Friday, April 07, 2006

THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF POSTMILLENNIALISM

DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend the author of this article, Andrew Sandlin, as I believe some of his teaching today is somewhat troubling. However, I believe this article is helpful to see the different kinds of postmillennialists that there have been and are today. --Josh Brisby

Postmillennial Flavors
by P. Andrew Sandlin

While we postmillennialists do not suspend our victorious view of the future on an interpretation of Revelation 20, we all believe that the reign of Christ mentioned there will precede His Second Coming. In other words, we do not believe that Christ must be physically present in order to reign over the earth (Acts 2:25-36). We believe there will be an age of Gospel Victory before the Second Advent. We surely do not believe that man can “bring in the kingdom,” nor that every individual will be saved or that all sin will be eradicated. We do believe, however, that there will be a massive number of conversions (Rom. 11:13-25) and pervasive obedience to God’s Word (Is. 42:1-4) before Christ returns (1 Cor. 15:22-28).
There are, however, at least three principal varieties of postmillennialism as it relates to the interpretation of the book of Revelation.

Preterism

First, there are the preterist postmillennialists. Following men like Jay Adams*1, Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., and Keith Mathison, they believe that most (not all) of the book of Revelation was fulfilled before or in or by the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70, and that many (not all) of the prophecies in the New Testament point to this time. The heretical variant of this view, “hyper-preterism” or “false preterism” (which preterists repudiate), teaches that all prophecies were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. Clearly, this is not an orthodox Christian position, and orthodox preterists repudiate it. The cogent feature of preterist postmillennialism is its taking seriously the immediate context of the writer of Revelation (John) and the textual clues indicating the nearness of its fulfillment. Those heavily leaning toward a strict “grammatical-historical” interpretation will tend to find preterism attractive, and it is safe to say that most postmillennialists these days are preterists.

Historicism

Historicist postmillennialists*2, like Francis Nigel Lee and Val Finnell, believe that the book of Revelation is essentially a description of the interadvental age (the time between Christ’s first and second comings). Its vision specifies not just the first 40 years after Christ’s ascension, but the entire period between Christ’s first and second comings. Historicists all hold that the Beast of Revelation (and, usually, the antichrist in the Thessalonians) is the Roman Catholic Church, or more accurately, the papacy. This position has going for it the fact that all of the Protestant Reformers held it. It is the historic Protestant interpretation, and postmillennialists with a firm allegiance to the Reformation era are usually drawn to it.

Idealism

Finally, there is idealist postmillennialism. This was the position of R. J. Rushdoony, and it is my position.*3 It holds that the strange individuals and creatures and events of Revelation refer primarily to types of people or institutions throughout church history, with no single, specific referent. For instance, the Beast of Revelation 13 is any tyrannical state, and the false prophet any religious system aligned with and supporting that state.
The great advantage of this position is that it renders Revelation a living book, not merely for “application,” but with immediate meaning to events of the present day. Further, it seems an apt interpretation for apocalyptic literature. This view will appeal to postmillennialists who crave an immediate, relevant interpretation of Revelation.
My view is that each of these positions has exegetical points to commend it, and those interpretative issues that unite postmillennialists are much greater than those that divides them.
So, the next time somebody tells you he’s postmillennial, you may want to inquire, “What flavor?”
________________________
*1. Either Sandlin is unaware of this, or he worded this poorly, because Jay Adams is a preteristic amillennialist, not postmillennialist.

*2. Historicism was the view of the Reformers and the London Confession and Westminster Confession, as well as that of the Puritans.

*3. This is my position as well. --Josh Brisby

8 comments:

Dax said...

Interesting...

Dax said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Earl Leverett said...

I just want to say hello. I hope all is well with you and the family. I think a lot about the times we spent discussing the scriptures at my house.

Josh Brisby said...

Brother Earl,

Hello! I enjoyed so much the Bible study at your house. I miss it. Guess what? One of my pastors is preaching through the book of Hebrews. We just discussed Melchizedek last week. It brings back memories of our study at your house. I hope you are doing well.

In Christ,
Josh Brisby

Anonymous said...

I believe and agree with the postmillennial view. Others teach Premillenialism and Amillenialism, they cannot be trusted. Premillenial is when Jesus returns to save those who keep on being ignorant and teach them his way, this is a very dangerous teaching, I suggest don't follow it. Amillenial view is when the reign of Christ and the kingdom of God is figurative, it's not true either. I suggest read and study the scriptures carefully. God expects us to be clear-hearted before him(Matthew 5:8).

Anonymous said...

Your arguements have several flaws in it most of which I will not go into here with the exception of one as it would take too much time.

Partial preterism cannot answer the fact that there was no Antichrist in A.D. 70. We are told in Thessalonians that the man of lawlessness would be destroyed at the coming of Christ. Our partial preterist friends say that the Antichrist was past, but yet many of them hold that Nero was the Antichrist. Yet, Nero died in 67, not in 70. No matter who they select as the man of sin, he was not destroyed in A.D. 70.


The problem you have there is what Paul said in his letter..

3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Notice verse 4 where it is says that the man of lawlessness would set himself up IN GOD'S TEMPLE. This would indciate that he would appear before 70 since there was no temple after 70 A.D.

Anonymous said...

I believe that we are living in the church age now. That began when our Lord died on the cross. The church age will last an indefinite period of time. As time passes, the world will improve in some ways; however, sin still exists. The church age is the millennium. It will end when Jesus returns, the resurrection and judgment will take place. I accept Partial Preterist Amillennialism. Domitian was Anti-Christ. If you remember, he called himself Lord and God. The Roman Empire was the evil kingdom; I do not expect a future Anti-Christ or a rebirth of the Roman Empire. We will live forever in Heaven when Jesus comes. C. E. Miller, BA, MAR

Anonymous said...

After studying up on the subject, I am beginning to change my mind. I believe I feel Idealist Postmillennialism could be the correct view. Revelation is a book with symbols that could represent the whole Church age. I believe as Rushdoony that Chapter 20 represents the whole church age from Christ's first advent until his return for the General Resurrection,Last Judgment and heaven for the righteous and hell for the evil.