Do We Really Need Another Book on Amillennialism?

There are 25 Comments

James K's picture

It can go with the rest of the fiction books.  That is the craze after all.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Marsilius's picture

I have a question, and it is sincere. Does TGC have no room for the presentation of dispensational views? Would they ever allow an unqualified rejoinder to Storms?

James K's picture

Not many dispensationalists in TGC that I saw.  However, the reply to amill fantasy doesn't have to be a dispensationalist.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I believe it is a mistake for fundamentalism to identify, almost exclusively, with Dispensationalism.  This has not always been the case, but seems to have become the current norm.  Most fundamental churches and schools enshrine Dispensationalism in their doctrinal statement, and even those that do not, often act as if Dispensationalism is a non-negotiable component of the Christian Faith.

Is Dispensationalism, or its various components such as the pre-tribulation rapture, a fundamental of the faith?  If you act as if it is, please do not be surprised if some young fundamentalists find themselves seeking new areas of fellowship.  If they, through personal study, come to a non-dispensational understanding of Scripture, and their fundamentalist friends will no longer allow them to wear the fundamentalists label, or be welcomed in fundamental circles, what would you expect them to do?  It's easy enough to denounce them as compromising non-separatists, but is it possible that they are simply historic fundamentalists who have been excluded by a non-fundamental dogma?

We need to keep reviewing this basic question, "What is a Fundamentalist"?

G. N. Barkman

Wayne Wilson's picture

Most fundamental churches and schools enshrine Dispensationalism in their doctrinal statement, and even those that do not, often act as if Dispensationalism is a non-negotiable component of the Christian Faith.

Yes, it is wrong to make it central to the faith, and not respect those who sincerely differ.  But the same ought to be true for Amil schools and churches with Amil doctrinal statements.  TGC ought to welcome robust and friendly debate on this topic, since many who hold to their view of the Gospel are Dispensational. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

I agree that amillenialists should not make their position a fundamental of the faith, any more than dispensationalists.  But I can't, off-hand, recall ever reading an amill doctrinal statement.  Perhaps such a thing exists, but it must be rare.  What you often find is a general statement about the literal, physical return of Christ that allows for various positions.  However, many dispensationalists assume that such a statement is amill because it does not affirm the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.  Many dispensationalists do not understand the difference between amillenialism, postmillenalism, and historic premillenialism. 

To many dispensationalists, the absence of a conscipulously dispensational statement is evidence of amillenialism, and therefore heresy.  This way of thinking is what prompted my original post.  Dispensationalists cannot act as if dispensationalism is an essential of the Christian faith, and then be surprised if those who differ feel they have been excluded.

Again, "What is a Fundamentalist?"

G. N. Barkman

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Greg,

You have two separate questions here. Is dispensationalism a fundamental of the faith? No. However, can (should?) a church describe its eschatological position in its own doctrinal statement? Yes. Should it remain charitable toward those who might wish to attend while holding a different position? Yes, but there is nothing wrong with explaining the position (and consequent teaching) that a church has chosen to uphold within their congregational life.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

G. N. Barkman's picture

Chip,

I agree.  What I am challenging is the practice of such churches treating dispensationalism as a fundamental of the faith outside their churches, within pastors fellowships and fundamental organizations of various kinds.

I hear fundamentalists asking why so many young fundamentalists are leaving.  I'm trying to provide one answer.  Some are leaving because they are no longer dispensationalists, and many fundemantalists shun non-dispensationalists. 

I am using one issue to address the bigger issue of what is a fundamentalist?  Fundamentalists cannot keep drawing the circle smaller, and then be surprised when some former comrades find themselves outside the  circle.  Who's to blame if those who formerly were within the circle are now outside because the circle has gotten smaller?  Many blame those who are outside.  They are assumed to be compromisers.  But these men didn't draw a bigger circle.  Others draw a smaller one.

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

I heard a theologian, jokingly, say he subscribed to the Pan view of eschatology - "It'll all pan out in the end!"

I do not believe dispensationalism is an intrinsic part of fundamentalism. I believe the following are a good start to a discussion on what fundmentalism really is;

1. Unqualified obedience and submission to the Scriptures,

2. Adherence to the traditional five fundamentals of the faith

3. Strong, Biblical stance on personal and ecclesiastical separation

4.  Willingness to stand for the above truths in the marketplace - or to be militant when the above are being compromised. 

I am a dispensationalist, but cheerfully would count a Reformed guy (or gal) as my friend. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

I agree with your comment about dispensationalist fundamentalists drawing their circle narrower and narrower. This is not a cause for separation, in my opinion. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Marsilius's picture

Has anyone commenting here besides James read Storms' article in TGC? What is all this nonsense about Dispensationalism being / not being a fundamental of the faith? I was only asking whether there was any latitude in TGC for dispensationalists to express their views like Storms has in the opposite direction. Wrong venue for the question, I think.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I apologize that your initial comment sparked a brief segue into other issues. If the matter is very pressing to you, perhaps you should contact TGC and offer to write a response to Storms' article.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Matthew_Black's picture

I'm looking forward to Storms' book.  I've been asking those key questions he asks for many, many years.

"Taste and See that the Lord is Good!" Ps. 34:8

Matthew S. Black, Pastor, Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, Illinois

http://www.livinghopechurch.net

James K's picture

Why wait?  Let's look at them here:

1 • You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ's second coming.

2 • You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ's second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

3 • You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. 

4 • You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

5 • You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

6 • You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

 

1. This is because the Bible itself tells us this will happen.  Isaiah 65:17-20 make it clear that death is present at the beginning of the New Heavens and Earth.  To flip this, Sam Storms must necessarily believe that people are still dying in eternity.

2. Until eternity rolls in, death and decay will be a reality.  However, during the Millennium, the earth will experience an Edenlike quality.  Ezekiel 36:35:

"Then they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden. The cities that were once ruined, desolate, and destroyed are now fortified and inhabited."

3. False.  This betrays how little Storms even knows.  Some dispensationalists believe the Millennium is the first part of the New Heavens and Earth.

4. Yes, because Revelation 20 speaks of a people who are present in the Millennium who rebel against God.  Since no unbeliever goes alive into the kingdom, they must be people born to those who did enter the kingdom.  I seriously feel like Paul who had to speak as a fool to address such silliness.

5. Yes, because that is exactly the Biblical order of events.  All unbelievers of all time are resurrected at the end of the Millennium to face judgment along with Satan.

6. Yes, see No. 5.

Honestly, the only people who could read Storms and be convinced of amill would be those poisoned against what dispensationalism actually is.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Matthew_Black's picture

No offense James (I do not even know you), but it is not wise to answer so quickly without even reading the book.  The temptation to give quick, off the cuff answers is one reason I do not prefer blogs.  

Our millennial positions are not fundamental to the faith.  Let love be our primary motive that we might build each other in the faith of the Gospel.  I fellowship with godly and holy men of various millennial positions and there is a serious study and healthy edification.  Jesus will come again and reign as King - we all agree on that.  May that be in our vision and motivation instead of the temptation to bicker and give hasty, undeveloped answers or forget that knowledge can puff us up if it is not tempered with love for our brothers.   

BTW, I would say that Sam Storms having earned a ThM from a premier dispensational school would have the benefit of the doubt when understanding dispensationalism.   No need to answer this, I likely will not be inclined to participate.  Perhaps we can have a book study of Storms' book together (wink).

"Taste and See that the Lord is Good!" Ps. 34:8

Matthew S. Black, Pastor, Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, Illinois

http://www.livinghopechurch.net

James K's picture

Matthew, this isn't the first time Storm's spoke on this issue.  I have heard him out.

You may be content to have a lowest common denominator eschatology, but I am not.

Finally, if you mean our position is not an issue that would keep a person from being saved, then sure, it isn't fundamental.  If however your statement is more than that, I would disagree.  All right thinking Christians are premillennial.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Steve Davis's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

 

And then some wonder why many of the brightest among young fundamentalists are disenchanted?  Hmmm.

 

As a former dispensationalist and with no bone to pick with them, and among whom I have friends, I do think you are right except it's not only the brightest and young. When we planted a church a couple years ago we were committed to not enshrine a detailed eschatological position. On our leadership we've had differences from progressive dispensationalism, historic premil, and amil. We don't hide the differences nor magnify them. And we've had dispensationalists as guest speakers.

I think churches have a right to make dispensationalism or other views an issue and for established churches it would be difficult to change. I would not recommend it to newly planted churches.

Here's what we adopted as a church. That is, we believe the Scriptures clearly teach and what has been clearly affirmed throughout the ages is that Jesus returns to establish His kingdom. Whether there is a 1000 year period before the eternal kingdom, one or two phases, restoration of Israel and in what way, these things are interesting and important to discuss. We will probably all be surprised in some way at how God works it out. For that reason I would not separate over biblical eschatology with which all right thinking Christians agree.

"God's gospel will be brought to fulfillment by the Lord Himself at the end of this age:  We believe in the personal and glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with His holy angels, when He will fully establish His kingdom and exercise His role as Judge of all. This coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, requires constant expectancy and should motivate the believer to godly living, sacrificial service, and energetic mission. This is our blessed hope (Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38; 14:62; Acts 1:6-8; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Titus 2:13; Jude 14-15; Rev. 1:7).
 

 

James K's picture

Oh my fault, I meant to do more than paraphrase the quote.  Here it is:

"But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then he built, adorned, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare."

Justin Martyr, AD 140

So yeah, Barkman, nothing will disenchant young people more than one of the earliest church father on eschatology. I didn't know they were so petty and miserable.  Emo-fundy is a new subculture to be on the look out for I guess.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Joel Shaffer's picture

James,

Justin Martyr also states that those who think differently than his historical pre-mil position still belong to  "the pure and pious faith."  He might have thought he was right minded on this issue, but had no qualms about them belonging to "the pure and pious faith."  He also makes the point that there were many of them too, just as there were probably many Christians who believed in a 1000 year reign. 

"I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion (temporal 1000 year reign), and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise." (Dialogue with Trypho,)

Charlie's picture

It's also interesting to note that early church chiliasm was significantly different from modern dispensational premillennialism. For one thing, it tended to be connected to a denial of the soul's immediate ascent to God. Instead, the millennial period is viewed as a training ground for souls, purifying them so that they will be able to experience the beatific vision. (Basically, a sort of purgatory.) Irenaeus makes this the explicit hinge of his premillennialism.

A full analysis of the connection between individual eschatology and millennial views can be found in Regnum Caelorum by Charles Hill. A survey of early Christian eschatology that goes far beyond the dualistic historiography of the 19th century is Brian Daley, Hope of the Early Church

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

James K's picture

Joel, where have I said that amills were outside of Christianity?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Joel Shaffer's picture

James, 

I never accused you of saying that they were outside of Christianity.  I added this quote especially because Justin Martyr uses the adjectives pure and pious to describe the faith of these non pre-millennialists, which is the same as those who are pre-millennial.  Maybe because he demonstrated that one can embrace a different view of eschatology, stating that another position is wrong, but yet acknowledge that they aren't some second class Christian, but rather make the claim that they also belong to the pure and pious faith.  

James K's picture

Again, not disputed.  Storms can make up near idiotic reasons to not be premill and be lauded.  There is something deeply wrong with Christianity when entire portions of Scripture are treated as second class.  In addition, eschatology is in Scripture so that we purify ourselves and eagerly anticipate the Lord's return in addition to being ready for coming persecution.  When people downplay its significance, they do themselves, and their people an extreme disservice.  So yes, amills can be saved.  To their own harm, they cannot adequately interpret Scripture.  There is a hole in their theology where eschatology should be.

Btw, when the "fundamentalists" where discussing what the fundamentals were, the more presbyterian flavor opted to only mention Christ's return.  The nonpresbos actually included premillennialism as a fundamental.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Richard Pajak's picture

Hi James, I like your arguments but could you add a little more sweetness and gentleness to the words you use. It would make what you say far more palatable both to those who agree and those who disagree with your views. I find myself at times rooting for you then I am hit by what comes across as harshness.

Richard Pajak