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DOES HISTORICAL DECLINE DISPROVE POSTMILLENNIALISM?

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  3 Comments

Many consult the newspapers and point out that the world is in a great moral and spiritual decline, which is antithetical to postmillennialism’s historical optimism. For instance, dispensationalist theologian Paul N. Benware responds against postmillennialism that “the idea that the world is getting better and better does not at all seem to be in line with reality. The evidence points rather to a world that is growing more and more wicked.” Postmillennialists are well aware of world conditions, and yet we continue with our optimistic outlook for the following reasons.

1. Such an objection employs a wrong method

The problem with this objection is that it selects too narrow a sample. We must be aware that when we consider the wider, historical long run, world circumstances and particularly conditions for the Christian Church have greatly improved since Christianity’s inception in the first century. We must recall the continuing Jewish persecution of the Church and the wider, more destructive Roman persecutions of the first three centuries. That is, taking into account the big picture, we must ask: Are Christians as a class today generally better off than were Christians as a class of the first two or three centuries? Are world conditions better today in Christian-influenced areas than they were in the first century under Nero? Anyone who is aware of the Roman persecutions against the early Church should understand that Christians today are in a much better situation in wider swaths of the earth today.

2. Such an objection involves an erroneous definition

We must note that nothing in the postmillennial definition requires either relentlessly forward progress or the kingdom’s reaching its highest advance by any particular date. The gradualistic postmillennialism I present in this book simply teaches that before the end the kingdom of God will reach world-dominating proportions. Thus, until history ends this argument cannot undermine the postmillennial hope. Glorious revivals may yet occur — as the postmillennialist expects.

 

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

3 responses to DOES HISTORICAL DECLINE DISPROVE POSTMILLENNIALISM?

  1. I agree that we (both Christians and unbelievers) have it better now than we did in the past, but there certainly seems to be a decline in the churches. Truth speaking seems to be rare these days.

    Also, since you expect revivals to occur, are you saying that certain things need to happen before the consummation? Is the last day NOT imminent?

    It’s partly these issues that a keep me in the amillennialial (preterist) camp.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. February 15, 2012 at 6:30

      Postmillennialism teaches that before the END, history will have improved under the impact of the gospel and the suasion of the Holy Spirit. It does not say that before 2012 is must do so.

      I believe the return of Christ is sure and certain, but not imminent. This is why Jesus speaks of a “long time” remaining (Matt 24:48; 25:19) and many “epochs” (Acts 1:7). Christ gave the great commission with the intent that it be accomplished under his universal authority (Matt 28:18) and with his continual presence through (literally) “all the days” (Matt 28:20). The great commission commands the disciples to “disciple all nations, baptizing them” (Matt 28:19). He does not simply say: “Witness” to all nations. Nor: disciple and baptize people from “out of” the nations. He commands that they should disciple all nations. This has been taking time.

  2. By the way. I know it’s just an ad, but do you realize that the theistic evolutionist BioLogos Foundation appears a lot on this blog?

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