For many American evangelicals, faithfulness to the Bible means believing in a view of end times (eschatology) that teaches that says something like this:
- The book of the Revelation is to be read literally (including chapter 20)
- The formation of the nation of Israel following World War II was the fulfillment of prophecy
- Christians are the spiritual people of God and Jews are the earthly people of God
- Jesus will return, in a sense, to rapture secretly his people from the earth
- There will be a seven-year period of tribulation during which those who were not raptured will have opportunity to believe
- Jesus will return visibly to establish an earthly millennial kingdom during which the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, the Levitical
- The sacrificial system will be re-instituted in memory of the death of Jesus
- The judgment
There is an alternative. It is not “spiritualizing.” It is not liberal. It is not the product of the 19th century. It is a way of interpreting Scripture that has been held since the earliest days of the church. According to C. E. Hill, some of our Lord’s own family members held this view. That view is called amillennialism. It holds that the book of the Revelation is most symbolic and meant to be interpreted that way, that the Bible is focused on Christ, not the establishment of an earthly kingdom among the national people, and that the millennium of Revelation 20 is a symbolic way of talking about the period between the ascension of Christ and his bodily return.
Recently talked with Tony and Angela on the New Geneva podcast about Reformed Amillennialism. Here is part 1.
- Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism
- C. E. Hill, Regnum Caelorum
- The Israel of God (2001)
- Audio: Amillennialism 101
- And Now for Something Completely Different: Amillennialism
- Office Hours: What the Bible Actually Says About the End Times
- A Case for A-millennialism Available on Kindle
- The USA Is Not Old Testament Israel
Pastor Stu just gave me a copy of this to borrow!
If the Amillenial position is the preferred Reformed eschatology, why don’t we see it expounded in the WCF?
I’m making a judgment about how I see Reformed writers speak. The Belgic and Heidelberg and Calvin seem to speak that way. None of the Reformed confessions explicitly articulate an eschatological position by name. As I said in the interview, there were a number orthodox Reformed folk who were chiliasts in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. I know that there were postmillennialists and Amillennialists (to use the later language) at Westminster and I suppose Chiliasts too.
As I look at the scope of Reformed theology since the early 17th century, it seems to me that most of the, have been what we would today call amil.
Scott, you may wish to edit your link to Kim Riddlebarger’s book so that it takes one to the expanded edition.
The more I study scripture the more I am convinced that prophecy isn’t really fully understood (except in the broadest terms) until after it is fulfilled. That’s why I don’t listen to “prophecy teaching” of any variety anymore.
In Amillennialism we don’t do a lot of “prophecy teaching,” (ala the premil Dispensationalists) because, in our view, the OT prophecies pointed to Christ, who is the “yes and amen” of all the promises of God (2 Cor 1:20). We earnestly await and expect the salvation of all the elect and the coming of our Savior. Maranatha.
The absurdity of dispensational premil is well summarized by J.H. Thornwell: “A period in which Christ is to become subordinate to Moses and it which it shall be the highest glory of the Gentiles to turn Jews.”
Stephane: If you are going to attack dispensational premillennialism it might be advisable not to quote someone like J. H. Thornwell who preached a doctrine that claimed slavery to be morally right and justified by the tenets of Christianity.
That is a great example of the ad hominem fallacy. Thornwell was wrong about slavery but that does not mean he was wrong about dispensationalism. if I asked him what time it is, and he answered me the fact that he defended slavery doesn’t disqualify his answer regarding the time of day.
When evaluating the works of a theologian I believe it is very relevant to evaluate how he exegetes other areas of scripture. If Thornwell just happened to get Amillenialism right it might also possibly be a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day. My response might more correctly be called an ad hominem fallacy if Thornwell merely held slaves and never justified it as a biblical doctrine.
No, yours is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy.
One might be morally disqualified without being logically disqualified. Mao defended genocide but
even so, if he was right about the time of day, he was right even though he was a genocidal maniac.
Who mentioned Thornwell anyway? I didn’t.
Stephane Simonnin invoked Thornwell in his post above.
Is there a good commentary available that takes you through the book of Revelation with an an amillennial view?
Let’s Study Revelation is a very brief commentary by Derek Thomas, but it does come from an amillennial perspective. Might be a good introductory work to read.
Dennis Johnson, Triumph of the Lab.
Greg Beale write a large technical commentary.
Hendricksen, More Than Conquerors
There was a good commentary published by IVP but I can’t recall the title just now.