I grew up in a church that didn’t take doctrine very seriously at all. The preaching was topical and filled with far more stories and illustrations than biblical instruction. We did whatever was popular among evangelicals. I grew up with a dispensational view of the end times although I wouldn’t have been able to defend it.
Dallas Theological Seminary was training many with the dispensational theology of John Darby and C.I. Scofield. The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (1970) had won many converts, and twenty-five years later, The Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (1995-2007) took the world by storm. I was…shamefully…hooked!
When I went to Calvary Chapel Bible College in 2000, the class I looked forward to the most was Eschatology. My interests fit perfectly with their incessant focus upon end times prophecy. While I was there Dave Hunt taught at the annual Prophecy Conference. To make a long story short, within a year, my theological convictions had shifted to the point that I no longer desired an unaccredited degree.
It would be several more years before the walls of my eschatology began to crumble. After hearing a few critiques I realized my view had several difficulties, but I had no idea what else to believe. I became increasingly disillusioned with the dispensational view of eschatology and pretty much began avoiding the topic altogether.
I was growing in my understanding of the gospel, especially as it relates to the Old Testament, and enjoying a slow study of confessional teaching. I thought the overemphasis upon the subject of the end times was largely unhelpful because it was typically filled with unhealthy speculation.
Near the end of this phase I remember talking to a friend about the various views of eschatology and he called himself a “Panmillennialist.” I hadn’t heard of that position before. Does anyone know what that is? When I didn’t get it he said, “It’s all going to pan out in the end.” That’s actually not one of the views that we’ll be covering in this class, but it might very well be the majority view of those still unconvinced by The Left Behind Series.
Revelation 20:1-6 is quite possibly the most debated passage in all Scripture. It is the only passage dealing with the thousand year reign of Christ (Latin = Millennium, Greek = Chiliasm). All four views are labeled in reference to Christ’s second coming. Christ’s return occurs before (Pre) or after (Post) his millennial reign (MR).￼
Westminster Confession of Faith Ch.32 (pp.147-149):
- The souls of the righteous are in heaven awaiting full redemption of their bodies (resurrection) while the souls of the wicked are cast into hell awaiting their final judgment.
- At the last day, the living will be changed, all the dead raised and united to their souls forever.
- The bodies of the unjust will be raised to dishonor. The bodies of the just are raised to honor and glorified.
Westminster Confession of Faith Ch.33 (pp.149-151)
- Final judgment by Jesus Christ.
- Followed by eternity.
- The day of this judgment is unknown.
Each view must deal with four events (“signs of the times”) associated with Christ’s second coming:
- Every nation will be evangelized (Mt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; Rom. 11:25).
- “All Israel” will be saved (2 Cor. 3:15; Rom. 11:25-29). I believe this refers to the full number of elect from ethnic Israel (See Hoekema p.140).
- Tribulation, apostasy, and Antichrist will increase (Mt. 24:12; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:3-4).
- Signs and wonders (Mt. 24:29-30; Mk. 13:24-25; Lk. 21:25-26).
This series is primarily based upon the arguments found in The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema.
Definition: There is no future earthly MR of Christ.
How do they read Rev. 20:1-6? A picture of the present age. Satan was defeated and bound, no longer able to deceive the nations, at Christ’s first coming (1-3; Mt. 12:28-29). The souls of deceased believers are presently living and reigning with Christ in heaven (4-6). The “first resurrection” is life in the intermediate state. We expect this heavenly reign to descend upon the earth (Rev. 5:10) in the age to come (Rev. 22:5).
Berkhof The name (Amillennialism) is new indeed, but the view is as old as Christianity. It had at least as many advocates as Chiliasm (Premillennialism) among the Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, supposed to have been the heyday of Chiliasm. It has ever since been the view most widely accepted, is the only view that is either expressed or implied in the great historical Confessions of the Church, and has always been the prevalent view in Reformed circles.