I was profoundly aware of two things I didn’t get while I was in

seminary. (Of course, it is the things you don’t know you don’t know that will get you, but that is another topic.) One of them was eschatology. I was determined in my early years after graduating to close the gap doing some serious self-study into the topic.

I had one serious limitation: I didn’t have a particular bias going in. I can honestly say I was able to look at all the views in an even-handed way. I listened carefully to the arguments made by all sides with an open mind. It you really want to come to a conviction about eschatology, I suggest you do the opposite: decide early what you believe and only read people who agree with you. 😉

Here is an overview of the major views of the end times.



This was the belief held by most of my seminary professors. (I graduated Southwestern in 1983.) Here is a description from http://en.wikipedia.org

Amillennialism (Latin: a- “not” + mille “thousand” + annum “year”) is a view in Christian eschatology named for its denial of a future, thousand-year, physical reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, as espoused in the premillennial and some postmillennial views of the Book of Revelation, chapter 20. By contrast, the amillennial view holds that the number of years in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the church age (or more rarely, that it ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70); and that while Christ’s reign is spiritual in nature during the millennium, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish permanent physical reign.



This is the view held by most preachers and popularized by the LaHaye series, Left Behind. Again, from Wikipedia:

Premillennialism in Christian eschatology is the belief that Christ will literally reign on the earth for 1,000 years at his second coming. The doctrine is called Premillennialism because it views the current age as prior to Christ’s kingdom. It is distinct from the other forms of Christian eschatology such as amillennialism or postmillennialism, which view the millennial rule as either figurative and non-temporal, or as occurring prior to the second coming. Premillennialism is largely based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 in the New Testament which describes Christ’s coming to the earth and subsequent reign at the end of an apocalyptic period of tribulation. It views this future age as a time of fulfillment for the prophetic hope of God’s people as given in the Old Testament.



Postmillennialism was explained to me this way. This was the most popular view of eschatology a hundred years ago. This hope fueled much of the launch of the beginning of the great world missions movement. People really did believe what the old hymn says:

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,

That shall turn their hearts to the right,

A story of truth and mercy,

A story of peace and light,

A story of peace and light.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright;

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,

That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,

A song that shall conquer evil

And shatter the spear and sword,

And shatter the spear and sword.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright;

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,

Who the path of sorrow has trod,

That all of the world’s great peoples

Might come to the truth of God,

Might come to the truth of God.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright;

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

Postmillennialism holds that gospel really will spread like yeast as the Bible says. It really will grow, as Jesus taught, from a tiny mustard side to a huge plant. The world will not become perfect, but it will become distinctly and authentically Christian as a good church is Christian.

You gotta love postmillennialism. Even if you don’t believe it, you have to like it:

That all of the world’s great peoples

Might come to the truth of God,

Might come to the truth of God.

Here is how Wikipedia defines postmillennialism :

In Christian eschatology, postmillennialism is an interpretation of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation which sees Christ’s second coming as occurring after (Latin post-) the “Millennium”, a Golden Age or era of Christian prosperity and dominance. The term subsumes several similar views of the end times, and it stands in contrast to premillennialism and, to a lesser extent, amillennialism (see Summary of Christian eschatological differences).

Although some postmillennialists hold to a literal millennium of 1,000 years, most postmillennialists see the thousand years more as a figurative term for a long period of time (similar in that respect to amillennialism). Among those holding to a non-literal “millennium” it is usually understood to have already begun, which implies a less obvious and less dramatic kind of millennium than that typically envisioned by premillennialists, as well as a more unexpected return of Christ.

Postmillennialism also teaches that the forces of Satan will gradually be defeated by the expansion of the Kingdom of God throughout history up until the second coming of Christ. This belief that good will gradually triumph over evil has led proponents of postmillennialism to label themselves “optimillennialists” in contrast to “pessimillennial” premillennialists and amillennialists.

Many postmillennialists also adopt some form of preterism, which holds that many of the end times prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled.

Then, the explanation I got in seminary turned a corner. “Postmillennialism was the dominant eschatology 100 years ago and fueled much of the energy of the early world missions movement. Then, two world wars and a depression came along and pretty much snuffed out that belief.”

That never made a lot of sense to me. It never made any sense that a couple of world wars and a depression would change our theology.

From what I can tell, Postmillennialism is making a modest comeback in out times, but that is not actually what i wrote all this to say.

Oh, and by the way, the progress of the gospel is moving along quite nicely. See http://www.missionfrontiers.org/newslinks/statewe.htm

I never did come to a firm belief in my eschatology, but I have come to one firm belief related to eschatology.

The pessimism that often accompanies some eschatology is both unbiblical and damaging. I sense a mood from a lot of believers that suggest, “No, our church is not growing, but, what can we expect? We are living the last days. The Bible says that scoffers will come and that is certainly true today. Things are just going to get worse and worse and we just need to hunker down and hold on till the end.”

Whatever your eschatology, we need to be people of great faith and confidence.

Dawson Trotman said it this way: http://www.navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/1/1.61.4.html

What is the need of the hour? That depends on the person who is thinking about it.

For a beggar with a tin cup, it’s a dime. For a woman being taken to the hospital, it’s a doctor.

But what is it in Christian work? I started to list the things we often feel are the need—those things which, if supplied, would end our troubles.

Some say, “If I just had a larger staff.” Many a minister would like to have an assistant, and many a mission would like to have more missionaries.

Others say, “We don’t need more workers, but better facilities. If we just had more office space and more buildings and a bigger base of operation, then we could do the job.”

In some parts of the world they say it’s better communications we lack, or better transportation, or better health care, or literature.

Many feel the need is an open door into some closed country. But the Bible says, “My God shall supply all your needs.” If we need an open door, why doesn’t God open it—”he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth”?

Some say, “If we just had more time,” or “If I just weren’t so old, if I were only young again.” People have said to me, “Daws, if I had known when I was twenty years old what I know now, I could have done a hundred times more for the Lord. Why didn’t I?”

Often the biggest need seems to be money. Money is the answer to a larger staff, more facilities, better communications and transportation and literature. “If we just had more money.”


An Army of Soldiers

What is the need of the hour? I don’t believe it is any of these. I am convinced that the God of the universe is in control, and He will supply all these needs in His own way and in His own time, all else being right.

The need of the hour is an army of soldiers dedicated to Jesus Christ, who believe that He is God, that He can fulfill every promise He ever made, and that nothing is too hard for Him. This is the only way we can accomplish what is on God’s heart—getting the gospel to every creature.

Whatever your eschatology, I trust you will embrace this belief: God is God and he can fulfill every promise He ever made. God, give us an army like that.

I am not absolutely sure it is true, but I sure love the sentiment of the old hymn:

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright;

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.