Tuesday, March 13, 2007


In the wake of John MacArthur's recent eschatology comments at the Shepherd's Conference, Justin Taylor has gotten permission from Sam Storms (a DTS alumnus) to post an article slated for publication in a book by Storms on eschatology. The article is entitled, "Problems with Premillennialism."

Taylor summarizes the article at Between Two Worlds writing:

As a preview, Storms points out that if you are a Premillennialist (whether Dispensationalist or not), there are several things you must necessarily believe:

You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.

You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the fall of man.

You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

Amillennialists--rightly, it seems to me--don't see these beliefs being taught in Scripture. If you're interested in the exegetical details, head over to Storms's article.
(HT: JT)


Jeff Wright said...

For amils who believe in progressive revelation, what do they do with Rev 20? Are they open to the possibility that John has revelation about the millennium that Paul did not have? I'm not saying that Rev 20 is cut and dry. I'm just wondering what they do with it while respecting the concept of progressive revelation.

M. Jay Bennett said...

I have to admit I'm no expert on eschatology, so bear with me (any help here would be very much appreciated).

But I think what the amil would say is that he applies a consistent hermeneutic when reading Revelation that respects the fact that it is Apocalyptic literature. As such, it is highly symbolic and not necessarily chronological. Therefore, Rev. 20:1-6 should be read like the rest of Revelation, as a representation (apocalyptic vision) of the reign of Christ. Amils would say that reign is in heaven beginning with the Ascension and continuing until the Second Coming.

Interestingly, most premils admit that you have to interpret what you read in Rev. 1-19 and 20:7-22:21 as highly symbolic. But when they get to Rev. 20:1-6, the hermeneutic suddenly shifts from symbolism to literalism and then back to symbolism.

I don't think amils would question the fact of progressive revelation. But I don't think the progressiveness of revelation (or really the inspiration of particular humans to write revelation unique to them, since no one really knows when Revelation was written) is an issue in the debate. The question is not, "Could God have given a unique revelation through John?" I'm pretty sure everyone would agree that he could. But the question is "Did he?" The question is what does the text John wrote actually mean, not what could it possibly mean?

In the search for what any text actually means, interpreters should always begin with the Analogy of Faith assumption. It should be assumed that whatever is written at any point in the progress of special revelation can be found repeated throughout thematically. Now the clarity of a partcular element may improve in the progress of revelation, but I don't know that we should ever expect to see anything absolutely new (without any foreshadowing at all) going on.

With that in mind, I would be wary of taking any one passage in isolation and formulating a system around it. I would rather assume continuity and formulate the system around the major themes that are painted with broad strokes throughout Scripture.

It seems to me that the only text premillennialist have is Rev. 20:1-6, and in order to get a literal 1000 year reign out of it one must shift hermeneutical gears quite abruptly in his interpretation of Revelation.

Jeff Wright said...

sahrs"It seems to me that the only text premillennialist have is Rev. 20:1-6, and in order to get a literal 1000 year reign out of it one must shift hermeneutical gears quite abruptly in his interpretation of Revelation."

I don't think the precise time of 1,000 years is terribly important. The sequence of events seems to be more important.

M. Jay Bennett said...


I pray Hebrew is coming along well for you.

Over the last few days I've been researching the differences between dispenssational and historic premillennialism. You've pointed out a fundamental difference in the last comment. It is dispensational premillennialism that requires an exact 1000 year reign vis a vis the application aof a "literal" hermeneutic to Rev. 20:1-6. Historic premils don't have the same hermeneutical committments, and, therefore, do not require an exact 1000 year reign between the Second Coming and eternal state.

I'm interested . . . how do you interpret the millenium concept? Also, if you are historic premil, how would you say your view would differ from a dispensational premil?

Jonathan Moorhead said...

All of those points seem to me to be terribly rationalistic. IOW, if something doesn't correspond to what I think is reasonable then I will reject it (or mock it). Going back to Scripture seems to be the way to go about a decision.

M. Jay Bennett said...


I assume you are referring to the points I made in the comments section and not Storms's points, since Storms's points are directly from Scripture.

So, what is your reason for viewing the points I mentioned as rationalistic? :-)

Or maybe a better question is what do you mean by rationalistic?

Are we to deny the law of non-contradiction when reading Scripture?

Would it be possible to understand anything without reason?

In other words, don't we have to operate from a systematic hermeneutic in order to understand the meaning of anything, including Scripture? Not that the process is unidirectional. I understand that a dialogue must occur between presuppositions and gathered data in the process of interpretation. But, to disregard the presuppositions (i.e. the hermeneutic) is, I think, short-sighted.

I don't mean to sound combative. This was a question that I don't recall was ever raised or answered in the classes I took at DTS. Usually what would happen is if a student raised a question that didn't fit the dispy scheme, then the prof would say something like: "Well, what you're saying seems logical but not biblical. I'm not a logician; I'm a biblicist" (Actually, that's an exact quote from Dr. Quine in response to a question I asked in Prophets class). I'm not sure I understand what that means. Is the Bible un-reasonable? Is it illogical?

I'm not saying that we fallen humans can think perfectly. We clearly cannot; hence the need for constant dialogue between presuppositions and gathered data. But, I think, we must at least be able to reason at some level in order to think at all.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Here's a new offering from Storms related to the earlier post on eschatology. It's the first part of the chapter "Amillennialism and the Millennial Kingdom in Revelation 20" from his forthcoming book.

GUNNY said...

Jay an interesting link showing some differences between historic premillenialism and dispensational premillenialism.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Thanks Gun!

That thing is good! I want to be friends with it :-)

Your bro,


M. Jay Bennett said...

Although, it looks like the chart is only dealing with classic dispensationalism ala Scofield.

The PD's would probably disagree with a lot on the dispensational side of the chart.