PMW 2021-062 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In my last article I began considering the distinctive approach to the millennium in the postmillennial view, and as over against amillennialism. Though amillennialism and postmillennialism are closely related, they are distinct.
So now: What is the postmillennial outlook? Why is it called post-millennial? And what are its expectations?
Postmillennialism teaches that Christ will return to earth after a long era of gospel progress and worldwide righteousness. As the gospel wins greater influence the world will witness a long era of social stability, economic development, and international peace.
The basic structure of the postmillennial hope is as follows:
First, Christ came into the world in the first century and established his kingdom, the Messianic kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament. We are in that kingdom now (the “millennium,” if you will) (Luke 17:20–21; Col 1:13).
Second, he confronted and defeated Satan while on earth, through his ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Satan is bound from deceiving the nations, so that they are open to the power of the gospel (Matt 12:28–29; Rev 20:3).
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
Third, he gave the marching orders for his kingdom in the “Great Commission.” This commission is great because it is established on his grant of “all authority,” he command to “make disciples of all the nations,” his directive for us to teach the nations “all that I commanded you,” and his promise that “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” to get it done (Matt 28:18–20).
Fourth, he promised to bless his kingdom with growth, likening it to a mustard seed that begins incredibly small but results in a tree that dominates the garden; and comparing it to leaven that leavens the entire bushel (Matt 13:31–33).
Fifth, the world will eventually be converted, becoming a “Christianized” world. At the height of Christ’s kingdom’s development the overwhelming majority of men will be born-again of God’s grace which will lead them a peaceable, worldwide kingdom (Isa 11:9; John 3:17).
Sixth, at the end of history after a long era of gospel victory, Christ will return bodily, visibly, and gloriously (Acts 1:9–11). He will raise the dead in a general resurrection (John 5:29; Acts 24:15) and will conduct the final judgment (Acts 17:31; Rom 2:5–6). He will then end world history and establish the consummate order resulting in a physical new creation (2 Pet 3:10–13).
Thus, postmillennialism teaches that Christ wins the victory in history, before he returns (hence, it is post-millennial). It offers believers the optimistic prospect of earthly victory and historical hope. In fact, postmillennialism is the only evangelical eschatological system that is historically optimistic. Of course, all evangelical systems are optimistic in believing that Christ ultimately wins the victory: premillennialists at his coming when he establishes the earthly millennium; amillennialists at his coming when he ends history by defeating Satan and setting up the eternal order.
When Shall These Things Be?
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
But what I mean by claiming that postmillennialism is the only eschatological system that offers historical hope is: it is the only system offering hope within the continuous, unfolding history in which we presently live. It offers a distinctive hope in three important senses:
First, as systems of gospel proclamation, both amillennialists and premillennialists do not expect a majority influence for the gospel. Whereas postmillennialists believe that the gospel will win the victory in the historical program under which we now live.
Second, as systems of historical understanding, amillennialists and premillennialists expect that history will decline into irresistible chaos and upheaval. Whereas postmillennialists believe that history is moving toward a time of great righteousness and prosperity under the gospel.
Third as systems of evangelistic discipleship, postmillennialists train Christians for wide-scale, cultural, social, and political success in the world.
But now: why do we believe in large-scale historical progress? Obviously in one article I cannot cover the entire biblical argument. In fact, in my 600 page He Shall Have Dominion I even had to cut short the full argument. So I will only briefly highlight why we believe such. I will focus on one Old Testament prophecy, a few verses in Jesus’ teaching, and one important passage in Paul.
(To be continued.)
This is a fine, concise summary/definition of postmillennialism. The Bible verses are especially welcome. I believe that it’s worth repeating and expanding upon, especially by your readers and other thoughtful Christians.
Thank you Dr. Gentry!