Postmillenialism: An Eschatology of Hope

Status
Not open for further replies.

MyersReformed

Puritan Board Freshman
I just finished reading Keith A. Mathison's Postmillenialism He is a partial preterist in his interpretations. I am starting to read currently Alexander McLeod's Lectures Upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation who is a historicist in his interpretation. Mathison is amillennial in his view of the millennium where McLeod, on a cursory reading, seems to take the millennium as a future time of bliss. Are postmillenialists usually this diverse? Or is there a classical/traditional view? If so, would you say McLeod represents the classical Postmillenial view?

Thanks,

Chris
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
There's a degree of diversity.

A lot of recent postmil writing has been partial preterist e.g. Gentry, Bahnsen, Mathison.

Earlier postmil writing tended to be historicist or idealiist. E.g. Fairbairn's "Interpretation of Prophecy"

Some are a mix, e.g. James Madison MacDonald - recommended by Charles Hodge.

Modern postmils tend to date the millennium from the first century, while older ones tend to speak of the millennium as dating from some point in the future e.g. the conversion of the Jews.

It's maybe best, from my experience, to determine by a process of elimination, whether amil, postmil, or premil is correct.

Then on the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation to think about preterist, historicist,futurist, idealist perspectives, or a mixed view.

See also this thread.
http://www.puritanboard.com/f46/gentry-bahnsen-classical-75816/
 

MyersReformed

Puritan Board Freshman
Richard,

Currently, by process of elimination, I seem to be a positive amillenialist or Postmillenialist. But a positive amillenialist just seems to be nearly identical to a post-millenialists. The only difference I see is one of details: how prophecy is interpreted; positive amills will default to understanding fulfillments in the eternal state, while Post-mills tend to understand fulfillments in history. I have noticed, that almost exclusively, older Post-millenialist tends to be historicist; I have not read an idealist yet, is Fairbairn?

On Matt. 24, I tend to be preterist. I have always tended towards idealist or partial preterism for Revelation. McLeod is my first read with a historicist interpretation. What I love about historicism is that it is how Daniel was fulfilled and that consistency into Revelation is beautiful. But McLeod has yet to convince me...do you have any good old reads you would suggest for me?

Grace be with you,

Chris
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Fairbairn is more of the idealist mode.

It's worth reading James Madison MacDonald, who is much more mildly preterist than either Gentry or Bahnsen, and comes with a recommendation from Charles Hodge.
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
B.B Warfield, if my studies are correct, really changed the face of postmil in the US. I tend to lean his direction. He contended that end of the age matters and the "70th week" of Daniel to the entire interadvental period and not just a sliver toward the end of all human history as with chiliasm.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Reading G. Vos' Eschatology of the Psalms, I was rather surprised to see his take on the post-mil perspective of that era. (My introduction had been in the 1980s.) You might find it to be interesting reading -- it's a bit of a parenthetical discussion toward the end.

And Christopher, having having had my eschatological position shift over the last few years, I can affirm its importance. It seems to touch ever piece of scripture.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But a positive amillenialist just seems to be nearly identical to a post-millenialists.
There are a number of vital differences between a postmillennialist and an optimistic amillennialist. To mention two of the most important -- First, the postmillennialist requires an end time "success" story which far surpasses anything which has occurred in the history of the church. The amillennialist can see the whole story as a success, and an optimistic amillennialist can hope to see the best effects of the gospel through history in subsequent world evangelisation. Secondly, the postmillennialist is effectively bound to an end time apostasy because his future outlook is still basically "historicist" in orientation. An optimistic amil can consistently follow through the idealist approach and view apostasy as part and parcel of the gradual evangelisation of the world -- antithetical intensification. These differences are important enough for me to classify myself as an optimistic amil in contrast to the postmil scheme.

Matthew 24 is best read as a covenantal oracle of judgment. When taken in connection with the earlier parables and woes which disinherited the physical nation of Israel and transferred its privileges to a newly constituted Israel, the oracle has the effect of showing that Israel's most prized religious symbols have been emptied of their sacral significance, leading the disciples to seek the fulfilment of Israel's promises in a more spiritual economy. Removing the "event-oriented" interpretation that has led to so much confusion and inconsistency enables the reader to focus on the heart of the Gospel's message, namely, that Jesus is the true Israel --the son of David, the son of Abraham.
 

Fogetaboutit

Puritan Board Freshman
The amillennialist can see the whole story as a success, and an optimistic amillennialist can hope to see the best effects of the gospel through history in subsequent world evangelisation. Secondly, the postmillennialist is effectively bound to an end time apostasy because his future outlook is still basically "historicist" in orientation. An optimistic amil can consistently follow through the idealist approach and view apostasy as part and parcel of the gradual evangelisation of the world -- antithetical intensification. These differences are important enough for me to classify myself as an optimistic amil in contrast to the postmil scheme.
I'm not sure I really understand the difference between an amillenialist and an optimistic amillennialist. I'm an amillenialist and I have a mostly idealist view as far as I understand it. I know I asked this a while back but I'm still not clear on this.

If I understand properly when incomplete numbers are used in Revelation (ie: the half week of Revelation 11/12) it means that the event depicted will be partial and not complete, meaning that the success of the Gospel and persecutions will be mixed throughout the "millennium" is that correct?

What I have a hard time to be optimistic about is the releasing of Satan in Revelation 20. Here I do not see incomplete number being used to contrast his bondage and release, I only see a complete number (1000) being used for his bondage, which from my understanding would mean when the fullness of the appointed time comes, when Christ has sealed all of his saints, Satan will be release for a little while which will translate in increased aspostacy/persecutions. This seem to coincide with other portion of scriptures which seem to depic same end time events. What am I missing?
 

Weston Stoler

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't know what we call regular amil's around here (pessimistic amil's? :p ) but that's what I am, the eschatology of Jesus :D
 

Mephibosheth

Puritan Board Freshman
Chris,

If you liked "Postmillennialism" by Mathison, you should try his book "From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology." It's quite long, but thorough.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
What I have a hard time to be optimistic about is the releasing of Satan in Revelation 20.
From a postmil perspective, we believe that Satan will be released for a final apostasy at the end, thus demonstrating Mankind's and Satan's incorrigibility witout grace.

The best years, before the final apostasy, haven't arrived yet, so we do not believe the final apostasy is now or any time soon.

If I understand properly when incomplete numbers are used in Revelation (ie: the half week of Revelation 11/12) it means that the event depicted will be partial and not complete, meaning that the success of the Gospel and persecutions will be mixed throughout the "millennium" is that correct?
Patrick Fairbairn (postmil) in his "The Interpretation of Prophecy" (BoT), compares the symbol of the period of struggle with the Beast, False Prophet and Babylon - "merely" 3 1/2 years - favourably with the symbol of the whole interadventual period of 1,000 years.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Secondly, the postmillennialist is effectively bound to an end time apostasy because his future outlook is still basically "historicist" in orientation. An optimistic amil can consistently follow through the idealist approach and view apostasy as part and parcel of the gradual evangelisation of the world -- antithetical intensification.
Can you elaborate on this?

Doesn't the most common form of amillennialism hold to a falling away right before our Lord's return?

Is the key difference between what is sometimes referred to as optimistic amillennial vs. (regular) amillennial no falling away at the end?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Doesn't the most common form of amillennialism hold to a falling away right before our Lord's return?
If one reads earlier advocates of the idealist interpretation, like Milligan, it will be seen that there can be no period following the thousand years since the thousand years is itself an ideal picture of the time between Christ's first and second coming. Most conventional advocates, earlier and later, recognise that the thousand years represents the intermediate state, where the souls of believers go to reign with Christ. If there were to be a succeeding period of war it would effectively mean that the intermediate state somehow ceases to be. Modern advocates for the idealist view who teach a succeeding period of war have tied themselves up in inextricable knots. As Revelation is symbolic it is best to understand the loosing of Satan as a parallel picture of the same period of time in which he is busy stirring up the nations for war throughout the present era. This is what is called antithetic intensification, and is much more consistent with the overall outlook of amillennialism.

Linking this with the thread on antichrist, where Hendriksen's position has been advocated, it is easy to see that Hendriksen's view of an end time apostasy and man of sin was affected by his overall negative view of the future, and the interpretation of Armageddon feeds into that view. I suggest there is no basis for it in Scripture, and an unbiased examination of Scripture will confirm this.

Earlier amillennialists like Warfield, Vos, etc., could speak of the Christianisation of the nations without any conflict with their system of biblical interpretation. They were, afterall, still enjoying the advantages of the previous though partial Christianisation of the nations which had benefited from the glorious reformation. It is only as these advantages wore away in the 20th century, and amillennialism took on more of an anti-premillennial stance, that a more negative outlook began to prevail.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
armourbearer said:
If one reads earlier advocates of the idealist interpretation, like Milligan, it will be seen that there can be no period following the thousand years since the thousand years is itself an ideal picture of the time between Christ's first and second coming. Most conventional advocates, earlier and later, recognise that the thousand years represents the intermediate state, where the souls of believers go to reign with Christ. If there were to be a succeeding period of war it would effectively mean that the intermediate state somehow ceases to be. Modern advocates for the idealist view who teach a succeeding period of war have tied themselves up in inextricable knots. As Revelation is symbolic it is best to understand the loosing of Satan as a parallel picture of the same period of time in which he is busy stirring up the nations for war throughout the present era. This is what is called antithetic intensification, and is much more consistent with the overall outlook of amillennialism.
A quick question, though I won't sidetrack the thread this time....while the above reasoning seems good, I notice that in Rev. 20 it specifically states that when the thousand years have expired, Satan is released. So it seems that "after" the thousand years are done with, Satan is released. I looked at Milligan, but he does not seem to address this (though I could have missed something), which means that whatever he is doing, it must accord with some standard interpretive principle. Can a book be so symbolic that it's symbology takes precedence over the words it states? Or is there another way that the "when the thousand years have expired" fits in with the above view?

Thank you.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
A quick question, though I won't sidetrack the thread this time....while the above reasoning seems good, I notice that in Rev. 20 it specifically states that when the thousand years have expired, Satan is released. So it seems that "after" the thousand years are done with, Satan is released. I looked at Milligan, but he does not seem to address this (though I could have missed something), which means that whatever he is doing, it must accord with some standard interpretive principle. Can a book be so symbolic that it's symbology takes precedence over the words it states? Or is there another way that the "when the thousand years have expired" fits in with the above view?
20:1, "And I saw..." The type of literature is "vision." A "vision" by definition does not take place within the space-time continuum of history. Time-markers must be interpreted according to the visionary nature of the writing.

According to the idealist interpretation, 1000 years is descriptive of an ideal and complete period of time. If something happens after this ideal and complete period of time it could only relate to something which takes place outside of the "ideal" and the "complete." It could not take place chronologically after the 1000 years because the 1000 years is not a chronological but an ideal period of time. And from the point of view that the 1000 years is referring to the intermediate state, it is not theologically possible to think of a succeeding period of time in which the souls of the saints are not gathered to reign with Christ.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
armourbearer said:
20:1, "And I saw..." The type of literature is "vision." A "vision" by definition does not take place within the space-time continuum of history. Time-markers must be interpreted according to the visionary nature of the writing.

According to the idealist interpretation, 1000 years is descriptive of an ideal and complete period of time. If something happens after this ideal and complete period of time it could only relate to something which takes place outside of the "ideal" and the "complete." It could not take place chronologically after the 1000 years because the 1000 years is not a chronological but an ideal period of time. And from the point of view that the 1000 years is referring to the intermediate state, it is not theologically possible to think of a succeeding period of time in which the souls of the saints are not gathered to reign with Christ.
Thank you for the response. I'm still having trouble following this; the reasoning makes sense, but then it seems strange to look at the text say, "after", "till the thousand years should be fulfilled", "when" (because thinking of the 1000 years as an ideal and complete period of time, as you have noted, it seems weird how anything could take place "after", but it also seems weird how an ideal and complete period could be "fulfilled" or "expire," yet the text uses all of these temporal markers), but that could just mean I need to understand better how interpretive principles work with visions. I guess I've got quite a bit more work to do on this (and maybe make a thread in the future when I better understand the various principles involved so that I don't sidetrack this one)!
 

Fogetaboutit

Puritan Board Freshman
armourbearer said:
20:1, "And I saw..." The type of literature is "vision." A "vision" by definition does not take place within the space-time continuum of history. Time-markers must be interpreted according to the visionary nature of the writing.

According to the idealist interpretation, 1000 years is descriptive of an ideal and complete period of time. If something happens after this ideal and complete period of time it could only relate to something which takes place outside of the "ideal" and the "complete." It could not take place chronologically after the 1000 years because the 1000 years is not a chronological but an ideal period of time. And from the point of view that the 1000 years is referring to the intermediate state, it is not theologically possible to think of a succeeding period of time in which the souls of the saints are not gathered to reign with Christ.
Thank you for the response. I'm still having trouble following this; the reasoning makes sense, but then it seems strange to look at the text say, "after", "till the thousand years should be fulfilled", "when" (because thinking of the 1000 years as an ideal and complete period of time, as you have noted, it seems weird how anything could take place "after", but it also seems weird how an ideal and complete period could be "fulfilled" or "expire," yet the text uses all of these temporal markers), but that could just mean I need to understand better how interpretive principles work with visions. I guess I've got quite a bit more work to do on this (and maybe make a thread in the future when I better understand the various principles involved so that I don't sidetrack this one)!
I had the same understanding as Raymond here, it's nice to see the reasoning of how one would interpret it otherwise but like Raymond said the "until the thousand years were finished", "when the thousand years are expired" make it hard for me to understand it as a parallel event. I would also be interested in learning more about this interpretation as it doesn't seem logical to me (not yet anyway). The way Revelation 20 reads it doesn't seem to differenciate the the Loosing of Satan as a seperate vision from the binding in the prior verses, it seems counter intuitive to interpret it as serperate event chronologically. But again maybe I'm missing something, I've been wrong in the past many times.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is difficult to explain without going through the various visions and showing the consistency of the idealist interpretation. There are time markers, sequence, and progression in each of the visions of the book. One example might help -- the seventh seal, with about half an hour's silence eventuating in the seven trumpets. The idealist explains the trumpets as a progressive recapitulation of the same period covered by the seals. Perhaps another example will help -- the two witnesses ascend and "the same hour" there is an earthquake, judgment, and fear on the remnant. It is impossible to regard these as speaking of contemporaneous and interactive events. Like the parable, it is the overall picture the vision presents which is important, and the interpretation of the details must be subordinated to that overall picture.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
armourbearer said:
It is difficult to explain without going through the various visions and showing the consistency of the idealist interpretation.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes that could be done. :) But I guess Milligan will have to do for now!

armourbearer said:
There are time markers, sequence, and progression in each of the visions of the book. One example might help -- the seventh seal, with about half an hour's silence eventuating in the seven trumpets. The idealist explains the trumpets as a progressive recapitulation of the same period covered by the seals. Perhaps another example will help -- the two witnesses ascend and "the same hour" there is an earthquake, judgment, and fear on the remnant. It is impossible to regard these as speaking of contemporaneous and interactive events. Like the parable, it is the overall picture the vision presents which is important, and the interpretation of the details must be subordinated to that overall picture.
Ahh. "Like the parable"--That might be what I was missing. Thank you for giving more to think about and tools and examples for thinking about them!
 
Last edited:

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Some thoughts: William Milligan’s The Book of Revelation is not representative of current studies in the idealist / amillennial school of Biblical and prophetic interpretation. I make the distinction between his older view, and the scholarship and thinking of the currently writing idealists / amillennialists. Readers will have to discern for themselves which interpretation is in accord with the Scripture and an appropriate amil hermeneutic.

Here is Milligan on the opening of Rev 20:

Thus also we may comprehend what is meant by the loosing of Satan. There is no point in the future at which he is to be loosed. He has been already loosed. Hardly was he completely conquered for the saints before he was loosed for the world. He was loosed as a great adversary who, however he may persecute the children of God, cannot touch their inner life, and who can only "deceive the nations,"—the nations that have despised and rejected Christ. He has never been really absent from the earth. He has gone about continually, "knowing that he hath but a short time." But he is unable to hurt those who are kept in the hollow of the Lord’s hand. No doubt he tries it. That is the meaning of the description extending from the seventh to the ninth verse of this chapter, -the meaning of the war which Satan carries on against the camp of the saints and the beloved city when the thousand years are finished. In other words, no sooner was Satan, as regards the saints, completely bound than, as regards the world, he was loosed; and from that hour, through all the past history of Christianity, he has been stirring up the world against the Church: he has been summoning the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war. They war, but they do not conquer, until at last fire comes down out of heaven and devours them. "The devil that deceived them is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (pp. 183, 184)​

This sort of “idealist” interpretation, while agreeing in some respects with the modern view, diverges in others. For instance, to say, “There is no point in the future at which he [Satan] is to be loosed”, really contradicts the explicit statements in Rev 20: 3 and 7. Nor is this to be explained away by saying that there can be nothing outside of the “ideal and complete period of time” of the 1,000 years as an all-inclusive period is so designated; for – to the contrary – the 1,000 years signifies the church age or gospel age, which is brought to a close when gospel proclamation is outlawed world-wide, and the demonically-energized unregenerate are gathered and unleashed to attempt the complete annihilation of all God’s children – the church in its global entirety. Says G.K Beale, “The rebellion [of Rev 20:7-9] is portrayed as very brief so that the directly following judgment can with general accuracy be seen as also coming at the end of the thousand years” (p 1024).

It is little wonder that folks are saying, “Look, the Scripture explicitly says that Satan is shut up in the bottomless pit (or abyss) ‘till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season’ (Rev 20:3) and ‘when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison’ (Rev 20:7), from which he shall go out to deceive the nations.

Because the Scripture explicitly and clearly says there is a period of time – however brief it may be – after the thousand year imprisonment of Satan, why must that unequivocal announcement be truncated to fit into a schema made to accord with an interpretation of a symbol? On the plain face of it it does not fit! Nor let it be said I am not aware of the symbolic 1,000 year meaning, for I am, I just let the Scriptural context determine what the symbol means.

I’d like to make clear what a Biblical amillennialists view is, but first let me say that the old pessimistic vs. optimistic amil labels are a smokescreen! What is called a pessimistic amil is a misnomer, for the church is glorious and victorious even if it be decimated! Look at our Firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18), is not the glory of His grace most manifest in His suffering unto death for love of us? Is not his victory most manifest in conquering death by dying and rising again? Even so it shall be with us, the church: our glory and victory will be manifest as we follow our Saviour into death and resurrection! The “pessimist” label is from seeing through worldly eyes, and ditto with the optimist label. Things looking good for the church, with success in her evangelistic “Christianizing” of the nations, the world looking rosy? It was not so with our Lord, nor will it be so with us. Even now, risen with Christ in spirit, we partake of the first resurrection (Eph 2:4-6). If we forfeit our earthly lives by faithful witness to Him, we reign with Him in the heavens – we are far more than conquerors through Him who loved us – we are children of the High King of Heaven.

True, the church has suffered persecution throughout the church age; she has born witness to her Lord, the world hated both Him and her witness to Him, and smote her for it (as it could not get to Him directly), often unto death. All through the church – or gospel – age it has been thus. Yet the church has been spiritually protected. How? For one, every member of her has been sealed by God; second, the devil has been restrained by his imprisonment in the pit so that he may not deceive the nations into turning against and annihilating the church – for that is all his heart’s desire; he is in a rage to do it. He has been able to persecute and hurt the church through his dupes, his goons, but not on the massive – universal – scale he longs for. It will be given him, however, to gather the kings of the whole world – and all its people – to the battle of that great day of God Almighty (Rev 16:13,14). We see it in Rev 11:7-12, in Rev 13:7, in Rev 19:11-21, and in the final Rev 20:7-9. The culmination of the hatred of the world, whose god is the devil, will find its expression against us just as it did against our King, in an all-out assault to utterly extinguish our lives, and when it seems as if all is lost and we are all killed save a few, then our God appears in blazing might, with fiery indignation, to join the battle – and they flee the face of Him that sitteth on the throne (Rev 6:16,17) – as He arises to tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19:15). For they have put their hands on His beloved.

When exactly will the day of Satan’s release come? We don’t know, but when we see the order about to be given to kill all Christians and plunder their goods, we will know that it has. Though I think it may be discerned a good bit before it is given and executed.

As I have said, I don’t at all like to contradict my good friend and better, Rev. Winzer, but this matter of understanding aright the prophecy of Christ given to John for the churches, including us at the very end, is so crucial to our being prepared in heart and mind, I really would violate my conscience by not speaking up, even if it ruffled a friend’s feathers. To be lulled into thinking it will not get so bad can be our undoing, and I will not keep silent.

True, other things will happen before that last battle – especially here in America, I believe. But that’s another topic.

This view I hastily presented is held – in the main – by most all of the contemporary amil / idealists. A partial list (just to show I’m neither alone nor in bad company):

G.K. Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation, and, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: 1-2 Thessalonians
Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb
William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors
Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation
Kim Riddlebarger, The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist, and, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End times
David J. Engelsma, Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom: A Defense of Reformed Amillennialism (A shortened online version)
Stephen S. Smalley, The Revelation To John: A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse
Vern Poythress, The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation
R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation
Samuel E. Waldron, The End Times Made Simple
Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Revelation
Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future
Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Revelation
Arturo Azurdia, An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (81 MP3 sermons)
William E. Cox, Amillennialism Today


 
Last edited:

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Jerusalem Blade said:
The culmination of the hatred of the world, whose god is the devil, will find its expression against us just as it did against our King, in an all-out assault to utterly extinguish our lives, and when it seems as if all is lost and we are all killed save a few, then our God appears in blazing might, with fiery indignation, to join the battle – and they flee the face of Him that sitteth on the throne (Rev 6:16,17) – as He arises to tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19:15). For they have put their hands on His beloved.
Thank you for posting the alternative view. I can certainly see how one who shares your view would be very concerned about it. (Though indeed, the same goes for the "older" idealist view too) Honestly, on the face of it, the above does seem quite pessimistic--almost like what I've heard from premil views (I did read your paragraph about the labels of "pessimistic" and "optimistic" though)--and seems to give too much power to the devil and the nations; and indeed, it is "chilling" to the point that it would be difficult to not focus on it (perhaps one reason why it reminds me of premil views), rather than being the comfort that the "older" view is that more easily frees one to live the normal Christian life, which was an advantage of the "older" idealist view because all other views (except postmil) leave one having a dark and scary impression from the book of Revelation, though I'm not sure why since both views would agree that the book talks about the victory of Christ and His body despite their enemies (and that's certainly comforting!). But quite importantly, I see explicit Scripture testimony, not just in Revelation but all over the place, about the nations coming to worship before God (along with the explicit part of Revelation that states the saints reign with Christ during the thousand years, which implies that the saints are not doing so during Satan's little season, on the "modern" idealist view).

I know from past threads your explanation about how such concerning the nations is not to take place during the time before the Second Coming, but even as I was having trouble with the thousand years as presented above by Rev. Winzer, I have difficulty with that explanation you have given, and I am having difficulty seeing the Church being almost entirely killed off just prior to the Second Coming by those nations and kingdoms of the world that are to become the kingdoms of the Son prior to the Second Coming. I can certainly see the "intensification" of good and evil as mentioned by amil views, but I don't see such intensification of evil as meaning the Church is almost entirely annihilated just prior to the Second Coming, given various passages of Scripture.

Edit: Strangely, and I could be wrong, but this "modern" idealist view actually seems more "driven" (?) by events and current history than ideal pictures that are more or less manifest and applicable throughout history; the latter being one of the strengths of the idealist view.

But again, thank you very much for your post!
 
Last edited:

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Our dear brother Steve is obviously welcome to his view, but it deserves to be called "historicist," not "idealist," according to the strict designation of those terms. If this demand for consecutive literal events is carried through the Book of Revelation, it will, of course, altogether do away with the validity of interpreting the symbols from an idealist perspective.

How far is our brother willing to follow this literalism? What is Satan's prison from which he is loosed? What is Gog and Magog? More interesting still, What is the beloved city? He has the choice between Jerusalem below or Jerusalem above? If it is the former, he is back with the premillennialists doing studies in world geography and reading newspaper clippings of world events. If it is the latter, how is it possible that Satan is able to compass the camp of those who have gone to be with the Lord? On the other hand, view the passage as a snap shot of what takes place outside of the ideal period represented by the thousand years, and it makes perfect sense that Satan's aim has always been to stir up the nations against the true people of God.

What else is problematic about this literal-when-possible heremeneutic that is being conveniently employed just at this point in the Book in order to validate a pessimistic view of future world events? It is this -- it denies the basic tool of parallelism which is used by the idealist perspective? Why is there no reference to the parallel visions and their vivid portrayal of the war that is waged upon the saints? It is because the parallelism of the Book proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the battle of chap. 20 is nothing other than a very brief recapitulation of the prolonged battle which is described throughout the Book and which characterises the whole history of the church.

What is at stake here? It is, in fact, pessimism v. optimism. There is an extra-biblical pessimism, which finds no warrant in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, being imposed on the church and her witness as she seeks to disciple the nations. As this pessimism goes under the name of prophecy, it pretends to speak with divine authority and has the effect of paralysing the church. Furthermore, there is an obvious neglect of those passages in the Revelation which explicitly teach of the church's authority over the nations, and the positive results which are to be sought from an active, patient, and faithful resistance of worldly power and false teachings.

As for the list of "amillennialists" which concludes our brother's post, I am happy to grant them the designation in so far as they consistently teach the realised millennial perspective. This begs the question, of course, as to how consistently each individual teaches what they profess.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Raymond! I must say, though, that this (I have perhaps poorly presented) is not an “alternative view” but the consensus view among contemporary amillennial scholars. Milligan is pretty much an anomaly in the field.

I appreciate your thinking it really “pessimistic” in outlook – and even similar in respect to the persecution and tribulation of the premils; I must agree with this assessment, if viewed from a certain vantage. There are very many to whom this vision of coming tribulation is frightening and dark, and who can deny it? The question is, is it an accurate exposition of the prophecy, and is it true to the intensity of the hatred that is – or is to be – leveled against us?

In other lands – Communist, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist – what is happening to our brethren? In North Korea, China, Eritrea; throughout most of the Muslim world; throughout much of the Hindu world, and some Buddhist nations – there is violent ongoing persecution of our brothers and sisters. I will not even say what is happening to them because of tender sensibilities here at PB! How many of us pray for our persecuted brethren? I think we are out of touch with what is going on in the wider world than we know of from our daily lives. Here is a news source: Barnabas Aid | The Persecution Times, and here. There is an increasing wave of hostility – murderous hostility – overwhelming our families abroad, and do you think we in the West, with our fairly luxurious lives, are to be exempted from suffering for Christ’s sake? Or suffering along with the wicked as judgments are meted on them for their idolatries and other wickedness?

Raymond, I do reign with Christ whatever my lot is in this world, for I am seated with Him in the heavenlies, beloved of our Father, interceding, and proclaiming the Kingdom. Whether I am unmolested in my activities, or incarcerated for being a faithful witness to Jesus, or suffering physical and mental torture for His name’s sake, I reign with Him, as nothing can sever my union with Him.

The trouble with us is we do not identify with the suffering church, we do not pray for them, we do not sacrificially give to aid them, we think it just the hard luck of living in primitive lands. We do not consider that the prophecy of the Book of Revelation was given to the early suffering church of the 1st and 2nd etc centuries, both to brace them in their pain and to warn them against complacency in and compromise with the idolatry of the surrounding culture. Yes, there have been eras of respite from suffering and persecution, and there have been locales spared from much of it. This is the case with us in America. In what is now the United Kingdom, these countries have known much suffering for Christ’s sake. But we, none. And yet we are a country that – by law – kills its babies for sexual and economic convenience (and seek to export this abomination world-wide); we economically exploit more primitive and vulnerable nations for our own luxurious standards of living and development (though such standards are slowly becoming a thing of the past for us), we have spread our vile entertainment culture throughout the world, as well as – some decades ago – our psychedelic Woodstock consciousness and its accompanying drugs, which have wrought havoc in the spiritual and moral lives of the nations of the world. We have thought to be the beneficent policeman of the world, wielding our unparalleled military might to spread – and enforce – our version of supposedly enlightened political governance, rewarding those who accommodate us and comply with our various requirements by giving them access to our economic system and the allure of prosperity and luxury. We have seduced the nations – although they are wising up, plus we are dwindling economically, and the nations can now see that we are far worse than broke (multiple trillions in the hole!), and is such a thing as we have been – and yet are – to go unscathed by the judgments from on High? We are as a people asleep to the reality of our situation, in a dream-world of relative ease and distracted from godly awareness by our televisions, movies, books, and internet lives. It will not go on. And yet we dreamily bumble along, oblivious to impending judgment. After all, we are the great America, untouched by calamity – save for the incursions of 9/11 (and we are making the Islamic perps pay for that) – we sit queen among the nations, and shall not be bereft of our allies, and shall not ever see national tragedy and sorrow. So we say. It may be that we shall not even make it to the great tribulation at the very end, if we be that “great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Rev 17:18), and meet our end before that.

Sorry, Raymond, for the rant! I just wanted to get that off my chest.
 
Last edited:

Fogetaboutit

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for these clarifications it helps to understand the reasoning. I was wondering, is there such a thing as pushing idealism too far? If we look at the Book at Daniel, there are visions which use similar symbolism as in Revelation but within the same vision there seem to be some chronology, I'm thinking about the Statue of chapter 2 and the beasts of chapter 7, would a "pure" idealist associate those with the Kingdom of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome? If so is there not some chronology in the fufillement? If you have a pure idealist view would you not have to say the proper interpretation is that all these kingdom existed and ruled at the same time during the entire period of time depicted in those visions?

Is there any book (or books) that would explain the "pessimistic" view and the "optimistic" view of amillenialism since I know explaining a view in details is not really possible within a few paragraph?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Thank you, Matthew and Steve, for this interesting and enlightening conversation on amillennialism and idealism. :up:
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
As Revelation is symbolic it is best to understand the loosing of Satan as a parallel picture of the same period of time in which he is busy stirring up the nations for war throughout the present era.
How is that Revelation Commentary coming along, Rev Winzer? ;)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I would just like to correct a false impression which may have arisen from the fact that I have only mentioned Milligan in this thread. Our brother Steve has taken occasion to say, "Milligan is pretty much an anomaly in the field." This is not correct. I have only referred to Milligan as an example of the standard teaching amongst those who taught the original idealist scheme of interpretation. For the benefit of the thread I will include Warfield's position, which was stated with his usual clarity and force. This is standard idealism. It is from "the Millennium and the Apoocalypse" in vol. 2 of his Works, entitled Biblical Doctrines, which was also issued as an individual volume by Banner of Truth. I apologise that I am unable to give pagination at this time because my books are packed away.

We can scarcely go the length of Dr. Milligan, nevertheless, and say that the time-element is wholly excluded from our passage. After all it is the intermediate state that is portrayed and the intermediate state has duration. But it is within the limits of sobriety to say that the time-element retires into the background and the stress is laid on the greatness and completeness of the security portrayed. This is, however, portrayed under a time-symbol: and the point now is that, this being so, the very necessity of the symbolism imposed on the writer the representation of the other elements of the symbol also by time-expressions. Accordingly in the picture which he draws for us the vision of the security of the saints is preceded and followed by scenes represented as occurring before and after it, but to be read as occurring merely outside it. The chaining of Satan is not in the event a preliminary transaction, on which the security of the saints follows: nor is the loosing of Satan a subsequent transaction, on which the security of the saints ceases. The saints rather escape entirely beyond the reach of Satan when they ascend to their Lord and take their seats on His throne by His side, and there they abide nevermore subject to his assaults. This is indeed suggested in the issue (verse 9b), where the destruction of Satan is compassed by a fire from heaven and not through the medium of a battle with the saints. But while the saints abide in their security Satan, though thus “bound” relatively to them, is loosed relatively to the worldand that is what is meant by the statement in verse 3c that “he must be loosed for a little time” — which is the symbol of the inter-adventual period, in the world; and not less in verses 7-10. We must here look on the time-element, we repeat, as belonging wholly to the symbol and read in the interpretation space-elements in its place. The intermediate state is in one word conceived of not out of relation to the “world,” but as, so to speak, a safe haven of retreat in the midst of the world: the world is around it, and there Satan still works and deceives, but he who escapes through the one door of “beheading” for Christ’s sake, rises not only to security but to a kingdom.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thanks for these clarifications it helps to understand the reasoning. I was wondering, is there such a thing as pushing idealism too far? If we look at the Book at Daniel, there are visions which use similar symbolism as in Revelation but within the same vision there seem to be some chronology, I'm thinking about the Statue of chapter 2 and the beasts of chapter 7, would a "pure" idealist associate those with the Kingdom of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome? If so is there not some chronology in the fufillement? If you have a pure idealist view would you not have to say the proper interpretation is that all these kingdom existed and ruled at the same time during the entire period of time depicted in those visions?

Is there any book (or books) that would explain the "pessimistic" view and the "optimistic" view of amillenialism since I know explaining a view in details is not really possible within a few paragraph?
On Daniel 2, please see this thread: http://www.puritanboard.com/f46/idealism-vs-historicism-70576/

The amillennial literature tends to be set in contrast to other views, and does not touch on intramural differences. All I can suggest is to read the literature with a discerning eye.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top