PMT 2014-148 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Introduction to My New Series
Amillennialism is postmillennialism minus hope.
Before the early twentieth century, theologians would speak of only two eschatological positions: “premillennialism” and “postmillennialism.” In this regard, amillennial theologian Cornelis Venema notes regarding amillennialism and postmillennialism: “Whatever differences exist between the two views, they have in common an identical framework” [Venema, Promise of the Future, 220]. In fact, both systems are post millennial in that they hold that Christ returns after the “millennium.”
Historically, the two systems were generally considered as simply two perspectives from the same position until sometime around the 1920s. Consequently, they were both called “postmillennialism.” Venema notes that even in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia of 1929–30, no entry appears for “amillennialism.” The term “amillennialism” was coined in the early 1900s. Writing in 1943, Albertus Pieters states: “Recently, those who take this view have begun to call themselves ‘amillenialists’” [Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation, 310].
The fundamental, defining difference between amillennialism and postmillennialism is the prospect of the historical hope of the universal conquest of the gospel before Christ’s second advent (see my “Definition” page in the header of this blog).
In this regard, amillennial scholar Robert B. Strimple puts the matter starkly: “Our Lord knows of only two ages, the present age and the age to come. He tells his disciples that in this present age they cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution and must forsake all things for his sake” [Strimple in Darrell Bock, Three Views on the Millennium, 63]. (Upon reading this statement I immediately put Dr. Strimple on my prayer list, for previously I had not realized how deeply he had been suffering for the gospel.)
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
(ed. by Darrell Bock)
Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Amillennial writer Kim Riddlebarger speaks of church history as the period “of both the triumph of the spiritual kingdom of God in the midst of the corresponding rise of evil in opposition to Christ and his kingdom” [Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism, 29]. And he admits the “lamentable state of affairs” of evil opposition is “an inevitability for Christ’s church,” in that he expects “heresy and false teaching to plague Christ’s church until the end of the age” [p. 126].
Idea of My New Series
On October 16, 2014 noted Reformed Christian apologist and amillennialist, Dr. James White, posted a webcast in which he critiqued my PostmillennialismToday article titled: “Postmillennialism and ‘Perilous Times’” (PMT 2014-029). In that article I gave a brief analysis of 2 Tim 3:1 and its warning of “perilous times” in the “last days.” I noted that “nothing taught in these verses is contra-postmillennial.”
As an amillennialist, Dr. White disagreed with my analysis, of course. He became aware of my article in that one of the members in the congregation where White is an elder posted my article on his Facebook page. White was intrigued and decided to offer a friendly critique of my article. He did this informally through his popular webcast at his Alpha & Omega Ministries website.
White’s basic concern was that my argument was hermeneutically and exegetically flawed — two serious concerns that certainly hamper eschatological discussion! For instance, at minute-marker 11:33 in his webcast he states: “It struck me as being an example of where the hermeneutic and exegesis just does not seem consistent with what you would normally expect to find.” You can listen to White’s webcast presentation at: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2014/10/16/2-timothy-3-amillenialism-postmillenialism/
Due to Dr. White’s prominence in Reformed circles and the number of requests I received to do so: I will interact with his analysis in a brief series. Unfortunately, there is no transcript for me to cite for documentation. And his presentation is quite informal and oftentimes wandering. So I will deal with his spoken words, occasionally citing them, but usually just summarizing them.
Furthermore, the informal nature of his presentation was unpolished, and sometimes was not as clear as I would like. He meandered a good bit, even laughing about how easily he gets off topic, kidded with someone in the studio near him, mentioned golf for some reason, and jokingly blamed Doug Wilson for distracting him because he received a tweet from Wilson while recording the webcast.
In fact, at the end of the broadcast (at marker 56:47) he laughed and made a comment when he noticed another tweet pop up. That tweet commented: “Four blood moons mean absolutely nothing, but if [unintelligible] ever completes a show without wandering off topic it is a sure sign the end is near.” Though I could not discern a part of White’s reading of the Twitter message, it clearly was referring to him.
This type of presentation is okay, of course. The very nature of his webcast is to provide a personable, casual, and (oftentimes) fun inquiry into various issues. He does not intend it to offer tightly structured arguments, as one might in a journal article. I myself must confess that I often cut up in my verbal presentations, too! Such light-hearted discussions add to the joy of listening. I only mention this as a forewarning that I am not always able to directly quote him and I am apologizing in advance if I misunderstand him.
Presentation of My Worthy Challenger
Dr. White is as a strongly Reformed witness for Christ and an able defender of the faith. He has a broad outreach and an important ministry in our day and time. I am thankful for his labor for Christ and his church, and pray God’s blessings on his endeavors. Except for this one, of course :).
Though he was very casual in his presentation, I was impressed that he would even bother to interact with my blog article. He is an extremely busy man; I honestly do not see how he does so much. And I am sure he has bigger fish to fry than Skinny Kenny. But I am thankful he deemed my article significant enough to interact with it.
He was very courteous to me in his discussion. He never derided or belittled me. He never mentioned that in my KennethGentry.com logo, my hair appears to be parted on the right side, giving the false impression I am left-handed. I suspect he realizes that the image had to be reversed to have my photo looking into the logo rather than out of it. (I am jesting, of course. I have nothing against left-handed people. In fact, the last three males born in my family are left-handed: my youngest son and my two grandsons. But I digress.)
Thine Is the Kingdom
(ed. by Ken Gentry)
Contributors lay the scriptural foundation for a biblically-based, hope-filled
postmillennial eschatology, while showing what it means
to be postmillennial in the real world.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
In fact, at marker 52:00 Dr. White specifically stated: “I’ve got all sorts of respect for Ken Gentry. I’m not saying avoid that man!” I appreciate that. He does see the value, I am sure, of “iron sharpening iron” (Pro 27:17). And he certainly did not file me the wrong way (i.e., against the grain).
Summary of White’s Specific Concerns
It seems to me that when all is said and done, from his perspective three key concerns arise from my presentation. (1) Hermeneutically: I limit Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 3 to his day only. (2) Theologically: I cannot account for Paul’s normative statement in 2 Timothy 3:12. (3) Historically, the wholesale decline in the European nations of the Reformation under cuts the postmillennial hope.
The first two objections (as I list them) are his main, most crucial points. They are his key concerns regarding my position as presented in my original article. These concerns lead him to reject my analysis. The other one is secondary, though it is significant enough for him to bring it up.
In my next article I will begin interacting with Dr. White’s comments. Unless Al Gore decides to close down the Internet which he took the initiative in inventing. See: Al Gore.