Because of postmillennialism’s long-term expectations, many evangelicals complain that this eschatology undermines the spirit of watchfulness enjoined upon Christ’s Church. After all, by the very nature of the case postmillennialism denies the “imminent” return of Christ. For instance, best-selling dispensationalist author Dave Hunt laments postmillennialism because, in it “there is an increasing antagonism against eagerly watching and waiting for Christ’s return, which surely was the attitude of the early church.” Many see this denial of the imminency of Christ’s return as destroying a spur to sanctification. But consider:
1. Such an objection is based on a flawed understanding of holiness
Denying imminency does not forfeit a spur to holiness. Surely sanctification is not encouraged by believing a falsehood, that Christ may return in one’s own lifetime. Those who argue for an “any moment” view of the return of Christ as a major spur for holy living ultimately root sanctification in erroneous expectations! After all, Christ was not to return in the first 2000 years of Christian history, despite the many who expected him to do so. Is sanctification encouraged by error?
2. Such an objection overlooks a more immediate reality
Furthermore, imminence should be a far less significant spur to holiness than the realization that we could die this very minute. We are statistically more certain that we will die in a relatively short time (Ps 90:4–6, 10; 1 Pe 1:24) than we are that Christ will return today. This has proven true for 2000 years. Jesus even used this reality in many of his parables, such as the Parable of the Rich Barn Owner. In that parable the rich man built bigger barns to store his wealth, only to suddenly die in losing it.
3. Such an objection forgets the ultimate reality
Every Christian knows that he lives constantly under the moment-by-moment scrutiny of Almighty God. We cannot escape his presence during any moment of life, for “there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:13). The absolute theological certainty of our absolute present openness to the Lord ought to move us to serve him more faithfully, even more so than the prospect that he may possibly return today (which has been wrong for 2000 years).