PMW 2020-036 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I have just received an email from a postmillennial reader who does not live in America. He has two questions that probably are on the minds of other postmillennialists. So I thought I would briefly respond to his questions and post my answers for other readers to consider. (I will slightly tweak his comments to remove personal information).
My reader writes
“Where I live it seemed to me that the interest in end times faded a bit over the last couple of years. However more and more videos and links are now reaching my digital shores and it seems caused by the newest crises to hit the world — the doom and gloom prophesied re Coronavirus.
The Coronavirus provides ample fertile ground for faded premils to get their motor started one more time, but also providing a gateway for younger people to adopt what seems to them an easy escapist argument. I am sensing some animosity from some people because of this basic optimism and my Christian dominion approach. This is at odds with the current pessimistic view prevalent among friends.
I have therefore dusted the old books and started reading your Perilous Times again. As I am reading I was wondering why the premill and amill views are the more popular approach to a view of end times.
In relation to the above have you ever considered whether an incorrect understanding of the foundational teaching of original sin could add to the pessimistic approach to end times?
Example: why do we deserve a better future as humans when we are unworthy in the eyes of an exclusive judgmental God?
The example is not my view but could be stuck in a psychological part of the thinking process of many people causing them to believe that they (and humanity) must suffer for their sins.”
Your Hope in God’s World (Kenneth Gentry)
5 DVDs; 5 lectures
This series of lectures presents the theological and exegetical argument for the postmillennial hope in our fallen world. The last lecture answers the major practical, theological, and exegetical objections to postmillennialism. An excellent series for both introducing and refreshing one’s understanding of postmillennialism.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
My quick reply
I will briefly answer your two questions.
First: Why are the amill and premill views more popular?
I suspect the following at least partially account for this:
a. Like the news media, people tend to notice and focus on bad news more than good news. So people are constantly fed bad news, which impacts their outlook. And both amill and premill thought comports well with this bad news outlook.
b. Folks tend to like the more exciting stories. When you explain biblical eschatology the amills and premills have the more dramatic, exciting stories. Postmillennialism requires people labor for a better, slowly developing, distant future. What’s the fun in that! An exciting story carries more punch than an obligation to work hard for the long haul.
I remember once explaining to my mother my view of the Book of Revelation as dealing with past events (associated with the temple’s destruction). My mother’s response after hearing my fifteen-minute synopsis was: “Well then, what do we have to look forward to?” I replied, “Mom, surely you are not looking forward to boils, earthquakes, persecution, and wars?”
c. People love to be the first to know something and if they “know” there are some dramatic events coming soon, they like being “in the know” regarding the supposed coming events.
d. People are generally more now-oriented. They tend to interpret life from where they are currently. They are so influenced by current circumstances that it is difficult to imagine those circumstances changing. So when bad news comes, it confirms their negative outlook.
Amillennialism v. Postmillennialism Debate (DVD by Gentry and Gaffin)
Formal, public debate between Dr. Richard Gaffin (Westminster Theological Seminary) and Kenneth Gentry at the Van Til Conference in Maryland. The debate focuses on whether the church is called to perpetually suffer in history.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
e. However, this approach to eschatology involves a wrong method. It looks to current events rather than to Scripture. Then it also involves too narrow a sample, overlooking the great progress that has been made in the world since the days of Nero’s persecution.
f. This view also is impacted by a wrong definition of postmillennialism. Nothing in the postmillennial definition requires either relentlessly forward progress or the kingdom’s reaching its highest advance by any particular date. Postmillennialism is gradualistic, teaching that before the end the kingdom of God will reach world-dominating proportions. Thus, until history ends this argument cannot undermine the postmillennial hope. Glorious revivals may yet occur — as the postmillennialist expects.
Second: Does the doctrine of original sin psychologically impact them, whereby they expect that they must suffer for their sins?
a. The doctrine of original sin is probably one of the biggest influences discouraging any positive eschatology. How can the world get better in the long run if original sin is true? This complaint discounts the reality of salvation. We must note the obvious: 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. 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).
b. Regarding your concern that Christians may expect that they must suffer for their sins: The certainly teaches that we will always have indwelling sin, that God judges sin, and that he chastens his own people. However, we must look at other issues in our theology.
That is, we must understand that Christ suffered for our sins. And because of this, there is no theological requirement that we must suffer for them ourselves. Furthermore, the Scripture not only teaches that God chastens his people when they sin (to discourage their sin) but that he also blesses them. So now we must consider whether or not the Bible holds forth the prospect of a better future. And this is where all the evidence for postmillennialism must be brought to bear.
c. Furthermore, we do not have a one-dimensional view of God’s dealing with us. He does warn us of his chastening, but he also promises us blessings. Even in the midst of much suffering the Apostle Paul, for instance, held a positive psychological outlook as he kept his mind on things above. Which should dominate our psyche: God’s wrath or his blessing?
I hope these brief thoughts are helpful. I really must go, for I have to fly to Rome so that I can get on my knees and climb the steps at the Scala Sancta. For as I tell my pessiimistic friends, this helps keep me from rejoicing in the Lord always.
I invite any reader to share their thoughts on these matters.
OLIVET IN CONTEXT: A Commentary on Matthew 21–25
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!