Print Friendly and PDF

MODERN POSTMILLENNIALISM

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  June 13, 2014 — 11 Comments
Schaff

Who are the postmillennialists who have written in modern times? The Christian marketplace is filled with dispensationalist “prophecy experts.” But are there any modern proponents of postmillennialism? And if so, who are they?

Though they seldom write multi-billion selling books. And despite the fact they almost never have movie series based on their theological writings. And though their prophecy charts are seldom in four-color format, modern postmillennialists have existed during the whole time of the dispensational hegemony, from when it was created (1830) to the present.

Generic postmillennialists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries generally do not hold that the Jewish people will return to their land as a fulfillment of prophecy — though Iain Murray and Erroll Hulse are notable contemporary exceptions. They also believe that the millennium spans all of the new covenant phase of church history, developing incrementally from the time of Christ until his Second Advent.

Prominent generic postmillennial writers include: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), William Carey (1761-1834), Robert Haldane (1764-1842), Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), Charles Hodge (1797-1878), Albert Barnes (1798-1870), David Brown (1803-1897), Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1874), Richard C. Trench (1807-1886), J. A. Alexander (1809-1860), William G. T. Shedd (1820-1894), A. A. Hodge (1823-1886), Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921), H. C. G. Moule (1841-1920), B. B. Warfield (1851-1921), O. T. Allis (1880-1973), J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), John Murray (1898-1975), Loraine Boettner (1903-1989), and J. Marcellus Kik (1903-1965). Contemporary defenders include: Norman Shepherd, John Jefferson Davis, Erroll Hulse, Iain Murray, Donald Macleod, Douglas Kelly, John R. deWitt, J. Ligon Duncan, Henry Morris III, and Willard Ramsey.


Eschatological Themes: Postmillennialism and Preterism (7 CDs)
These lectures cover themes important for understanding the relationship of preterism and postmillennialism.
The issues covered are not only important but fascinating as you come to realize better and better
that the looming of AD 70 had an enormous influence on the New Testament.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


A development within the postmillennial tradition since the 1960s is known as Christian Reconstructionism, involving “theonomic” ethics  (“theonomy”= “God’s Law”). Theonomic postmillennialism (a feature of Christian Reconstructionism) combines the inter-advental gradualism of the modern generic variety with the socio-political interests of the older Puritan form. The theonomic postmillennialist sees the gradual return to biblical norms of civil justice as a consequence of widespread gospel success through preaching, evangelism, missions, and Christian education. The judicial-political outlook of Reconstructionism includes the application of those justice-defining directives contained in the Old Testament legislation, when properly interpreted, adapted to new covenant conditions, and relevantly applied. [1]

Despite widespread misunderstanding of the Reconstructionist interest in socio-political matters, evangelical theologian Ronald H. Nash notes: “It does not take a postmillennialist to see that their account of the central role that evangelism and Christian obedience to the Word of God must play in the transformation of society is miles removed from the repeated distortions” common among certain opponents. [2] As Mark Noll expresses it: “Theonomy sounds a good deal like populist libertarianism, yet by insisting on carefully formulated theological foundations for political action, it too pushes toward a more self-conscious political reflection than is customary in the evangelical tradition.” [3]


Postmillennial Lectures (DVDs by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.)
Formal seminary course developing and defending postmillennial eschatology.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Reconstructionists hold strongly to a separation of church and state. [4] Consequently, they reject the sometimes overly close church-state relationship advocated by many of the English and New England Puritans. Nevertheless, they do admire the Puritans’s deep interest in and work for the application of the whole Word of God to all matters of life, including civil jurisprudence. One Puritan example who serves as a clear forerunner to the Reconstructionist outlook, is the prominent Scottish divine George Gillespie, who is known as “one of the brightest stars” of the Westminster Assembly. [5] Gillespie argues: “the Christian Magistrate is bound to observe the judicial laws of Moses, as well as the Jewish Magistrate was.” He also notes that Christ’s words in Matthew 5:17-19 (a favorite text of Reconstructionists) “are comprehensive of the judicial law, it being a part of the law of Moses.” [6] In that many opponents of Reconstructionism recognize the similarity between it and Puritanism in this regard. In fact, Christian Reconstructionism is often called Neo-Puritanism.

Notes

1. For a thorough and academic presentation and defense of theonomic ethics, see: Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, 2d. ed. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1982).

[2] Ronald H. Nash, Great Divides: Understanding the Controversies That Come Between Christians (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 1993), 164-65

[3] Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 225.

[4] Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, ch. 20

[5] Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 1: The History of Creeds, 6th ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1931; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 746.

[6] George Gillespie, “Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty,” reprinted in vol. 4 of Christopher Coldwell, ed., Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature (Dallas, Tex.: Naphtali, 1991), 182.

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.

11 responses to MODERN POSTMILLENNIALISM

  1. Ken these articles have been excellent, especially for those that are fairly new to the Postmillennial view.
    I do have a question for you after reading this: are you a ‘theonomic postmillennialist’ ? I have read some of Rushdoony’s material and found it helpful. Would appreciate any comments you might have.

    Thanks,
    -David

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 13, 2014 at 6:30

      Yes, I am. As a matter of fact, I have touched on theonomy several times on this blog site. You can SEARCH for “theonomy.” For instance, see:

      I have even written several books touching on the topic:
      Covenantal Theonomy:

      God’s Law Made Easy:

      A booklet: Theonomy and Confession:

      And for several years I taught a college course on theonomy at Christ College:

  2. Dr. Gentry,

    Thank you for your reflections. As you define modern generic postmillenialism, you seem to leave room for amillenial viewpoints. Are you including amillenialism as a species of postmillenialism, and (if not) what excludes amillenials from your definition?

    Thanks, and God bless,

    Jonathan

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 16, 2014 at 6:30

      Historically, what we call “amillennialism” was, in fact, a species of “postmillennialism.” Up until the Twentieth Century we would read only about premillennialism and postmillennialism. Both our modern amill and postmill systems are ultimately post - millennial in that they both believe we are now in the millennium and that Christ will not return until after the millennium.

      The basic, most fundamental distinction between amill and postmill thought is that of optimism. Postmills believe there will definitely be a time in earth history in which the majority of men will be converted and a resulting period of peace and prosperity. Amills do not believe that.

  3. Kevin Klosski June 14, 2014 at 6:30

    Dr, Gentry,

    I so appreciate this site. I love being optimistic and pessimistic of the prevailing saving grace of the gospel of Christ. I also have a strong bent or leaning toward the Theonomic Post-mil Position that I have come to believe is taught in scripture thanks to your book “He shall have Dominion”. I also have your book “Covenantal Theonomy” and Greg Bahnsen classic book on “Theonomy in Christian Ethics”

    I do have a question for you. Johnathan Edwards was Post-Mill also but I don’t think he held to a theonomic position as many do today. You can correct on that if I am wrong because I am only guessing. Edwards believed in mighty outpourings of the Spirit of God to revive the church in holiness and love toward Christ and the Salvation of many souls. Revivals according to God’s sovereign pleasure and His
    timing. Is their any place in your belief system in the word of God for this and do you teach it as a real possibility? Thank you for your answer and your help to clear up any confusion I may have in my question. This site has been very edifying and educational to me. Praise to the Glory of God’s Grace!!

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 16, 2014 at 6:30

      Kevin:
      I am not sure about Edwards’ position on the Law. But I suspect there will be times of great revival that punctuate history. We saw this in the Great Awakening, and before that, in the Reformation. Let’s pray for revival today!

  4. Kevin Klosski June 30, 2014 at 6:30

    Hello Dr. Gentry.

    I began thinking about 2 Timothy chapter 3 today and wondering how it fit in with the Post-mil teaching of the Word of God. Because there are so many objections to the Post-mil teaching of scripture, especially with these verses of scripture. I have your book entitled ‘HE Shall Have Dominion”. Both the 2nd and 3rd edition. I was originally going to ask you about this but remembered you had already sufficiently answered it in your book exegetically. So I grabbed the second edition and re-read what you had wrote and was full of the joy of the Lord and thanking God that in the future the whole earth shall be covered with the glory of the Lord as water cover the seas. So convincing is God’s word when it is not as you said, “exegetically flawed and anti-contextual communicated” The “perilous times in verse 1 of chapter 3 as you clearly and persuasively show speaks of “season and that nothing in these verses is contra-postmillennial. You made the “audience relevance” very clear understandable as Paul was speaking to Timothy about the things he would have to face and endure, You list verses 10 and 14 as support for this. You also said that Paul was not talking about a long term process of History. You mentioned about some amill and premil dispensationalism who use these verses of scripture to disprove postmil teaching of scripture. Actually these verses of scriptures support postmil teaching of God’s word. So it is true we will see at times perilous seasons through history as I think we are seeing now, but even now there are millions upon millions of Christians and true genuine christian churches in the world. We are definitely in a season of spiritual and moral decline I believe and they (the wicked and ungodly) have seemed to increased in power and influence and it seems overshadowing the power and influence of the church to bring individual salvation to souls and social sanctification to society. Would you agree that they humanist secular unbelieving world has increased in power and influence using the United States as a specific example. Not just individuals but a culture and society as a whole and in general. There are many who are accepting the teaching of postmil and theonomy from scripture. It is no longer just you, Gary North, Josh Mcdowell, the late Greg Bahnsen etc. God has blessed you all to the Body of Christ and we are seeing the truth of His word spread and beginning to prevail gradually and progressively. Is this just the beginning incipient stages of God’s word that is all powerful? Do you think we will see great changes in individuals hearts (salvation) and greater social sanctification in our time? I am 46 years old and would love to see this nation remember her God, repent whole heartilly and return to the Lord. I also desire to see God’s law established as the rule of the land. I want to see the Great Commission blessed supernaturally to a degree that many souls are saved and nations become Christian Civilizations with many godly cultures. Do you think we may see an increase of this in our day and age. I know God’s word is true and will uttimately prevail but in many ways it seems the ungodly and wickedness are running rampant and they are in authority and have great power not just individually but as a culture. I do pray for the salvation of the ungodly daily and for those in authority so we can live peaceful and godly lives. Right now I see Christian liberities disentergrating daily it seems. Is it right according to scripture to pray and ask God to destroy the wicked reprobate (those already abandoned to eternal damnation) as King David did in the book of Psalms even though he instructed sinnners in the Way of Righteousness. I mean to pray indiscrimanetly and let God do the disciminating ( ACCORDING TO HIS WILL) when it comes to Him destroying the reprobate already abandoned to eternal salvation. In the same sense as we pray for sinners and ministers preach to sinners indiscrimanetly leaving the discriminating to God who is mighty to save. Also praying that God would arise and His enemies be scattered causing confusion, fear and reversal of their progression of evil in this day and age? I know I may be confused on this so please correct me and instruct please. Thank you so much Dr. Gentry.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. June 30, 2014 at 6:30

      Thanks for your note! And your encouraging enthusiasm. We must recognize that currently unbelieving humanism is making great strides. But as postmills we must recognize that “it ain’t over til its over.” Thus, we have time to pray for revival. The definition of postmillennialism doesn’t say that “by the year 2014″ the kingdom will have come to full power.I hope we do see a revival in our time. But my postmillennial exegesis does not say we will see a revival in the year 2014. Keep praying!

      • Kevin Klosski June 30, 2014 at 6:30

        Thanks so much Dr. Gentry. Much of what I wrote is just me repeating what I have I have received and been instructed from ministers like yourself. Still I would like to ask you if it is biblical to ask God in prayer to destroy the wicked reprobate whom only God knows is already abandoned for eternal salvation. I know if this is true of scripture it probably should be used sparingly (maybe for a time of spiritual decline and increase of immorality we are seeing now..I don’t know), and most of all we should remember the Cross of Christ and saving mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. So we should pray and witness for the salvation of sinners daily as instructed within the word of God. But in the Psalms I read much praying about God destroying the wicked. Is this biblical to do today and how are we to do it in a God-Glorifying manner? To what degree and how often if at all? Even the Apostle Paul pronounced a curse on all who did not love the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not trying to get away from the main thrust and meaning of the Great Commission, just wondering what your thoughts are concerning this subject.. Thanks once again. Just want to be sure I am understanding God’s word correctly. don’t mean to put you on the hot seat….:)

      • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 1, 2014 at 6:30

        The Bible presents to us “imprecatory prayers,” prayers to God to judge the wicked who are assailing God’s people. I believe the principle still operates today. Yet, such prayers are to be used in serious circumstances of resistance to God, as when his people are persecuted. Imprecatory prayers should not be used when we disagree with someone. But even before imprecations, we should prayer for their conversion — and should continue to do so even when we feel it necessary to undertake imprecatory prayers.

  5. Kevin Klosski July 1, 2014 at 6:30

    Thank you Dr. Gentry. I will do just that, letting my prayer most preeminently be for the Salvation of sinners through saving Gospel of Christ. I also read your post on being a being post-mil in a Obama world. I agree we do not live in a Obama world but God’s world and what is revealed in God’s word about the most important calling on my life. Being a Christian and being salt and light in the world of darkness and sin. Because I really don’t know if this would be considered a time of great persecution in this day and age we live in or not.

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>