Jan

09

2013

Sam Storms|10:00 PM CT

Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium

Editor's Note: What doctrine or issue have you changed your mind about? TGC posed that question to several pastors, theologians, and other thinkers in order to gain a better understanding of what leads to shifts along the theological spectrum. Sam Storms launches this new series with an explanation of how he changed his views on the millennium.

Although I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and was regularly exposed to Scripture, I can't recall ever hearing anything about a "millennial" kingdom, much less the variety of theories regarding its meaning and relationship to the second coming of Christ. Like many of my generation, my initial exposure to biblical eschatology was in reading Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth during the summer of 1970.

Not long thereafter I purchased a Scofield Reference Bible and began to devour its notes and underline them more passionately than I did the biblical text on which they commented. No one, as I recall, ever suggested to me there was a view other than that of the dispensational, pretribulational, premillennialism of Scofield. Anyone who dared call it into question was suspected of not believing in biblical inerrancy.

Questioning Premillennialism

Upon graduating from The University of Oklahoma in 1973, I began my studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. My professors were a Who's Who of dispensational premillennialism: John Walvoord (then president of DTS), Charles Ryrie (author of Dispensationalism Today and The Ryrie Study Bible), and J. Dwight Pentecost (author of perhaps the most influential text on the subject at that time, Things to Come), just to mention the more well-known. Anything other than the dispensational premillennial perspective as found in Lewis Sperry Chafer's Systematic Theology and taught in the many DTS classrooms was considered less than evangelical. The only thing I recall hearing about amillennialism, for example, was how dangerous it was given the fact that it was popular among theological liberals who didn't take the Bible very seriously.

Robert Gundry's book The Church and the Tribulation was released in 1973, the same year I began my studies at Dallas, and it fell like a theological atom bomb on the campus. Everyone was reading it, and more than a few were being drawn to its post-tribulational perspective on the timing of the rapture. Debates in the classroom, cafeteria, and elsewhere were abundant and quite heated. Someone obtained a copy of Daniel Fuller's PhD dissertation in which he critiqued the hermeneutics of dispensationalism, and more gasoline was thrown on the fire.

Upon my graduation from Dallas Seminary in 1977 I immediately immersed myself in a study of all aspects and schools of eschatological thought. Over the next few years, the two most influential and persuasive volumes I read were The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism by George Eldon Ladd (himself a historic premillennialist), and Anthony Hoekema's book The Bible and the Future (Hoekema was an amillennialist). It is worth noting here that the distinction between Israel and the church, on which dispensationalism is largely based, could not withstand either Ladd or Hoekema's relentless assault.

My Unpardonable Sin

It wasn't long before Ladd, Hoekema, and Gundry, together with a few others, had persuaded me that there is no basis in Scripture for a pre-tribulational rapture of the church. That was, in the eyes of many, bad enough. Indeed, I distinctly recall the horror (trust me, "horror" is by no means an exaggerated term to describe the reaction I received) in my church when I made it known that I could no longer embrace a pre-tribulation rapture. More than a few were convinced that I was well on my way into theological liberalism! But when in the early 1980s I abandoned premillennialism in all its forms, public reaction was such that you would have sworn I had committed the unpardonable sin. I'm not suggesting that all or even the majority of dispensational premillennialists feel this way today (I hope and pray that few do), but the atmosphere in the 1970s and 1980s was something less than amicable for those who departed from the accepted eschatological faith.

My departure from premillennialism and embrace of amillennialism was gradual and came as a result of two discoveries as I studied Scripture. First, I devoted myself to a thorough examination of what the New Testament said would occur at the time of Christ's second coming (or parousia). What I found was a consistent witness concerning what would either end or begin as a result of our Lord's return to the earth. Sin in the lives of God's people, corruption of the natural creation, and the experience of physical death would terminate upon the appearance of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, and the inauguration of the New Heavens and New Earth would ensue. But why is this a problem for premillennialism? Good question.

Scriptural Challenges for Premillenialists

If you are a premillennialist, whether dispensational or not, there are several things with which you must reckon:

• You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ's second coming.

• You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ's second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

• You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

So what's wrong with believing these things, asks the premillennialist? What's wrong is that these many things that premillennialists must believe (because of the way they interpret Scripture), the NT explicitly denies. In other words, in my study of the second coming of Christ I discovered that, contrary to what premillennialism requires us to believe, death is defeated and swallowed up in victory at the parousia, the natural creation is set free from its bondage to corruption at the parousia, the New Heavens and the New Earth are introduced immediately following the parousia, all opportunity to receive Christ as savior terminates at the parousia, and both the final resurrection and eternal judgment of unbelievers will occur at the time of the parousia. Simply put, the NT portrayals of the second coming of Christ forced me to conclude that a millennial age, subsequent to Christ's return, of the sort proposed by premillennialism was impossible.

The second factor that turned me from premillennialism to amillennialism was a study of Revelation 20, the text cited by all premillennialists in support of their theory. Contrary to what I had been taught and long believed, I came to see Revelation 20 as a strong and immovable support for the amillennial perspective.

My eschatological journey and biblical defense of amillennialism may now be examined in greater detail with the release in May 2013 of my book, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Christian Focus Publications).

Sam Storms is lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

  • http://www.facebook.com/priceofdiscernment David M

    What is your view for those of us who are partial-preterists then? Have we committed the ultimate unpardonable sin? *wink* But in all seriousness, it is good to see people willing to admit that they question and re-evaluate things. God is big enough to handle any of our questions, and we DO have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), along with His fullness and spirit (Col. 2:9-10); it's not as if we are lost without a paddle. I just wish people weren't so willing to switch into heresy-hunting mode without looking at the fact that heresy (at least from what I've seen and studied) was used more in relation to denying an aspect of who Jesus was in light of his humanity and divinity...not whether we have different eschatological views. $.02. Cheers!

    • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

      I've always felt that preterism and amillennialism were the only two feasible options. I too would call myself a partial preterist. The academic scholarship seems to support it the most.

  • http://www.fromcajuntoasian.blogspot.com Adam C

    Thanks Dr. Storms for the post. It's always good to read your writings (especially on Edwards).

    I have to push you a bit here though:
    "Anyone who dared call it into question was suspected of not believing in biblical inerrancy." Isn't that exactly what you did in the "Evening of Eschatology" with John Piper when responding to Jim Hamilton's (historic) premillennial views? You said that you'd have to abandon inerrancy if you were interpret Revelation 20 as premillennial. I appreciate your views, but I think you tend to oversell your case on this one - especially when you make such sweeping claims like saying "the NT explicitly denies" such things. It seems as though you are setting up belief in premillennialism as an unpardonable sin. How ironic!

    (by the way - I'd suggest people go look at that discussion; just do a YouTube search for it)

    • elainebitt

      "Isn't that exactly what you did in the "Evening of Eschatology" with John Piper when responding to Jim Hamilton's (historic) premillennial views? You said that you'd have to abandon inerrancy if you were interpret Revelation 20 as premillennial."

      Well said Adam!

    • http://www.stpaulculturalvillage.com Adam Maarschalk

      If anyone would like to view the "Evening of Eschatology" discussion in its entirety, I have the video embedded in this post:

      http://kloposmasm.com/2009/10/02/john-piper-hosts-an-evening-of-eschatology/

  • http://zackskrip.blogspot.com Zack Skrip

    Dr. Storms, looking froward to seeing your book. Does your position differ from Kim Riddlebarger's in any major ways?

    I too was a dispensational pre-mil in my younger years. One morning, while my wife was still sleeping, I read the eschatology section from Robert Reymond's Systematic. Wow did that change my mind. I had just finished teaching through Ephesians and now all of those passages just came flying back at me in this new context. It was quite the experience.

    I still hold my eschatology lightly, and I don't make it a big deal, but AMil certainly seems like the simplest approach and the one that makes the most sense of the biblical data.

    • Chafer DTS

      Your comments there have to be one serious joke.Doctrinal beliefs do not get formulated by waking up one night from a sleep and reading any book or systematic theology. Stuff like this takes a long period of time through proper biblical exegesis . That seems to be totally lacking in what you say. How about maybe reading Unger's Commentary On The Old Testament or The Mac Arthur New Testament Commentary Series 29 volumes ? Maybe you can learn something from those over a period of time. :)

      • http://zackskrip.blogspot.com Zack Skrip

        Wow. You're kind of a dork (with a smiley face!!) haha.

        OK, no it wasn't a one morning I read something thing. That was the start of a year long project of reading and listening to lectures, etc. All of my spare time was spent researching the different positions (not to mention talking to my pastors, etc). I was talking about the watershed moment where all of my previous exegesis started to make sense in one cohesive whole.

        But thanks for the follow-up!

        • Chafer DTS

          I see you resort to ad hom attack instead of dealing with the substance of what is said. Is this how we are to defend ones beliefs ? Exegesis is normally found in commentaries and not in a systematic theology set. Your comment did say " sleeping one night " .

          • http://zackskrip.blogspot.com Zack Skrip

            You're right, I shouldn't have called you a dork, although I do think you were being a bit uncharitable. Still doesn't give me a right. I'm sorry.

            As to defending what I said... why should I? I've had years and years and years of exegesis classes at the undergrad and graduate level. I understand that doctrine comes from exegesis, but you and I both know that a good systematician... well.... systematizes good exegesis.

            I didn't share something on here to kick the dispy hornets nest. I was just sharing a story and ending it with something that says "this isn't a first issue for me." Does it just kill you to see someone disagree with dispensationalism? You are so far from persuading anyone of the rightness of your beliefs through your attitude. Bro, you gotta win people through charitableness. I mean, if this was someone calling light dark, or dark light, then yeah, pull out the Pauline "Emasculate yourselves!" attitude, but this is about a tangential issue.

            Oh, and I said "One morning while my wife was still sleeping..." I think best in the morning, so I like to get up earlier than her. So glad you made that a major point in your response to me ;-)

            • Robert

              Good response, Zack!

            • James

              Very good response, Zack. Nicely done keeping a polite tone, given Chafer's comments.

              I for one am familiar with the kind of experience you related. It's actually quite a wonderful thing: someone points something out from Scripture that you'd been closing your eyes to, but now that you're seeing it in a different way, a whole lot of Scripture makes so much more sense. Quite thrilling actually!

              A quick plug: my last experience of this was had while reading Promoting the Gospel by John Dickson.

  • Keith Gray

    I think every view "requires us to believe" something, and every view has a different method of Scriptural interpretation. The immediate impression I get by reading the second to last paragraph is that your interpretation of the NT regarding these eschatological matters is the only correct one (which I doubt is truly the case). Just as you noted, premils believe certain things due to the way they interpret Scripture, accordingly, the NT only "explicitly denies" those same things ONLY because others have a different way interpreting those same Scriptures.

  • http://geoffchapman.wordpress.com Geoff Chapman

    Hi Sam, I would describe my convictions as amillenial too and I look forward to your book. The one thing in the amillenial view that I personally don't find totally convincing and also have difficulty convincing others of is that Satan is currently bound. Many people find that hard to swallow when they see the evil that has been in the world for the last 2,000 years. I wonder if you had any comment or could point me in the direction of anyone who has written about it specifically?

    • Johnny C

      Hi Geoff I am not Sam (not by a long shot!!!!) but I am Amill as well and have struggled in the past with explaining the binding of satan. What has helped me understand it more and explain it has been the following::

      1. Revelation 20 makes it clear that the binding is for a specific reason - that the nations will no longer be deceived. It's not an absolute binding but only one for a specific purpose. It is interesting that on the day of Pentecost many nations heard the gospel preached to them. Previously under the old Covenant their access to the good news of the God of Israel was limited. Now that Satan is bound the gospel can go out. Let me illustrate the binding with another concept connected with Satan.

      In Colossians 2:15 we read that Christ has disarmed the dark principalities of this world but in Ephesians 6:16 we read the evil one is armed. Is this a contradiction? No. The disarming in Colossians is very particular - in this case it is disarming Satan from accusatory power unlike Ephesians in which the context is spiritual warfare. Likewise Satan is bound from deceiving the nations but at the same time he is free like a lion seeking to devour the saints. The context helps us see the specificity of the binding.

      John in many ways is repeating what Christ himself said in the gospels. In Matthews 12:29 Jesus says that he was in the process of binding Satan as he went around in public ministry

      Hopefully this helps in some way!

      • elainebitt

        "Previously under the old Covenant their access to the good news of the God of Israel was limited."

        So there should be no one from other nations, in the OT, being saved.

        Right?

        ;)

    • VLADIMIR GOMES FERREIRA

      Mt 12. 24-29

  • http://keepingthemainthing.blogspot.com Chris Land

    I will be looking forward to the book.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    I hope we see the complete demise of dispensationalism in our life-time.

    Besides the books by Ladd Dr. Storms mentions, I'd also recommend Graemme Goldsworthy's books. Dispensationalism falls apart under and accurate understanding of how to interpret the Bible.

    • http://127project.net David Morse

      I have grown up within conservative Fundamentalist Dispensationalism and studied my theology for four years under that grid, but since graduating I have begun to change many of my beliefs about things because I started to realize that a natural reading of the text did not lend itself to such things as two "returns" of Christ, namely a secret rapture and the second coming.

      I have read one of Goldsworthy's books and definitely recommend it.

      I would also say that we should remember that eschatalogical matters do not totally stay confined to issues of last things, but these matters clearly spill into your hermeneutics which I find is by far the most important subject related to your milennial view.

      For what it's worth...

      • Kyle Ruesink

        @David Morse - Well said sir! Spot on.

        . . . . . //I started to realize that a natural reading of the text did not lend itself to such things as two "returns" of Christ, namely a secret rapture and the second coming.//

        Good job here - Jesus Christ of Nazareth vehemently stated that He was coming 'again!' I can't recall reading anywhere in the scriptures where He stated that He was coming again and then once again - just sayin'

        2John 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the **FLESH. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JakeSwink Jake Swink

    This has been something that I have been going through myself. Growing up in an independent fundamentalist baptist church all of this was seen as heresy. Slowly, I have been going closer and closer to amil-ism. I can't wait to start studying much more of this in the upcoming days.

  • Jamie
    • Justin Taylor

      BTW, Schreiner endorsed Storms's forthcoming amill book.

      • http://www.heritageabq.org Shaan

        Justin, has Schriener or Carson published an eschatological perspective? thanks

      • Thom

        I am sure Justin can clarify further, but the couple of times I've heard Carson asked about his position, he's simply stated the strengths of each view, not wishing to have people adopt one position or another just because Carson said so.

        • http://zackskrip.blogspot.com Zack Skrip

          Thom, we'll find out soon. He's scheduled to write a commentary on Revelation... I think it's for Pillar.

          By soon, I mean "soonish-but-not-soon-enough!" No matter his perspective, I'm sure it will be a helpful guide through the book (as are Beale and Osborne).

          • Dan

            DA Carson teaches at TEDS - which is premillennial. Not sure if subscribing fully to the TEDS doctrinal statement is required for faculty... but wouldn't be surprised if it was.

          • Simon

            I have heard Carson talk on the symbolism of Revelations. As Thom said, Carson is good at looking at the different Camp's positions and rationale. He even went so far as to state, that if you were to push him on it, his position was, he didn't know.
            Why this whole topic entertains so many in such consuming ways I do not understand. Why so many people seem to have a vested interest in "their" position being correct bewilders me even more.

            What is truly important?
            To know Christ and to make Christ known.

            I don't say that in a judgmental sense. The topic may be interesting for many. In my mind, perhaps it's akin to the whole evolution/creation debate. Ultimately, it is a secondary issue.
            May His kingdom come and His will be done!

            • Neal Patel

              Dr. Carson is decidedly premillennial, and I have heard him affirm this view in several lectures. However, as with most historic premillennial scholars, his hermeneutical approach to the apocalyptic genre is nearly identical to that of amillennial scholars. They only differ on the exegesis of Revelation 20. The great thing about a movement like TGC is that there is room for both views to work together in solidarity, as it should be.

    • Michael

      I have studied under Schreiner while at seminary (one of my favorite professors I had at Southern). When I arrived at Southern, I heard that he was hist. premil. but when I took him for NT theology, he said he had switched to amil. and now he is back to hist. premil. I would not be surprise if he returns to amil. He seems to go back and forth on this issue.

      Incidentally, I also took him for Greek exegesis of Romans; he would often correct his own commentary saying that he had changed his mind on a certain passage.

  • Chris S.

    Geoff,

    Just one example (I think there are others): Mark 5.1-13 [esp. v 4] in the light of Mark 3.22-27 [esp. v. 27]. Jesus' power over demons/Satan during his earthly ministry is an exhibition of Jesus binding Satan--quite literally in this case. To bind Satan is to put limits on Satan's power to do evil--which still remains great--not to strip Satan of his power to do evil.

    I think we see this tension at work in Revelation 12, which describes Satan's great, yet limited power to do evil in this age (especially towards the church). [Not coincidentally, most(?) amillenialists think Revelation 12 is parallel to Revelation 20 because of the striking similarities between the two passages].

    Perhaps the real difficulty is not that we have a hard time imagining that Satan's power could be limited in a world filled with so much evil. Perhaps the real difficulty is that we seriously underestimate Satan's power and the evil Satan is capable of working.

    Great question. Perhaps a wiser man would offer a different answer.

  • Luke Johnson

    "The second factor that turned me from premillennialism to amillennialism was a study of Revelation 20...I came to see Revelation 20 as a strong and immovable support for the amillennial perspective."

    Could you expound on this? Given the content of the passage, it would be helpful to do more than merely state this.

    Thanks and God bless.

    • Ryan

      On Rev 20; a few points:

      (1) BEFORE the Rev20 millennium, ONLY martyrs and non-beast worshippers are raised ("those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands" 20:4) But, on the contrary, in 1 Cor 15, "the resurrection of the dead...shall ALL be made alive...at his coming those who belong to Christ" (vv 21-23). Paul writes that, at least, every believer is raised at Christ's 2nd coming, not a limited group before the millennium and the rest after.

      --Also on this particular point, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended" (20:5). Again, on the contrary, Paul also elsewhere indicates that ALL believers will be raised at Christ's coming and will forever live with him. ("...the coming of the Lord...the Lord himself will descend from heaven...the dead in Christ will rise first...we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord" 1Thess 4:13-17).

      (2) AFTER the Rev20 millennium, "the nations...[came] for battle...and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them" (20:8-9). But, on the contrary, all the unsaved are destroyed at Christ's coming, not after the millennium ("when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction..." 2Thess 1:7-9)

      (3) AFTER the Rev20 millennium, "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (20:14). But, on the contrary, in 1 Cor 15, Paul says, "then at his coming [all believers are raised]...Then comes the end...The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Cor 15:23-26)---seemingly indicating it happens right after his 2nd coming, not 1,000 years later.

      --Also on this point, Paul seems to indicate that WHEN all believers are raised, THAT is the time that Death is officially done with. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed...[when this happens] then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”" (1 Cor 15:51-55). Not a post-millennial destruction of Death, but rather at Christ's 2nd coming.

      (4) AFTER the millennium, "if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (20:15) whereas, Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations...[the goats] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:31-32, 46). So instead of unbelievers going into the lake of fire at the end of a literal 1,000 years, Jesus seems to be indicating that it happens at his 2nd coming.

      • Luke Johnson

        Hey Ryan, I appreciate your desire to engage Scripture. This is an "in the family" discussion, but it is still important.

        I don't see any reason why the group of people in Rev. 20:4 couldn't include all believers. Believers wouldn't have worshiped the beast or received the mark. All who overcome (true believers) were promised a place of rule over the nations (Rev. 2:26-27) and to sit with Jesus on his throne (3:21). Rev. 5:9-10 also says that those purchased by Christ are made "a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." This seems to be a natural fit with Rev. 20:6, which says that "they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." If this is not an earthly reign, then what kind of reign is it, and how does it fit with the promises of chapters 2, 3, and 5?

        It may also be helpful to think through a principle of the progress of revelation in dealing with prophecy. There are times when the Old Testament predicts events concerning Christ that actually happen many years apart without giving that whole picture. Then later revelation fills in some more of the picture. One example would be the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." A "mystery" in Scripture is something that had not been previously revealed, but is now revealed. Kingdom promises were made in the OT, but later revelation explained the coming of the kingdom to be in stages. This pattern is characteristic of some biblical prophecy. I think it's conceivable that this could be true of 1 Cor. 15 and Rev. 20. There could also be a resurrection taking place at the words "then the end" in verse 24.

        One of the acknowledged difficulties of the premillenial position is how the millenial kingdom will be populated with at least some unbelievers if unbelievers are judged at Christ's coming. One suggestion has been that infants/young children might not yet experience their final judgment. Judgment in Scripture is according to both works and light given (Romans 2). Perhaps these infants/children will be judged later "at the time [they] know enough to refuse evil and choose good" (Isaiah 7:15).

        This, however, is a smaller difficulty compared to those of the amillenial position. If the "first resurrection" of Rev. 20 is not a physical resurrection, then what do you understand it to be? If the two resurrections of verse 5 aren't of the same kind (both physical), then why does John distinguish one as the "first resurrection," implying a later one. Also, how is Satan bound if he's still the God of this world and "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19)? He must not be bound very well. Isn't Satan still deceiving the nations in great wrath during his short time on earth(2 Cor. 4:4, Rev. 12:9, 12)? What does the reign with Christ refer to if it is not the same reign promised earlier in the book, which is a reign that is on earth and over the nations (2:26-27, 5:9-10)?

        God bless and may the Christ who reigns now and forever be your all in all!

  • Terry

    Good article. I was pressed to write a paper regarding my millennial view during my undergrad at Liberty. I was undecided before hand and ultimately my research and examination of scripture swayed me towards Amill. Sam I really wished you would have gone into more detail regarding Rev. 20. I think the best arguments for Amil position come from the passage itself.

  • Timothy Smith

    How do you reconcile the multitude of promises to Israel in the prophets concerning the eternal nature of God's covenant with Israel that will never be broken and keep a normal/literal hermeneutic? See, e.g., Jeremiah 33:14-26; Ezek. 37:15-28. The unfulfilled covenantal promises to Israel/Judah seem to undermine an amillennial view if one keeps a normal/literal hermeneutic. I prefer to believe that we serve a God who keeps His word in all things, including his literal promises to Israel. Revelation and New Testament eschatological passages fit perfectly into such a consistent normal/literal hermeneutic. I have yet to find an amillennial analysis that reasonably addresses the multitude of promises God makes to Israel/Judah in the OT concerning the latter days. The premillennial perspective does that perfectly. Finally, how do you reconcile the fact that John's disciples were premillennial. See the writings of Irenaeus, who describes what Polycarp learned from John. This is described in JETS 31/4 (Dec. 1988), 411-427. If John taught them to be premillennial, why would anyone choose to be be amillennial?

    • http://www.lumberingbrown.com Aaron

      Timothy,

      We amillennialists do believe that God keeps his promises, and that they are fulfilled in way much greater and Christ-centered than what a literalistic interpretation of some of those promises lead to!

      Regarding the early church, see here: http://lumberingbrown.com/2013/01/09/why-the-early-church-finally-rejected-premillennialism-by-charles-e-hill/

      • http://www.bbckalispell.org Charlie Frederico

        Which is another way of saying that a philosophical hermeneutic about these things means more to me than a bibilical hermeneutic. Devotionally, you are glad keeps His promises. However, Israel is not allowed to receive her promise of national salvation. Sounds supra-scriptural to me.

        • MarkO

          Joshua 21:43
          "So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; EVERY ONE was fulfilled."

          God made a promise.
          God kept His promise.
          We continue to have confidence in this promise-keeping God.
          Amen!

          • Greg Long

            Josh. 21:43 is not the be-all, end-all to this conversation, as many promises to national Israel were repeated in the prophetic books, long after Joshua was written.

            • Nathan Lambert

              You're reading "national Israel" into texts which simply state "Israel" as the recipient of the promises.

              Paul is abundantly clear that the people of the promise aren't the physical descendants of Abraham, but only those who are his descendants according to the promise (ie Ishmael and Esau are not inheritors of the promise despite descending from Abraham) [Ro 9.7-8].

              He is also clear that the promises of God never included all of national Israel when he reminds his readers that prophets promised that physical descendants of Israel would not be included in the people of God (only a remnant would remain), and that some Gentiles would (Ro 9.25-29).

              The Bible is very clear that Israel is a spiritual reality which you enter by faith. We are Abraham's descendants according to the promise, we who, like him, have trusted in God trhough faith, and not through birth-right (Ro 4.11-12). We are Israel if we are members of the people of the promise, that is if we walk like Abraham did, counting our circumcision as a sign of our faith (circumcision of the heart), as opposed to counting our right standing with God on the basis of our circumcision and national belonging.

              The promises made to Israel are for the Church, because the Church is the true Israel that God always intended : the descendants of Abraham according to the promise. "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" (Ro 9.6) is very clear : Israel as in "the promise people of God" is not identical with Israel as in "the nation descended from Jacob."

  • http://www.lumberingbrown.com Aaron

    Thank you Dr. Storms - those were the same challenges which pushed me out of dispensational premillennialism, coupled with the doctrines of election and atonement against the dispensationalist's division of the church. Lastly, but importantly (and this came to bear during bible college), the challenge of dispensationalism's history. To me, dispensationalism seems to be a largely modernist and American phenomenon judging by its literalist hermeneutic.

    I too came to embrace Amillennialism; not without the help of a variety of writers and scholars, and conversations with brothers who hold to a variety of positions. I believe, however, and am encouraged by, the three primary and historically valid views of eschatology (historic premillennialism, amillennialism and postmillennialism) can exist inside the ministry and mission of the Gospel Coalition.

  • David Burkhardt

    Started changing my views in early 1993 reading John Gerstner's "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth"!

    Progression of Dispensationalism: Catholic priest's Parousia-- Irvingites- JN Darby--- Scofield-- DTS........

  • Kandace

    I have held your current believe for 20 years with no clue as to why. Except when i read scripture it made more sense in the big picture. Can' t wait to read your book!

  • Mel

    Every one of these so called points of view has to ignore some part of scripture in order to make it work.
    Why anyone would throw their hat on something so flawed is beyond my comprehension. It blinds you from seeing anything that God might reveal just like the Jews that missed Jesus came as a lamb to be sacrificed and not the mighty warrior that they wanted. All the points of view look like pride to me.

    • http://minookabible.org David Jankowski

      I agree. There's a reason why prophecy is ambiguous. I assume that it's because God values faith so much. If God didn't mean prophecy to be ambiguous, all the brilliant theologians would be able to come to one common view with no difficulty. I find it interesting that the Israelis missed Jesus' first coming, though it seems so obvious to us now. Most, if not all of us, will be surprised WHEN Jesus returns. I hang my eternal destiny on the fact that Jesus WILL return. I appreciate the various admonitions to learned men to hold their views loosely.

  • http://www.calvingoestogotham.tumblr.com Ruben Cardenas

    Fabulous! I can hardly wait for the book, Dr. Storms. And by the way, it was mainly from the 'Evening of Eschatology' roundtable discussion you were a part of at the 2009 Desiring God Conference, where you really put a pebble in my shoe and got me rethinking things. I have since then come to embrace the Amil position but truly delight in it as it does the most justice to the Gospel itself. Post Tenebras Lux!

  • Matt Guerino

    Raised a (largely dispensational) premil-ist myself, who has gradually warmed more and more to the a-mil point of view.

    2 comments. Regarding Satan being bound when the's so much evil in the world, this strikes me as one of the weakest arguments against amillenialism. To think that horrors like the Newtown massacre are still an outlier; that such things could happen every day, but they tend to not do so, is amazing to me. Almost anyone at almost any time can wreak massive destruction to almost anyone around them, yet billions of the world's citizens go through their typical day without doing so. I am almost physically sick at times at how much evil takes place in the world, but I personally have no trouble at all seeing it as merely a taste of what could be were God's Satan-binding influence removed completely from the earth. Every rape, murder, etc. is a taste of how truly evil every moment could be for every human being.

    Regarding Mel's charge of arrogance, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I don't see it as automatically arrogant to search out the scriptures and come to a conclusion as to what they're teaching. I see it as obedience to God. Of course many times we do become arrogant because sin affects every aspect of life - even Bible study. But that's not the fault of Bible study, it's the fault of sin.

  • http://www.bbckalispell.org Charlie Frederico

    If a person wants to believe that we are in some kind of Millennial reign of Jesus Christ, you will need to answer some questions: 1) where are the thrones? Who is sitting upon them? 2) Is Satan real, or imagined as a force as well? 3)To whom was judgment given (20:4)? 4) What else does "thousand" mean? 5) what about the coordinating conjunction designating sequence at the beginning of verses 1,2,3,etc..? 6)When Jesus sits upon His throne, the twelve will sit upon their individual thrones as well (Mt. 19:28) judging the twelve tribes of Israel. How does that square with the New Heavens and Earth? Are these actual twelve tribes, or figurative? If figurative, what else is figurative?
    Mr. Storms, I appreciate your willingness to announce your abandonment of biblical doctrine, but please give exegetical evidence. Please see my blog for more on the unbiblical nature of Covenantal Theology as a whole:
    http://proclaiminghisexcellencies.com/.

    • MarkO

      "abandonment of biblical doctrine"
      What?
      I am going to assume you are a brother in Christ and thus as brothers in Christ shouldn't we show the grace and kindness of Christ to each other even when we disagree on matters of interpretation?

      Eph 4:32 "and be kind one to another"

      Brother Sam has not abandoned the Bible. He has abandoned a system of interpretation, but not the Bible itself.

      To suggest so of him is to be unkind.

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  • http://www.craighurst.wordpress.com Craig Hurst

    Perhaps I may be showing some ignorance here but I would add to the list of "must necessarily believe" arguments, that you must necessarily believe in two 2nd coming's of Christ. I don't think most pre-tribers realize the seriousness of this reality. They must by necessity split apart all of the 2nd coming passages as referring to two separate events.

    This was perhaps the watershed issue for me when I went from pre-trib premill to historic premill. I do however have many sympathies towards ammil theology as it is much simpler. I just can't as of yet see the 1,000 yrs. as anything other than what it says - 1,000 years.

    • Brandon

      Hi Craig, I might offer something to your question. The rapture is not to be understood as a 2nd coming or a "coming" at all of Christ. It is a rapture or "being caught up" of the saints. Jesus does not physically return at this event. He calls us out and we leave, similar to Enoch's experience in Gen. 5:24. That's my understanding of this event anyway.

      • http://www.craighurst.wordpress.com Craig Hurst

        Brandon, that may be so but at minimum pre-tribers have to somehow show that some of the verses that should be taken of as referring to the 2nd coning are referring to the Rapture (like 1 Thess. 4). On that point I see no justification for doing so.

        • http://lifeandbuilding.com kyle

          Hi Craig,

          If you see two raptures (overcomers and those "left remaining") then 1 Thes 4 is talking about the second coming of Christ and there is no issue. But yes, the parousia of Christ would last 3.5 yr during the great tribulation. But this doesn't amount to splitting Christ 2nd coming into two manifest 2nd comings, in that sense.

          • http://www.craighurst.wordpress.com Craig Hurst

            Kyle, what I have seen pre-tribers do is split 1 Thess. 4 and 5 up. 4 is about the rapture and 5 is about the 2nd coming. I see no exegetical ground for the break in 5:1.

            The so called absence of the church after Rev. 3 as an indicator that the Rapture takes place there is a grouse exaggeration of the argument from silence. Rev. was written to 7 churches and everything after 3 was written to them as much as their individual messages in 2 & 3.

            Also, upon reading the passages in the Gospels, 1 Thess. and a few in Rev. together, I have come to the conclusion that they all fit together. Schnabel's book 40 Questions About the End Times is a good intro to reading them harmoniously. Hamilton's commentary on Revelation is good as well for another basic intro.

    • Ryan

      See my 4 points just a few comments below (by "Ryan"). I'm taking a stab at it. I've never written on amill or eschatology before.

  • http://geoffchapman.wordpress.com Geoff Chapman

    Thanks Johnny, Chris and Matt for engaging. Your responses were really helpful.

  • http://j.hn/ John Dyer

    I'm really looking forward to your book, Dr. Storms.

    As a recent graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, I'm happy to say that I didn't experience the kinds of attitudes you saw in the 1970s. It's embarrassing to know that in the previous generation it was common and acceptable to group people into evangelical or not based on their eschatological views, but I'm heartened to see that this has largely been abandoned across evangelicalism, and The Gospel Coalition's broad acceptance is a great example of this.

    In my classes, DTS professors still taught dispensationalism as a helpful way of understanding the continuity and discontinuity in the story of God as it unfolds in the canon of Scripture, but I can't count the number of times a professor said something like, "If your eschatological view doesn't give you hope, increase your faith, and encourage you in love, it's wrong." or "If eschatology for you is about pretty charts and proving other wrong, your view is subchristian." Really, it was almost to the point being annoying, but it made a deep impact on me and my faith.

    My hope is that your book helps people better understand the story of God and, whatever conclusions they come to about the order and particulars of the end, that it strengthens their faith and deepens their hope.

    • Sawyer Nyquist

      As a current DTS student I would like reiterate what John has said about the current state of DTS. While in the past dispensationalism might have been held as a plumb line for conservative evangelicalism at DTS that perspective has changed. While ever professor is still dispensational, they understand and teach that conservative evangelicalism does not revolve around this point.

      I hope no one reads this article and gains a negative perception of DTS. Its not blind indoctrination, but wrestling with the texts and issues that are raised. Every school and professor teaches what they are convinced of. Surely no one can fault them for that.

      • MarkO

        DTS in their Doctrinal Statement still affirming disturbing views concerning Christ and salvation by in Himself alone (not other ways):

        quoting from their Article V
        "We believe that it has always been true that “without faith it is impossible to please” God (Heb. 11:6), and that the principle of faith was prevalent in the lives of all the Old Testament saints. However, we believe that it was historically impossible that they should have had as the conscious object of their faith the incarnate, crucified Son, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and that it is evident that they did not comprehend as we do that the sacrifices depicted the person and work of Christ. We believe also that they did not understand the redemptive significance of the prophecies or types concerning the sufferings of Christ (1 Pet. 1:10–12); therefore, we believe that their faith toward God was manifested in other ways..."

        redemptive significance...other ways?

        WOW!

        • ChaferDTS

          Next time cite it in full otherwise you are leaving a false impression.

          Article V—The Dispensations

          We believe that the dispensations are stewardships by which God administers His purpose on the earth through man under varying responsibilities. We believe that the changes in the dispensational dealings of God with man depend on changed conditions or situations in which man is successively found with relation to God, and that these changes are the result of the failures of man and the judgments of God. We believe that different administrative responsibilities of this character are manifest in the biblical record, that they span the entire history of mankind, and that each ends in the failure of man under the respective test and in an ensuing judgment from God. We believe that three of these dispensations or rules of life are the subject of extended revelation in the Scriptures, viz., the dispensation of the Mosaic Law, the present dispensation of grace, and the future dispensation of the millennial kingdom. We believe that these are distinct and are not to be intermingled or confused, as they are chronologically successive.

          We believe that the dispensations are not ways of salvation nor different methods of administering the so-called Covenant of Grace. They are not in themselves dependent on covenant relationships but are ways of life and responsibility to God which test the submission of man to His revealed will during a particular time. We believe that if man does trust in his own efforts to gain the favor of God or salvation under any dispensational test, because of inherent sin his failure to satisfy fully the just requirements of God is inevitable and his condemnation sure.

          We believe that according to the “eternal purpose” of God ( Eph. 3:11 ) salvation in the divine reckoning is always “by grace through faith,” and rests upon the basis of the shed blood of Christ. We believe that God has always been gracious, regardless of the ruling dispensation, but that man has not at all times been under an administration or stewardship of grace as is true in the present dispensation ( 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 3:2; 3:9, asv; Col. 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:4, asv ) .

          We believe that it has always been true that “without faith it is impossible to please” God ( Heb. 11:6 ), and that the principle of faith was prevalent in the lives of all the Old Testament saints. However, we believe that it was historically impossible that they should have had as the conscious object of their faith the incarnate, crucified Son, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and that it is evident that they did not comprehend as we do that the sacrifices depicted the person and work of Christ. We believe also that they did not understand the redemptive significance of the prophecies or types concerning the sufferings of Christ ( 1 Pet. 1:10–12 ) ; therefore, we believe that their faith toward God was manifested in other ways as is shown by the long record in Hebrews 11:1–40. We believe further that their faith thus manifested was counted unto them for righteousness ( cf. Rom. 4:3 with Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:5–8; Heb. 11:7 ) .

    • Walt Barrett

      As a 1973 graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (the spring before Sam Storms apparently began his studies there) I experienced next to nothing of the attitude on campus or among the faculty that Dr. Storms refers to. I am surprised to hear that "anything other than the dispensational premillennial perspective as found in Lewis Sperry Chafer's Systematic Theology and taught in the many DTS classrooms was considered less than evangelical." That simply does not accord with my experience there in the early '70s. In fact, my experience was very similar to what John Dryer here describes about Dallas Seminary in recent days. While I respect Storms' opinion, he paints with a very broad brush that simply does not reflect my experience at DTS in those days.

      Unfortunately Storms paints with the same broad brush with his opinion that "there is no basis in Scripture for a pre-tribulational rapture of the church." Really? No basis? That seems like a rather audacious, if not arrogant, statement, Dr. Storms.

      For the last 40 years it has been my privilege to live, minister and teach in a number of very theologically diverse, yet evangelical, contexts in both the US and abroad. Although it is not easy, I have found it be possible - not to mention theologically enriching and spiritually beneficial - to hold strong convictions and enter into lively debate, but to do it with a significant measure of humility and grace.

      Is it possible that the same kind of inability to listen to, understand, respect, fairly represent and graciously interact with differing points of view (and their proponents) that is poisoning political discourse in America may be poisoning our theological discourse as well?

  • Kedric

    It's strange to think that amillennialism would be something popular among theological liberals. That's not something I've seen liberals past or present even discuss. Plus, it's as though during Storms' time at DTS, this amill seminary called Westminster was ignored. A seminary that could hardly be called liberal. Were the views of John Murray, Cornelius Van Til, Richard Gaffin, Ned Stonehouse, O. Palmer Robertson, Oswald Allis, et al not even presented as an alternative?

  • http://www.aplaceofhealing.info Walter Thompson MD

    Right On Sam. I have never understood how anyone could see it any other way.

    God bless.

  • Ryan

    A few points supporting Sam's Rev20 amill interpretation:

    (1) BEFORE the Rev20 millennium, ONLY martyrs and non-beast worshippers are raised ("those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands" 20:4) But, on the contrary, in 1 Cor 15, "the resurrection of the dead...shall ALL be made alive...at his coming those who belong to Christ" (vv 21-23). Paul writes that, at least, every believer is raised at Christ's 2nd coming, not a limited group before the millennium and the rest after.

    --Also on this particular point, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended" (20:5). Again, on the contrary, Paul also elsewhere indicates that ALL believers will be raised at Christ's coming and will forever live with him. ("...the coming of the Lord...the Lord himself will descend from heaven...the dead in Christ will rise first...we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord" 1Thess 4:13-17).

    (2) AFTER the Rev20 millennium, "the nations...[came] for battle...and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them" (20:8-9). But, on the contrary, all the unsaved are destroyed at Christ's coming, not after the millennium ("when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction..." 2Thess 1:7-9)

    (3) AFTER the Rev20 millennium, "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (20:14). But, on the contrary, in 1 Cor 15, Paul says, "then at his coming [all believers are raised]...Then comes the end...The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Cor 15:23-26)---seemingly indicating it happens right after his 2nd coming, not 1,000 years later.

    --Also on this point, Paul seems to indicate that WHEN all believers are raised, THAT is the time that Death is officially done with. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed...[when this happens] then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”" (1 Cor 15:51-55). Not a post-millennial destruction of Death, but rather at Christ's 2nd coming.

    (4) AFTER the millennium, "if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (20:15) whereas, Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations...[the goats] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Mt 25:31-32, 46). So instead of unbelievers going into the lake of fire at the end of a literal 1,000 years, Jesus seems to be indicating that it happens at his 2nd coming.

    This is the most difficult topic for me (been so for years). I hope I've not merely pointed out difficulties and negated something that was true. I would certainly be interested in feedback and knowing whether or not I've understood scripture correctly.
    Thank you!

    • http://www.bbckalispell.org Charlie Frederico

      Hi Ryan. I would really recommend you read my blog: http://proclaiminghisexcellencies.com/ for the biblical foundation for understanding the correct teaching on the items you mention. I am glad you are looking to Scripture for the answers.

  • http://www.corner-stone.ca David J Jones

    Thank you Sam for your very encouraging article. I grew up in a premillenial Pentecostal church in the UK but discovered the view that you propose during the 1980's, through my own study and dialogue with some other Christian leaders. From my studies I have concluded that the number 1,000 stands for the Kingdom. I prefer to describe my position as being "The Kingdom, Now but Not Yet",as it fleshes out amillenialism.

  • Mike

    Ah, what an article. And it resounds with SO MANY who hold the amillenial position today, including myself.
    I grew up in a church where my eschatology was influenced more by Left Behind than by the Bible.
    I went to Moody Bible Institute, where they are dispensational, and even took their Daniel and Revelation class to learn the position better.
    Upon looking at other positions and their explanations (Hoekema and Riddlebarger especially), I sided more with amillenialism.
    And then I was called a heretic by several influencial people in my church and had to leave.

    Sad. The most irrationally angry and fearful people I have come across when it comes to eschatalogical matters are dispensationalists. And I have seen little else in other studies or instances in history.

    • elainebitt

      It is somewhat puzzling to me that people insist on claiming that "the other side" throws ad hominens right and left. "Only" the other side.

      This part of your not-very-helpful comment is a perfect example of what I am talking about (I am "the other side"):
      "The most irrationally angry and fearful people I have come across when it comes to eschatalogical matters are dispensationalists."

      Sir, perhaps you have met some less gracious Christians, but I can assure you graceless is not bound by any theological view, as we can clearly see by your own comment.

      Grace and peace to you.

    • Chafer DTS

      Are the " Left Behind " books really systematic theological treatment of dispensational premillennialism ? Seems you are unaware of any serious dispensational systematic theological works or actual theological treatments of dispensational premillennalism. I cant take what you say in a serious manner based on what you say.

      • Mike

        Chafer DTS, I never said Left Behind is a "systematic theological treatment of dispensational premillenialism". I simply said that it bore a greater influence than the Bible on shaping my eschatalogical views as I grew up in what many would call an average American church.
        And again, I went to MBI. Thoroughly dispensational. In my studies I went through several serious dispensational systematic theological works (most closely those by Walvoord and Benware).

        • Chafer DTS

          You did mention " Left Behind " as if that was all you knew about dispensational theology. There is a big difference between the dispensational writings of Dr. John Walvoord and the so called " Left Behind " books. You left out any indepth dispensational theological works and mentioned only Left Behind. So you are taking back what you said ?

          • MarkO

            for what it's worth

            Hal Lindsey got a degree at Dallas Theological Seminary (started 1958)

            While at DTS Hal Lindsey studied under Dr. John Walvoord.

            • MarkO

              also worth noting is that Tim LaHaye started the Pretrib Research Center which is directed by Tom Ice, also a graduate of DTS.

          • Tommy

            Woah there chief. All I'm seeing from your posts is you looking for a crack to strike at. Be charitable in your responses.

            He said his church was more influenced by Left Behind, not himself, Broseph. He even said that he took classes at Moody on the subject. I'm assuming they used material beyond Tim LaHaye. Or maybe you have a very low view of the school, and think they don't offer adequate reading resources on the subject.

    • Brent

      Mike, the responses to your comment prove exactly what you shared. You shared your experience and told you are wrong. Hmm. As a Moody grad, I took the same classes as you. I grew up in a disp. pretrib. premill. church. Heck, my favorite song as a kid was Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready". Actually, my problems with disp. premill. started in the Moody courses. I started seeing problems with it all fitting Scripture as a whole. My biggest question was how after 1000 years of Christ's reign the majority of people would revolt at the end. I decided to keep studying and it has led me to see the amill. position as the best fit with all of Scripture.

      • maia

        Brent,

        I find it interesting that your biggest question, ". . .how after 1000 years of Christ's reign the majority of people would revolt at the end." is my biggest reason for believing in a literal thousand years. I think that the fact that people could live in Christ's presence and still deny Him shows the depth of our sinfulness -- by ourselves, without Satan's help (b/c I believe he will be bound during this time). Still, you mentioning this question as support for the opposite view gives me pause. I'm glad I read your comment!

        • Chris Bruynzeel

          Just a quick comment on: ". . .how after 1000 years of Christ's reign the majority of people would revolt at the end." is my biggest reason for believing in a literal thousand years. I think that the fact that people could live in Christ's presence and still deny Him shows the depth of our sinfulness

          Exactly...Man is in desperate need of help--always has been, always (this side of Great White Throne/eternity) will!
          -->Adam & Eve, in the presence of God daily, chose to disobey. --->Abraham, after talking to God, still lied about his wife in fear.
          -->Israel, after the incredible power of God on display in the plagues/Passover/red sea, still grumbled, complained, revolted
          -->The disciples, after 3yrs with the Savior & Lord, still ran & abandoned Him.
          -->The Millennium--will serve to display Christ's glory, and, man's bent towards independence from God.

          At the final battle at the end of the Millennium, not all will follow Satan, but many of those born during the Mill will...only highlighting why we/manking need God to intervene, start over/re-creation of heaven's & earth, doing away with all sin & Satan & death.

          Just thought I throw that in--fits with the storyline of Scripture: we've always needed God's help because we are so prone to choose independence from Him--no matter how perfect the environment is (from the Garden to the Millennium)...we need God to step in & redeem.

          Loving this discussion & give-n-take
          Can't wait til we get all our questions answered from Him!!!
          blessings--Chris

  • Chafer DTS

    Reading the comments from Amillennialist here make me wonder what form of amillennialism that they believe to be the true bibical form of it? Considering the number of variations of it that differ from one another. The common feature in all forms of amillennialism is their rejection of the premillennial position. After reading Dr. B.B. Warfield's ( his views combines Amillennialism and Postmillennialism ) treatment of Amillennialism in his article called The Millennium And The Apoclypse in The Works Of Benjamin B. Warfield II Biblical Doctrine itself provided the necessary reasons for rejecting amillennialism for me. It was a very bad treatment of Revelation 20 in my opinion. To be fair I thought that Dr. Anthony Hoekema's treatment of Revelation 20 was by far the worst I have seen. But in the end it was Dr. William Hendriksen's commentary on the book of Revelation which showed me first hand directly that it can not be firmly established by any means of exegesis though he tried to in Revelation but failed in it.The most unusual thing at least for me is that John Calvin never wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation at all and oddly left out an exposition of Ezek 40 to 48 in his exposition of that book. Though in Institutes Of the Christian Religion he is outspoken againist premillennialism and seemed unaware of what it taught fully. Dr. Charles Hodge's postmillennialism treatment in Dr. Charles Hodge Systematic Theology 3 Volumes did not do well at all either as a whole. The writings of Dr. Loraine Boettner did even worse defending Postmillennialism. Dr. George Ladd's writings showed me at how unstable his claimed " historical premillennialism " really was in his writings. I do have to giggle at him calling his position Historical Premillennialism when he ignores much of the Old Testament for the belief in the Millennial Kingdom that is found. His arguments for premillennialism are very different from that of Justin Martyr who appealed to OT passages. One cant forget that Dr. George Ladd essentially ignores or downplays the historical premillennial work The Theocratic Kingdom By George N.H Peters. That was because it contradicted Dr. Ladd's own concept of the millennial kingdom. Yet never answers it. Contrary to claims being made by some, the late Dr. John Walvoord did fully answer George Ladd's writings in his review of Ladd's books. I believe the book The Millennial Kingdom by Dr. John Walvoord is a great treatment of the premillenial perspective. :) Dr. Walvoord in it interacts with Amillennialism and Postmillennialism and so called Historical Premillennialism. I would say that Dr. Walvoord's commentaries on the book of Daniel and Revelation are a great read for the premillennial position. :) Godly men are found on all sides of the issue. This should never be grounds for schism but rather for an intresting in house debate on eschatology.

    • mark273

      Chafer DTS, you sound really angry in your writing style and I don't think you are achieving what you think you are. Your angry tone is making it difficult to get to our arguments.

      • ChaferDTS

        There is no angry tone in my comments. I simply pointed out facts based on my whole study of all end time beliefs. No one can point out any fault in my comments there. Even you. You only stated a claim without specifics. :( But then again nothing of substance can be said in rebuttle to my comment.

  • Jason

    I changed my mind on predestination and salvation. I was an arminenian, but then I heard Mark Driscoll's sermon during the Religion saves series. I couldn't fight the fact that any other view than Calvinism made us co-authors of our own salvation and therefore made salvation not by grace alone.

    I think we always need to have a measure of wisdom and humility when we're challenged on views we hold.

    • Chafer DTS

      Arminianism is unbiblical as far as I am concerned. My beliefs on the doctrine of election and predestination came from my own study of Scripture exegetically on all the verses that were involved. Which is why I am classified as being Calvinistic rather than Arminian on my soteriology.

    • http://www.dailyspiritualreality.wordpress.com Brenan D

      My dad told me to study Romans 9, then my "arminianism" was demolished.

      • Josh

        But some would say Romans 9 isn't talking about individual election. But we don't have to turn this into that discussion.

  • http://www.corner-stone.ca David J Jones

    Further to my previous comment and the last comments on Calvinism and Arminianism, I also was brought up under Arminian and even Pelagian teaching. It became clear to me, early on, that the security of salvation was the Biblical position. I find it troublesome that Calvin has become the benchmark for the understanding of the security of salvation. Much of the Church understood this for some 1,500 years before he arrived on the scene. Considering his record on persecution and his sacramentalism, he is a dubious candidate.

  • http://www.fromcajuntoasian.blogspot.com Adam C

    Besides the plain, natural interpretation of Revelation 20, one of the things that pushed me towards premillennialism (and away from amil) was the study of early church history. Seeing what Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Papias, and Irenaus had to say about the timing of the millennium was influential to me. I found that it really wasn't until the rise of the Alexandrian school (against the Antiochene school) of interpretation which stressed an allegorical meaning of the text (often at the expense of the grammatical-historical meaning) did people move towards amillennialism. The amil view didn't get up and going until the 5th century under Augustine's leadership. Hence the reason they call it HISTORIC premillennialism (it's not just the timing of the return in relationship to the tribulation).

    p.s. - I really don't like the "I-used-to-be-X-before, but-God-saved-me-out-of-X-when-I-REALLY-started-to-read-and-study-the-Bible" Com'n! That's such a goofy thing to say. I could say that about anything. Tell your story, that's fine, but let's abandon such arguments that appeal to fleeting emotions and get down to substantial logic!

  • Steve in Birmingham, Al

    Fascinating topic and discussion. I believe each of the major eschatological views have strengths and weaknesses as they seek to integrate biblical teaching. One question about Amillennialism I'm curious about: did the NT Christians believe that Christ could possibly come back in their lifetime? If that was even a possibility to them, how could the time frame from the ascension of Christ to his second coming be understood even metaphorically as a "thousand years" (per Rev. 20). While we could say it is symbolic rather than literal, it does seem like a stretch to say a thousand years refers to a few decades. If the early church believed Jesus could come back soon but also that the present time was a kind of "millennial reign" that would seem to be very confusing. In fact, most of the early church does seem embrace a kind of Premillennial understanding as far as we can tell. The NT does seem to have a rather persistent sense of expectation that Jesus could (but not that he must) return soon. The early church seemed to have a sense of expectancy that the end time events were near. This seems hard to reconcile with a view that it would be a "thousand years" before Christ's return (even if we don't take that in a literal fashion). Were they mistaken in believing the second coming could be near? Or how should we interpret the many references to possible impending nature of the parousia?

  • a.k.

    Sam, may I suggest you give all the profits on your new book to the DTS! Seems you are propagating a controversy so that you can profit from the gospel. I'm so weary of theologians selling their wares with their newly embraced interpretations of the scriptures. You disappoint me...and I'm done buying books...

    • http://thenface2face.wordpress.com Karen Butler

      "Seems you are propagating a controversy so that you can profit from the gospel."

      I am so weary of commenters on blogs controversially judging the motives of a writer's heart.

      You disappoint me...and I am done reading any of your further comments.

  • http://fierylogic.wordpress.com Douglas K. Adu-Boahen

    I'm 22, nowhere a scholar and would describe myself as a self-confessing theological wannabe-nerd. What I would simply like to know is since TGC decided to allow this piece airtime, will it allow spokepersons for both historical premillenialism and dispensationalism to respond? Further, in clarification to some of the comments in this thread, is there room for dispensational premilleniallism in the grand scheme of the (otherwise) wonderful work TGC does?

  • Jory
  • Ron Martin

    The premise of this article was "What doctrines have you changed you mind about?" As if changing your mind = maturity somehow (and granted, it might!) And as always, trends (and battles) about eschatology rise to the top quickly. While I respect the author's shift from pre-mil to a-mil, I was saddened to see the discussion quickly fall into the typical camps of "I believe it and you should too and those don't aren't enlightened"

    I wish the question had been "Why did you change?" Was it from pure exegesis and a high respect for the authority of scripture? Was it to honor my thoughts of who God is and how he works in our world and in our churches? Was it to make my love for those who agree, and those who disagree, increase so that I can serve with them in the advancement of the Gospel?

    If the answer of why I change my mind is yes to the above questions then my change serves the body and together we can challenge the world with the Gospel and transform culture for God's glory. If not, well then it's simply academic and prideful... no thanks.

    The debate of eschatology (notice I'm not even listing mine) has been running since the earliest days of the church, it will not be solved here. But my belief that Jesus will come back, judgement will take place, a new heaven and new earth will come and the Lord himself will wipe away the tears is my hope, my motive, and my strength.

    I mean no judgment of those commenting previously, I've enjoyed the ideas, thoughts and criticisms. I do come back to my basic point however: Why would we change our mind about doctrine if not to honor God, his word, his church... and our mission?

    Grace to all.

    • matt

      "But my belief that Jesus will come back, judgement will take place, a new heaven and new earth will come and the Lord himself will wipe away the tears is my hope, my motive, and my strength. "

      Thank you, its the running joke between my dad, a pastor (a premill) and the head of his elder board (an amill) that they will see each other at the time that they believe Christ's second coming is 'coming'. :-) Holding opposing viewpoints, but holding firm to Christ-like love and charity, plus occasionally being mature enough to endure a little friendly poking. This is what we should strive for, rather than to drag everyone we see kicking and screaming under our eschatological tent.

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  • Nathanael Snow

    Why do you suppose Scoffield caught on?
    His perspective really took off in Great Britain around the time of Wilberforce. There were huge opportunities to benefit from offering a theological innovation which provided greater impetus to political activism. Premillennialism is justification for state actions which are based on a teleology that makes white hats and black hats out of what are really a more nuanced set of actors. Scoffield made it easier to be politically expressive on issues without having to back up convictions with personal sacrifice. These motivations remain powerful incentives behind the persistence of premillennialism.

    • MarkO

      Dualism - an idea that in various forms perpetuates the notion of a strict moral divide between the spiritual and the physical.

      It is much easier to believe in an eschatology in which we can touch and see and feel reality - for example, a revived Temple with blood sacrifices in the Millennium.

  • Amanda Cross

    What an interesting piece. I am not a formally educated seminary student so my thoughts may be ignorant to some, but I still wanted to chime in. My thought is God will bring about the second coming when and how He wants and we will probably all be a bit baffled. In the years that I have walked with Him in faith, He hasn't always done things the way I thought He would. God has given us His Word and has given us a glimpse, but I don't believe He has shared every detail about how it will ensue. I have been taught that Jesus will rapture the church and then the tribulation will come. I have often wondered what if He didn't rapture the church first? What if He let us stay here during the tribulation? I have often been reminded of the passages from Exodus that speak of the plagues, Israel, and Egypt. If the Lord kept His people Israel and protected those who believed and were obedient, will He not also keep and protect those who have been bought with the blood of His Son? It seems like I've heard somewhere that history repeats itself and I've often seen many similarities in things that happened in the OT with what Christ has done in the NT. So we should not be concerned with all the details. Rather, we should be concerned with what He has commissioned us to do...be witnesses for Him and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

  • http://incaseoflife.wordpress.com Nick Kersten

    I appreciate the systematic approach taken here, but it may be that some of the best arguments against traditional dispensationalism/premill views may come from the history of that system itself. It is not well attested before the Niagara Bible Conferences of the late 19th century, and as a late-comer explanation, must account for its late arrival.

  • Amanda Cross

    I also wanted to add one more quick comment. Before Christ's first coming, we had hundreds of rabbis, priests, diviners, and kings trying to figure out when the Messiah would come. It seems like they didn't get it right though they studied the scriptures thoroughly and were in my opinion more highly trained than most people living today. We had a wicked king Herod who had male babies 2 years old and under killed. We have Jewish people today who still believe the Messiah hasn't come yet. My point is that even with all this wisdom and study, they still missed Him. They still crucified Him and today they still reject Him. The Bible records in Hebrews that many died in faith not having received the promises, but they greeted them far off. They expected a Redeemer. They didn't understand just how it would take place, but they believed. We should not be so inclined to think we will attain some measure of great understanding about this if they did not. I think God just wants our belief that He will keep His promises to us. What are His promises? He will come again, He will raise us who have believed in His name from the dead, and He will right all wrongs.

  • Scott C

    Before anyone chooses to abandon premillennialism they ought to read the little known book by Matthew Waymeyer, "Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate." His treatment of that passage is so compelling and air tight, that I challenge anyone to refute his clear and cogent argument favoring the premillennial interpretation.

    Also I should point out, as has been evidenced by many comments here, that Dispensationalism comes under far greater attack from our Amill/ Postmill brethren than the latter does from the former.

    • http://minookabible.org David Jankowski

      That's my impression too.

  • Vic Thom

    About the time Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, came out I bought a Scofield Bible. I was amazed at how the notes and comments supported the premillennial point of view. A couple years later I got rid of Scofield and read from a version without Dr. Scofield’s notes and came to a different conclusion: Scofield’s notes are not inspired, they are not the gospel.

  • Michael

    Although I could never be an A-Millennial which has to tendency to spiritualize the Kingdom of God away into a Radical Two-Kingdom Theology, I am sort of strapped between Historical Premillennialism and Postmillennialism. I can see evidence on both sides but see no evidence for Dispensationalism or A-Millennialism. Anyway, without getting into a debate about A-Millennialism I wanted to point out that your list of what a Premillennialist must necessarily believe is incorrect. There is a difference between Historic Premillennialism and Modern Historic Premillennialism and I fall into the former. Let me take the list and run it down..

    You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ's second coming.

    • You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ's second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

    Incorrect for my Historic Premillennialism. My understanding of Historic Premillennialism predates the 19th century version of Historic Premillennialism and as such there will be no death in the Millennialism nor will there be unbelievers. The Millennialism is the first 1000 years of the New Heavens and New Earth.

    • You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

    Again, as I just stated, incorrect for my position of Historic Premillennialism. The 1000 years is the first 1000 years of the New Heavens and New Earth. No unbelievers will be present and death will not reside in the Millennialism. The multitude that comes against the camp of the saints at the end of the Millennium are those who come from the Second Resurrection at the end of the Millennium. see John Gill on the subject in his "Body of Divinity".

    • You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

    Again, incorrect.. All are believers in the Millennium in my position and salvation is completed. No death, no new birth, no unbelievers..

    • You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

    Correct. I do hold to two resurrections and one is at the end of the thousand years which will be the unbelievers who are resurrected and come against the camp of the saints in one last attempt to revolt against God.

    • You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

    Correct.. see previous answer..

    So only two of your assertions are correct for me and my version of Historic Pre-millennialism which can be found among historic theologians who held to Historic Pre-millennialism such as John Gill. John Gill being a Baptist, which I am not, I am a Reformed Covenanter.

    • MarkO

      "modern historic"

      really?

      • Michael

        really!! If you read the Historic writings from Historic Premillennialist you will see a difference between their view of Premillennialism and the Premillennialism of Modern Theologians who hold to Historic Premillennialism...

        I know, it sounds confusing... lol

      • Michael

        Think of it this way.. The term "Historic" in Historic Premillennialism really only means "Covenantal" Premillennialism which was the historic position of Premillennialism. But there is a vast difference between Historic Covenantal Premillennialism and Modern Covenantal Premillennialism..

        I hope that makes better sense... ;)

        • Scott C

          Your view is virtually indistinguishable from Amill except for the second resurrection at the end of 1000 years of the new heavens and new earth. My question is, how resurrected unbelievers make their way to the glorious new heavens and new earth designed only for the redeemed to make one last final stand? Who could they possibly enter this glorious realm?

          • http://zackskrip.blogspot.com Zack Skrip

            Haha. Thanks Scott C! I was thinking the same thing but wasn't going to write it. I read his post and was thinking "yeah, that's what I believe!" Again, except for the last part.

          • Michael

            Scott, Historic Amill is distinguished from Modern Amill. Historic Amill sees the Millennium as the residing place of the elect who die before the return of Christ before the glorious New Heavens and New Earth (final dwelling of saints). Modern Amillennialist are really no different then Post-Millennialist except they are pessimistic and place a dichotomy between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man which they see as the Church and State.

            My position maybe pessimistic like Modern Amillennialist but do not hold hold to the dichotomy between church and state as modern Amillennialist see it. My position has nothing in common with Historic Amillennialist..

            How do they come to the Earth? Christ calls forth the second resurrection to judge them. They come ready for rebellion in one final attempt but Christ stops them instantly. They are judged and place in the lake of fire and Christ hands over the keys of the kingdom to God the Father. The End for all eternity.. It might not make sense logically but if scripture declares it, then it happens apart from our understanding or reasoning (that is not to say I am correct, I could be wrong but I have yet to be convinced of it). There is alot logic can not explain that is in the scriptures that is a mystery. Such as how we ascend to heaven by the conduit of the Holy Spirit in worship and partake of the Lord Supper while we bodily remain here on Earth (Calvinist view of worship and the Lord Supper), or even to understand the Trinity entirely..

            I will say that the only main difference my position holds would be the number of resurrections..

            • Scott C

              What is the purpose of waiting 1000 years for their judgment? The Amill/ Postmill position makes more sense to place the judgment of all at one time as soon as Christ returns. Is there a judgment for the redeemed in your view? When does this happen?

            • Michael

              Scott, it might make more sense but does scripture present that through prophetic history? And I don't believe it does... Again, it does not need to make sense to us or even if God has assigned reason for something. What we do know is that There is ONE day of the Second Coming "The Last Day", ONE day of fire and restoration of Earth which is on the Last Day of this present age, and ONE day of judgment. All of this is clearly taught throughout scriptures but I believe the scriptures plainly teach two resurrections, whether God has assigned a reason or not is of little consequence. If Scripture does assign a reason we can glean from it but if it does not but we should just accept it.

  • http://www.TheTitusMandate.org Ted Bigelow

    "Sam Storms launches this new series with an explanation of how he changed his views on the millennium."

    Uh Huh. Along with a plug for a new book.

    Hey TGC, why not let a Dispensationalist who has changed his position from Amillennialism to Dispensationalism write one of these "I changed my mind" posts?

    But just to be fair, make sure he has the following 3 qualifications:

    1) He also is coming out with a book on it and is responsible to promote that book as part of his contract with the publisher.

    2) He too gets to make a list of statements that start, "If you are amillennial you must necessarily believe that..."

    3) He, like Sam Storms, isn't responsible to respond to anyone who answers those statements.

    • terri

      Just curious.....are you aware of anyone who has changed their position from Amill to dispensationalism?

      • MarkO

        Pardon me for jumping in, but I can suggest a couple of names for those who have switched from Amil or Postmil to Dispensational:

        Edward Irving

        John Darby

        C. I. Scofield

  • Michael

    With regards to my last comment about myself being strapped between Historic Premill and Post Mill. I believe the arguments for Post-Millennialism and the passages they use are strong but I have yet to see it in the prophetic history of scriptures which is why I am sort of in the middle of the two. But I do know I am not Dispensational or A-Millennial. The nice thing about Historic Premill and Postmill is that they do not spiritualize the Kingdom of God away. Both hold that the Kingdom of God is a present reality here on Earth and that all the nations of the Earth are to submit to Christ and to His Laws as revealed in Scripture. Dispensationalism only sees the Kingdom of God in the future, and A-Millennalist spiritualizes the Kingdom of God into the Church, placing a false dichotomy in their view of the Kingdom- the Kingdom of God (church) and the Kingdom of Man (state). Both does damage to the Kingship of Christ and His authority over the nations.

    • http://www.corner-stone.ca David J Jones

      Whilst some forms of Amillenialism tend toward spiriualizing the Kingdom and replacing the Kingdom with the Church. That is not a necessary conclusion. If we understand that the Church is bringing the Kingdom (Now but Not Yet), that is consistent with Jesus' teaching and the very practical role that He gave until He returns.

      Premillenium, as already stated, has connections with J N Darby but its origins are very early. The Early Church was influenced by Jewish ideas and in particular myths and numerology which came from the Exile. There was a Jewish literalism and facination with 1,000 years. There is a real possibilty that some of these ideas had their origins in Zoroastrianism. Old ideas are not necessarily true and much of the writing by the apostles brought correction.

      • Michael

        David, I believe the scripture declares that the Kingdom of God is entirely here and now not a (now but not yet). There is alot of Now but not yet dichotomy in scripture, (Jeremiah 31:34 as an example) but the Kingdom of present entirely and Christ declares it so.

        I agree that not every early idea in the early church is correct. I have done extensive studies in most of early church writings. But I do know that Papias as well as Polycarp were both Historic Covenantal Premillennial and they were the ONLY disciples we have writings of from the Early church that was schooled by an Apostle, and that Apostle was John who wrote Revelation. All the other writings we have from the Early church came from disciples that had no direct connection to any Apostle.

        I think this along speaks volumes. That is not to say that Papias and Polycarp were immune to error but I am more prone to believe that John who wrote Revelation taught them exactly what he meant when he wrote Revelation. It is interesting that both his students who he schooled directly both believe in historic covenantal Premillennialism..

  • Josh

    **I'm re-posting this as a comment as I accidentally posted it as a reply to someone above and will delete that reply above.

    Before reading this post, please note that I realize there are many differing opinions on many different things within the circles of amill/premill/postmill/dispensationalists... etc. I'm not passing judgement for your opinion on any of you.

    From my experience growing up in the Southern Baptist church, 98% percent of the people I've been in church with (I'm 30 yrs old and was raised in the SBC) have only believed the dispensational thought pattern and were not even aware of another way to think much less know that is was called dispensationalism. Although it wasn't said directly often, it was implied often that anyone who thought there was another way of thinking was someone that we should probably steer clear of (for fear of them corrupting how you think). This thought of staying away from thoughts differing from yours for fear of corruption was very common on most anything relating to the Bible. Absurd huh? Exactly.

    This by no means is a post bashing the SBC, but it is the only denomination I was a part of until I left in the last couple years so I can only speak from that experience. With that being said, I haven't spent absurd amounts of time studying Amill vs Premill etc... and I can't say I have a strong opinion on this either.

    The question purposed above of "Why did you change?" is a great question. I grew up with strong convictions about what I believed but realized I didn't even know why I believed those things. I met Jesus face to face almost 3 years ago and then I began to read and study the Bible for myself. I began to spend time, not just praying to God, but listening to him. I've heard him speak to me more in the last 3 years than in all of the years I was "saved" before then.

    I've come to see the convenantial(sp?) way of understanding scripture as a way that lines up much more with what I've experienced God to be. For me, the dispensational/literal reading of scripture has too many holes that don't line up with the nature of the God I've come to know and often times answers to holes that are in the theory that are derived are much more unbelievable than pointing to types/anti-types of Christ, shadowing etc... By no means am I saying God has spoken to me on these exact topics. He continues to walk with me and speak into my life about the places in my heart that are waiting for reconciliation to him through the Gospel.

    Underlying the teaching in the dispensational camp, I generally hear about what we do as believers. In the teaching of the convenantial camp, I generally hear about what has been done for us, not what we must do. This is where I must fall as I have done NOTHING without God showing me grace and giving me the desire to do it first. But don't get me wrong, the convenantial camp can still preach works but hide it in grace filled language.

    As I said above, my opinions have come from the truths I learned about the nature of God as I spend time with him. This holds true for the "free-will/chosen" debate as well. Looking back over my life, not one thing have I done to choose God. I only chose God because he changed my heart and gave me the desire to do so. Is there man's responsibility? Yes. Is God sovereign? Yes. How all that fits together I can't explain.

    Can the debates about amill, premill, etc... be a stumbling block for us? Does it get in the way of us experiencing the power of the Gospel and knowing God more fully? Quite possibly. Maybe asking the question above of "Why did you change" could be a MUCH more meaningful question. Maybe if we stopped and asked "why we changed or didn't change" that would lead to some incredible discussion with our Father and open doors to places in our hearts that are waiting to be rescued by God through the power of the Gospel.

    • http://www.fierylogic.wordpress.com Douglas

      So covenantalism is grace-based while dispensationalism is inherehently legalistic. Sure...

      • MarkO

        Douglas,
        maybe it's not as harsh dichotomy as your question suggests.

        It seems to me that covenantalism does emphasis grace more so. It is also interesting that in the dispensational system they only have one dispensation out all of them that is labeled "the dispensation of grace."

        • Scott C

          Well since many within covenantalism believe that the Church has replaced Israel, the charge goes both ways. The promises to Israel to such apparently are not irrevocable (contra Rom. 11:29). The fact is, Dispensationalism sees grace in all of history and unless you some how believe the Old Covenant was a better covenant based on better promises than the New Covenant(contra Heb. 8:6) then you have to agree that God has extended greater grace in the present age then in the previous one, especially for the sake of the gentiles (Eph. 2:11-3:13).

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  • Jack Vosteen

    "My departure from premillennialism and embrace of amillennialism was gradual and came as a result of two discoveries as I studied Scripture"

    Gradual ... ??? ... Should not Scripture (God's word) come first or at least concurrently ... Theology might well clarify who, what, why, when and where, but at the Narrow Gate School it never replaces Scripture.

  • PaulD

    I'm a Premill, though if the Lord has something else in mind, I'll be happy to go with that. Two things I hope your book addresses:
    1. I was told that the Amill position originated with Augustine. If true, how can a doctrine be true that the first four centuries of the Church was unaware of?
    2. If you say one thousand doesn't necessarily mean one thousand, what can you say so someone who says seven doesn't necessarily mean seven (In Genesis 1)?

    • Michael

      "Amill position originated with Augustine" This is actually not true. Covenantal Premillennialism, Historic Amillennialism and Post-Millennialism were all present since the early days of Christianity. Augustine was not the first to come up with Amillennialism. I have seen all three schools in the writings of the early church, the only school not present was dispensationalism. Now it is true that Papias and Polycarp (both directly schooled by Apostle John) were Covenantal (Historic) Premillennial. In fact they are the only disciples of the early church who can say they were directly taught by an Apostle, an Apostle who wrote Revelation. But their position was not the same as modern Dispensational Premillennial. They knew of no pre-rapture of the saints seven years before the Second Coming. They had no division of Gentiles and Jews as separate groups of God's people. No sacrifices or temple restoration in the Millennium. And the Millennium was populated by All of God's people not just Jews who were being restored to OT practices. That is not to say that they did not believe there would be a physical Jewish remnant that comes back to God in the last days (Romans 11), but they believed that they would join the one people of God who has been Israel in all ages made up of Physical born Jews and Grafted in Adopted Gentiles- The Church being Israel, and Israel always been the Church. There is more but that sums it up between Historic Covenantal Premillennialist and Dispenational Premillennialist.

      • PaulD

        Thanks, Michael -- that is very helpful. Can you recommend a good introduction to Historic Covenantal Premillennialism? Is that what Ladd taught?

        • Michael

          Paul, Ladd was the man who first convinced me of Historic Covenantal Premillennialism. Since those days I have learned that his view is more of a modern Covenantal Premillennialism which differs to some degree from the Historic Covenantal Premillennialism. But Ladd is still valuable. The things I stated to you above are things that both Modern covenantal Premillennialism and Historic covenantal Premillennialism have in common. I am afraid there really is no good modern book on the subject at the moment. You can find good works on different issues within the Covenantal Premillennial camp, such as a book titled "The Last Day" that deals with the rapture, the day of fire, and second coming. Historically, the best work I had found on it is John Gill's Body of Divinity which does an excellent comprehensive view of Historic covenantal Premillennial which is shared with such theologians as Papias, Polycarp, Most of the Huguenots, Puritans John Cotton, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, and even Charles Spurgeon.

          If you ever want to dialog or have any questions feel free to ask me at any time. I pretty much can discuss all the topics related or connected this the eschatology issue whether it is covenantalism, the church/israel issue within covenantalism, the timing events, spiritual & temporal aspects of the Kingdom of God- present and future, issues in Daniel, the temple or sacrifices, etc.

          After leaving behind dispensationalism and became a Historic Covenantal Premillennialist, I remained such through many years being in a A-millennial Reformed Baptist church and still remain as such now being a member of a Post-millennial Reformed Covenanter church. Much of my theology has changed over the years but I still remain a Historic Covenantal Pre-millennialist. ;)

          Anyway, you can reach me @ thjodmar30@yahoo.com

      • ChaferDTS

        The early church fathers did not hold to covenant theology as we find no specific treatment of it at all. We dont find them affirming the existance of the Covenant of Works, Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Works as taught by " covenant premillennialist " such as Wayne Grudem. Though it is true the early premillennialist did hold that church as existing in the OT and expanding to the NT. But that is the only real thing in common with covenant teaching that they share. Likewise the early church fathers were not Five Point Calvinist either but in general held to the false teaching of election based on God's prescience and free will theism and the heretical doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Those false teachings are rejected by Presbytrians and Baptist yet those are false teachings found in the early church yet rejected by those 2 modern groups which came as a result of the reformation. Church history neither proves or disproves any system of theology. That is basically making church history equal in authority to Scripture in function. And reveals the inconsistant nature of the so called " historical argument " . They wont apply that standard to themselves in full because the early church fathers were not modern " Protestantism " or broken in to modern variious groups like Presbyterians, Baptist or Luthern either. Yet that fact does not make those groups false at all . The best work on the history of the history of Premillennialism is The Theocratic Kingdom by George N.H Peters. I dont agree with all that he says or taught there but he does present the essential doctrines of premillennialism. To this dispensationalist do affirm essential aspects of premillennialism. The main departure is on the doctrine of the church. Dispensational premillennialism is basically a refinement of previous premillennial teaching. As to the issue of animal sacrifices and a temple during the millennial kingdom is not limited to " dispensationalism " either. It is a belief that can be held by other premillennialism who are not dispensational either. Premillennialist have always been divided on that point. But it is not essential or necessary for the premillennial position. It is an honest manner of exegesis on passages such as Ezek 40 to 48 and others where animal sacrifices and millennial temple appear to be taught .

  • Jay Risner

    Safe to say a blog post is a challenging format to work all this out.

    The thing is I could make my own list of things amillennialists must believe that I believe are contrary to Scripture. For instance, amillenniallists must believe that Satan is bound today which contradicts numerous NT statements about his activity today (1 Peter 5:8; Eph 6, etc.). The generalities (on both sides) would be far too sweeping.

    Also, I believe Sam brings in dispensationalism as a wedge issue to arouse emotion. You can be premillennial without being dispensational...and he knows that (i.e. Piper, Ladd, Spurgeon, Ryle).

    Overall, I don't think this was very helpful...particularly for a group seeking to be united in the gospel.

  • http://www.truthinscripture.com Pete Wilson

    None of the rationalization to deny the MILL REIGN have any truth behind them. They arise because the of the carnal traditions of men that have missed the true gospel for 2000 years. The church had already been fully infiltrated when the Bible was still being written. YOU SAY

    Scriptural Challenges for Premillenialists

    If you are a premillennialist, whether dispensational or not, there are several things with which you must reckon:

    • You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ's second coming.

    • You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ's second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

    Yes this is true and what the Scriptures say, babies will still be born, only the ELECT of GOd will have been resurrected and in spiritual bodies. They will rule with a rod of Iron having the ability to appear as flesh just as Christ did in His resurrected body. By the way, mankind did not fall, that was God's plan all along. He made us sinful flesh on purpose, marred in the hands of the potter (Jer 18:4) subject to futility on purpose (Rom 8:20-21) but that is a whole different false doctrine to confront

    • You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

    Friend, the heavens and the earth are INSIDE OF US. God creating the heavens and the earth is about the potter making us His pieces of clay. Christ said the kingdom of God is within YOU in Luke 17:21. You are thinking in the flesh, these things apply to us inwardly. We live these words. Rev 21:5 behold I make all things new. The new heaven and new earth is simply one that has truly been born again, the few that have come thru the great wrath and might judgment of God. That is what Rev 12:10 and Rev 15:8 are saying. No man enter into the temple until war is made in their heavens. This is the appearing of Christ, the revelation of Christ to them in their appointed day or hour. Only the blessed Elect will experience that in this life. REV 1:3 blessed is he who keeps the things written in the prophecy of this book for the time is at hand. NOW is the judgment of God upon His Elect. It starts at HIS HOUSE - 1 Peter 4:17.

    • You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

    No so. There will be no more ELECT being made. They will all be in the blessed first resurrection which kicks off this MILL REIGN. There will be no Satan as he will be bound and the Elect will rule with a rod of iron so this world will be at peace. You obviously beleive in eternal hell and punishment which is totally another gospel. ALL MEN are saved is the gospel, in the appointed order just as many Scrips declare especially 1 COR 15:21-26. First Christ, then the ELECT (firstfruits) then the whole harvest come in at the end.

    • You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

    And this is the case. At the end of the SYMBOLIC 1000 years, not literal, all the dead shall rise and the great white throne judgment will take place and they will be case into the lake of fire. WHo is doing the judging? THE ELECT that had ruled with a rod of iron during the Mill Reign. See OBE 1:21 and 1 Cor 6:2-3. The lake of fire, is nothing more than the word of God, spoken by His Elect. When you have ears to hear, then your judgment begins and most will not have their spiritual ears until they are resurrected and they will be yet carnal in then their judgment will take place. But God's purposes in judgment is always good. FIRE PURIFIES and is how all will be sanctified in their appointed order and day.

    • You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

    There is no eternal punishment friend. God's mercy endures forever. I pray God will remove the log in your eye that is blinding you to His gospel. 1 Tim 4:9-10 Is the gospel, all men are saved, especially those precious few given the gift of true faith NOW. Their judgment is now and it is thru them that all else will be saved in the lake of fire.

    Oba 1:21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

    Let him who has ears to hear hear the word of the Lord.

  • http://www.truthinscripture.com Pete Wilson

    The reason Satan is released from prison for a little while, is for God to have an occasion to destroy all flesh. Until god destroys all flesh, babies will still be born and death will not come to and end. So far beyond me to cover that in a comment but that is the plan and what the Scriptures tell us. God seeks an occasion to destroy all flesh. That is why He created it, to destroy it and remake all things.

    Jer 18:3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
    Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

    Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

    And when death is destroyed, the last enemy is destroyed and all men shall be alive in Christ.

    1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
    1Co 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
    1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
    1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • http://aweandreverence.com Jonathan Tsai

    I'm pre-mill post-trib because that's what i've been taught at my church, and I haven't studied deeply for myself. I'm a decent at Bible study and the things that I was taught about eschatology seem to jive with the Bible. I attended Shepherds' Conference a few years ago, and it just happened that John MacArthur preached a sermon entitled, "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillenialist." So I'm interested in hearing a Biblical exegesis response to that from those who hold to the pre-millennial view. Link as of now to that sermon is: http://www.shepherdsconference.org/media/details/?mediaID=332

    • Michael

      MacArthur is more of a progressive dispensationalist or what we like to jokingly call a leaky dispensationalist... His problem for me is not his view that there is going to be a literal 1000 year reign especially since the Greek on Rev. 20 holds 6 definite articles on the word millennium. The problem I have with his views is his way to much discontinuity between Old and New Testament, the Dichotomy he places between Church and Israel, kingdom issues and his law issues- his partial antinomianism as well as neonomianism. I can deal with his other "minor" issues when it comes to timing events, etc in the end times whether I agree with him or not but those other things I mention are much larger issues that MacArthur needs to deal with.

    • Jonathan Garner

      Jonathan, philosophically that's fallacious and intellectual suicide. Just because you've grown up that way doesn't mean it's right nor plausible. Just because some authority told you renders the same verdict.

    • Brent

      Jonathan, Sam Waldron did write a book length response to MacArthur's sermon. His book is called "MacARTHUR's MILLENNIAL MANIFESTO: A Friendly Response". Here is a link to a radio program interview with Sam on the book (http://sharpens.blogspot.com/2008/07/mp3-available-here.html). I don't know all of John Piper's eschatology, but when I was at one of his pastor's conferences several years ago, I was asking questions about this topic and was told that Sam Waldron's book, "The End Times Made Simple", was closest to John's view. Not exactly what you were asking for, but it is an exegetical response to MacArthur's sermon.

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  • Mercey

    [Thanks, Sam Storms & TGC. Ran into this shocking bit on the net.]

    Pretrib Rapture Pride

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
    Ice's mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn't find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 - and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers "the early pretribulationists" (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including "Pseudo-Ephraem" and a "Rev. Morgan Edwards," taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist's arrival as the only "imminent" event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an "imminent" pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards' historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson's "Deceiving and Being Deceived" for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
    The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read "pretrib" into phrases like "before Armageddon," "before the final conflagration," and "escape all these things"!
    BTW, the KJV translators' other writings found in London's famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) haven't a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib "proof" in the KJV that its translators never found?
    Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up "Famous Rapture Watchers" (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
    Pretrib didn't flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby "explanatory notes" in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield's criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book "The Praise of Folly" which is available online.
    Biola University's doctrinal statement says Christ's return is "premillennial" and "before the Tribulation." Although universities stand for "academic freedom," Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases - non-essentials the founders purposely didn't include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
    Ice, BTW, has a "Ph.D" issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn't authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he's working on another "Ph.D" via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice's scholarliness, Google "Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "be careful in polemics - Peripatetic Learning," and "Walvoord Melts Ice."
    Other fascinating Google articles include "The Unoriginal John Darby," "X-raying Margaret," "Edward Irving in Unnerving," "Pretrib Rapture Politics," "Pretrib Rapture Secrets," "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," and "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism" - most from the author of "The Rapture Plot," the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
    Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?

  • Jimmy

    We look forward to your book. I hope that the all things pre-millennial that is explicitly denied in scripture is detailed with the scripture references that affirms your position. These references will hopefully carry with it literal, historical, grammatical, interpretation of scripture in it's given context. Much of the time the amillennial view is offered as the biblical view but cannot stand the test of a consistent literal interpretation but reverts at some point to a schema that allows one to land in the amill camp. I will also be very interested to see how you deal will with Acts 1 where clearly the teaching of the risen Christ for 40 days was not confused by the apostles to mean anything less than a literal earthly kingdom where Messiah ruled.

  • Matt

    best one-sermon critique I have heard of dispensational pre-mill is Jerram Barrs of Covenant Seminary, called "popular apocalypse."

    Something about a soft spoken english man grinding the "Left Behind" theology into a fine powder makes it go down easier. Also love his long series on Revelation. He is a protoge of Francis Shaeffer if you've never heard of him. And pre-mill post trib.

    Storms has the best defense I've ever heard for A-mill on his site(especially some of the history of the fall of Jerusalem), but I still wasn't convinced(almost though). The difficulties listed here for historic pre-mill are correct, but all the other views have difficulties as well.

    thanks!

    • Scott C

      Well that ain't sayin' much. Tim LaHaye is not exactly the scholar of repute to critique the best of dispensationalism. Why don't you listen to a few sermons by S. Lewis Johnson, Sam Storms' old mentor (which incidently he failed to mention). They can be found at the sljinstitute-dot-net. SLJ is one of the great unsung theological heroes of the late 20th century.

      • MarkO

        If I have my facts straight I believe SLJ eventually left the "old dispensationalism" toward the end of his career.

        • http://scripturethoughts.wordpress.com Lynda O

          SLJ may have left some aspects of "classic dispensationalism" such as emphasis on the pre-trib rapture (and Dallas 4-point Calvinism with unlimited atonement), but he remained firmly futurist premillennial aka Calvinist Dispensational with future for Israel. Agree with Scott, that SLJ is one of the great theological teachers, with great doctrinal series such as "The Divine Purpose" which addressed Covenant Theology as well as the Biblical Covenants of dispensationalism.

          • MarkO

            "biblical covenants of dispensationalism"

            that's what worries me about Dispensationalism. that system subordinates the covenants to its system.

            • http://www.fierylogic.wordpress.com Douglas

              This coming from an adherent to a system that imposes two covenants on Scripture (I believe in the covenant of redemption) and basically ignores the actual stated covenants of Scripture. O...K...

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  • kerwyn wilson

    I look forward to reading your book.

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  • sean carlson

    Once I began to question the Dispensational chasm between the Church & Israel the whole house of cards collapsed. Since leaving a dispensational hermeneutic the bible seems to have become wonderfully more alive to me.

    • Scott C

      Wow! The opposite happened to me. I just preached two sermons on God's plan for Israel and the Church and many people made that same comments to me based on the grammatical historical exegesis of the relevant texts which happen to coincide with a dispensational outlook.

    • MarkO

      Sean,
      ditto.

  • http://www.truthinscripture.com Pete

    Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

    NONE of this book of Revelation has to do with dispensation in terms of the external or flesh. It has everything to do with God bringing about HIS STRANGE ACT (Isa 28), the mystery of Christ being formed in HIS ELECT thru great wrath and judgment.

    Look at the introduction and if you can be given the understanding of verse 3, perhaps you will begin to understand. A man is BLESSED when he can hear, read and live (keep) the judgments spoken of in this book. The judgments of God are sweeter than honey and more desirable than gold.

    This has nothing to do with end of world events and nothing to do with flesh Israel. It is speaking to what happens to GODS ELECT, the true Israel of God whose judgment is right now, it begins at His House (1 Peter 4:17).

    Matthew 4:4 mankind will live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

    These things are all spiritual. The heavens and the earth are YOU, they are inside of you just as Christ said in Luke 17:20-21. His words are spirit and they are life for those blessed to be given ears to hear.

    Jer 22:29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.

    When the earth melts from fervent heat, God is simply working salvation in us as a chosen vessel for judgment NOW.

    Isa 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

    That is the way of salvation, with great judgment and thru great wrath.

    Rev 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

    Until God makes war on your flesh, salvation has not yet come, it comes to only very few, HIS HOUSE.

    Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

    The beast that all men are (ECC 3:18) must be destroyed. This is good news as the Potter remakes all things in their appointed times.

    Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

    • Scott C

      "These things are all spiritual. The heavens and the earth are YOU, they are inside of you just as Christ said in Luke 17:20-21. His words are spirit and they are life for those blessed to be given ears to hear."

      So the new heavens and earth are not literal places? This sounds like those who argue that Christ's resurrection was not literal. Rather, it is simply the memory of him that has been resurrected in our minds or something like that. Sorry, I don't buy that kind of pseudo-gnostic spiritualizing hermeneutic.

    • http://www.stpaulculturalvillage.com Adam Maarschalk

      Scott, about 3 years ago I probably would have said the same thing as you did (to Pete). In the last few years, though, my study of Scripture (comparing Scripture with Scripture) have brought me to a similar conclusion. That is, that the phrase "heavens and earth" is often used by the inspired authors of Scripture to indicate covenants. In other words, the old heavens and earth denoted the Old Covenant system. The new heavens and new earth denote the New Covenant age, and even us, as God's people, transformed into a new creation.

      This was actually the understanding of notable individuals such as Eusebius (265-340 AD), Bishop John Lightfoot (1601-1675), John Owen (1721), Jonathan Edwards (1739), and Charles Spurgeon (1865). I've included their quotes on this matter in this post discussing Matthew 24:35, where Jesus speaks of the passing of heaven and earth:

      http://kloposmasm.com/2012/02/13/matthew-2435-51-part-1-of-2/

      • Scott C

        Yeah, I'm not sure 2 Pet. 3:10-13 will admit of such spiritualizing of texts. I'll stick with literal historical grammatical exegesis.

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  • http://www.corner-stone.ca David J Jones

    The question has been raised about the understanding of eschatology in the early Church. Our reference point is Jesus' teaching as found in the Gospels. If we read the Gospels and then the comments made in Peter's and Paul's letters we will discover that there is no room for either a premill or postmill interpretation. The emphasis there is on the Kingdom and being equipped to continue Jesus' teaching as Kingdom bringers until He comes to bring all things to a conclusion. This emphasis is reflected in the writer to the Hebrews, especially in chapter 9 where there is a continuity between the first and second coming of Christ. First He came to deal with sin and then secondly and lastly He will come to complete salvation. As has been mentioned before, Acts 1 tells us that Jesus taught on the Kingdom for 40 days after His resurrection. Surely His teaching was in order to make the theology applied (or else why was there an empowering by the Holy Spirit?) and not about something that was already realized or was so far in the future that it had no meaning for the disciples and those who would come after them. Even the prayer that Jesus taught (Mat 6) was essentially a Kingdom prayer to facilitate the Now of the Kingdom. Eschatology was established right at the outset; then we should interpret John's Revelation writings in a way which is consistent with what was already established. John wrote about a generation later and brought great insight to help us understand the forces at work behind the scenes, to encourage steadfastness and also as theodicy bringing an apologetic for the goodness and purpose of God inspite of evil and suffering. Further, in his first letter, he exposed a rumour that was going around that there was a distinct Antichrist coming. The Revelation does not bring a new schema but rather solidifies what was already known.

  • Christopher Heslep

    I guess my only issue with the blog is how Mr. Storms simply says that from his study of Revelation 20, "I came to see Revelation 20 as a strong and immovable support for the amillennial perspective" with absolutely no reasons why...it just is I guess. So the message is, study it, but believe it without anything to back it up...just whatever you come to see, will be right I guess.

    I'd love to see the discussion here, but maybe he just wants us to buy his book.

  • Paul

    I love all my postmil amil brothers. And I have no problem with the things you listed because I think those things are taught in Scripture. Non acceptance of those things does not change their reality. Just like OT Jewish people could not see two comings of the Messiah. Many Christians have a hard time accepting the things you listed. BTW, I went on a similar journey as you did in Bible College on traditional Dispensationalism and the rapture. I now believe the Scriptures teach post trib premil (Progressive Dispensationalism).

    "Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths."

    (Zechariah 14:16-19 ESV)

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  • http://www.stpaulculturalvillage.com Adam Maarschalk

    Scott: That's certainly your prerogative, brother. For what it's worth, I'll go ahead and explain why I believe that II Peter 3 also speaks of the transition of the covenants, and why I believe that it was fulfilled in the first century AD.

    Peter spoke of scoffers in the last days. We know from Hebrews 9:26 and other passages that Jesus' first coming was in "the last days" and at the end of the age. Peter's reminder to his first century readers about losing patience regarding the Lord's coming really was relevant to them.

    In verse 7 Peter said that the (then) present heavens and earth were reserved for fire. In verse 10 he said that the heavens would disappear with a roar at the day of the Lord, and "the elements" would be destroyed by fire. The word translated as "elements" in this verse is the same word used by Paul in Galatians 4:9-10 and Colossians 2:20. In those passages, Paul was clearly talking about what was contained in the law of Moses. So was Peter. In other words, the Jerusalem temple would be destroyed by fire along with the rest of the city. Jesus promised the same thing in Matthew 22:7, in the parable of the wedding feast.

    I would submit that the same thing was also prophesied in the book of Revelation. Babylon the Great, also known as "the great city," would be burned with fire, according to Revelation 18. The first mention of "the great city" is in Revelation 11:8, where it is referred to as the place where the Lord was crucified. Where was Jesus crucified? Not New York City, not Rome, but Jerusalem.

    I believe that the book of Revelation shows the old heavens and earth (i.e. the old covenant system headquartered in Jerusalem, and at the temple in particular) passing away, in favor of the new heavens and the new earth (see Revelation 21) - the new covenant realm established at the cross. The harlot (apostate old covenant Judaism) is judged, and the bride (again see Revelation 21) takes her place with Christ. It's the same contrast that we see in Galatians 4:21-31: two women, two covenants, two Jerusalems. Out with the old, in with the new.

  • Scott C

    I appreciate your attempt here, but I can't buy it. How do you interpret 2 Pet. 3-7? Why is "last days" there contrasted with "the promise of his coming"? Why is there talk about "forming" the "earth" "out of water and by water" as we read in Genesis 1 which speaks of the "beginning of creation"? Why is there talk of also this created "world" being "destroyed"; that is "flooded by water"? And then we read in verse 7 that the "present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire." Sorry, the language here is contrasting one global destruction (in the days of Noah) with another global destruction "in the last days" at the coming of Christ so that a new creation will arise from the ashes to mirror the first creation described in Genesis. Your allegorizing hermeneutic is too much for me. Again, I'll stick with reading passages normally unless there are clues that something is to be taken figuratively. The first lesson I learned in Hermeneutics class is to always interpret a passage in its immediate context. Words only having meaning within the context they are being used. 2 Pet. 3:3-7 is the context for vss. 8-13. I don't know about you, but I am looking for the new heavens and the earth where "righteousness dwells" and the curse is removed from the present creation (Rom. 8:18-22).

    • http://www.stpaulculturalvillage.com Adam Maarschalk

      Scott, I didn't mean to take more than two weeks to get back to you. I do believe, though, that I already explained how I interpret II Peter 3:7. The "heavens and earth that now exist" (i.e. existed in Peter's day) was the Old Covenant system/age. They were "stored up for fire" just as Jesus predicted would be Jerusalem's fate (Matthew 22:7) and as John also predicted would be the fate of Babylon, the great city, earlier identified as the city where Jesus was crucified (see Revelation 11:8 and Rev. 17:16; 18:8-10, 17-20; Also consider that four times in Revelation 16-18 John says that Babylon, the great city, was responsible for the shed blood of the saints, prophets, and apostles, and that Jesus - in Matthew 23:29-36 - said that 1st century Israel would be held responsible for that very thing).

      The "day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly" fell upon apostate Israel in the first century (namely 67-70 AD), in accordance with Jesus' words that He would come in His kingdom, with His angels, and to judge everyone according to their deeds WITHIN THE LIFETIME of some of His disciples...that is, before they all had died (Matthew 16:27-28).

      I have a more complete study of Revelation 17-18 in these posts, if you're interested and open to considering this view:

      1. http://kloposmasm.com/2009/12/13/revelation-chapter-17-part-1-verses-1-6/
      2. http://kloposmasm.com/2009/12/13/revelation-chapter-17-part-2-verses-7-18/
      3. http://kloposmasm.com/2010/01/18/revelation-18/

      I believe the last days are connected with Jesus' coming in II Peter 3 because Jesus Himself promised to come at the end of the age, which He said would culminate before His own generation had passed away [see Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21]. Paul likewise told his first century readers that the end of the age had come upon THEM (I Corinthians 10:11).

      In any case, no matter how much we agree or disagree on these particular points, I'm confident that we are united in our love for Jesus, His gospel, His kingdom, and a longing for the lost and dying world around us to know Him.

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  • David Smith

    I was taught the pre-millenial view as a child, and, after two seminary degrees (working on the third), I still have no reason to believe otherwise.

    There are two things that trouble me about this discussion:

    1. Eschatological views are a gauge of someone's faith--wrong. Jesus said we'll be known by our fruit and that we love one another. I have several friends who believe differently about eschatology than I do. I really don't think that's a deal breaker.

    2. Sometimes I get the impression that premillenialism is a "stunted" point of view, while amillenialism is an "elite" point of view. There seem to be many more accounts of a premillianist turning to amillenianism, as if it were some kind of "illumination." That's not true either.

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  • http://www.pillarbaptist.com Eric Chabaneix

    Thanks for the comments Mr. Dave Smith. Its seems like many of those commenting on this thread are young aspiring ministers/theologians (myself included). Many of their comments are polarizing and they seem to be questioning the orthodoxy of pre or amillers. From my reading of history it would seem that creedal historic reformed orthodoxy has room for multiple positions.

    Personally I am a post-tribulational premillenarian. While this tread has been very helpful, I think Sam Storms comments are pejorative. Mr. Storms champions Dr. John Piper who is himself a premillenialist and I am pretty sure that Dr. Storms would not throw Piper under the bus like he does most premillers in this article.

    My two cents

  • http://minookabible.org David Jankowski

    Does the writer also believe that literal, physical Israel is irrelevant regarding the return of Christ? Has the church in fact replaced the nation of Israel in biblical prophecy? If not, what is the role of Israel in the end times scenario?

  • DTS Grad 1978

    I graduated from DTS in 1978 and I would agree with the Sam's assessment. John Walvoord made the claim that embracing
    amil was the first step toward theological liberalism. That doesn't encourage a lot of honest interaction deep in the heart of theological conservatism!

    Still other "over the top" comments were made which did nothing to allow for open discourse. The argument that dispensationalism is the only system respectful of the "literal" interpretation of Scripture didn't encourage those of us "spiritualizers" to question the interpretation of some iconic passages.

    I can honestly say none of the other eschatological positions were given their day in court.

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  • Tim C

    I find that we tend to over complicate scripture, sometimes it's best to become a fool that we might be truly wise. Having said that I can vouch for my own foolishness in all sorts of ways.
    Good article, I feel that the amillennial position is correct otherwise the simplicity of Christ's own words would be lost ; And this gospel will be preached as a testimony to all nations, and then shall the end come.
    If Jesus was a pre-millennialist He would have had to say, the gospel will be preached to the nations, then I will return and then we'll have a period of 1000 years at which time satan will once more deceive the nations - then shall the end come.
    I believe that premillennilist view has set the church up for deception by explaining away the loosing of satan and the deceiving of the nations to a future age.
    Paul makes it clear that the "man of sin" must sit in the temple of God prior to His coming. This is part of the Gog/Magog battle of the day of the Lord which occurs in this present age. Changing of our understanding of times and seasons is the work of antichrist to fool the flock into a state of unpreparedness. Hence, premillenialism is rooted in carnality, which is the work of antichrist.

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  • http://andrewlohr.wordpress.com Andrew Lohr

    I think I agree with everything in the article, but I tend to call myself postmillenial in the sense of expecting the gospel to prevail worldwide before Jesus comes back. He said, Teach all the ethnic groups to obey all My orders (Mt 28), and then he went up to Heaven leaving us to get it done, which amounts to a promise that we will do it, eh?

    Peter Leithart remarked that premil is true in that the 1st coming of Jesus kicked off the millennium (the premillenial coming), amil true in that its length is not precisely 1000 years, and postmil in that the gospel wins (incidental remark in PL's book The Kingdom and the Power).

    Short readable amil intro: The Momentous Event, by W. J. Grier.

    Article (mine) trying to show that postmillenialism is taught throughout Scripture: http://voices.yahoo.com/postmillenialism-helps-prayer-7461708.html?cat=38

  • Jack

    I am not a pre-millenniast and am probably more amillenniast than anything, but if we do away with the millennium, then how do we interpret Isaiah 65-66 where after God creates the new heavens and new earth children are still being born and dying, people are working in the vineyards and fields and life is generally going on as usual, as it was before the creation of the new heavens and earth?

    • http://www.kloposmasm.com Adam Maarschalk

      Jack, I believe that the reason Isaiah 65-66 describes current realities (people being born, working, dying, etc.) is that Isaiah makes use of covenantal language. That is, he equated the "new heavens and the new earth" with the new covenant age that Jesus inaugurated at the cross. He further confirmed the advent of the new covenant age at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the very embodiment of the old covenant age ("the old heavens and earth," if you will) in 70 AD.

      When Isaiah was given his vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem, the very first words he uttered were these: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 1:2). So he linked Israel with the heavens and the earth. This is not unique to Isaiah, for heaven and earth were repeatedly called as witnesses against Israel (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:26, 30:18-19, 31:28, 32:1; Jeremiah 2:12, 6:19; Micah 6:2). In Isaiah 51, speaking to the people of Israel, God says:

      "I, I am He who comforts you; who are you that you…have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth…? …And I have put My words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of My hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are My people’" (verses 12-16).

      Psalm 68:7-8 reiterates that the earth and the heavens were greatly affected when “God, the One of Sinai” marched through the wilderness before His people, as does Judges 5:4-5. Jeremiah also spoke of Jerusalem’s pending destruction (in 586 BC) in a way that might seem as if he was talking about planet earth and the galaxies, if it weren’t for the context:

      “My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war… I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light… For thus says the Lord, ‘The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end. For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark…’” (Jeremiah 4:19, 23, 27).

      Isaiah’s description of the new heavens and earth in Isaiah 65-66 mirrors what we see in the New Testament. Paul told the Ephesians that God’s people are called to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). He likewise told the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (II Corinthians 5:17). In Christ, a new temple/tabernacle had come (e.g. I Corinthians 3:16-17, I Cor. 6:19, II Cor. 6:16, Ephesians 2:21, Revelation 3:12), and the old temple/tabernacle was marked for destruction. During the one generation following the cross, all of the rituals linked to the temple in Jerusalem were meaningless and worthless, although they continued in practice. By the end of that generation, the temple and those worthless rituals were gone.

      We would also do well to remember that Jesus had already made a very significant statement about the disappearance of (the old) heaven and earth in the Sermon on the Mount:

      “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will be any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).

      Is the Law 100% intact even now in the year 2013, and are we thus still under the old heavens and earth? Or did Jesus accomplish everything and fulfill the Law, so that we are now under the covenantal framework of the new heavens and earth? Matthew 5:17-18 is an all-or-nothing statement. If “heaven and earth” have not yet disappeared, neither then has even one trace of the Law of Moses.

    • http://www.kloposmasm.com Adam Maarschalk

      Following up on my previous reply concerning Isaiah 65-66 and the new heavens and new earth, I'd like to add some quotations from other respected leaders in church history who also viewed these things as describing this present new covenant age:

      In a 1721 sermon, the Puritan preacher John Owen said,

      "I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state… [A]nd then the heavens and earth that God Himself planted, -the sun, moon, and stars of the Judaical polity and church, – the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinancy against the Lord Christ, shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed: this we know shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.”

      Jonathan Edwards (in 1739) said this in his work, “The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath, Vol. 2”:

      "The Scriptures further teach us to call the gospel-restoration and redemption, a creation of a new heaven and a new earth… The gospel state is everywhere spoken of as a renewed state of things, wherein old things are passed away, and all things become new… And the dissolution of the Jewish state was often spoken of in the Old Testament as the end of the world. But we who belong to the gospel-church, belong to the new creation; and therefore there seems to be at least as much reason, that we should commemorate the work of this creation, as that the members of the ancient Jewish church should commemorate the work of the old creation."

      C.H. (Charles) Spurgeon also had the same understanding. In a sermon delivered in 1865 (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vo. XXXVII, p. 354), he said:

      "Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, of any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away and we now live under a new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it."

      Here also is a very intriguing quote from the church father, Eusebius (265-340 AD), from one of his writings known as “the Theophania”:

      "All authorities concur in the declaration that “when all these things should have been done”, ‘The End’ should come: that “the mystery of God should be finished as he had declared to His servants the prophets“: it should be completed: time should now be no more: the End of all things (so foretold) should be at hand, and be fully brought to pass: in these days should be fulfilled all that had been spoken of Christ (and of His church) by the prophets: or, in other words, when the gospel should have been preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations, and the power of the Holy People be scattered (abroad), then should the End come, then should all these things be finished. I need now only say, all these things have been done: the old and elementary system passed away with a great noise; all these predicted empires have actually fallen, and the new kingdom, the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem–all of which were to descend from God, to be formed by His power, have been realised on earth; all these things have been done in the sight of all the nations; God’s holy arm has been made bare in their sight: His judgments have prevailed, and they remain for an everlasting testimony to the whole world. His kingdom has come, as it was foretold it should, and His will has, so far, been done; His purposes have been finished; and, from that day to the extreme end of time, it will be the duty, as indeed it will be the great privilege of the Church, to gather into its bosom the Jew, the Greek, the Scythian, the Barbarian, bond and free; and to do this as the Apostles did in their days–in obedience, faith and hope."

      • Jack

        Thanks much, Adam, for your input. I give up trying to understand all this. It's too big and complex. But thank you much for trying to help me get the big picture.

  • Simple Elder

    Jack - the best way is to interpret it exactly as it reads.

    Good job for not explaining it away!!

    • Jack

      So would you say that activities as described in Isaiah 65-66 are temporal until the resurrection whereupon they cease, or do they start before the resurrection and continue through the resurrection into eternity, or do they commence when God creates the new heavens and the new earth and continue throughout eternity. I'm having difficulty placing exactly where on the timeline Isaiah 65-66 starts and how long it continues. I'm not trying to be combative, honest; I'm genuinely confused and desperately need a concise answer that I can comprehend so I can end my confusion.

  • Simple Elder

    "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed." (Isa. 65:19-20)

    This is the redeemed Jerusalem of this earth in the millenium and not the New Jerusalem since Isaiah says: "no longer(/u> will there be in it...." We still await this event to be literally fulfilled, as we do of the youth and the old man.

    • Jack

      But this blog is entitled "Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium" and became an Amelliennist, by extension. So there is no Millennium as you refer to it, that 1000-year period that starts right after some fictional rapture and 7-year tribulation. Hold on. I just realized you are not Sam Storms. Somehow, in my typing zeal I overlooked that. I thought I was talking to an amillenniest like myself. I sincerely apologize. Ah, your name is Simple Elder, not Sam. I just checked. Sorry to have wasted your time, Elder. I don't buy into the 1000-year Millennium and rapture nonsense.

      • Simple Elder

        Dang, Jack. I sure was having a spot of fun as an incognito paratrooper sniping behind enemy lines.

        And just as I was hoping you were about to accept the Bible the way it's written you go all "that's nonsense" on me and stay in the amil camp. Ah well, no ultimate loss. See you in heaven.

        • Jack

          See you there, Elder.

  • Sharon Workman

    Very well said and thank you for sharing. I am sending to a friend instead of writing it myself because I could not do it so well. :)

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