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POSTMILLENNIALISM V. AMILLENNIALISM

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Historic Differences

In discussing the differences in Reformed Eschatological views, I’ve been asked to defend the postmillennial view against the more popular Amillennial view. The challenge here is to clearly define views that, over time, are slowly evolving into each other, particularly with the rise of “optimistic Amillennialism”. The similarities are as follows:

1.) All modern Amillennialists (with the exception of Hyper-preterists) are Postmillennial in the sense that they believe that Christ will return after the “millennium” which they would define as the current church age.

2.) Most (if not all) modern Postmillennialists are Amillennial in that they don’t believe in a literal “millennium”. However, they do hold to a future millennial age (not necessarily 1,000 years) in which the conversion of “Israel after the flesh” will lift part of the curse on Creation.

In the past, however, these two schools had greater differences. Amillennialists have historically been pessimistic about the future of the gospel. In the early church, both chiliasts and amillennialists held that the Roman Empire would wax worse and worse, until the last and worst emperor of all (antichrist) would eventually be destroyed by Christ’s Second Advent.

A similar timeline would be suitable for classic postmillennialism as well, with two major differences. The first is that early postmillennialists were more likely than Amillennialists to suggest a date for the Second Advent due to the belief that they were already in the literal millennium. The second difference is, unlike the other eschatologies, postmillennialism was optimistic about the effects of the gospel in the “church age” (though most did hold to a future antichrist).

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