1) Definition of the Term “POSTMILLENNIALISM”

The Post-millennialism expression transmits the idea that Jesus Christ will return to Earth after (‘post’) the Millennium.

[1]

 

2) History of Postmillennialism

It should be noted that the Post-millennialism has some similarities to the Amillennialism. In fact, some scholars point out that the technical differences between the two systems occurred only in the 19th century.[2] Therefore, many postmillennialism characteristics can be found in writers of the first centuries of the church. Some scholars, for example, point out that Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo[3] tended to postmillennialism. Some also believe that the first author to be clearly postmillennialist was Joaquim Fiore (1135-1202).

Dr. Paul Enns says that this theology was more popular in the 19th century because of optimism and progress of science, culture and living standards in general. [4] However, its popularity has been reduced after the First and the Second World War.[5] John Macarthur pointed out this historical factor:

” In keeping with the generally optimistic views of those eras, postmillennialism flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The impact of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the rapid pace of scientific discovery, and Darwin’s theory of evolution convinced many that society was progressing inevitably toward a utopia. That optimistic view was in harmony with postmillennialism, which also teaches that the world is going to get better and better (though by different means). But the numbing horror of the First World War, the moral decadence of the Roaring Twenties, the hard times of the Great Depression, the madness of the Nazi’s slaughter of the Jews, and the worldwide catastrophe of the Second World War brought an end to the naive optimism that had prevailed before World War I. Postmillennialism accordingly also declined in popularity. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of postmillennialism in such movements as Liberation Theology, Kingdom Theology, and Theonomy.”[6]

 

3) The nature of the Millennial Kingdom

The millennium is understood as a long period of peace and prosperity resulted by the conversion of most of the world to Christ. The love, health, peace and prosperity will be the norm everywhere and not an exception. [7] Some scholars call this period a golden era for the world and Christianity. [8] After this long period, in which the good will prevail, will take place the return of Christ and the Last Judgment, which will determine the final destination of people. [9]

Loraine Boettner, prominent author of this view, defined the post-milenialism in the following way:

“Postmillennialism is that view of the last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the millennium. It should be added that on postmillennial principles the Second Coming of Christ will be followed immediately by the general resurrection, the general judgment, and the introduction of heaven and hell in their fullness.”[10]

 

4) Duration of the Millennium

Some authors interpret the thousand years symbolically, i.e. that this number means just a long period of time and not a thousand literal years (Stanley Gentry, Lorraine Boettner and David Brown). While others, especially the ancient authors,  see it as a literal thousand-year period (A.A. Hodge and the Puritans).[11]

 

5) Imprisonment of Satan (Rev. 20)

The Satan’s imprisonment is perceived as his loss of influence in the world through the advancement of Christianity (Augustus H. Strong). [12] His release at the end of time, points to a phase in which Satan will have again allowed to exercise their power, to install the latest conflict (Augustus H. Strong). [13] For some authors, this arrest is also understood gradually, i.e., a process that began in the First Coming of Christ (Mt 12.26-29; Heb 2:14; John 12:31; 16:13), or that will start on a future date .

 

6) First Resurrection (Rev. 20)

The first resurrection is defined by postmillennialists exhibitors in different ways. [14]  An older view of Daniel Whitby, Followed by A. A Hodge in the nineteenth century and James Snowden in the early twentieth century (as well A. H. Strong), was that the first resurrection Refers to the revival of the martyr spirit. [15] Rushdoony takes the view of many amillennialists that the first resurrection is a figurative way of Referring to the regeneration of the believer. Benjamin B. Warfield held the view, also found among some amillennialists,  that the first resurrection is the entrance into heavenly glory, and that  these verses present a picture of the souls of the redeemed in heaven.[16]

 

7) Beginning and Ending of the Millennium (Revelation. 20)

For some scholars, the Millennium comprises the entire history of the church[17],, while for others, one can not determine a specific date, because its implementation is or will be a slow and gradual process. For example, Lorraine Botternet says the Millennium occur in a future age. [18]

 

8) Optimistic Vision for the World

Postmillennialists have a very optimistic view for the future of the world. They expect a great moral and spiritual development of society through the acceptance of the Gospel. They also understand that the end will only happen when the gospel has been preached in all nations. Thus, it is believed that most people will be converted to God, a conversion that will reflect in all areas of society, transforming the world. As more and more people submit to God’s will, the world will become a better place to live, where there will be peace, justice, equality and prosperity. Sin and any rejection of the gospel will become an exception. [19]

For example, Paul Enns states some facts appointed by postmillennialists as an improvement of the World:

“In contrast to the pre-Reformation days, the Bible is available in most languages today, with the result that 98 percent of the world’s people have the Bible in their own language. Christian radio and television reach into countless homes with the gospel; Bible institutes, colleges, and seminaries are training more people than ever before […] progress can also be observed in transportation with the advent of the automobile and the airplane. Advances in education and scientific achievements, as well as in health care, can be cited. All this suggests the progress and ultimate triumph of the gospel and the inauguration of the millennium.”[20]

 

9) Theonomy

This movement is recent, starting with Rousas John Rushdoony, who, in 1973, published the book “Institutes for the Law,” whose content was an exposition of the 10 commandments. [21] There are other authors who hold this view recently: Gary North, Gary DeMar, Larry Pratt, Greg Bahnsen.

The Theonomy also receives the name of “Dominion Theology” or “Christian Reconstructionism”. Most theonomists is defined as Calvinists and presuppositionalists. [22]  It is also worth to note that most advocates a preterist view of key biblical prophecies. [23]

The difference between the theonomist and other postmillennialists is the emphasis on return to the OT Civil Law. So the name theonomy that comes from two Greek words “teos” (God) and “nomia” (Law). [24] This movement is also called “Dominion Theology” because it believes that man must take seriously God’s command to rule over creation; this means that all of society, in all areas (social, moral, political, judicial, military, art, education, music etc.), and all creation must be under the dominion of God. Society as a whole needs to be “reconstructed” according the laws of God (Reconstructionist).

Unlike utopian marxist eschatologies (Theology of Hope and Liberation Theology), the Reconstructionist are not revolutionaries, acting through human strength or weapons. They believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the preaching the gospel to the establishment of the Millennium.

The theonomists not necessarily agree on how the Civil Law should be applied. For example, there are authors who advocate the death penalty as a sentence for homosexual acts, adultery, witchcraft and blasphemy, while others do not. For example, Rousas Rushdoony, proponent of this movement, argues in his book “Institutes of Biblical Law” that the Bible civil law must be applied to all societies, in all ages. In this sense, the task of Christians would rebuild a society formed in the light of God’s law, by preaching the gospel and by pressure and persuasion efforts with the government and legislators. “[25]

COREL - VISOES DO MILENIO6

 

 


 

Notes:

[1]Benware, Paul (2006-05-01). Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Kindle Locations 3089-3093).

[2] Horton, Michael S. The Christian Faith (Kindle Locations 24513-24515).

[3] Tanto Sanley Gentry como Lorraine Boattener apontam Agostinho com um autor pós-milenista.

[4] Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology (Kindle Location 8602).

[5] Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology (Kindle Location 8602).

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). Revelation 12–22 (p. 230). Chicago: Moody Press.

[7] Ryrie, Charles. Basic Theology (Kindle Location 8398).

[8] Hitchcock, Mark. The End (p. 406).

[9] Millard Erickson. Opções Contemporâneas na Escatologia. Pg 49

[10] Benware, Paul (2006-05-01). Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Kindle Locations 3101-3106).

[11] Robert Culver. Teologia Sistemática, Bíblica e Histórica. Pg 1501

[12] Augustus H. Strong. Systematic Theology. Pg 1013

[13] Augustus H. Strong. Systematic Theology. Pg 1013

[14]Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, four views : A parallel commentary (Ap 20:4-6). Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers.

[15]Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, four views : A parallel commentary (Ap 20:4-6). Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers.

[16]Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, four views : A parallel commentary (Ap 20:4-6). Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers.

[17] Stanley Gentry. Pós-milesnimo: um resumo. <http://www.monergismo.com/ken-gentry/pos-milenismo-um-resumo/> (acesso 12/01/2015)

[18] Lorraine Boettner. Pós-Milenismo. <http://www.monergismo.com/textos/pos_milenismo/posmilenismo9_boettner.htm> (acesso 13/01/2015)

[19] Timothy Paul Jones. Rose Guide To End-Time Prophecy. Pg 295

[20] Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology (Kindle Location 8633).

[21] Christian Reconstructionism. <https://carm.org/christian-reconstructionism-theonomy> (12/02/2015)

[22] Christian Reconstructionism. <https://carm.org/christian-reconstructionism-theonomy> (12/02/2015)

[23] Dominian Thoelogy. <http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/cor/dominion.htm> (12/02/2015)

[24] Benware, Paul (2006-05-01). Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Kindle Locations 3250-3253).

[25] Solano Portela. Os teonomistas mordem? ou “Reconstrucionismo para leigos” http://tempora-mores.blogspot.com/2008/03/ os-teonomistas-mordem-ou.html

 


Autor: Leonardo Costa