Print Friendly and PDF

MISSING WITH WHITBY

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  February 29, 2012 — 1 Comment

Most dispensationalists are quite confused regarding the origins of postmillennialism. They are as confused over who started postmilllennialism and when it started as they are over who the Antichrist is and when the Rapture is expected.

Hal Lindsey as confidently declares its modern origins as he does the latest date of the Rapture: “There is no evidence of the distinctive teachings of Postmillennialism earlier than the seventeenth century.” Charles Baker states: “Its advocates admit that it was first taught in the seventeenth century.” Many wrongly assume that we may trace postmillennialism back only as far as Daniel Whitby in 1703. L. S Chafer alleged that Whitby was “the originator of what is known as postmillennialism.” Mal Couch puts in the Bible notes of the Prophecy Study Bible: “This view was first propagated by Daniel Whitby (AD 1638–1726), a Unitarian.”

And this was Thomas Ice’s original view:

Daniel Whitby first put forth his view in a popular work entitled Paraphrase and Commentary on the New Testament (1703). It was at the end of this work that he first set forth what he calls in his own words ‘A New Hypothesis’ on the millennial reign of Christ. Thus, the system called postmillennialism was born in the early 1700s as a hypothesis. Whitby and his modern followers present their arguments and explanations based upon unproved assumptions — assumptions resulting in a hypothesis rather than something which is the fruit of the study of Scripture or even the voice of the church.

Fortunately Ice has come to recognize his error, for in a later work he acknowledges regarding the Whitby argument: “this does not mean that elements of systematic postmillennialism did not exist prior to Whitby, for they clearly did.”

But Whitby was not the founder of postmillennialism — even of its more systematic, modern expression. Rodney Peterson writes that prior to Whitby “this perspective had undergone changes, particularly since Thomas Brightman (1562–1607).” Amillennialist Venema agrees. Brightman, who died in 1607, was one of the fathers of Presbyterianism in England. He sets forth his postmillennial views in detail in his book, A Revelation of the Revelation.

In fact, many consider Brightman’s work the “most important and influential English revision of the Reformed, Augustinian concept of the millennium,” “one of the most influential of the Puritan expositors of Revelation.” This was a century before Whitby’s 1703 article. Ball categorically denies Whitby’s foundational role. Whitby was simply not the “founder” of postmillennialism; he was a modern systematizer. He was helpful in “popularizing” postmillennialism because he present postmillennialism’s “most influential formulation” to date.

The next time a dispensationalist drops the name of Whitby in a conversation about the origins of postmillennialism, you have my permission to give them an Indian wrist burn.

Print Friendly and PDF

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Posts

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.

One response to MISSING WITH WHITBY

  1. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. May 28, 2012 at 6:30

    Yes, you may if you provide our URL link in your post.

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>