AMILLENNIAL PESSIMISM

FearfulPMT 2015-090 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Amillennialists often complain that postmillennialists wrongly categorize them as “pessimistic.” They generally reject this evaluation for two reasons: (1) It is negative sounding in itself. And (2) it overlooks the fact that they believe that ultimately Christ and his people win the victory at the end of history. Still other amillennialists deny this designation because they call themselves “optimistic amillennialists.”

What do postmillennialists mean by categorizing amillennialism as “pessimistic”? Is the charge legitimate. I believe it is.

Obviously all evangelical eschatological perspectives are ultimately optimistic — even dispensationalists who make a very nice living from books on cultural decline, despair, and doom. After all, Christ does lead his people to victory in saving them from their sins in history, resurrecting them from the dead at the end of history, and establishing them in righteousness in eternity. These issues are not debated among evangelicals: Christianity is of glorious, eternal consequence. But neither are these observations relevant to the debate between the millennial views.


Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
(ed. by Darrell Bock)

Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Historically amillennialism has tended to be pessimistic in terms of the question of widespread, long-lasting cultural success for the Christian faith in time and on earth. That is, regarding these matters we should note:

First, as a system of gospel proclamation amillennialism teaches that the gospel of Christ will not exercise any majority influence in the world before Christ’s return. They allow that Christianity may enjoy flashes of revival and spurts of growth (e.g., the Reformation and the Great Awakening). Yet, by its very nature the amillennial system cannot allow that Christianity will become the dominant feature of human society and culture. Otherwise, it would actually be postmillennialism.

Second, as a system of historical understanding amillennialism, in fact, holds that the Bible teaches there are prophetically determined, irresistible trends downward toward chaos in the outworking and development of history. It is true that some amillennialists such as Jay E. Adams understand the great tribulation in the Olivet Discourse as referring (correctly) to the Jewish War and the AD 70 destruction of the temple. Yet their overall eschatological system necessarily demands a prophetically-determined collapse of society in history, as we can see in the writings of Jay Adams. Otherwise, it would actually be postmillennialism.


Amillennialism v. Postmillennialism Debate
(DVD by Gentry and Gaffin)

Formal, public debate between Dr. Richard Gaffin (Westminster Theological Seminary)
and Kenneth Gentry at the Van Til Conference in Maryland.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Third, as a system for the promotion of Christian discipleship amillennialism dissuades the Church from anticipating and laboring for wide-scale success in influencing the world for Christ during this age. It affirms the duty for churches to disciple converts, but it does not believe there will be enough converts to affect the direction of history. Otherwise, it would actually be postmillennialism. Regarding the question of so-called “optimistic amillennialists,” it seems to me that the verses an amillennialist would use to underscore his optimism are those that endorse a postmillennial perspective. Unless, of course, he is optimistic on grounds other than direct biblical revelation. Therefore, he should come out of the closet and be a postmillennialist.

000 Conference Ministry

Advertisements

Tagged: , ,

4 thoughts on “AMILLENNIAL PESSIMISM

  1. Vince Sarricchio July 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Brother Ken… I guess I am one of those ‘Optimistic Amillennialists’…? I’ve always described myself as being ‘Amill’ with a ‘Postmill’ hope… You have described us fairly, however I probably lean more to a Postmill Viewpoint anyway… I hold a Preterist Hermeneutic of Revelation where most of my ‘Amill’ Brethren hold a ‘Futuristic’ viewpoint. I am not negative for the overall future of The World. But I am apprehensive re; the Future of The USA though; we are ‘Rome’ all over again, and The Barbarians are at The Gate… With all that said you may ask why I am not ‘Post mill’…? I have a difficult time expecting a ‘Universal – World Wide’ Reign of Christianity prior to The Lord’s Return, although I do believe that The Church will always victorious no matter what is going on in the culture… There will always be places and countries where The Gospel and The Church will be pervasive until His Return… With the waning of Christianity in The West, and The Church making great strides in China, ‘She’ may be the next great Christian Bastian and Powerhouse of the future…? I still hold strongly to the view that The Millennium is this present age between Christ’s Two Advents…

    God Bless you Brother, I agree more than disagree with you… very much so…

  2. Kenneth Gentry July 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Vince:
    You are almost here. Keep traveling!

  3. fgsj July 31, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Amillennialist are optimistic because Christ has conquered and His kingdom is advancing as the gospel goes forth. The kingdom is not visible but invisible hands in our hearts Luke 17:21 and not as Postmille say because broad is the road that leads to destruction and many there are who find it and narrow is the road that leads to life and few there are who finds it. Matt. 7:13-14th

  4. Kenneth Gentry August 4, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Amillennialism is a branch of postmillennialism. Both Amills and Postmills are, after all, post-millennial. We both believe Christ returns after his time of rule, which is now. We agree on these two major points: Christ is now reigning; and he will return after his reign.

    However, postmillennialists are optimistic for both theological andexegetical reasons. That is, we agree theologically with Amills that Christ has won and will win the victory. But we do so on exegetical grounds, not simply theological surmises. We believe Scripture actually teaches a world-wide dominance of the gospel before Christ returns.

    Regarding the narrow gate, I believe you misinterpret what Jesus is saying. Jesus is describing his day, not all days of history. See: https://postmillennialismtoday.com/2013/10/21/is-the-narrow-gate-a-big-problem/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: