PMW 2019-094 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I was recently interviewed for a documentary on postmillennialism. Here are a few of the questions and a summary of my answers. Hopefully these succinct statements will prove helpful to you!
1) How would you define Postmillennialism
Postmillennialism is the view of biblical eschatology that understands that Christ established the prophesied Messianic kingdom when he came to the earth in the first century. He established his kingdom then commissioned his disciples to promote it through evangelism and discipleship. Since the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, we expect his kingdom to gradually grow as history unfolds in the long run. There will be many ups-and-downs (just as in our own personal sanctification). But eventually the vast majority of men and nations will become Christians and will promote a biblical worldview that will apply all the Bible to all of life. This era of the dominance of the Christian faith will last a long period of time, after which Christ will return to end history and establish the consummate state.
2) What are the main differences between Postmillennialism and the two other main eschatological views (Premillennialism and Amillennialism)
THE fundamental difference between postmillennialism and the other two millennial views is the notion of historical optimism. That is, postmillennialism is the only system that expects the triumph of the Christian faith over men and nations in history before Christ returns. That is:
• as systems of gospel proclamation, the amills and premills are pessimistic, believing the majority of men will be lost.
• as systems of historical understanding, the amills and premills are pessimistic, believing that human culture and society will inevitably collapse, causing worsening conditions toward the end.
• as systems of Christian discipleship, the amills and premills are pessimistic, warning Christians that their Christian influence will be limited and ultimately fail.
3) If you could choose one passage of Scripture and had five minutes to present the Postmillennial perspective from that passage, what would that look like?
I wouldn’t do it. Ha! Biblical eschatology cannot be explained and defended on the basis of one proof-text, for it involves the whole of Scripture and the eternal plan of God.
The Beast of Revelation
by Ken Gentry
A popularly written antidote to dispensational sensationalism and newspaper exegesis. Convincing biblical and historical evidence showing that the Beast was the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, the first civil persecutor of the Church. The second half of the book shows Revelation’s date of writing, proving its composition as prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A thought-provoking treatment of a fascinating and confusing topic.
For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com
However, if pressed for time, I might choose two texts in attempting to capture the eschatological hope of Scripture, one from the OT and one form the NT.
Isa 2:2-4 reads: 2 Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. 3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.
Though involving much symbolism, this well captures the postmillennial hope. It notes that in (i.e., during) the “last days” God’s house (his temple, his church) will be raised above the chief mountains (i.e., world influences). The “last days” is defined in the NT as those days following the first coming of Christ (Acts 2; Heb 1) and leading up to the “last day,” when Christ returns, the resurrection occurs, and history ends. This prophecy says “in” or “during” those days, the church will be firmly established and all nations will flow into it in order to be discipled in God’s ways. This will ultimately lead to a time in which peace will prevail throughout the world, wherein men will no longer produce weapons but tools for peaceable pursuits.
Matt 28:18–20 has this sort of hope in the background and seeks the same end: 18 “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus declares that he has all authority in heaven and on earth. Then he commands that his followers make disciples of “all that nations.” That is, bring them into a state of discipleship which involves baptism and teaching. Then he promises he will be with them to the end to see that this is done. This is powerful evidence that Jesus directed his church to actually disciple the nations on the basis of his universal authority and powerful presence. This does not allow for pessimism.
The Lord’s Prayer (8 mp3 sermons)
Eight part expository sermon series covering each element in the Lord’s Prayer. Very practical; very theological. Shows the glory of God, in his sovereignty as prayer underscores the victory of his kingdom and the rule of his law in history. Excellent postmillennial resource from this beloved prayer.
See more study materials at: http://www.KennethGentry.com
4) In the Lords Prayer we are told to pray “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” what exactly are we asking and how is that accomplished.
This prayer is the foundation to all of our prayers. It is given as Christ’s specific instruction on how to pray. It opens with praise of God as our loving Father who is in heaven-exalted above. Then it urges us to pray for the advance of his kingdom so that his will should be done on earth after the pattern of heaven. This is not a prayer that is filled with empty platitudes, but is filled with hope in our heavenly Father’s will coming to expression in history.
This prayer is not simply for our utterance, unaccompanied by any labor. It is to promote our hope-filled action. We are to pray and do. We must recognize that the difference between “try” and “triumph” is a little “umph.”
5) Doesn’t Postmillennialism undermine the idea that Christ could return at any moment?
Yes. As does 2000 years of church history without his coming. But we have two responses to this:
(1) Christ does not tell us to expect his coming soon. In fact, he warns that no one knows when he will return (Matt. 24:36). Rather he urges us to be alert, awake, etc. That is, to be living responsibly at all times (Matt. 24:42; 25:13). We must understand that we live in the sight of God at all times, regardless of our guessing when Christ might return. And we could die at any moment and stand before him. Therefore, our sanctification is not imperiled, as is usually feared.
(2) Christ does give a few parables suggesting it may be a long time. The parable of the virgins shows that the bridegroom comes so late that the maidens fell asleep and some did not take enough oil (Matt. 25:1–13). The parable of the talents says “after a long time the master of those slaves came (Matt. 25:19). For this reason we often hear of calls to patience (Rom. 9:22), and even of challenges to Christians that he is not coming: “where is the promise of his coming” (2 Pet. 3:3–4, 9).
According to the great commission, we have a lot of work today and that is not yet done. This also suggests that the imminency doctrine is in error.
6) Does Postmillennialism deny a literal understanding of the Bible? How would you respond to Dispensationalist who claim that those who disagree with their interpretation are simply adopting an allegorical interpretation of Scripture?
The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years in 66 books. It was not written in one genre. It involves many genres, even much imagery. Who interprets all verses literally? Do we pluck out our eyes when we lust? Cut off hand? Is there going to be a seven-headed beast? A woman standing the moon with wings?
The literalism of many is selective. When they claim all OT prophecies come to literal fulfillment in the NT, they are mistaken. In Matt 12:28 Jesus says the kingdom of God has come to you. Luke 17:20–21 says “the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, for the kingdom is in your midst.” In Acts 2:30 Peter says of the promise that God would seat one of David’s descendants on his throne “spoke of the resurrection of Christ.”
Dispensationalists are not literalist all the time. JDP says that Mal 4:5–6 dealing with the coming of Elijah is talking about John the Baptist, “not a literal Elijah.” My HSHD quotes many such examples from dispensational scholars.
Besides literalism is not a protection of orthodoxy, for the Mormons believe God has a literal body.
To be continued! Stay tuned.
Tagged: Imminence, Lord's Prayer
Wow! Who is doing a documentary on postmillennialism? Great questions and responses for this introductory post!
It is a Reformed ministry in South America. They filmed me speaking English. I guess they will have sub-titles for their Spanish-speaking audience.
I would love to see that — even with subtitles.
Still wondering, please, what / who JDP (your article above) refers to. I’ve identified your HSHD but cannot identify JDP reference. It appears my previous reply / question was lost. Thank you again. Doc P.
Sorry about that: JDP = J. Dwight Pentecost
Thanks again, Dr. Gentry. I searched the bibliography of dispensational writers in my memory–not the most reliable source, found nothing. Searched online to no avail. I should have looked on the bookshelf to my left. Behold, “Things to Come”! Funny. Pilk