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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
T. P. Simmons
Postmillennialism is dead. Solomon said: "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." Postmillennialism has sickened and expired.
Why Postmillennialism Died
Postmillenialists believed, for the most part, that the preaching of the gospel would accomplish the conversion of the overwhelming mass of the people of the earth in this age and thus usher in that reign of righteousness alluded to in Revelation 20.
Writing in 1883, in An American Commentary on the New Testament, Justin A. Smith said:
"It has been said that in twenty-five years more, if the present rate of progress continued, India will be as thoroughly Christian as Great Britain is today; there will be thirty millions of Christians in China, and Japan will be as fully Christianized as America is today. The old heathen systems, they tell us, are honeycombed through and through by Christian influence. It looks as if the day may come soon, when these systems, struck by vigorous blows, will fall in tremendous collapse. Meantime, every ‘weapon formed against’ Christianity, breaks in the hand that holds it."
That was written seventy-one years ago, and we are farther from postmillennial expectations now than we were at the time it was written. The author of the quoted words did not anticipate the hold that evolution would get on the religious world and the consequent rise of modernism and neo-orthodoxy. Nor did he foresee the rise of those anti-Christian philosophies that brought on both world wars and have now culminated in God-less communism, which has engulfed more than half of the inhabitants of the world and has turned the world into an armed camp. In the light of the past fifty years it is not hard to understand why postmillennialism died.
Amillennialism Has Come In the Place of Postmillennialism
But there has come in the place of postmillennialism a worse scourge. The time was when it was rare to find a postmillennialist among the rank and file of Baptist preachers, but now we have many amillennialists among them. Thus amillennialism has taken over the defunct stock of postmillennialism. This stock has been carefully sorted. Outdated items have been discarded. The remaining items have been renovated. The premises have been painted and made more attractive. New personnel have been employed. An ambitious sales program ha been put on. The result is that business is much improved.
The Source of Amillennialism
It is not that amillennialism is really new. No, in essence it is older than postmillennialism. But before the death of postmillennialism it had been largely dormant for two hundred years. Postmillennialism had so many advocates (such as Broadus, Carroll, Boyce, Pendleton and Mullins) that amillennialism was smothered. But with the passing of postmillennialism, it was rejuvenated. It received a shot-in-the-arm.
Amillennialism had its source in the "philosophy of vain deceit," against which Paul warned the Colossians (Col. 2:8). Philo, a Jewish contemporary of Jesus, set out to blend Hebrew and Greek thought. By the allegorical method of interpretation he explained away everything in the Old Testament that was not in harmony with the philosophy of Plato. In doing this, Philo was simply applying to the Old Testament the principle that the Greeks had employed for centuries in the interpretation of Homer.
This allegorizing method of interpretation of Scripture was established in the great center of learning at Alexandria. Here is was passed on to Clement of Alexandria, Dionysus and Origen. It was Origen that did more than any other to popularize this method.
The Early Church Premillennial
Premillennialism was the original faith of Christendom. Charles Feinberg, in Premillennialism or Amillennialism, says: "Every book that we have read and studied on the question of the millennium, whether it was favorable or unfavorable to the doctrine, or whether it gave full force and value to the testimony or tried to dissipate its implications, admitted freely that the entire Church of the first three centuries was premillennial, almost to a man."
This is admitted by Harnack, Mosheim, Geisler, Chillingworth, Stackhouse, Bishop Newton, Bishop Russell, Gibbon, and even by Daniel Whitby. Not only was Montanus a premillennialist, but so also were Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Papias, and Irenaeus.
Why the Early Church Was Premillennial
The early church was premillennial because early Christians believed in a characteristically literal interpretation of the Word of God. The departure from the truth of premillennialism on the part of the Catholic church, which is so well inscribed on the pages of history, came as a result of the adoption of the allegorizing or spiritualizing method of interpreting the Scripture already referred to. Because of Origen’s influence in this respect, Milner, the great English historian, said: "No man, not altogether unsound and hypocritical, ever injured the Church more than Origen did." Other so-called "church fathers" took up this method. From them it passed on to scholastic theologians and was carried over by some Protestant dogmatists.
Amillennialism and Arminianism
Every amillennialist would be an Arminian if he were consistent. The amillennialist takes the most positive promises of God to Israel, such as Isaiah 2:1-5 and Micah 4:1-7, and makes them conditional insofar as they are thought to apply to national Israel. If I could consider these positive promises conditional, then I should treat likewise such promises as found in Jeremiah 32:40; Romans 8:29-30; and John 20:27-29.
Amillennialism and Modernism
Just as the modernist has allegorized the first chapters of Genesis, so the amillennialist has allegorized Scriptures that refer to the regathering and conversion of the Jews and the personal reign of Christ on the earth. Moreover amillennialism is like modernism again in that it undertakes to say in a ruthless and arbitrary way what can be true and what can’t be true. It arbitrarily decides that God is through with the Jews as a nation. It decides that the sacrificial system of the Jews could not in anywise be restored without abrogating the new covenant. It decides that Christ and the glorified saints could not rule on this earth over men in natural bodies. It makes these decisions, not on the basis of a careful examination of all the Scriptures, but presumptively; and then proceeds to twist the Scripture wherever necessary in order to make it agree. It is no wonder that the modernistic Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a hotbed of amillennialism (along with all other seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention). Modernism and amillennialism are Siamese twins.
The Meaning of the Term "Amillennialism"
Amillennialism means "non-millennialism." It would have suited amillennialists much better if the Bible had said nothing about the binding of Satan and the reign of Christ and the saints for one thousand years. In fact it would have suited them if the book of Revelation had never been written. The only use they make of the last nineteen chapters is to try to explain them away. If they were honest and thought they could get by with it, they would take the position of Dionysius and the Alogi in denying the canonicity of the book of Revelation. It is a thorn in their sides.
But the book of Revelation is with us to stay and amillennialists must make some disposition of the prophecy contained in the book. Thus we have non-millennialists telling us about the millennium. That is like having an atheist write on the attributes of God.
Denies God’s Word Concerning Christ’s Throne
Amillennialism says that Christ is now on His throne, the throne of David, which was promised to Him (Lk. 1:32). But the Bible says that Christ is now on the Father’s throne and that He will ascend His own throne when He comes in glory (Rev. 3:21; Mt. 25:31).
Denies God’s Word Concerning the Binding of Satan
Amillenialism believes about as much in the binding of Satan as Arminians believe in the sovereignty of God. God’s Word pictures in Revelation 20 the complete restraint of Satan during the millennium, but amillennialists say the restraint is only partial. That is just a plain, outright, blatant denial of the Word of God. Amillennialists need to be stripped of their pious and hypocritical pretenses and made to stand with all other deniers of the Word of God.
Denies God’s Word About the Kingdom of the Beast
No doubt A. Pieters represents the consensus of opinion among amillennialists when he says: "The Battle of Armageddon, in the nineteenth chapter (of Revelation) means the victory of Christianity over Roman paganism, in the first three centuries of our era."
But the Bible describes the pagan Roman Empire when it says, "and one is," that is, one of the seven kings or kingdoms. Then it is said of the beast "he is the eighth" (See Rev. 17:10,11). By no sort of mental gymnastics can any honest man make out to himself that the empire of the beast was pagan Rome. Pagan Rome was in existence when John wrote and he plainly says that after it another was to come; and that the beast was to come still later. The one that was to come in John’s day is plainly Papal Rome. And the empire of the beast is still to come. John plainly said in his day that the beast "is not" (Rev. 17:8).
Denies the Teaching of God’s Word That the Beast Is a Man
The Bible teaches unmistakably that the beast is a man by declaring his number is "the number of a man" (Rev. 13:18) and by revealing that he will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Only a man who is more interested in maintaining his own notion than in accepting the Word of God would ever dream that the Bible here has reference to anything other than a man. But amillennialism says the beast only represents a system or abstract conception. Thus again it flatly denies the Word of God.
Must Distinguish Between Beast and Man of Sin
Since amillennialists do not believe that the second coming of Christ is pictured in Revelation 19, saying that the destruction of the beast portrayed therein is but the triumph of Christianity over Roman paganism, they are logically forced to deny that the man of sin in II Thessalonians 2:3-8, is the same as the beast of Revelation because the man of sin is to be destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s coming. Yet nothing is plainer than that the man of sin and the beast are identical.
Rejects God’s Place For the Second Coming of Christ
Amillennialism rejects God's place for the second coming of Christ and then substitutes its own. This is typical of amillennialism as a whole. It says that we have not the second coming of Christ in revelation 19, where that coming is plainly pictured to all except those who have blinded their eyes by becoming victims of the "philosophy of vain deceit;" and then places the second coming in the latter part of Revelation 20, where God makes no mention of it. God has plainly indicated that Revelation 19 sets forth the second coming of Christ by revealing in Zechariah 14:1-4 that at the time when Christ takes vengeance against all nations in the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:17-21), "his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives." How pitiable it is when one amillennialist says of Zechariah 14:4 "Some one’s feet are to ‘stand upon the mount of Olives;’ but it is not certain who the person is."
Nullifies the Imminency of Christ’s Coming
New Testament Christians were commanded to "watch" and Christ’s coming was revealed as always impending. After revealing the millennium, John represents Jesus as saying again: "Surely I come quickly" (Rev. 21:20), which means soon rather than suddenly. This represents the coming of Jesus as the next thing in the prophetic program. This is what the Bible always means by "at hand" or "draweth nigh." But amillennialism, by representing the thousand years of Revelation 20 as being before Christ’s coming and as having extended now for much more than one thousand years, takes all the meaning out of such representation as noted.
I doubt that any amillennialist can say that he is expecting Christ at any moment. One Amillennialist says that the loosing of Satan (Rev. 20:7), which he puts, of course, before the second advent, will be the revival of paganism; and he says that there will emerge "some kind of collectivism whose paganism embodied in some kind of world state of government will vent its wrath against the saints to stamp out the remembrance of them and historic Christianity in the earth." Certainly then he cannot believe that Christ’s coming is imminent.
Flagrantly Contradicts God’s Word by Teaching a General Resurrection
As plainly as language can express it God’s Word describes a resurrection in which only the righteous take part. (See I Thess. 4:15-16; I Cor. 15:21-23; Rev. 20:5-6). Then it tells of another resurrection in which only the wicked have part (Rev. 20:11,15). But amillennialists think they know more than the inspired writers did about this matter, so they put the two together. The Word of God is not final to amillennialists. Their pet theory is final, so they presumptively rearrange Gods’ Word to suit that.
Accuses God of Repenting
God says He does not repent of His gifts and calling (Rom. 11:29) but amillennialism says that He does. They admit that God once called national Israel and bestowed national blessings upon them, but they say that these have now been forfeited forever. Thus, according to amillennialism, there is no such thing as the immutability of God. Did I not tell you in the early part of this article that amillennialists stand on Arminian grouds? If an amillennialist is not a Arminian, it is not because of the Word of God for an amillennialist takes the Word of God only where he wants to.
They Accuse Jesus and the Prophets of Falsifying
Amillennialists say that when Jesus comes again He will not re-establish the Jewish nation at earthly Jerusalem. Jesus and the prophets said that He would. In Matthew 19:28 Jesus said: "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Now let not any amillennialist expose his ignorance by saying that the "regeneration" here is the triumph of Christianity over paganism in the first three centuries or at any other time.
The apostles have not yet sat on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Moreover the "regeneration" is represented as coinciding in time with the sitting of Christ on the throne of His glory, and this is to be when he returns (Mt. 25:31).
This regeneration connects with the "restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21) and with Isaiah 65:17-25, where we have described a state of affairs in Jerusalem that could exist only in earthly Jerusalem. It is a state that will involve death, sinners, building houses, planting, laboring, and prayer.
The reader perhaps is beginning to feel that I have no patience with amillennialism or time for it. That is exactly right. I regard it as being wholly and absolutely false and as just another system of deception that has emerged from the bottomless pit to be used of the devil in blighting the lives of individuals and disturbing the peace of churches. I am truly sorry for those who have been duped by it. I urge them to repent and return to their first love.