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Thursday
Jul202006

What's a Thousand Years Among Friends?

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What's a Thousand Years Among Friends?

Why amillennialism makes a whole lot more sense than premillennialism

(A lecture given at Grace Evangelical Church, URCNA, in Torrance, CA, July 19, 2006--Click here: Grace Evangelical Church:  A Member of the United Reformed Churches in North America)

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Without a doubt, most American evangelicals are firmly committed to premillennialism–the belief that an earthly millennial age of one thousand year’s duration will begin immediately after our Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Advent. Since premillennialism is so dominant in American church circles, many who encounter Reformed theology for the first time are quite surprised when they discover that all of the Protestant Reformers, as well as virtually the entire Reformed and Lutheran traditions (along with their confessions), with a few notable exceptions, are amillennial. Amillennialism is that understanding of eschatology which sees the millennium as the present course of history between the first and second Advents of our Lord (the age of the church militant), and not as a future golden age upon the earth as is taught in premillennialism and postmillennialism. In the case of both "pre" and "post" millennialism, the millennium is thought to be the age of the church triumphant, not the age of the church militant.

I am convinced that the reason why so many people reject amillennialism is simply that they do not understand the basic end-times scenario taught throughout the New Testament. Part of the problem is that dispensational premillennial writers have completely dominated Christian media and publishing for the last fifty years. There are literally hundreds of books, churches, and parachurch ministries, all devoted to taking premillennialism, dispensationalism, and the so-called "pre-tribulation" rapture idea to the masses. Many of these teachers and ministries are very effective and compelling in their presentations. Look at the sales of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, which was the best-selling book in the USA in the 1980's. And then there is the Left Behind series of novels, and the accompanying videos, journals, games, and whatever else LaHaye and Jenkins have cranked out, which have cumulatively sold well over 50 million units.

I can only lament the fact that my own tradition has done so little to produce popular books introducing and defending amillennialism. It is my guess that a number of you have never heard the case for the classical position held by Reformed Christians regarding the return of Christ and the millennial age.

To read the rest of this lecture, click here

Reader Comments (15)

By the way, chiliasts need to get it straight.

Although Jesus is the Lion (of the tribe of Judah) and the Lamb (who takes away the sin of the world), it is the WOLF that lies with the Lamb and the Lion likes with the OX during the New Heav... I mean during the "millennium." (Isa 11:6-7)
July 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNit Picker
I heard pastor Kim at this cofference and I was impressed as I have not heard anyone teach good Eschatology. Pastor Kim answered dozens of questions from all the views. I am now intreaged to read Eschatology. Thank you for making it fun to learn again.
July 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertiminator
Thanks again for coming to our church. It was good to see you again.
July 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
Are you going to post the lecture given at Grace Evangelical Church?
July 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony
I have a copy of your book on Amillenialism but won't have a chance to get to it until this fall. I am an amil myself and continue my study of eschatology as I get a chance.

I read your paper today and have a question about the "two age" discussion. This certainly seems like a central key to the proper understanding of eschatology. Here's my question: how does Jesus' response to the disciples' question in Matt 24:3 fit into your two age scenario? It seems to me that what he gives as an answer indicates the end of the Old Testament era/age with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. That would be an earlier age to the two you mention. Similarly, Peter's remarks when quoting Joel on the day of Pentecost when he says that "in the last days I will pour out my Spirit," it seems best (to me) to understand these as the last days of the OT era since the NT era is just beginning. In your paper, you seem to equate these last days with the NT era but from Joel's perspective, it would make better sense (to me) to equate them with the last days of the OT era.

What do you think?
July 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Smith
Greg,
Here are some FREE lectures by Dr. Riddlebarger. He has a two part lecture on Matthew 24. I think it will answer your question about the passage.

http://tinyurl.com/mxxn8

Brian
July 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
It seems to be so easy to understand. And......it really fits! We studied all the other views and decided Amill was it hands down. Thanks Kim for all the research you have done on this and made it available to all of us.
July 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterplw
If you're going to mention Hal Lindsey, why not mention his book, "The 1980's: COuntdown to Armageddon."?
July 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpilgrim
Kim,
In the evangelical circles I travel - George Ladd has had the strongest influence on evangelicals (concerning premillennialism) I know and have meet. Not to mention the influence of Robert Gundry, James Boice, Douglas Moo, Walter Kaiser, etc. Pre-Trib is a house of cards and I know very few who are influenced by it.
July 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn
nice lecture, for sure.

what has always resonanted with me about the so-called amil position is the same thing that has resonanted with me about reformed orthodoxy from a to z: its simplicity! you can't beat the awful simplicity! i love it. as with all things classically reformed and confessional, i have always had that "i knew it!" response upon hearing it. everything from the law-gospel categories to the augustianian-calvinist soteriology to amil eschatology, reformed orthodoxy just makes plain old sense...
July 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
Couldn't agree with you more zrim............you said it quite well. Same thing happened to us.
July 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterplw
can I get an Amen! I agree with both of you
July 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTiminator
um...it goes against my confessional piety, tim, but here goes...amen. oh, that felt good...and hallelujah! oh, that felt good, too.

self-control over self-expression, self-control over self-expression...:)

seriously though...i NEVER was able to follow all those blessed flow charts and stuff the rapturists always had. oy, it was like trying to make sense of some kind of puzzle. i know scripture can be perplexing at times, but do we really HAVE to go out of our way to chop it all up into undiscernible parts? the look on my evangelical friends' faces is just priceless when i suggest the rapture is a fairy tale wrapped in a ghost story good for only scaring the hoopla out of bible campers so they make a "decision for Jesus" out of their own resources in order to become better people.
July 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterzrim
I am not Reformed, but have been challenged as I consider the Reformed positions on many topics. However, eschatology is one that has always baffled me. I read the lecture, and it's good. However, I was amazed that it spends all of its time referencing Jesus and Paul, and only a few verses talking about Revelation at all!

Can anyone provide links or some more information regarding how the Reformed position interprets the book of Revelation? Many thanks in advance.
July 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChris
The internet monk's blog today on evangelicalism has this comment:

"Left Behind" has achieved almost canonical status in some churches. Riddlebarger’s book on amillenialism convinced me that credible alternatives do exist and that one does not have to be liberal or anti-Semitic to subscribe to them.

August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMirons

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