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AMERICAN POSTMILLENNIALISM

Postmillennialism —  June 14, 2012 — 5 Comments

Postmillennialism was first clearly articulated in America by a man many consider the greatest theologian in American history, New England Congregational pastor Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).

Edwards was a devoted student of Scripture, including the Book of Revelation. He also entertained fervent hopes that God might do something special among the people of New England. He was circumspect when revival broke out in his own congregation in the 1730s, but when all of New England was convulsed by spiritual awakening in the early 1740s, he could not hold back: ” ‘Tis not unlikely that this work of God’s Spirit, that is so extraordinary and wonderful, is the dawning, or at least a prelude, of that glorious work of God, so often foretold in Scripture. … And there are many things that make it probable that this work will begin in America.”

After the Great Awakening, Edwards became more cautious and dated the Millennium (a term he used rarely) somewhere around the year 2000. He believed, with many others, that this date would mark the beginning of the seventh and final millennium of world history. In the interim, much remained to be done: the fall of Satan’s kingdoms (that is, the papacy and the Ottoman Turkish empire), the conversion of the Jews, and the spread of true Christianity “through the vast regions of the earth.”

Edwards envisioned the Millennium as the church’s “triumphant state,” a time of Sabbath rest and peace. He expected it to be a time of great advance in knowledge “when neither divine nor human learning shall be confined and imprisoned within only two or three nations of Europe, but shall be diffused all over the world.” He looked forward to a time of great holiness when “visible wickedness shall be suppressed everywhere, and true holiness shall become general, though not universal,” and a time of great prosperity. He regarded Constantine’s era a type of the greater reality to come, so he also expected the Millennium to be a time when true religion would be held in great esteem and saints would rule on all fronts.

How will this all come to be? Here was Edwards’s greatest contribution: “This is a work that will be accomplished by means, by the preaching of the gospel, and the use of the ordinary means of grace, and so shall be gradually brought to pass.” Yet Edwards also expected that God’s Spirit “shall be gloriously poured out for the wonderful revival and propagation of religion.”

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Postmillennialism

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5 responses to AMERICAN POSTMILLENNIALISM

  1. Micah Martin June 14, 2012 at 6:30

    Quote from the article:

    but when all of New England was convulsed by spiritual awakening in the early 1740s, he could not hold back: ” ‘Tis not unlikely that this work of God’s Spirit, that is so extraordinary and wonderful, is the dawning, or at least a prelude, of that glorious work of God, so often foretold in Scripture. … And there are many things that make it probable that this work will begin in America.”

    End quote:

    So Edwards was fully engaged in newspaper exegesis? How ironic.

  2. So Charles Finney was a postmillenist?

  3. Charles E. Miller, BA, Old Dominion University;MA, Liberty University December 26, 2013 at 6:30

    I must say that I am a former Southern Baptist who held a pretribulational viewpoint. Due to careful thought and consideration, I no longer hold that view. I will give you an example. Pretribs believe that all babies living at the time of the rapture will be taken to heaven; however, there is a problem with this idea. What about babies born after the rapture? Remember that according to them, marriage will continue after the rapture. There are also other problems that I will not mention. I accept the opinion that Jesus will come after the millennium. When did this symbolic thousand year reign begin? I say at the first coming of Christ at the cross. It will continue until he returns to establish the new heaven and new earth. In that sense, Augustine of Hippo was a postmillennialist. But will things get better as the Church moves across the world? I would say that it is possible. The world is better than it was in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The world is not as pagan as it once was; however, there are still problems. We can only wait and see. May God bless those who follow him. Lord, help us to have victory in your Kingdom!

  4. Amen, Charles. If only we could get more believers to see this, they might start helping in the battle instead of merely waiting for the “rapture”. The world is definitely improving, especially in Asia, where so many little girls were discarded in the past. The church in China is large today and it’s beginning to grow in India. In black Africa, it’s well established now, and things are looking up there. But too many Americans look only at our country and Europe and wring their hands.

    • Charles Miller February 1, 2014 at 6:30

      I am happy to hear that, Marcia. I just wish my fellow Americans would see things as they are becoming. I am happy to hear about China and India. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you in your life and walk with Him.

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