Posts Tagged ‘millennialism’

What is Postmillennialism

To quote a Postmillennial champion, R.J. Rushdoony writes: “Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ, with His coming, His atonement, and His continuing regenerative power in those whom He calls, creates in His redeemed people a force for the reconquest of all things. The dominion that Adam first received and then lost by his fall will be restored to redeemed man. God’s people will then have a long reign over the entire earth, after which, when all enemies have been put under Christ’s feet, the end shall come, and the last enemy, death, will be destroyed.” R.J. Rushdoonyfrom “Back to the Future”

What are we to think of this view? Is this taught in Scripture? After investigating this question for myself, I personally have come to the conclusion that the Golden Age theory does not correspond to biblical teaching. It is the opinion of all Amil’s that a post-millennial eschatological framework (in which they interpret the O.T texts) is insufficient in that it does not seem to be sensitive enough to the two eschatological ages of the N.T. Clearly, N.T does not teach the Post Mill view of a gradual removal of the temporal effects of sin and evil. Nor does it see the victory of the gospel in terms of social, economic and political transformation. Rather, the N.T maintains the eschatological tension between the two ages so that “this age” (Rom 12:2) and its evil implications is antithetical to the age to come when Christ returns to consummate all things.Instead of a gradual transformation, the N.T teaches a cataclysmic end to Satan Kingdom (it will be crushed – not slowly squeezed see Dan 2:44; Matt 13:39-40; Rom 16:20; Rev 19:11ff) then, and only then we will hear the voices from heaven declare “the Kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.” (Rev 13:15)

Having said that, I am a Reformed A-Millennialist, and I want to argue that the Kingdom will advance during this age, however, I do not see the issue turning on the betterment of evil in this present age, but rather in the gathering of the elect (plundering of the strong man’s home see Mk 3:27) through the proclamation of the Gospel until all the elect are gathered into the Kingdom and then the Lord will return and will crush Satan and his Kingdom forever (Consummation).

The Bible teaches this tension between the Kingdom now and the kingdom come. We are taught throughout the N.T about this tension, that’s why we need to patiently wait (Rom 8:25). Moreover, Christ’s eschatological victory is what encourages us to press on even though we are hard pressed, because though we share in the suffering of Christ we know we shall also share in his vindication and victory at the consummation (2 Cor 4:7-11; Phil 3:10) and this is the biblical meaning of what it means for the Church to be Victorious. Consequently, the premise of Post Millennialism that Kingdom of God speak of a fleshly kingdom that will witness the gradual amelioration of evil in this age is in my view the real issue at hand. I believe Riddlebarger is correct on this point, the debate is not over the success but rather on what we believe constitutes the success. The Realized Mil position believes the success is seen now in the plundering of the strong man’s house (gathering of the elect) and the Post Mill expects it to manifest through a golden age where evil is eradicated (almost) and culture, politics etc are transformed. Therefore, to promote the expansion of the kingdom through the conquering of the gospel (the fulfillment of the great commission) in no way implies some earthly golden age that at best is actually gold plated especially for the version of Postmillennialism that also anticipates an Apostasy before Christ return.Yes, it is true that God has promised a time of universal worship, peace, and prosperity, but that will occur only, as the consistent witness of the NT declares, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Postmillennialism repeatedly emphasizes that the struggle between Christ and Satan is a historical struggle that ends in historical victory. TRUE. But this it will end in TOTAL and PERFECT victory at the END of history. In other words, God’s elect and God’s created cosmos enter into COMPLETE (to telos) and perfect deliverance from sin and its consequences (see Rom. 8:18-23). The present earth and heavens will replaced with a “new heaven and a new earth”, “the HOME of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). God’s creational purpose (creative covenant) will be fulfilled in the NEW creation.

Postmil assert that Christ will be with His people to oversee the task of successfully completing its commission and that this is the postmil hope, and also claim that ONLY the postmil view can account for this, is not true at all. The Realized Mil certainly believe that this age will not end until Christ’s purposes are fulfilled.

The postmil view has failed to establish the making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them requires that fulfillment be in Postmil terms.

The Lord only knows of TWO ages, the present age and the age to come. Postmil view teach THREE ages, the present evil age, an intermediate future golden age, and the age to come. I am fully aware that our Postmil brothers will reject the description of their view that it has three ages as they assert that this present age will gradually merge with the “golden age” and claim it is really only two ages in agreement with us Amils but Jesus NOWHERE predicts some glorious future on earth before the end of the world, as the postmil view would have us believe. On the contra, the things He Himself experienced are the things that His Church will experience. A disciple is not above his teacher or a slave above his master. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, “deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12,13).As the reign of the truth of the gospel is extended, also the forces of evil will gather strength, especially towards the end consider the parable of the wheat and tares taught by Christ in Matt 13:24-30. The Gospels only speak of two ages. This age is temporal, the age to come eternal. Matthew 13 is explained as the kingdom age, then the judgment, followed by eternity with the Father. Postmillennialism repeatedly emphasizes that the struggle between Christ and Satan is a historical struggle that ends in historical victory. TRUE. But this will end in TOTAL and PERFECT victory at the END of history. The postmil view has failed to establish the making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them requires that fulfillment be in Postmil terms.

Postmillennial Proof  Texts

Old Testament passages frequently cited to substantiate the reality of an unrealized millennium(either in its Pre- or Post- form) do not hold any weight.

Isaiah 65:17-25 in one clear example. We both would agree that the passage speaks of a golden-age. The Postmil (as well as the Premil) will argue that the passage mentions children dying at one hundred years old, and sinners accursed at the end of the same period time. Hyper-literalizing this passage they insist that it must refer to an imperfect golden-age. And since the one thousand years obviously pertain to a time in which sin and death remain, they feel it is perfectly natural to superimpose the one passage on another.

Careful examination, however, shows two faults with this presupposition. First, there must be unquestionable evidence for identifying the Isaiah prophecy with Revelation 20. This evidence is totally lacking. The two are brought together in an unnatural union. Who can prove, scripturally, that when Isaiah wrote “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”, he was speaking of the SAME period that John calls the “thousand years”? There are indications in the passage itself that it is not to be treated literally like “dust” becoming the serpent’s food can hardly be literal.

In many discussions with my Postmil brothers they unanimously are armed and ready to refer to Isaiah 65 as a clear proof text of a era of peace before the return of Christ. What they fail to realize is that the contents of Isaiah’s poetic prophecy are no more literal than the description of the eternal state in Rev. 21 and 22. Who can interpret all the details of those two chapters literally? In both, Isaiah and Rev., language is used, in terms of what was considered most pleasant and astonishing in that day, to get across what words with their present limitations are incapable of correctly expressing. How else can perfection be described in words which have imperfect objects and concepts as recipients? This is what is called “Anthropomorphic Language”. It is difficult to understand why this passage should be misinterpreted when it clearly is identified with the eternal state by the New Testament. The millennial references are totally without evidence, but its identification with the eternal state is affirmed by an abundance of biblical evidence. This one passage has been singled out to demonstrate the way in which OT passages which actually refer to restoration from captivity, the New Testament age, and the eternal state are erroneously applied to the assumed golden-age. Amillennialists are in agreement with the Postmillennialists that we expect the millennium to be an age of imperfection. In opposition, we do not view it as the fulfillment of the golden-age prophecies. We believe the prophesies to be truly golden not gold plated. This is not to say that no OT prophecies refer to the present age, quite the contrary. But in accord with both Old and New Testament teaching, they find fulfillment of the “golden-age” prophecies in the eternal state, only then can it be said that all that glitters is Gold. I find it extremely interesting and suspicious that postmil have to resort to OT prophesies that speak nothing of a golden age but refer unanimously to the golden age of new heaven and new earth which is Heaven.

Furthermore, there is nothing in Psalm 2, 22, 110, Dan 2, Zech 9, Isaiah 2 and especially Isaiah 65 that cannot be understood to be referring to the consummation. Dan. 2 conveys to us the invincibility and ultimate victory of the Kingdom and even its inauguration (Mk 1:15). But, it does not speak to the issues relating to what constitutes victory. Indeed, the promise of Psalm 2 revolves around the content of the Messiah’s inheritance not the timing of it, Psalm 2 does not even speak to the issue that separates Realized Mill aka Amil and Post Mil. Similarly, Zech 9 only confirms what both camps readily agree on that the King’s dominion will extend over all the earth. That Psalm 22 affirms that the Messiah will fulfill, inherit both the Abrahamic and Davidic promises is undisputed among reformed students. Psalm 22 speaks about the content of His inheritance (the families/nations). That Postmils interpret “all the families of the earth will remember and turn…” as a promise of a golden age is a possible interpretation, but hardly the only one. Moving on to the New Testament it knows absolutely nothing of imperfect golden-age preaching. While there is a consistent appeal to look for the perfect golden-age of heaven, nothing can be found about an imperfect interim. Everywhere the eternal state is held out as the future hope of the church militant. The millennium is never preached as such. The only satisfactory explanation is that the millennium is a present reality not a future hope. None of the verses offered by our Postmil brothers necessitate a postmil interpretation but rather seeing these fulfillments in Christ coming to once and for all destroy all His enemies hence the “until” and “til” key words, is to correctly exegete these passages. I believe that there is NO biblical warrant to put these events before His coming, if the golden age was such an important event why is the NT not decisive on an era pre-dating Christ return? The silence of in the New Testament record is deafening especially when it is supposed to be explaining and bringing to light the Old Testament. That fact alone should raise a brow and cause reflection and caution.

Optimism vs Pessimism?

In regards to the Postmil accusation that their view is “optimistic” and the Amils is “pessimistic”. I think the folks who talk about that are referring to what life in this world is like, so if some of us don’t think the present millennium means raging political success, we’re pessimists. I rather resent that notion as it is a false claim and it really doesn’t seem as if Scripture is encouraging us to have such an approach to the success of the Gospel, as if its all about our political success now. The Scripture says in this world we will have tribulation which can mean political persecution as well as other things. Yet even in those circumstances the Gospel continues to spread. Of course, Amils believe that eventually things will get worse, and no one wants to hear that. But I don’t feel it’s too optimistic to say it never gets better than this, I’m looking forward, optimistically, to the new heaven and new earth, where righteousness dwells. That doesn’t excuse inaction in sharing the Gospel and helping our neighbors and trying to restrain depravity as God allows us.But the problem is that the Postmil would say that gospel succession can only mean a Christianization of all nations ushering in the golden age but the Amil will say that gospel succession means that it will save God’s elect who are in all nations but not that it will Christianize entire nations or most of the nation so then the Postmil will accuse the Amil of pessimism because they don’t have a million kabillion trillion or whatever people getting saved hence God loses cause there are more people in hell than heaven, that’s silly to be quite frank. If being optimistic means to believe that the gospel will do its job, then for heaven’s sake we are all optimistic, don’t you think. There needs to be more clarification on the whole optimism vs. pessimism thing cause again quite frankly its ridiculous if you ask me. Also I believe that the correct understanding of Christ’s commission is that we are to make disciples OUT OF every nation not make every nation a disciple. Again I see a superimposing of the text in postmil terms. If we allow, as we are supposed to, the New to interpret the Old then we will observe that “all families” and “all gentiles” must mean families and gentiles OUT OF every tongue, nation, and tribes (Revelation) the fullness of the Elect.

Well, there you have it. These are my main reasons as to why I reject the Postmillennial view of eschatology. We as Christians should be placing our hope in the Victorious return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, placing our hope in anything else is misplaced at best and one not taught in Scripture.

In Christian charity…………………Grace and Peace