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IS POSTMILLENNIALISM UNBALANCED?

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 11, 2012 — 14 Comments

Dispensationalists often speak of culturally-concerned postmillennialism as entailing a misguided primary focus for the Church.  This is due to their radical misunderstanding not only of the nature of the kingdom, but the postmillennial view of the essential focus of the gospel and the wide-reaching nature of redemption. They claim our “view of dominion is misdirected.  Only the God-Man, Jesus Christ, is destined to rightfully rule over the people of this earth.”[1]

This is woefully mistaken. Postmillennialists believe that evangelism is the absolute pre-condition to worldwide, postmillennial success. We deeply believe in the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14-15).  We insist that cultural influence and change are to be promoted by God’s people — who are saved by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-10) — at large in their callings, not by the institutional Church as such.  But House and Ice prefer to paint postmillennialists as those who see evangelism as a super-addition to Christian enterprise in the world. They charge that “evangelism has certainly been added to the Cultural Mandate” by postmillennialist, “but their real goal is the Cultural Christianization of the world.”[2]

But the postmillennialist recoils at such a suggestion. How can “Christianization” occur without the priority of evangelism?  According to the order in Matthew 28:19-20: evangelism, leading to baptism, comes first.  Then follows “teaching” the converts “all things” Christ taught, with a full assurance of Christ’s age-long presence with them to promote more evangelism and more teaching of all things He taught!  We deeply believe that “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), but that we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” because “God shall supply all our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:13, 19).

Thus, we believe that “if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20b).  This leads us to “work out [our] own salvation [in all of life] with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12,13).  In the final analysis, “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).  All of this hope has but one foundation: the gospel of the resurrected Christ (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 3:11).  Hence Paul’s testimony regarding his approach: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).



Notes

1. Wayne House and Thomas Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?, 141.

2. House and Ice, Dominion Theology, 150

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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.

14 responses to IS POSTMILLENNIALISM UNBALANCED?

  1. You guys are very misdirected in your teachings. The King must come back to rule the earth. Yes it was the mistake of the Jews to believe that their Messiah would be a conqueror in the flesh, but that is when He came as the Lamb. The next time around He will come in wrath to conquer and then set up His 1,000 year reign in the flesh as the KING of kings… He came humbly the next time it will be as the conquering King. I am so sorry that you have misdirected many into believing somehow the actual Kingdom is here. The only Kingdom we have is now in our spirits but will one day be in this world when Jesus comes back. He will fix everything. Right now Satan is the “god of this world” system.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 11, 2012 at 6:30

      Kathy:

      Thanks for reading! And thanks for your note. I hope you will keep reading, though. I notice that you have not quoted Scripture. Be careful about blindly picking up on a popular construct untethered from the Bible.

      Luke 17:20: Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

      Matt 12:28: But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

      Col 1:13: For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

    • Kathy,

      Are you saying that Christ is impotent to act from heaven – that He can only carry out His will from earth? Is He sitting on His throne in heaven wringing His hands because He (and by implication, also the Father and Holy Spirit, since God is One) are powerless to act until He physically returns to earth? Doesn’t the Bible teach that Christ does in fact have a physical presence in the world – namely His Church? Doesn’t His church derive its power and authority from Christ since Christ Himself has declared that ALL power and authority has been given to Him, and by implication, to all those who are in Christ, namely those who He has saved – His Church? Doesn’t ALL authority include authority over All of creation including this present earth and all those who are in it?

      Please answer these questions for me.

      I look forward to your reply!

    • Kathy, I was taught Dispensationalism my whole life. I came across Gary DeMar’s book, Last Days Madness, 3 years ago. I read it and have been reading it off and on ever since, plus other books from Gary DeMar and Kenneth Gentry. I had never heard this teaching before so at first it “felt” so wrong simply because it was new to me. Honestly, the more I read, the more it makes sense!! It has changed my outlook on life because of the way I view the future, which is incredible to me!! I haven’t discussed this with too many people YET bc they would probably brand me as a “heretic”…even though this is not a salvation issue!! Keep reading…you might be pleasantly surprised like I was!

  2. T.Cruz/Sandra Cruz June 11, 2012 at 6:30

    Amen, Ken. Thanks.

  3. Wow, I am still trying to find in the Bible where it says he is going to reign on earth for 1000 years. Great article, Ken. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Hey, what do you thank about that Kirk Cameron? Is he really becoming a postmillennialist like us?

  4. Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven,having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
    Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
    Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
    Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
    Rev 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
    Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
    Rev 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
    Rev 20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
    Rev 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
    Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
    Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
    Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
    Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
    Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
    Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 12, 2012 at 6:30

      Deano:
      Thanks for your reference to Rev 20. Your reference is insightful: this binding of Satan in Rev 20 ultimately occurred in the first century, which enables Christ’s people to “spoil” the goods of the devil and develop human culture to God’s glory. As Jesus declared in Matt 12:28-29 “if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.”

      Our (derivative) power comes from our present enthronement with Christ whereby we rule and reign with him. Eph 2:4-6 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

      Thus, as Rev puts it (though in highly symbolic fashion), we are in Christ’s kingdom now, and have been since the first century. This agrees with Paul who said to the first-century Christians at Colassae: Col 1:13 “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”

      And because of all of this we can now go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28:18–20). Thus, we read in 1 Cor 3:21: So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”

  5. It does seem the 1000 years coincides with the entire 1st century. Have you noticed that around 1,000 A.D. was when corruption really started in the church, from Henry II killing Thomas to three popes at one time, and it continues. Look at the newspapers. The Vatican is in trouble again, from pedophilia to the Vatican bank.
    If I understand you correctly, Satan was chained long enough for Christianity to flourish, and Satan was again released. Is this correct?

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 13, 2012 at 6:30

      The “1000 years” of Revelation is a symbolic time frame consisting of a “perfect” value of 10 x 10 x 10. It should not be understood literalistically. It stands for a long period of time, not necessarily 365,000 days of 24 hours each. It is still going on today.

      One thousand is often used in Scripture symbolically. The thousand here is no more literal than that which affirms God’s ownership of the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10), or promises Israel will be a thousand times more numerous (Dt 1:11), or measures God’s love to a thousand generations (Dt 7:9), or expresses the desire for a thousand years in God’s courts (Ps 84:10), or compares a thousand years of our time to one of God’s days (Ps 90:4).

      Satan is still bound in terms of the reason John gives for his binding: Rev 20:3 “he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” That is, he is constrained in his deceiving the nations, which means he cannot stop the spread of the gospel to the nations. His short release will be in the future.

      Be aware, though, don’t let an opponent of this view try to turn the problem on you by saying: “It sure must have been a long chain! Look at what Satan is doing in the world!” I am not the one who says Satan was bound: I am just reporting Christ’s words. Matt 12:26-29: “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.”

  6. John Gibbons July 26, 2012 at 6:30

    Darrell, I recently emailed Gary DeMar about Kirk Cameron and what he stated to me is that Kirk is “in transition”. This was about a month ago.

  7. Charles E. Miller, BA, MAR January 24, 2014 at 6:30

    I do admit that there are still problems in the world; however, the Church needs to participate in the world in order to spread the influence of the Kingdom to bring about the world of Isaiah 11, 65:17-25 and 66. Remember how Christian people such as William Lloyd Garrison and Julia Ward Howe worked to end the evils of slavery. They were Postmillennialists. This can be seen in the church hymn “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The world has become better; even amillennialist William Hendriksen admitted that in his book “More than Conquerors.” The millennium will last for an indefinite period of time before the Lord Jesus returns; therefore, work in all areas of society is important. After many years of biblical study, I cannot see how Left Behind Theology fits the Bible and its teachings. I believe with the help of the Holy Spirit we shall turn weapons of war into tools of peace. Jesus is now ruling from Heaven, our eternal home. Let us work to make a Christianized World before the Master comes.

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