Book Review: “The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views”

Posted: August 11, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in Book Reviews, Eschatology

The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views This is a bit dated but each of the contributors’ essays represent well the dispensational pre-mill, historic pre-mill, amill, and post-mill views. There hadn’t been much more to add to these views as they were here represented.

First off, Hoyt’s defense of a dispensational pre-mill view follows the standard dispy hermeneutic. The one strength of this view is that they seemingly have an answer for everything. This is also the weakness of this view…they assert dogmatically that this or that will happen in this or that fashion in a particular order. While they boast in being “literal”, they often dogmatically assert what some ratehr unclear or obscure passages mean. Anyhow, I was not persuaded by Hoyt’s presentation, though I appreciate his zeal and clarity.

George Ladd presented the “historic pre-mill” and he is definitely one of the more esteemed theologians on this issue. I am much indebted to Ladd’s work, especially his NT Theology book and his work on the “Kingdom” of God. He was humble in his presentation and even acknowledged that such a view requires some rather strange assertions about what the millennium would actually look like. Will Christians be resurrected physically in the millennium, only to die again? Will resurrected Christians actually rebel against Christ in the millennium? Will believers be married in the millennium to their former wife or wives? There are definitely a lot of questions and the historic pre-mill folks will usually humbly state that what is unclear should remain unclear. I guess I need more answers. The main reason I’m not convinced of historic pre-mill is that it asserts a period of time with Christ reigning on earth before the judgment and creation of an eternally new heaven and earth…and that this period of time is not spoken of with clarity in Scripture. I am convinced that Jesus taught that His return would be a final judgment on the evil one, a general resurrection of all to life or condemnation, a new heaven and new earth where Christ will reign for eternity.

I also want to be charitable in my disagreement with the historic pre-mill view for it was indeed the view of several prominent ante-Nicene fathers. Polycarp, who is thought to be a disciple of the Apostle John, held what many consider a pre-mill position. That carries some weight, especially considering that he was the disciple of the very man who wrote the book of Revelation.

Okay, onto to the Amill and Post-Mill views. I think that they are so similar in many ways and only differ and how exactly things will consummate when Christ returns. The Post-Mill are very optimistic about the “Christening” of all nations, whereas Amill can vary from being generally more pessimistic or more optimistic. The Amills believe that there will be an ever increasing harvest and hostility and persecution of the Church. It is a view that embraces tension and some level of paradox. Things will get better and worse. Most Post-mills are preterists and believe that the worse of the persecution against the Church has since passed and that things are getting increasingly better. I am a partial-preterist myself, but I still leave open the strong possibility that the consummation will be preceded by a season of persecution led by the beast, false prophet, and anti-Christ. While “anti-Christ” is a spirit that has long been operative and has manifested in various folks throughout the centuries, it may culminate in singular individual who will bear the full identity of this notorious title. I believe that Satan is bound, as been dealt a decisive blow, but is still at work in the earth, albeit on a leash. Time doesn’t permit me to further explain the many nuances of my view, but suffice it to say that I am likely an Amill that is almost as optimistic as the Post-mill, but do believe that persecution of the Church will continue until Christ’s return. While the Church may be very strong, there will always be the spirit of anti-Christ at work among some who will viciously attack the body of Christ.

I appreciate Boettner’s post-mill argument and would actually concur with him in advocating the founding of institutions that would long benefit folks beyond our time. I live in imminence, but also believe that we should be faithful unto the next generation and should build schools, hospitals, translation projects to get the Scriptures into all languages, etc. At the end of the day, I side with most of what Hoekema advances as an “Amill” view, which is better described as a “Realized Millennial” view. It is said by some that the pre-mills are looking forward to the millennium, post-mills are working for the millennium, and that we ammils are enjoying the millennium. I know that this may be rather simplified and not fairly represent those who hold each respective position, but the statement generally applies.

The book can be found for about $2 used plus shipping and it would be a worthwhile introduction into the issue of the millennium for those who have yet to examine the Scriptural basis for each position.

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