POSTMILLENNIALISM’S “SIN PROBLEM” (1)

PMW 2019-059 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

One of the most frequent, forceful, and compelling objections against the postmillennial hope of world conversion is based on the problem of sin. Like me, many Christians are committed to Calvinistic doctrine regarding man’s total depravity. Total depravity teaches that man is a fallen sinner and depraved in every aspect of being. How can we have any hope for a better world governed by sinful men?

In dispensationalist J. Dwight Pentecost’s assessment of the deficiencies of postmillennialism, his fourth objection is along these lines. He speaks of “the new trend toward realism in theology and philosophy, seen in neo-orthodoxy, which admits man is a sinner, and can not bring about the new age anticipated by postmillennialism” (Pentecost, Things to Come, 387). Prophetic populist Hal Lindsey asserts that postmillennialism believes in “the inherent goodness of man” (Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 176).

Herman Hanko, a strong Calvinist, is convinced that “from the fall on, the world develops the sin of our first parents. This development continues throughout history. . . . More and more that kingdom of darkness comes to manifestation as time progresses” (Hanko, “An Exegetical Refutation of Postmillennialism,” Protestant Reformed Theological Journal [11:2] 25). Indeed, in his view postmillennialism “is a mirage, therefore, a false hope, because it fails to reckon properly with the fact of sin” and “cannot take sin as seriously as do the Scriptures” (Hanko, “The Illusory Hope of Postmillennialism,” Reformed Witness, 159).

How can the postmillennialist get around such objections? Especially Calvinist postmillennialists, like me? I will answer this question in two articles.

In the first place I would point that despite the presence of sin, sinners do nevertheless convert to Christ. We must remember that each and every convert to Christ was at one time a totally depraved sinner. Is this not the case? Has it not always been the case?

He Shall Have Dominion small


He Shall Have Dominion
(paperback by Kenneth Gentry)

A classic, thorough explanation and defense of postmillennialism (600+ pages). Complete with several chapters answering specific objections.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


And yet we have hundreds of millions of Christians in the world today. Salvation comes by the gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16). How can we deny the gospel’s power that has already saved millions of depraved sinners? What God can do for one sinner he can do for another. This is evident in the apostolic era (Ac 2:41; 4:4), as well as in biblical prophecy (Isa 2:3–4; Psa 86:9; Rev 5:9; 7:9).

A fatal objection to postmillennialism cannot arise from the power of sin. After all, the power of God to save greatly overshadows the power of sin to destroy. Indeed, “with God all things are possible” (Lk 18:27). In the ultimate analysis, the issue is not the power of sin, but the power of God. As I point out in the PostmillennialismToday blog, and as all postmillennialists argue, It is God’s will to bring redemption gradually to the whole world as a system through the proclamation of Christ’s gospel while building his church.

But in one sense though it is true that the postmillennialist overlooks the depravity of man. He overlooks it — that is, looks over and beyond it — to see the resurrection of Jesus Christ. David Chilton challenges us: “Like Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee, [despairing evangelicals] looked at ‘nature’ rather than at the Lord Jesus Christ; like the Israelites on the border of Canaan, they looked at the ‘giants in the land’ instead of trusting the infallible promises of God; they were filled with fear, and took flight” (Chilton, Paradise Restored, 232).


Three Views on the Millennium and Beyondthree views millennium
(ed. by Darrell Bock)

Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view. Ken Gentry provides the postmillennial contribution.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


We see the glorious power of Christ’s resurrection overwhelming the destructive power of Adam’s fall. We need to consider the strength of grace in comparison to the power of sin. The Christian should ask himself: “Have I ever seen a lost man become saved?” The answer is: Yes. This being the case, it is evident that grace is stronger than sin. The Christian should then ask a follow up question: “Does the Bible teach that a saved man can lose his salvation?” Here the answer is: No. In both cases, we see the superior power of God’s grace over man’s sin. As postmillennialist scholar David Brown once put it: “Souls that have felt the Saviour’s grace know right well its matchless power. After their own conversion, they can never doubt its converting efficacy on any scale that may be required” (Brown, Christ’s Second Coming, 302–303).

To be continued.

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8 thoughts on “POSTMILLENNIALISM’S “SIN PROBLEM” (1)

  1. Bob Macauley July 23, 2019 at 5:31 am

    The image of God in man is effaced, not erased. How you can read Romans 1:18 and following and not see mankind still has within him God’s revelation? Calvinism confuses the Gospel. Read, as dead Adam responds to Christ’s call – Gen. 3:9. Read, how dead mankind began to call upon the Name of the Lord – Gen. 4:26. Calvin defines dead in a way Scripture does not – as they do with many other terms; e.g., faith – Rom.4 and hate – Rom. 9. It is shameful.

  2. Kenneth Gentry July 23, 2019 at 6:10 am

    It is true that the image of God still characterizes man, and that it is effaced rather than eraced. But this is true even of people in hell.

    The reason Adam could respond to God’s call and those in the days of Seth could call upon God is because God enabled them to do so. They, like Lydia, had the Lord open their hearts to respond (Acts 16:14). They were given by the Father to Christ (John 6:37) because “no one can come … unless the Father … draws him” (John 6:44; cp. 6:65).

    The sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins must be made alive in Christ (Eph. 2:5; cp. Col. 2:13). A dead person does not make himself alive. By God’s will he brings us forth unto salvation (Jms. 1:18), for he causes us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3). God gives man a new heart (Eze. 36:26), we do not gives ourselves such.

  3. Ed T July 23, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Ken –
    Through much reading and study of works by Hank Hanegraaff, Jay Adams, you, and others (and, of course, scripture), I have (God has) changed my beliefs regarding prophecy and history as it relates to end times, 2nd coming, etc.. Honestly, though, my multi-year journey started with a twice-through reading of “Revelation – Four Views” by Steve Gregg. This work allowed me to do an introductory, unbiased study of each of the 4 main positions on Revelation, and related OT and NT scriptures. As a result I am much more confident in my new beliefs.

    My question is this: Do you know of a similar, unbiased work that parallels Calvinism and Arminianism; that presents the 2 arguments in a thoughtful, unbiased way? My experience is that God works more freely within me, guiding and revealing truth to me, when I am studying works that present all sides of an argument. Your input is highly valued.

    PS Anxiously awaiting the release of your new Revelation commentary.

  4. Ed T July 23, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Much appreciated.

  5. kristafal July 23, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    The ultimate issue is as you said “not in the power of sin, but the power of God.” Just like our salvation is all of the Triune Creator, so too is the eschatological end He brings. I was raised a premillennialism guy in the dispensational scheme, but I thank the Lord for opening my eyes through men like Bahnsen, North, DeMar, and yourself. Scripture makes so much more sense when you don’t do “newspaper exegesis.” God bless.

  6. speakingthetruthinloveblog July 24, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Excellent Dr. Gentry. Also looking forward to your commentary on Revelation. Any updates Sir?

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