Amillennialism Is Not Pessimistic

It was R. J. Rushdoony (1916–2001) who helped popularize the notion that Postmillennialism offers the only truly optimistic view of history: the belief that the kingdom of God will come on this earth in fullness before the second coming of Christ, converting the world to Christ, and visibly subjugating all enemies under his feet.

Where this narrative has been widely accepted, it is assumed that Amillennialism is pessimistic and defeatist in its outlook. Nothing could be further from the truth, however; this narrative should be soundly challenged.

Though the prognosis of Postmillennialism (more profoundly so in the new theonomic-Postmillennialism of our day) may appear optimistic, it actually functions pessimistically. It does so by its wrongheaded attempts to recover the power structures of governments as the means of achieving the fullness of the kingdom of God. It thrives in the world of Constantine, but not in the Acts of the first-century apostles.

Such a view, in its application, will always lead to frustration, for Jesus defined the kingdom in spiritual terms as being “within us” (Luke 17:21; ASV). He corrected the Pharisees in their misguided view of the kingdom, saying they should not expect its arrival outwardly in a “see here” or “see there” form until he returns (Luke 17:21). Those who desperately long for the kingdom to come this way will always live in disappointment.

This is why today’s proponents of the theonomic-Postmillennial eschatology make much over the momentary displays of outward power in government buildings. These events are forgotten a week later, however, because there is nothing lasting in forcing God’s kingdom in this manner. By doing such, the inward, spiritual nature of the kingdom is bypassed for the outward, momentary display of something more visible to us. A kingdom instituted by coercion or forced submission leaves us with mere formal subjects, untouched by the greater spiritual reality in the heart. Much of church history bears out this problem under Christendom. This is not the way Christ taught us to bring in the kingdom, as we are controlled by the character of him who was “gentle and lowly of heart” (Matt 11:29).

Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, since by repentance and faith, its arrival shows itself in “righteousness, peace, and the joy of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). When we pray, “your kingdom come,” we are asking (using the words of the Heidelberg Catechism) that we would be ruled by God’s Word and Spirit, that the church would be preserved and increased, and that the works of the devil would be destroyed by the spiritual weapons we employ (2 Cor 10:1–6), until the kingdom comes in fullness at Christ’s second coming.

That is a thoroughly optimistic view of the kingdom of God.

©Chris Gordon. All Rights Reserved.


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  • Chris Gordon
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    Chris Gordon was ordained to the Ministry of the Word in October 2004. He is a native of Central California, and prior to answering God’s call into the ministry, he was a high school Bible teacher in the central Californian valley. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Seminary California. He previously served the Lynden United Reformed Church from 2004 to July 2012, and is presently Preaching Pastor at the Escondido United Reformed Church and is the radio host and teacher on Abounding Grace Radio.

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  1. This is great. I have a question though. I was watching one of Chris Gordons podcasts with Dr Godfrey and Dr Godfrey said something every interesting about the fall of Presbyterianism in America and how it had to do with many Presbyterians starting to ditch the amil view and go to post mil. I’m still confused why that is. He said that the Dutch and German reformed churches didn’t have this issue.

  2. Optimism seems like a word to apply to the great hope and comfort we find in anticipation of the glorious triumphant return of our faithful Savior. I don’t see complicated machinations of these end-times prognosticators, whether pre- or post-mil, to contain anything to optimistic about. Maybe do as Noah did. Ride the wave?

  3. I’m somewhat involved with theses folks in my Anglican congregation. Most are young newly married people starting families. I get why they want a safe happy Christian world which would make life much better. But I know they’re heading down a dead in street, holding a false hope.
    And Christian Nationalism is much easier and more sensible than living as the Church in the world and proclaiming Christ in the world. As Michael Horton has said, Rome wasn’t against a Christianity that benefited the government.

  4. Thank you pastor Chris Gordon. I encountered this movement is a charismatic church 42 years ago. That faded out. But this one seems to have some steam being linked up with men like N.T. Wright and Doug Wilson as well as some reformed churches hoping on board.
    I hear them say we must return America back to what it once was. I guess that’s liberalism, moralism, and deism. Certainly not back to Christ and the gospel.

  5. Amillennialism Is Not Pessimistic

    Amillennialism: Christ’s kingdom is limited to the heart and the church with no prospect of victory as things get worse until Christ returns.

    Christ: I rule from heaven in the earth until all enemies are put under my feet (Heb. 10:13)

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