The Lutherans Condemn The “Jewish Dream” Of A Future Earthly Golden Age Before Christ’s Return

The Gospel forbids private revenge, and Christ stresses this so often lest the apostles think that they should usurp the government from those who hold it, as in the Jewish dream of the messianic kingdom; instead, he would have them know their duty to teach that the spiritual kingdom does not change the civil government. Thus private revenge is forbidden not as an evangelical counsel but as a command (Matt. 5:39; Rom. 12:19). Public redress through a judge is not forbidden but expressly commanded, and it is a work of God according to Paul (Rom. 13:1ff.). Now the various kinds of public redress are court decisions, punishments, wars, military service.

Theodore G. Tappert | ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 223 (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, ch. 16)


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  1. This post is misleading. The headline and the quotation do not precisely match.

    By “A Future Earthly Golden Age Before Christ’s Return,” are you are referring to classic Reformed postmillennial thought? If so, it’s a cheap shot. If not, precisely what is the reference? Please clarify.

    And exactly who is it among Reformed theologians who think “that they should usurp the government from those who hold it”?

    Postmillennialism is not necessarily in conflict with the Reformed confessions and catechisms. It has an excellent pedigree and has been believed and defended biblically by some of our most illustrious fathers in the faith.

    In my opinion, this post misrepresents a legitimate orthodox eschatological position. I do not like it.

    • Frank,

      It’s not a cheap shot. It’s a warning from the Reformation about the dangers of a theology of earthly glory. Yes, that includes some versions of post-millennialism. If you listened to the Heidelcast series on eschatology you know that I’m ardently amillennial and strongly critical of all forms of premillennialism and what passes for “postmillennialism” in the theorecon movement.

      The headline was entirely accurate. This was the consistent position of the Reformed and the Lutherans. I’ve quoted the Second Helvetic Confession (ch. 11) saying this very same thing almost verbatim. It’s the language of the Augsburg Confession (1530).

      It was aimed originally at Anabaptist chiliasts but it applies as well to those P&R chiliasts in the late 16th century and to those postmillennialists who look for an earthly glory age before Christ’s return.

      As you know, however, not all “postmillennialists” are the same. Prior to the early 20th century there were only two categories: premillennialism (chiliasm) and postmillennialism, which included what later came to known as amillennialism. Most all of the 16th century Protestants were what we today call amil.

      There did develop in the 17th century and beyond some idea of an earthly glory age but to the degree it ended up advocating essentially a revised version of the chiliast vision of the future, it falls under the condemnation of the Augsburg and the Second Helvetic.

      We ought to let our Protestant forebears chasten us on this.

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