continued from Why Eschatology Matters Part IV
II. Post-millennial View: The belief that Christ will physically return to the earth only after a non-literal millennium is completed. Postmillennialism is quite optimistic about the end times in that he essential idea is that the church will exercise a transformational positive social influence in history. Thus, the world is allegedly improving morally and spiritually every year. This may have seemed to be so historically, as many of the reformers, early-American colonists and puritans shared this view. Most theologians have abandoned it in the twentieth century after the two world wars and subsequent nuclear age anxiety. Today this view has been appropriated by the charismatic movement and provides the impetus for dominion or “kingdom now” theology. Dominionists believe they have a mandate to impose the kingdom by earthly means. They even believe it is their responsibility to initiate the second coming of Christ.
A. Basic Premises:
i. Millennium: Literally “after the thousand years.” Some suppose the era of peace is still in the future but the majority holds that it began with the first advent of Christ and is continuing until the gospel conquers the world. The word thousand is considered symbolic of a long period of time.
ii. Resurrection: This view also maintains that there is only one resurrection much like their amillennial counterparts. They employ the same strategy of spiritualization to Revelation 20:4-5.
iii. The Binding of Satan: Satan is currently bound by the power of gospel and cannot deceive the nations.
iv. The Reign of Christ: Christ reigns now in the hearts of believers. Yet, Christians are to conquer the unbelieving world through the spread of the gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, there is a disturbing trend leaning toward the emphasis of nonspiritual means.
v. The Kingdom of God: The Kingdom is manifested now in the church and increasing in its positive influence over the earth. There is a popular movement today to reclaim the “seven mountains of culture” that is derivative of this idea. Even more strident, Dominionists think they are to accomplish this by military or legal force if necessary.
vi. Israel: They argue that the New Testament church became the “Israel of God” of which Paul speaks in Galatians 6:16. They use the same arguments for supersessionism as the amillennialist in that God’s Old Testament covenants were conditional and no longer binding. See Micah 4:8 vs. Replacement Theology.
vii. Hermeneutic: A very similar approach to the amillennialist is used. Prophecy is understood to be preponderantly symbolic and open to allegorical interpretation. For example, “Israel” now means the church and the word “thousand” simply means an indeterminate long period of time.
B. Points of Strength:
i. Postmillennialism’s greatest strength is its optimism regarding the kingdom of God and its ability to transform the nations of the earth before Christ returns.
ii. The bible promises universal gospel proclamation (Matt. 28:18–20).
iii. They also argue that the word “thousand” is used symbolically in scripture (cf. 1 Chron. 16:15; Ps. 50:10).
C. Points of Weakness:
i. Again a simple reading of the biblical text does not lead to this conclusion. The postmillennial interpretation of Rev. 19-20 seems arbitrarily imposed upon the text.
ii. Jesus clearly taught that “many will fall away”, “lawlessness will be increased” and that “the love of many will grow cold” at the time world evangelization is completed (Matt 24:10-14). In the parable of the Tares in Mt. 13:36-43, Jesus taught that evil people will continue to exist alongside of God’s redeemed people until the time of harvest. The clear implication of this parable is that Satan’s kingdom will continue to exist and expand as long as God’s kingdom grows, until Christ returns.
iii. The Apostles taught increasing apostasy toward the end of the age (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 1 Tim. 4:1,2 Tim. 3:1-5, 2 Tim 4:3-4, 2 Pet. 3:3).
iv. As explained under amillennial weakness ii, the two resurrections of Rev. 20:5 and Rev. 20:13 are described as are bodily and distinct.
v. As stated under amillennialism, the word “thousand” is used literally in the vast majority of its occurrences in the biblical text. The fact that it is repeated 5 times in Revelation 20:1-6 should give pause.
vi. History and current events do not support the idea that things are getting better for Christians. In fact, quite the opposite is true. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied basic human rights solely because of their faith. David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing in their 2009 report in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) estimate that if current trends continue, by 2025, an average of 210,000 Christians will be martyred annually.
vii. Postmillennialism undermines the NT emphasis on the church’s imminent expectation of Christ’s return. It undermines the essential element of watchfulness to the NT church. See 1 Cor. 16:22; Rom. 13:11-12; Phil. 4:5; Jas. 5:8; 1 Pt. 4:7; 1 Jn. 2:18; Rev. 1:3; 22:20.
viii. The OT identifies the “golden age” with the New Heavens and New Earth which come only after the millennium of Rev. 20 (Rev. 21-22).
ix. Scripture never teaches the progressive and eventual wholesale reconstruction of society (i.e. 7 mountains of culture) according to Christian principles prior to Christ’s return.
x. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns, he is at war. The idea that he returns to receive a kingdom accomplished by the church is simply incoherent. “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” (1 Co 15:24, Zec. 14:3, 2 Thes. 2:8, Rev. 19:15)
xi. Postmillennialism minimizes one of the primary experiences that will characterize the church and all Christians throughout this present age, suffering with Christ (2 Tim 2:3, 1 Pet. 4:13, 2 Thes.1:5, Rev.6:10). For instance, Romans 8:18-25 speaks of creation groaning for redemption, and that we “wait for it with patience” not take it by political means or force. To the contrary, much like Christ at His first coming, the church actually wins by losing…
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height
nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Next up Premillennialism
Sproul, The Last Days, 9.
Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 896.
 Hindson, Revelation, 86.
 Os Hillman. Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture. 2010. http://www.reclaim7mountains.com/ (accessed 06 11, 2010).
Sproul, The Last Days, 9.
Geisler, Systematic Theology, 550.
Unattributed. How Many Christians Killed for their Faith Every Year. http://www.persecution.net/faq-stats.htm (accessed 06/10/2010).