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.
- Subscribe To The Heidelblog!
- The Heidelblog Resource Page
- Heidelmedia Resources
- The Ecumenical Creeds
- The Reformed Confessions
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- Recovering the Reformed Confession (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008)
- Why I Am A Christian
- What Must A Christian Believe?
- Heidelblog Contributors
- Support Heidelmedia: use the donate button or send a check to
Heidelberg Reformation Association
1637 E. Valley Parkway #391
Escondido CA 92027
The HRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization