Elements of a Biblical Eschatology, Part 2

In order to establish a framework for this discussion, I will here lay out the three broad categories of Christian eschatology.  Keep in mind that eschatology is a much more encompassing subject than questions about the millennium, but laying these positions out here will help us navigate the subject.

 The three broad categories of Christian eschatology are as follows:

1. Premillennialism.  Broadly speaking, this is the view that there will be an intermediate kingdom on earth ruled over by Jesus Christ prior to the eternal state.  Jesus Christ will return prior to this millennial kingdom, hence the name “premillennialism.”  The resurrection of the dead occurs in (at least) two stages, one at the beginning of the millennium and one at the end.  Most premillennialists have affirmed that the intermediate kingdom is literally a 1,000 year period, though this is not an essential feature of the position.

2. Postmillennialism.  Broadly speaking, this view anticipates a “golden age” of Christianity here on earth prior to the return of Christ.  The “millennium” is not a literal thousand year period but simply an extended period during which the influence of the gospel grows to a position of dominance over the world.  Christ will return at the end of this period, ushering in the eternal state.  Because the return of Christ happens after the “millennial” period, this position is known as “postmillennialism.” 

3. Amillennialism.  Broadly speaking, this view is basically the same as postmillennialism, but without the golden age.  The church will bear witness to Christ until the end of this age, but there will be no worldwide dominance of Christianity.  When Christ returns, he will usher in the eternal state.  The name “amillennialism” is something of a misnomer, since amillennialists do not deny the millennial teaching of Revelation 20 but simply interpret it as a reference to the present age, either in reference to the reign of dead believers in Heaven with Christ or in reference to the church here on earth. 

Postmillennialism and amillennialism both view the return of Christ as the beginning of eternity and therefore deny an intermediate kingdom here on earth.  Premillennialism views the return of Christ as the beginning of an intermediate kingdom, which then gives way to eternity.

 Premillennialism and amillennialism both affirm that the return of Christ could come at any time.  Postmillennialism denies this because, according to this view, Christ cannot return until after the “golden age” of the dominance of Christianity throughout the world. 

Next up: variations within each view.

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6 Responses to “Elements of a Biblical Eschatology, Part 2”

  1. Andrew O'Kelley Says:

    You forgot promillenialism. However God does it, I’m for it.

  2. Craig Says:

    I’m amillennialist. Everything else is just boring, because it seems once everything gets started in those other systems, all you have to do is set your clock and wait for shit to happen. I’d much rather have a story with an element of surprise, then finality. It makes for a better movie.

  3. Craig Says:

    sorry, i just read back over my reply. i should have said “stuff.”

  4. fenderpooh Says:

    Craig,

    I think what you are suggesting is the idea of imminence, followed immediately by climax. I will address these issues in upcoming posts. I am tempted to make some remarks right now, but I want to keep you in suspsense as to what position I hold. After all, that’s what makes for a good story, right?

  5. Jason Says:

    I haven’t read the next post yet. I’m on the edge of my seat.

    Jason

    P.S Credit to both andrew and craig for making me laugh.

  6. Kiwi and an Emu. Says:

    […] Elements of a Bibilical Eschatology, Part 2.  Three broad catagories. […]

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