The Problems with PostMillennialism – Priming the Pump for PPW 2017!
With Preterist Pilgrim Weekend 2017 just around the corner, I want to share with our visitors a tiny fraction of the Problems with Postmillennialism. This is, after all, the theme for this year’s Preterist Pilgrim Weekend. Now, make no mistake, I have a high regard for many of the proponents of Postmillennialism. Not only that, as I have stated on many occasions, Postmillennialists do a wonderful job of laying the ground work for the acceptance of Covenant Eschatology! I cannot tell you how many people have told me that they are now preterists due to the foundational teaching of men like Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, Joel McDurmon and others!
We tried to get Kenneth Gentry, widely considered as the top proponent of Postmillennialism, to engage me in a formal two day debate at this year’s PPW. Unfortunately, as he has done many, many times previously, he refused due to “time constraints.” Of course, interestingly, he had found the time to compile and write a book in which he claims to refute preterism!
With these preliminary thoughts, let me now share just some of the Problems with Postmillennialism.
Some of the most outspoken critics of Covenant Eschatology, i.e. true preterism, are postmillennialists. Keith Mathison compiled and edited a book When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism. Jonathan Seriah, wrote a book attacking preterism and Kenneth Gentry has offered many comments condemning the true preterist paradigm. Several authors from the Reformed background wrote a response, Editor Mike Sullivan, to Mathison’s book. That book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology: A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be? is available from me.)
Virtually all of these men have been challenged to meet me in formal public debate, or in formal written debate. They have all adamantly, and at times, arrogantly, refused. Of course, it is strange for men who claim to be “reformed” and to follow in the steps of Luther and Calvin to refuse to engage in honorable controversy, since the reformed movement gained its impetus largely by formal debates. So, to say the least, it is disingenuous, for these would be champions of the faith to refuse to debate.
Postmillennialism is fundamentally and fatally flawed, in many ways. This brief article will set forth just a couple of the fatal flaws in the theology of some of the leading postmillennialists of our day.
The first issue we want to examine is that of the New Creation. Notice that in Revelation 20:11f the Old Heaven and Earth flee from the presence of the Lord at the end of the millennium:
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
Let me make some very important preliminary observations:
Notice that in Revelation 20:7, Satan is loosed at the end of the millennium, and goes out to make war with the saints. In his assault, fire comes out of heaven and destroys his forces, and he is cast in the lake of fire (v. 10). So, the destruction of Satan is patently at the end of the millennium. Notice now, Romans 16:20: “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”
Gentry comments on Romans 16:20: “Romans 16:20 hearkens back to the Adamic Covenant.” (Dominion, 1992, 113). Okay, so Romans 16 hearkens back to Genesis 3:15 which is the promise of the ultimate destruction of Satan and the Adamic Curse. Paul said that the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15– the overcoming of the Adamic Curse at the destruction of Satan, was at hand, coming soon. Now watch:
The destruction of Satan- and the overcoming of the Adamic Curse– would be at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:7-10).
The destruction of Satan and the overcoming of the Adamic Curse was near when Paul wrote Romans.
Therefore, the end of the millennium – the destruction of Satan and the overcoming of the Adamic Curse – was near when Paul wrote.
I should note that Joel McDurmon likewise is on record stating that Revelation 21-22 was fulfilled in AD 70 (See his article “Creation Adorned” on the American Vision website). In our 2012 formal debate at the Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, I pointed out that this means that “the curse” and “the death” was overcome in AD 70. I challenged McDurmon to show how, that being true by his own admission, there is a need for another eschaton. He did not offer a word of explanation. A book of that debate, as well as DVDs and MP3s are available from this website.
These facts are totally destructive to the Postmillennial paradigm, but there is more.
The second major point to make here is this: Notice that Revelation 20:5 says that “the rest of the dead” did not live until the end of the millennium. But, Revelation 20:12 is the depiction of the “rest of the dead” being raised and judged. So:
The “rest of the dead” are not raised until the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:5).
But, Revelation 20:12 depicts the raising of “the rest of the dead.”
Therefore, Revelation 20:12 occurs at the end of the millennium.
Notice now that the “rest of the dead” appear at the Great White Throne judgment of v. 12. This clearly demands that the Throne Judgment occurs at the end of the millennium. And the Throne Judgment is also when the Old Creation fled away (was destroyed). Hang onto that for a moment.
This means that the Old Creation, the old earth and heaven, was destroyed at the end of the millennium. This is critical and it brings us to the first of the major problems for the postmillennial view.
It is common in Postmillennial circles to affirm that the New Creation arrived in AD 70. Please catch the power of that. Let me document this a bit.
Roderick Campbell, (Israel and the New Covenant, p.108) applies Revelation 21, “I make all things new” to AD 70.
Jonathin Seriah, says, “The ‘heaven and earth’ of Judaism that passed away in the first century (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1) were ‘obsolete and growing old’ (Hebrews 8:13)” (The End of All Things, (Moscow, Idaho; Canon Press, 1999), 54).
Kenneth Gentry, considered by many to be the leading spokesman of modern postmillennialism says that in Revelation 21:1f, “The Heavenly Jerusalem is the bride of Christ that comes down from God to replace the earthly Jerusalem (Rev 21:2-5) in the first century (Rev 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). With the shaking and destruction of the old Jerusalem in AD 70, the heavenly (recreated) Jerusalem replaces her” (2009, 367). He insists: “It seems clear from the time statements in Revelation following the New Jerusalem imagery that this must come to pass not long after John wrote (Revelation 22:6, 7, 10) (He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA; Apologetics Group, 2009), 147, n. 44).
DeMar likewise says: “The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant encompassed monumental changes. Various expressions are used to describe it.” (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, Obsession of the Modern Church (Atlanta, Ga; American Vision, 1994), 56). Among the expressions that Demar gives to describe the transition from the Old Covenant to the New is “New Heavens and a New Earth (Revelation 21:1)”
Finally, Chilton, even before his conversion to the full (true) preterist eschatology, was adamant that the New Jerusalem of Revelation has already arrived: “We are living in the new heaven and the new earth; we are citizens of the New Jerusalem.” (Paradise Restored, Horn Lake, MS.; Dominion Press, 2007), 206). Chilton clearly posited the arrival of the New Jerusalem at the removal of the Old Jerusalem in AD 70.
So, what is the problem you say? Let me express the problem succinctly:
The New Creation of Revelation 21 arrived with the passing of Old Covenant Judaism in AD 70 (Campbell, Seriah, Gentry, DeMar, Chilton, et. Al.– Postmillennialism– Look at Gentry’s quote again: “With the shaking and destruction of the old Jerusalem in AD 70, the heavenly (recreated) Jerusalem replaces her” ).
But, the Old Creation passed away at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:11-12).
Therefore, the end of the millennium arrived at the passing of Old Covenant Judaism in AD 70.
Do you see the problem? It is fatal to the Postmillennial paradigm that insists that the millennium began in the ministry of Jesus and continues to this day. (It is equally fatal to the claim that the millennium began in AD 70).
Per the Postmillennial construct, the Christian age is the millennium and endures until the end of human history. But again, if the New Creation arrived in AD 70, then since the Old Creation was destroyed at the end of the millennium, ushering in the New Creation, then without a doubt, that means that the end of the millennium is inextricably tied to the first century and the end of the Old Covenant age.
The only way to counter this severe problem is to be able to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the destruction of Satan, the raising of the rest of the dead and the destruction of the Old Heaven and Earth did not, after all, occur at the end of the millennium in 20:7-12. That cannot be proven however, since the destruction of Satan and the raising of the “rest of the dead” are both emphatically posited at the end of the millennium by the text. And, the raising of the rest of the dead at the end of the millennium, occurs at the Throne Judgment when the Old Creation passes. This is but one of the Problems with Postmillennialism!
We would also note this:
The Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:12 is the Throne Judgment of Matthew 25:31f.
But, the Throne Judgment of Matthew 25:31f was to occur in the first century at the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem (Matthew 24:34– This is proven by the fact that Revelation 21 is the time of the Wedding. Matthew 25:31 is the time of the Wedding, but, the time of the Wedding was in AD 70, Matthew 22: 1-10– and Gentry occurs).
Therefore, the end of the millennium Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:12 was to occur in the first century at the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem.
So the problem is indeed very real. But, the next problem which we will present in the next article, is, if possible, even more severe. Stay tuned!!
And There Shall Be No More Curse
Revelation 21:1 introduces the New Creation, including the New Jerusalem. The rest of chapters 21-22 describe the blessings found in that New Creation. It is one continuous description of the New Jerusalem and the New Creation that arrived in 21:1. There is no gap, no protracted temporal disconnect between chapter 21 and chapter 22. No long unfolding over millennia.
Gentry said it well, but of course did not see the implications for his view: “It seems clear from the time statements in Revelation following the New Jerusalem imagery that this must come to pass not long after John wrote (Revelation 22:6, 7, 10). Notice that in Revelation 22:5 the text concludes the description of the New Jerusalem and then immediately says: “And he said to me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets send his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly (en taxei– see my in-depth discussion of en taxei in my Who Is This Babylon book.) come to pass.”
Now, if the New Heavens and Earth and the New Jerusalem were not included in the things that must shortly come to pass, then the contextual flow is quite misleading. The New Creation is the direct antecedent, as Gentry takes note! This demands that it is the New Jerusalem that must, from John’s perspective, “shortly be done.”
Notice now that chapter 22 tells us of the River of Life flowing out from under the throne. And where is that throne located? In the New Jerusalem which arrived in chapter 21:1-2. So, this drives home the point we are making. Chapter 22 is directly, inseparably connected to chapter 21, and that means that chapter 22 is part of the on-going description of what arrived in AD 70 per the Postmillennial paradigm. Now, at this juncture, let me digress for a moment to take note of Romans 8:18f.
In this great text Paul speaks eloquently of the redemption of “creation” or “the creature.” It is popular among commentators, especially postmillennial ones, to say that Paul was anticipating the renewal of the physical cosmos. It is claimed that as a result of sin in the Garden that the rocks, trees bugs, slugs and mosquitos of the natural world were placed under “the curse” at that time, and only the parousia of Christ will reverse that curse. (But observe that in Revelation 22:7 Jesus rather emphatically said “Behold, I come quickly!”) This is, ostensibly, the focus of the redemption of creation and the goal of Christ’s parousia.
What this means, or should mean, is that the New Creation is the redemption of the bugs, slugs and mosquitoes, in a restored physical cosmos– the New Heaven and Earth. Now, quite frankly, I have never read a single commentator explain how the curse affected rocks for instance, and how the removal of the curse will liberate rocks from “the curse.” And this is not an attempt to be facetious. It is asking a legitimate question. You cannot affirm that rocks are under the curse, without at least inviting the question of what happens to rocks when the curse is destroyed.
Okay, so Romans 8 is the prediction of the time when the curse is removed from material creation per the postmillennial eschatology.
Revelation is the depiction of the arrival of the New Creation – the restoration of the Garden – where there is no death (Chilton, commenting on Revelation 21, says God has already taken away our tears, Paradise, 205f).
The New Creation is the goal of “creation” when the Adamic curse is removed.
But, the New Creation arrived in AD 70. Gentry actually says: “The bride totally supplants Israel in AD 70” (Dominion, 2009, 420, my emphasis). So, the marriage, not the betrothal, took place in AD 70.
In an amazing admission and affirmation, Gentry admits that the Jewish expectation, and the Old Testament prediction, was that the age to come would fully arrive at the end of the Mosaic Age:
“From the linear perspective of the Old Testament, ancient Israel believes that the “age to come’ will be the Messianic era that would fully arrive after their current age ends. Yet in the New Testament we learn that the ‘age to come’ begins in principle with the first century coming of Christ. It overlaps with ‘this age’ which begins in Christ.” Thus, we are not only children of ‘this age’ (present, sin-laden temporal history) but are also spiritually children of ‘the age to come’ (the final, perfected eternal age). We have our feet in both worlds” (Dominion, 2009, 326, my emphasis– See my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings for a fuller analysis of Gentry’s comments here. Note that he implies that the OT prophets were essentially wrong, because the “age to come” did not, in Gentry’s view, fully arrive at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70).
Do you catch the power of that? The OT prophets expected and foretold the full arrival of the age to come– which in reality is just another term for the redeemed creation – at the end of their current age. That means that the OT prophets foretold the full arrival of the New Creation, the redemption of the creation at the end of the Old Covenant age! (See my full discussion of Gentry’s problematic admission in my We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings).
And of course, this is precisely what Gentry, DeMar, Seriah, Campbell and other postmillennialists affirm, when they say that the New Creation arrived in AD 70 at the fall of Jerusalem. Now, of course, these good men might well cry “Foul!” at this, and claim that the New Creation began to be established and will one day come into full bloom, at some distant point. This was Chilton’s position in Paradise Restored. However, this overlooks several key issues and facts found in the NT.
If AD 70 was the beginning, then it was the betrothal of Christ. But, as Revelation 19 points out, it was the Wedding (the consummation) that was near in the judgment of Babylon / Jerusalem– not the betrothal. And remember that Gentry says that the New Covenant bride “fully supplanted” the Old in AD 70. Once again, this is destructive of the postmillennial eschatology. Jesus was not coming to get betrothed!
Note Gentry’s admission just above. He admits that the OT prophets foretold the “full arrival” of the “age to come” at the end of their Old Covenant age. Well, were those OT prophets wrong in what they predicted? We are not talking here of the misguided hope of the Jews concerning the nature of the kingdom. What we are talking about here is what the inspired prophets actually foretold. And one thing is certain: Gentry is correct when he says the OT prophets foretold the “full arrival” of the New Creation at the end of Israel’s Old Covenant age in AD 70. But consider the following.
The New Creation had already broken into the Old prior to the consummation in AD 70. Scholars have acknowledged this for literally centuries. When Paul said, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away, all things have become new” it is all but universally stating that the promised New Creation had begun to arrive. All that was waiting was the consummation, the full arrival.
Note the comments of Longenecker on Paul’s view of the two ages in Galatians:
“What Paul has in mind when he envisages the inauguration of a new world is not, of course, the establishment of a completely new physical universe of matter– a world of cause and effect relationships, held together by forces of gravitational attraction at the molecular level. Instead he envisages the establishment of a new realm of existence. It is the sphere of life wholly different from the ‘cosmos’ that has been crucified to Paul, a domain where distinctive patterns of life are operative. As his comments in 6:14-15 highlight, Paul belongs to this new world, where different standards apply, different rules are followed, different habits are formed, different ways of life are practiced, and a different ethos exists. The world in which he used to live was characterized by many things, one of which was fundamental distinctions between those who were circumcised and those who were not, those who observed the law of God and those who did not. But Paul has seen the death of that world and now lives in a world where that distinction is not applicable.” (Bruce Longenecker, The Triumph of Abraham’s God, (Edinburgh, T and T Clark, 1998)37– My only objection to Longenecker’s comments are in regard to his claim that Paul had already seen the death of the Old World. This is incorrect, since Paul affirmed some years later that the passing of the Old Covenant was “nigh” (Hebrews 8:13).
So, the New Age had broken into the Old. The Old was “nigh unto passing” (Hebrews 8:13). Christ had begun the work of “restoration” but would perfect it at the parousia. Gentry and postmillennialists agree with this view as well. Notice Gentry’s comments on the “restoration of all things” spoken of by Peter in Acts 3:21-24::
“This ‘restoration of all things’ begins in the first century during the ministry of Christ. John Calvin notes in this regard that ‘Christ by His death has already restored all things…but the effect of it is not yet fully seen, because the restoration is still in process of completion, and so too our redemption.’ In fact, Peter informs his auditors of the events begun in their time: ‘Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days (Acts 3:24). This contemporary focus is also clear from Matthew 17:11, where John Baptist functions as an Elijah introducing the restoration of all things in the New Covenant (cf. Malachi 4:5-6)” ( Dominion, 2009, 501).
Gentry then concludes that the “restoration of all things” which of course is the redemption of creation from the Adamic “the curse” (Romans 8:18f) will be completed at the end of the age, the second coming of Christ. Note what he says, however: “The restoration of all things is a reformation that supplants the old order (Hebrews 9:10)” (Dominion, 2009, 502). Gentry has hopelessly entrapped himself here. For brevity, let me offer this. I develop this much more extensively in my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings.
The restoration of all things (which is the removal of the Adamic Curse, and the redemption of “creation” of Romans 8) “is a reformation that supplants the old order (Hebrews 9:10)” (Gentry).
But, the reformation that supplants the old order is the end of the Old Covenant (Hebrews 9:6-10)!
Therefore, the restoration of all things (which is the removal of the Adamic Curse, and the redemption of “creation” of Romans 8) occurs at the end of the Old Covenant.
Let me follow up with this:
The restoration of all things (which is the removal of the Adamic Curse, and the redemption of “creation” of Romans 8) occurs at the end of the Old Covenant.
But, the end of the Old Covenant arrived in AD 70 (Gentry, DeMar, Seriah, etc.).
Therefore, the restoration of all things (which is the removal of the Adamic Curse, and the redemption of “creation” of Romans 8) occurred in AD 70.
Do you see the insurmountable Problems with Postmillennialism?
Remember that Postmillennialists hold to the following, based on the citations above:
☛ The Adamic Curse will be removed (Romans 8) at the time of the New Heaven and Earth. Postmillennialists posit this at the end of the millennium, which they claim is the end of the Christian age.
☛ The restoration of all things began in the ministry of John and was continued by Jesus, and will be consummated at the parousia of Christ.
☛ The New Creation, the New Jerusalem, arrived with the destruction of the Old Covenant world in AD 70.
But notice: since the New Creation arrived at Christ’s coming, at the end of the age in AD 70 per Postmillennialists themselves, this demands that the Adamic Curse was fully removed in AD 70!
Notice again that in Revelation 21-22 we find the description of the New Creation– the New Creation that Postmillennialists tell us arrived in AD 70. Notice now Revelation 22:1-3:
“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.”
Notice that this is the description of the blessings found in the New Jerusalem. So…
The New Jerusalem arrived in AD 70 (Postmillennialists).
In the New Jerusalem that arrived in AD 70 there is no more curse.
Therefore, there has been no more curse since AD 70.
Now, remember this critical point: Postmillennialists tell us that the restoration of all things had begun under John. The restoration would continue until the parousia and the arrival of the New Creation. But, they tell us that the Christ came and the New Creation arrived in AD 70! So here is the question:
If the New Creation arrived in AD 70 at the parousia of Christ and the passing of the Old Creation, then since Revelation 22 says that in the New Creation that arrived in AD 70– there is no more curse — how in the name of reason can it be affirmed that the Adamic Curse does in fact continue today?
Let me take note of the emphatic nature of the wording in Revelation 22:3. It is quite literally, “And every curse will not be any longer.” (Kai pan katathema ouk estai eti). The word pan is a form of panta, which means, “all, every, etc.” So, every curse, all the Adamic Curse, would cease to exist in Christ and the New Creation which arrived in AD 70. The curse, every curse, would pass at the destruction of Satan at the end of the millennium, and as seen in Romans 16, that end of Satan was near. Jesus affirmed the same thing in Revelation 22: “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me.” This time of Christ’s coming and the time of reward of every man is nothing less or other than the judgment of Revelation 20:11-12 which was to be at the end of the millennium, when “the rest of the dead” were raised to life and reward. Thus..
The judgment of the rest of the dead, all the dead, was to occur at the end of the millennium.
But, the rewarding of every man was at hand and coming quickly at Christ’s parousia when John wrote Revelation.
Therefore, the end of the millennium was near when John wrote Revelation.
The fact that the end of the millennium is posited, repeatedly, in Revelation as being near, and coming soon falsifies the Postmillennial eschatology.
There is not one syllable in Revelation 21-22 to suggest that the arrival of the New Creation in AD 70 was just a “jump start” on the way to the actual consummation and the removal of the Adamic Curse. No hint of such. In fact, remember that Gentry says the restoration of all things began with John. So, what role did AD 70 play if not consummation? The unequivocal testimony of all NT prophecies of Christ’s parousia is that it would bring the consummation, the final realization of what had begun. So, if AD 70 was the coming of the Lord, and if it was the end of the age, and if it was the arrival of the New Creation, then it was the consummation.
Remember that Gentry admits that the OT prophets anticipated the full arrival of the age to come at the end of the Old Covenant age– which he affirms came in AD 70! So, once again, since Revelation 21-22 describes the arrival of the New Creation in AD 70 this logically demands that from AD 70 there has been no curse! The Adamic Curse was removed in AD 70. (Significantly, in my debate with James Jordan he admitted that the Adamic Curse was destroyed in AD 70, but then insisted that we are still waiting on the consummation. I noted that the destruction of the Adamic Curse is what Paul was anticipating in 1 Corinthians 15. Thus, to admit the AD 70 removal of the Adamic Curse is to admit the eschatological consummation. There is no “consummation” beyond 1 Corinthians 15 or Revelation 21-22. MP3s of that debate is available from me.).
So, according to the admissions of the Postmillennialists, it must be true that the “creation” was redeemed in AD 70– which of course completely nullifies all claims that the Adamic Curse was a curse on material creation, for natural creation has manifestly not been “redeemed” since AD 70.
We have presented only a tiny portion of the Problems with Postmillennialism. While the leading advocates of that paradigm confidently claim that true preterism is “heresy” and false doctrine, the Biblical truth is that it is their eschatology that is false. Covenant Eschatology is the proper and true Biblical eschatology – and we stand ready to defend that charge in formal debate.