Robert Strimple is a Reformed scholar and former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California. He is a strong advocate of amillennialism who deems postmillennialism to be a skewed eschatological system.
Strimple commits an error in theological argumentation that is commonly witnessed in amillennial circles. I believe that he either overstates his case, or he holds to an historically indefensible position.
On page 63 of Darrell L. Bock, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (1998) Strimple boldly declares that Jesus “tells his disciples that in this present age they cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution.” Read this carefully: disciples of the Lord “cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution.” Strimple is here speaking of Christians as such, not just the first century disciples, the Apostles. This is evident in that:
(1) In the preceding paragraph (p. 62) Strimple is rebutting my postmillennialism: “Gentry writes that Christ ‘will be with [his people] through the many days until the end to oversee the successful completing of the task. This is the postmillennial hope.’” His concern involves my expectation for “his [Christ's] people,” not just the Apostles.
(2) His whole paragraph is presenting insights for “us” today. Two sentences before his overstatement he writes: “Think, for example, of what the Lord Jesus himself has taught us” (emphasis added).
(3) In the very next sentence (the one immediately preceding the overstatement) he observes: “Our Lord knows of only two ages, the present age and the age to come.” And Strimple clearly states that Jesus “tells his disciples that in this present age they cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution.” Thus, Strimple is commenting on “us,” i. e., we who are Christ’s disciples in “this present age.”
But is it true that Christians during the entirety of “this present age” cannot expect anything other than persecution? Is Strimple being persecuted? Are you? I know I am not. Are teaching conditions at Westminster so horrendous and life in Southern California so torturous that he may properly claim that he can expect nothing more than oppression and persecution?
We must remember that persecution is serious, life-and-death oppression by external forces, not mere teasing, ridicule, and such. At least here in America Christians are not under persecution. His theological expectation is falsified by our historical experience. And since is a universal assertion, it is false on its very surface.