Many opponents of postmillennialism reject the hope-filled outlook because of their strong convictions regarding the power of sin. Like me, they are committed to Calvinistic doctrine regarding man’s total depravity. Total depravity teaches that man is a fallen sinner and depraved in every aspect of being. How can we have any hope for a better world governed by sinful men?
In dispensationalist J. Dwight Pentecost’s assessment of the deficiencies of postmillennialism, his fourth objection is along these lines. He speaks of “the new trend toward realism in theology and philosophy, seen in neo-orthodoxy, which admits man is a sinner, and can not bring about the new age anticipated by postmillennialism” (Pentecost, Things to Come, 387). Prophetic populist Hal Lindsey asserts that postmillennialism believes in “the inherent goodness of man” (Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 176).
Herman Hanko, a strong Calvinist, is convinced that “from the fall on, the world develops the sin of our first parents. This development continues throughout history. . . . More and more that kingdom of darkness comes to manifestation as time progresses” (Hanko, “An Exegetical Refutation of Postmillennialism,” Protestant Reformed Theological Journal [11:2] 25). Indeed, in his view postmillennialism “is a mirage, therefore, a false hope, because it fails to reckon properly with the fact of sin” and “cannot take sin as seriously as do the Scriptures” (Hanko, “The Illusory Hope of Postmillennialism,” Reformed Witness, 159).
How can the postmillennialist get around such objections? Especially Calvinist postmillennialists, like me? I will answer this question in two articles.