2. Millennial Models
2.4 Premillennial Dispensationalism
3. Drivers behind the models
3.1 Relationship between the Old and New Testaments - Prophecy 3.2 Structure of Revelation
The subject of Eschatology is vast with many differing views. The main preoccupation of Eschatological debates over the years has been around the ‘millennium’. This paper is going to describe the traditional millennial views of Postmillennialism, Amillennialism, Premillennialism and Dispensational Premillennialism as they are most broadly understood. In fact we will see that there is really only two views, the more symbolic view of a millennial age before Christ’s return and the more literal one thousand year reign after Christ’s return.
There are many variations on each of these but the objective here is to just give a general idea of what they look like. After they have been outlined we will look at what the drivers behind these models are that makes people come to these conclusions?
As an introduction to the various models it is most important in understanding and evaluating them that you just don’t see the differences in respect of the time and the manner in which the millennium will be set up. It is equally, if not more important, to understand the differences in terms of the nature of the kingdom and the manner in which Christ will exercise control.
This model is by far the most positive of all the models in its outlook. In broad strokes this view sees the kingdom of God currently being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel resulting in the lives of individuals being transformed. So many people will accept the gospel that eventually the whole world will be ‘Christianised’. The return of Christ will come after a long time when the peace of God reigns over the whole earth, this period is known as the millennium. This period is concluded by the second coming of Christ and is immediately followed by the general resurrection, the judgment of all mankind and beginning of the eternal states of heaven and hell (Boettner 1980:117).
This golden age occurs now in the Church Age and Christianity prospers through the forces of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit, not by sudden and external cataclysmic events from outside of the world. This prosperity goes beyond just spiritual transformation of individuals but results in the transformation of all aspects of life including politics, economics, social and cultural. This does not mean everyone will be a Christian but the influence of Christianity will be so great and dominating that sin and evil will be reduced to insignificant proportions. The world will gradually become a better place as the Gospel message spreads (Boettner 1980: 117-118).
Let us summarise the Postmillennial model (Erikson 2000:1213-1215)(Diagram Appendix 1) • The Millennium is not a literal thousand years but symbolic of an extended period of time that is before the return of Christ, not after • It does not include the whole of the Church age (ie: directly after the death and resurrection of Christ) but begins gradually over time • This gradual influence increases as the Gospel message is preached to the whole world • The millennium will become a period of prosperity and in increasing measure until the return of Christ • Christ’s reign in this period is not a physical presence on earth but a spiritual reign in the hearts of people who are still alive on earth (Amillenial difference) • The influence of this reign is to physically affect all spheres of life including politics, economics, social and cultural • Christian principles for living will become the accepted standards for public and private life • The Kingdom of God is a present reality...