This is part three of a continuing examination of the inconsistency of the Postmillennial world in accusing the preterists of being non-creedal. Be sure to read part one #1” href=”http://donkpreston.com/postmillennialism-the-creeds-and-being-reformed-2/” target=”_blank”>here. Part #2 is #2” href=”http://donkpreston.com/postmillennialism-the-creeds-and-being-reformed-2/” target=”_blank”>here.
Those familiar with the controversy surrounding Covenant Eschatology know well that Dominionists such as Keith Mathison, Kenneth Gentry and others have pointed an accusing finger at preterists for being “non-creedal” and out of step with the church’s doctrinal stand in history. See my discussion of the creeds in my The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, as well as my forthcoming new book AD 70 A Shadow of the “Real” End? Available soon!
As I noted in the first installment, I freely admit that I am not orthodox, as defined by the modern Reformers, and make no apology for it. Of course, the irony of the modern Reformed orthodoxy is that it was declared heretical by the ‘orthodoxy” that had stood for 1000 years!
“Orthodoxy” as we know it today was created by man, and has been wrongly imposed through the creeds and confessions, with resultant Inquistions, ostracism, etc.. Those who claim to be Reformed and creedal are some of the worst when it comes to this kind of attitude and action. Personally I will take my stand on scripture and scripture alone. It is patently, irrefutably true that the creeds the contradict scriptures. It is far past time for those who claim to be “Reformed” to take that cry of Sola Scriptura seriously.
The interesting thing is that for all of their appeal to the creeds and church history, what the Dominionists do not tell their listening / reading audience is that they are themselves stridently accused of being non-creedal, anti-creedal, non-historical, and heretical! I begin with this article sharing with our visitors an article written by a Reformed Amillennial professor. Make no mistake, he clearly believes full preterism is heretical. The reason I am sharing his article (via a series of shorter articles) is to show the inconsistency of the Dominionists when they point the accusing finger at preterists and cry “Non-creedal!” I hope the readers will see the tremendous irony here, and think seriously about it.
The Reformed Creeds and Postmillennialism
The teaching of the Reformed creeds is that the New Testament, the time from Christ’s first coming until His second coming, will be a period of persecution and suffering for the true church of Jesus Christ. The creeds take the amillennial view of the progress of New Testament history, namely that apostasy and wickedness will become worse and worse. The world will become increasingly evil and the church will be more severely persecuted the nearer the second coming of Christ.
There is absolutely nothing in the Reformed creeds to suggest an earthly kingdom of peace and prosperity dominated by Christians. There is no hint in the Reformed creeds of an improving world, of righteousness prevailing on this present earth, of a “golden age” of a thousand years or more in which sin and the consequences of sin will be well nigh eradicated. (Note by Don K. Preston: In my debate with Joel McDurmon, July 2012, he argued that Abraham will one day be raised physically and rule on earth, in a utopian world. Thus, McDurmon affirms the very thing that dispensationalists do about an earthly, physical kingdom. That debate is available in DVD form, and a book is forthcoming).
The Second Helvetic Confession (1566) expresses the Reformed consensus when it condemns all hope of an earthly kingdom as “Jewish dreams”:
And out of heaven the same Christ will return unto judgment, even then when wickedness shall chiefly reign in the world (emphasis mine, RC), and when Antichrist, having corrupted true religion, shall fill all things with superstition and impiety, and shall most cruelly waste the Church with fire and bloodshed. Now Christ shall return to redeem his, and to abolish Antichrist by his coming, and to judge the quick and the dead (Acts xvii. 31)…. Moreover, we condemn the Jewish dreams, that before the day of judgment there shall be a golden age in the earth, and that the godly shall possess the kingdoms of the world, their wicked enemies being trodden under foot; for the evangelical truth (Matt. xxiv. and xxv., Luke xxi.), and the apostolic doctrine (in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians ii., and in the Second Epistle to Timothy iii. and iv.) are found to teach far otherwise (The Creeds of Christendom, Philip Schaff, volume 3, p. 852).
The 52nd Question of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What comfort is it to thee that ‘Christ shall come again to judge the quick and the dead’?” The “thee” in the question is the New Testament believer, every New Testament believer, believers in the days in which the Heidelberg Catechism was written, as well as believers today. The comfort that the 52nd Answer gives expression to is a comfort experienced in the face of “sorrows and persecutions.”
That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person who before offered Himself for my sake to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven; who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall translate me with all His chosen ones to Himself, into heavenly joys and glory.
The comfort of the New Testament Christian is not fixed on some soon-coming “golden age” in which all Christ’s and our enemies shall be put down. No such false hope is presented. The hope and comfort of the Reformed believer is fixed on the second coming of Christ. Then, and only then, will His and our enemies be judged and we be glorified with Him.
The 127th Question and Answer of the Heidelberg Catechism speak of the threefold enemy of the believer, the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. According to the Answer, these enemies “cease not to assault us.” There never comes a time in this present age when the world is so subdued that for all practical purposes that world ceases to assault the believer. But God’s promise, the Answer points out, is to preserve us in this spiritual warfare until at last we obtain the complete victory.
Article 37 of the Belgic Confession presents the same scenario. In the final judgment, elect believers
… shall see the terrible vengeance which God shall execute on the wicked, who most cruelly persecuted, oppressed, and tormented them in this world; and who shall be convicted by the testimony of their own consciences, and, being immortal, shall be tormented in that everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
The article goes on to say that it is only at this second coming of Christ and the time of the final judgment that … the faithful and elect shall be crowned with glory and honor; and the Son of God will confess their names before God His Father, and His elect angels; all tears shall be wiped from their eyes; and their cause, which is now (emphasis mine, RC) condemned by many judges and magistrates as heretical and impious, will then (emphasis mine, RC) be known to be the cause of the Son of God.
There is no notion in the Belgic Confession of a future “golden age.” There is nothing of the hope of an earthly kingdom in which finally the world’s rulers will promote and enforce the law of God. On the contrary, in this world the persecution which the Reformed churches in the Lowlands experienced – de Brès himself suffering martyrdom – will to a greater or lesser degree be the experience of the church until the return of Christ.
This is confessional amillennialism.