ESCHATOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

Gradual buildingPMT 2016-005 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Many Christians, particularly dispensationalists, write-off postmillennialism as a modern theological construct. Nothing could be further from the truth. Multi-million-selling dispensationalist populist Hal Lindsey confidently declares: “There is no evidence of the distinctive teachings of Postmillennialism earlier than the seventeenth century” (Lindsey, Road to Holocaust [New York: Bantam, 1989], 29). Dispensational theologian Charles F. Baker agrees: “Its advocates admit that it was first taught in the seventeenth century” (Baker, Dispensational Theology [Grand Rapids: Grace Bible College, 1971], 623).

To make matters worse, many parrot the view that we may trace postmillennialism back to Daniel Whitby in 1703. Major dispensationalist theologian, Lewis S. Chafer wrote that Whitby was “the originator of what is known as postmillennialism.” (Chafer, Systematic Theology [Dallas, Tex.: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947], 4:280-281.) Present-day dispensational populist Mal Couch puts in the Bible notes of Tim LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible (p. 1530): “This view was first propagated by Daniel Whitby (AD 1638-1726), a Unitarian.”

This position — though widely cited — is quite erroneous. Let’s see how this is so.


The Beast of RevelationBeast of Revelation
by Ken Gentry

A popularly written antidote to dispensational sensationalism and newspaper exegesis. Convincing biblical and historical evidence showing that the Beast was the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, the first civil persecutor of the Church. The second half of the book shows Revelation’s date of writing, proving its composition as prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A thought-provoking treatment of a fascinating and confusing topic.

For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com


We must realize, in the first place, that the early creedal formulations of Christianity provide only the most rudimentary elements of eschatology. For instance, the Apostle’s Creed simply affirms: “He ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead,” and a belief “in the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.” The eschatology of the Nicene Creed makes only very slight advances, asserting that he “ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.”

Both amillennialism and postmillennialism fit comfortably within these and other ancient creedal affirmations. Premillennialism’s fit is a bit more awkward, however, due to its requiring two separate resurrections and two distinct judgments rather than general ones involving all men simultaneously. Consequently, as classic dispensationalist Robert P. Lightner admits: “None of the major creeds of the church include premillennialism in their statements” (Robert P. Lightner, The Last Days Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Different Views of Prophecy [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990], 158.)

In fact, not one of the millennial views is expressly affirmed by any early creed as the orthodox position. This is not surprising in that, as evangelical theologian Millard J. Erickson explains, “all three millennial positions have been held virtually throughout church history.” (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985], 3:1207).


I Will Be Your GodI will Be Your God
by T. M. Moore
This book is dedicated to encouraging such an outlook on life. It does so by promoting a better understanding of the nature, meaning, and implications of living in God’s covenant.

For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com


This noted, we should expect to find a gradual development of the millennial schemes, rather than a fully-functioning system in early Christian history. Indeed, leading dispensationalist theologian John F. Walvoord confesses when defending dispensationalism: “It must be conceded that the advanced and detailed theology of pretribulationism is not found in the Fathers, but neither is any other detailed and ‘established’ exposition of premillennialism. The development of most important doctrines took centuries” (John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957], 52).

Nevertheless, we may look into early Christian history and find: Postmillennial Beginnings. But I will not begin that article until my next blog!

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