Tuesday, June 26, 2007

“I am a Panmillennialist”

How many times have you heard this line? The conversation usually goes something like this: “I am a panmillennialist because I believe everything will pan out in the end.” Why do people say this? Maybe because (1) they don’t care for controversy; (2) they are simply ignorant of the issues; or (3) they hold to some form of eschatological relativism where the end result (Jesus’ return) is the sole object of hope.

While I recognize the lighthearted nature of the above comment, I would like to offer some suggestions why it is not tenable.

(1) The inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17). If all Scripture is truly God-breathed, then how can we disregard what God says about the kingdom?
(2) The perspicuity of Scripture. If God intends Scripture to be understood, then diligent study should yield a satisfactory millennial position.
(3) The preponderance of Scripture. The volume and detail that Scripture gives to the subject of the kingdom does not allow for eschatological agnosticism.
(4) The promise of Scripture. Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

P.S. How long has it been since you have heard a sermon on Revelation?

William E. Blackstone (author of Jesus is Coming): “The greater part of this Scripture consists of prophecy, and if Christians would give more attention to it, they would not find themselves distracted from present service, but ‘they would find much light thrown on their present path, much practical encouragement given to their ministry.’ Their faith would rest upon a broader and deeper comprehension of God’s character and ways, and their spiritual horizon would stand out in clearer outline than before.”


GUNNY said...

My name's Gunny and I'm a historic premillenialist.

Well, I think for folks there are two extremes when it comes to eschatology. First, there are the junkies who read with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. They obsess and will spend 6 weeks in Sunday school discussing the identities of Gog and Magog.

Then there are those who are just apathetic. They say they're panmill because they hope that will curve the conversation back around to some they're more interested in.

Sure, the other reasons you mentioned are valid, especially the aversion of controversy. But I think lots of folks just don't care and they think it's hip to be apatethic and fashionably humble in that arena.

M. Jay Bennett said...

My name is Jay Bennett and, if pressed to decide, I'm an amillennialist.

Svigel said...

My name is Mike, and I'm a premillennialist.

I remember Charles Ryrie once said in class, "I'd rather you were a convinced amillennialist than an eschatological agnostic!" (This is an exact quote).


Jared Nelson said...

My name's Jared and I'm legally bound to be a premillenialist for 3 more years.

frankly, in my humble opinion eschatology is the least important field in theology. All Christians should have a shared hope in the return of Christ, but whether or not a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth is sandwiched in between figurative beasts and lakes of fire is not as pressing to me as missiology, soteriology, christology or even ecclesiology.

So put me down for apathetic.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Jared, Jonathan Edwards would strongly disagree with you. He might even ask you to stop using his picture.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

“From first to last, and not merely in the epilogue, Christianity is eschatology, is hope, forward looking and forward moving, and therefore also revolutionizing and transforming the present. The eschatological is not one element of Christianity, but it is the medium of Christian faith as such, the key in which everything in it is set, the glow that suffuses everything here in the dawn of an expected new day.” Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, trans. James Leitch (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 16.

Jared Nelson said...

For christology:
A modalist, arian, unitarian and Trinitarian are not all orthodox.

For soteriology:
Christ-aloners and universalists are not both orthodox.

For eschatology:
premillenial, amillenial and post-millenialists are all orthodox.

Now it may affect your actions (pre-mills waiting for hell on earth before christ comes while post-mills awaiting heaven on earth), and it is definately worthy of study, but when people break fellowship and condemn others for pre- mid- and post- trib differences without even going into millenial problems, something has gone wrong.

GUNNY said...

Jared, since we have our theology locked down everywhere else, you have to leave us something to debate and get snobbish about!

That's the beauty of eschatology. Friends lock-step across the board can break up their boredom with some eschatological slooge. Even among the narrowly defined there are in-house conversations (e.g., within dispensational circles).

Yet, it's all fun & games until someone loses an eye to an errant bowl of wrath. Come get a taste!

"I remember Charles Ryrie once said in class, "I'd rather you were a convinced amillennialist than an eschatological agnostic!" (This is an exact quote).

Great quote, Mike. I'm not sure all would agree with him, but I like the nudge to clarity.

I feel ya, Jared, on the aspect of issues within the realm of orthodoxy and I can understand spending less time & energy on eschatology than soteriology or Christology, but it's so modernistic of us to break these things down and then rank them.

I'm not sure if it's right or wrong, but I wonder if it's somewhat of a novel approach, being a byproduct of the Enlightenment ... and I'm sure Finney had something to do with it, just as he is responsible for just about all that is wrong with Christianity today.

No offense intended, however, Jay.

Michael J. Svigel said...

This topic is dead, methinks. All the more reason to make a comment.

Jared, I think you're right that within orthodoxy (which has to do with the doctrine of Christ and the Trinity, primarily), there is a lot of wiggle room on issues of ecclesiology, eschatology, even soteriology. We all believe in one "holy, catholic, and apostolic church," but define and organize that differently. We all believe that Christ will "come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end" (even premills believe the end of the 1000 kingdom does not mark the end of Christ's reign, but that the eternal reign is punctuated with the second resurrection and final judgment). And we all believe that we are saved by grace through faith based on the atonement of Christ, but these things are all defined and applied differently. I am a premillennialist for many reasons, but mostly because of my Christology. I strive to be "christologically consistent" or to develop a "christocentric theology," so that all of my "branches" of theology become "incarnational" in a sense. The reality of the incarnation, I believe, should affect not only our practical lives and our worldview, but also our entire theology . . . including eschatology. To me, a premillennial perspective with all that implies, is most consistent with a christology that affirm that the Son/Logos became not merely human, but a particular man---Jesus Christ, the son of David, and heir of the earthly, historical, and temporal promises. In the same way, my view of the eucharist, baptism, the church, etc. are rigorously incarnational, which excludes dichotomizing in a Platonic sense between the physical/fleshly and the immaterial/spiritual. This was the error of gnosticism, which affected not only christology but every area of their theology. . . . including, as Irenaeus said, their eschatology (he attributed the advent of an amillennial perspective to the dualistic and geomisonic (world-hating) influence of the gnosics on the orthodox.

Anyway, while eschatology itself is perhaps not the most important "field" of study, I think we can redeem all theological "branches" by christologizing them all.