5 Points of Intersection Between Postmillennialism and Apologetics – Point 1

The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks 1825

The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks (1825)

I propose five points where postmillennial eschatology shapes and supports Christian apologetics:

  1. Postmillennialism means that we eventually persuade the world with our arguments.
  2. Postmillennialism validates the resurrection and the truth of Jesus’ message.
  3. Postmillennialism refutes the skeptics’ claim that Jesus broke His promise to return.
  4. Postmillennialism is the biblical anecdote to failed predictions of Christ’s Second Coming.
  5. Postmillennialism was an important influence in the Scientific Revolution.

Point 1:  Postmillennialism means that we eventually persuade the world with our arguments.  The Old Testament predictions about the Messianic Age include the prediction that all nations will eventually worship God and obey His Law.  This is taught over and over again:  Gen. 17:5-6; 22:18; 49:10; Num. 14:21; 1 Sam. 2:10; 1 Chron. 16:28-31; Ps. 2:8; 22:27; 37:9-11, 22, 34; 47:2-3; 47:8-9; 65:2; 117:1; 66:4; 68:31-32; 72:8,11; 72:17,19; 82:8; 86:9; 96:1-3; 98:1-3; 102:15; 102:22; 138:4; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:9; 19:22-24; 26:9; 42:10-13; 49:6; 49:22-23; 66:23; Jer. 3:16-17; 16:19; 31:31-34; Dan. 2:31-35; 7:13-14; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-3; 5:2-4; 7:16-17; Hab. 2:14-20; Hag. 2:7-9; Zech. 9:9-10; Zech. 14:9; Mal. 1:11.  The Old Testament promise of world-wide dominion of the Messianic Kingdom is, in fact, the New Testament gospel:  “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’” (Gal. 3:8; cf. Rom. 4:13).  The Old Testament promise is carried out by the Spirit-empowered church obeying the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).[1]  Following the example of the Apostle Paul, this involves Christians presenting arguments to those who question our message (Acts 17:1-3; 18:26-28; cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15; Titus 1:9).

It should be encouraging to apologists that, not only are they right, but that eventually their arguments (the good ones at least) will prevail in history to convert the world.  Of course, the conversion of the world doesn’t result merely from arguing with people; it also involves prayer, worship, helping the poor, pursuing justice, and all other things commanded by God’s word.

Postmillennialism was the dominant belief of the Christians who settled America.  It is what gave them confidence to leave their homeland and establish settlements in a wilderness on the other side of the ocean.  Puritans initiated the Protestant international missions movement that continues to this day; and, in particular, Puritans brought the postmillennial vision of comprehensive transformation of all of life to the Glory of God with them when they settled America.[2]  These Christians laid a foundation that served to erect one of the freest, most prosperous countries on earth (with flaws too, of course).  One writer on the history of missions says of the New England Puritans’ victorious postmillennial faith:

Men living in a relatively small community on the edge of an unexplored continent, remote from the great population centers, having some contacts with remote lands by sea trade but closely related only to the British homeland, having converted only a few hundred of the Indians, with one voice proclaim their certainty that the whole wide world belongs to Christ and is being brought to him!  It is the universalism of the prophets which sustains this view, and due to their conviction about the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the faithfulness of God’s promises, the New England Puritans were convinced of the soundness of their expectation.[3]

The postmillennial vision gradually became co-opted by the enemies of God, so that a secularized perversion of postmillennialism gave Marxists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the confidence of worldwide dominion that was once possessed by Christians.   Karl Marx said, “The worker must one day seize power, in order to erect the new organization of labor; . . . if he does not want to suffer the loss of heaven on earth, as did the old Christians who neglected and despised it.”[4]  God may allow our unfaithful generation to die in the wilderness, but eventually He will raise up generations who once again are captivated by the postmillennial vision, which includes passion for apologetics training to refute the skeptics of Christianity, and that will gradually turn every nation on earth into a shining city on a hill giving glory to God.

 

[1]  See Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Greatness of the Great Commission  (Tyler, TX: ICE, 1990).

[2]  Iain H. Murray, The Puritan Hope: A Study in Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (Banner of Truth, 1975).

[3]  R. Pierce Beaver, Pioneers in Mission:  The Early Missionary Ordination Sermons, Charges and Instructions (1966), p. 26, quoted in Murray, The Puritan Hope, p. 95.

[4]  Karl Marx, “Address at the Hague Congress,” (1872) see a version here; Quoted in  Dennis Peacocke, Winning the Battle for the Minds of Men  (Santa Rosa, CA:  Alive and Free, 1987), p. xi.

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