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Eschatalogical Ramblings

Of the 600+ articles I have written over the past couple of years, I don’t think a single one has been about Eschatology (which refers to the doctrine of the last days). There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it is a subject that some people love to discuss and consider absolutely essential to a strong faith. These people usually hold to a premillennial view and it seems they somehow equate a belief in the Rapture with a strong faith. The second reason is that I simply have never studied it in enough depth to be able to do it justice.

If I had to take sides I would place myself in the camp with the amillennialists, believing that Jesus’ second coming will not be preceded by a rapture and so on. In other words, the millennium spoken of in Revelation 20 is to be understood figuratively and refers to the time between Christ’s ascension and His second coming (which is to say the time we are in now). I hold to this view mostly because it was the one I was raised with and I have never had it satisfactorily refuted. I guess if I really had to defend my position I’d have to admit that I’m what my pastor calls a “pan-millennialist” in that I’m just trusting it’s all going to “pan out” in the end. In the end it really comes down to the fact that I have never set aside the time to study this issue, one in which I really have little interest compared to many of the other issues facing me as a believer. Maybe it is just that I don’t see how a belief in one doctrine or the other will impact my walk with Christ. But I digress.

I did not create this post to argue about such things, though perhaps at some point I’ll write a series of articles about eschatology and then we can all enter into a long fight which will aggravate everyone but convince no one! The real reason I am writing this is that during some idle time today I picked up volume 3 of Charle Hodge’s inconceivably huge series on systematic theology and found myself reading about premillennialism. I found it interesting that in a book written in 1873 premillennialism was evidently a belief held by only a minority. I assume this to be true as it rated only a few paragraphs in the extensive section on eschatology.

Hodge levels several charges at premillennialism. Here are his leading objections against it:

  • It is a Jewish doctrine, which is to say it is founded on Jewish doctrine, not Christian.
  • It is inconsistent with the Scriptures in that it teaches only believers will rise from the dead when the Lord appears; whereas the Bible teaches that all men will rise.
  • The Bible teaches that when Christ comes all nations will appear at His bar for judgment. Premillennialism teahces that the final judgment will not occur until after the millennium.
  • The Scriptures teach that when Christ comes the second time without sin unto salvation, then the Church shall enter on its everlasting state of glory. Premillennialism teaches that believers will be introduced into a merely worldly kingdom rather than heaven.
  • It is inconsistent with the Bible’s representation of the glory and blessedness of departed saints to assume that at the resurrection they will be brought down to a lower state of existence, having been downgraded from heaven to earth.
  • It is inconsistent with the Scripture’s account of the nature of the kingdom of Christ on earth.
  • It disparages the Gospel.
  • It requires inconsistency and conflicting conclusions regarding various prophecies and dates.

Clearly Hodge thought it unscriptural, but what is more interesting, is that he clearly did not consider it a theory with a great following or I assume he would have given more time to a refutation. If he had foreseen that it would have become the predominant view among Christians he likely would have dedicated more time to it.

And…In case you are interested, I believe Hodge was a postmillennialist.

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