This is a very old view with adherents in the early Church that teaches that Christ returns before the millennium. This view has been held bt both reformed and Non-Reformed Christians throughout history. The Millennium is to last a literal one thousand years.

Dispensational Premillennialism – This is a very recent (1830’s) and novel view. Similar to Classical Premillennialism is regards to the timing issues, but adds a “pre-tribulation” Rapture of the church. This currently popular view is also known as Left Behind Theology as it is the view found in the incredibly popular Left Behind series of books. This view is not held by those in the Reformed community.

Amillennialism – This view sees the return of Christ at the end of a “figurative” millennium. The Millennium commenced at the first coming of Christ and continues presently finding it’s completion at the Second Coming of Christ.

Postmillennialism – This view is in agreement with Amillennialism in regards to timing issues, but teaches an “optimistic” view of worldwide conversion before the physical return of Christ.

The four views will each receive a more detailed description in upcoming chapters and the above descriptions should be seen as useless for only for quick reference. I would also recommend referencing the small Glossary of Theological Terms located in the back of the book.

Those detailed descriptions that follow will address more fully the differences in timing and nature of all four views as well as popular critiques of the weaknesses of each view. It should be noted that extra attention and space will be given to the Dispensational Premillennial view as its popularity warrants a more thorough descriptions, history and critique.

 

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3 Responses to “It’s the End of the World As We Know It – Millennial Views Part 1”

  1. Ive read Kim Riddlebarger amillennial viewpoint and found him to be very good on the subject.

    Thank you for putting up your studies.

    • 2 low5point

      I have known Kim for many, many years and admire him greatly. Our main area of disagreement would be as to what events may still lie in the future. I am more of a preterist and he more an idealist. He believes in a yet future anti-Christ as I do not as the study here indicates. But there is much more to agree upon than disagree.

      I also do not embrace his, Horton’s and the rest of the “Escondido” gangs view od Two Kingdoms…but I do not address it here. It is also an area I will not live or die on.

    • 3 low5point

      Let ma also state about Kim, that he is the best currently promoting Amillennialism…hands down


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