I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke that “Pan-Millenialism” is the belief that “It’ll all pan out in the end.” But for my edification and reference (and hopefully yours as well), I present, in tabular form, a 7-fold, 3-way definition of all(=”pan”) three major millenial views. The words used to make this table are pasted from Greg Bahnsen’s article The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennialism, and have been juggled only a little bit (moving and/or removing transitional phrases) [RR: By this point, I have edited fairly significantly to remove statements which reveal Bahnsen’s bias against Amil; I assume that since he was Postmil, there is no such bias in that category] so that each statement stands on its own within its cell of the table. (Oh boy, another table!)

N Pre-Millenial A-Millenial Post-Millenial
1 Christ will return physically prior to the millennium. Christ will return after the millennium. Christ will return after the millennium.
2 The millennium is a period of righteousness, peace and prosperity for Christ’s kingdom on the earth. There will be no millennium in the sense of a semi-golden era of earthly prosperity for the kingdom; instead, the millennium is restricted to [RR: realized by] the blessings of the intermediate (heavenly) state (some restricting its blessing to the martyrs there) and/or the purely inward spiritual triumphs experienced by the church on earth (i.e., Christ ruling in the believer’s heart). Basically then, amillennialism denies that there will be any visible or earthly expression of Christ’s reign over the entire world [RR: affirms that Christ’s kingdom “is not of this world”]; as D. H. Kromminga says, “the millennium is a spiritual or heavenly millennium.” (Note: the church is a visible form of Christ’s kingdom in the world, according to many amillennialists; however, the church will not make all the nations disciples of Christ and gain a dominant or widespread influence throughout the world, but will rather remain a remnant of believers representatively spotted across the globe, which is unable [RR: God has not ordained] to effect a period of (comparative) [RR: global] justice and peace.) The millenium represents a period which will see growth and maturation of righteousness, peace, and prosperity for Christ’s kingdom on earth (visibly represented by the church) through the gradual conversion of the world to the gospel, as well as a period for the glory and vindication of the saints in heaven.
3 There will be a significant historical delay or gap between the return of Christ at the first resurrection and the judgment of the wicked at the second resurrection, just prior to the inauguration of the eternal state. (This gap corresponds to the millennial kingdom of earthly prosperity for God’s chosen people.) The return of Christ at the end of the church age will synchronize with the general resurrection and general judgment of all men, believer and unbeliever alike. The return of Christ at the end of the church age will synchronize with the general resurrection and general judgment of all men, believer and unbeliever alike.
4 The millennium is distinct from the current church age, being a future interim period between Christ’s return and the final judgment. The millennium is the present interadventual age. The millennium or kingdom of millennialists [RR: Postmillenialists] have used the eschatological vocabulary in such a way that the “millennium” represents the latter day, publicly discernible, prosperity of the interadventual “kingdom.”
5 The specific nature of the millennial kingdom will be seen in the national prosperity of the restored Jewish state with Christ ruling bodily from Jerusalem and militarily subduing the world with the sword. (However, some premillennialists de-emphasize this Jewish element and simply stress that the millennium is a preparatory stage for the church; the Old Testament nation, the New Testament church, the millennium, and the eternal state are all seen as developing stages in the kingdom.) There will be no conversion or subduing of the world by Christ during the millennium, but rather the world will see a more or less parallel development of good and evil, with evil intensifying toward the end of the church age [RR: and in parallel, the church becoming more pure] The specific nature of the millennial kingdom on earth will be the international prosperity of the church (new Israel), its growth (through the conversion of the world by the sword of the Spirit), and its influence in [RR: domination of] society and culture.
6 The Old Testament prophecies of prosperity are required to be taken literally as pointing ahead to a Jewish state separate from the church and necessitating a radical discontinuity between Israel and the church. The Old Testament prophecies of prosperity are required to be [RR: generally] taken completely figuratively as pointing ahead to the eternal state or the internal spiritual condition of the church, thus propounding continuity between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church. The Old Testament prophecies of prosperity for the kingdom are both figuratively and literally interpreted according to the demands of context (both local and wider) [RR: (depending on context)] as pointing ahead not simply beyond the church age to a restored Jewish kingdom or the eternal state (thus rendering the visible church on earth something of a parenthesis for the most part), but to the visible prosperity of Christ’s established kingdom on earth, climaxing in the consummated glory of the eternal state; there is continuity between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church (new Israel), which eventually will include the fullness of converted physical Israel grafted back into the people of God.
7 The church’s preaching of the gospel through the whole earth prior to Christ’s return will prove to be of no avail culturally; the world will become a hopeless wreck, increasingly getting worse and worse, climaxing in the tribulation at the very end of the church age. The world is moving toward a time of increasing lawlessness, and the preaching of the gospel throughout the world will not achieve outstanding and pervasive success in converting sinners [RR: result in overwhelming numerical success] (i.e., the overall discipling of the nations). Over the long range the world will experience a period of extraordinary righteousness and prosperity as the church triumphs in the preaching of the gospel and discipling the nations through the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit; however, the release of Satan at the very end of the age will bring apostasy from these blessed conditions.

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38 Responses

  1. You can discern from the title of Bahnsen’s article that he is a defender of Post-Millenialism. If I am convinced that his own view impedes the fair representation of others’ views, I will add [some modifying phrases] to the table where necessary. But at this point, note that I am not interested in deciding which column of the table is right; I just want to make sure that each column (especially Amil and Postmil) is a fair and accurate representation of the views.

    I would also be interested, at some point, in making a similar table laying out, in simplest terms, the three major views’ interpretation of the major scriptures, like first resurrection is the elect being born again during their lifetimes (Amil/Postmil) vs. a resurrection from physical death at the beginning of the millenium (Premil), etc.

  2. Hmmm. It sort of paints Amillenialism in a bad light. almost everything is put in the negative – more about what we don’t believe than in what we do believe. Look at how many times words like “no” “not” and “denies” are in the Amil column. Oh and “unable to effect” too.

    The whole chart seems to presuppose that gospel success is necessarily bound up with civil domination.

    “the preaching of the gospel throughout the world will not achieve outstanding and pervasive success in converting sinners”

    Excuse me? Where did that come from?

  3. I agree; Bahnsen was probably only able to hide his disagreement to a limited extent. I caught and adjusted 5A (row 5, Amil column) to reinforce the positive half of the earlier mentioned “parallel”.

    I am uninformed, however. I call myself an Amillenialist by Federal headship (i.e. my pastor said so). However, you are a bona fide Amillenialist (with a blog title to prove it!), so if you have suggestions for wording that more accurately reflects our position, I’ll almost certainly rubber-stamp it.

    Likewise if any Premils drop by (which I don’t expect), I’ll take your word for it and edit the table.

    As for “will not achieve outstanding and pervasive success”, perhaps a more objective wording would be “will not result in overwhelming numerical success”

  4. Upon closer examination, I found a number of unnecessarily pejorative phrases to excise, some with [RR: suggested replacements].

  5. I also suggested a few changes in the Postmil column. If Bahnsen can blame Amillenialists for (2A) “not gaining a dominant or widespread influence throughout the world”, then he should mind admitting the Postmils hope for the church to (5P) not just influence, but dominate culture and society.

    Also, (6P) has a couple of unwarranted sucker-punches, implying Amil of ignoring all context and “rendering the visible church on earth something of a parenthesis for the most part”.

    (Although come to think of it, why shouldn’t the church be a parenthesis? The physical nation of Israel was a parenthesis)

  6. The Old Testament prophecies of prosperity are required to be taken completely figuratively as pointing ahead to the eternal state or the internal spiritual condition of the church, thus propounding continuity between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church.

    I think a strike-through of

    required to be taken completely figuratively

    is in order. Also, I, for one, would like a list of these OT prophecies of prosperity. With them in front of me, I could say something about their applicability to the New Heaven and the New Earth or the city whose builder and maker is God.

    Also, you may have another problem in that Bahnsen hasn’t distinguished between the progressive dispensationalist view and the classical dispensational view.

    So, why would you let Bahnsen write any column but his own?

    I do think it would be most instructive to put up a similar chart written by an amillenialist such as Kim Riddlebarger simply for the value in uncovering the fact that Bahnsen is a doofus and Riddlebarger is a scholar who tries to capture opposing viewpoints accurately while capturing his own view dispassionately.

    All that said, let me go on record to say that not only am I not an expert in this field, I am not even remotely well versed in it. Nor am I prepared to debate it.

    Having said all that, let me finish by admitting that the phrase

    All that said,

    for the most part turns my stomach and I promise not to use it again.

  7. Amil #7 “the gospel throughout the world will not result in overwhelming numerical success”

    “overwhelming” is relative. As an Amil I can say that the preaching of the Gospel is resulting in overwhelming success. But what is it overwhelming?

    Again, the assumption seems to be that success has nearly everything to do with civil and institutional domination and the supression of evil in every corner of the earth.

    I have some problems with #1 too – but I’ll have to address it later.

  8. So, why would you let Bahnsen write any column but his own?

    Because he is (was) a very well-informed and -educated orthodox Christian brother, and I assume he made an honest attempt to express opposing viewpoints. We can see that he did not succeed in that objective, but I wouldn’t call him a doofus.

    “overwhelming” is relative. As an Amil I can say that the preaching of the Gospel is resulting in overwhelming success. But what is it overwhelming?

    A Postmil friend made the good point to me last week: “Everybody agrees that the gospel will be triumphant — if there is only one elect person, and the gospel reaches that person and he believes, then the gospel is triumphant. The question reduces to how will the gospel be triumphant.”

    I was not trying to (trying not to) express with “overwhelming numerical success” any kind of civil or institutional domination. I was just trying to say that Amils don’t believe the percentage of elect on the earth will approach 100% as we near the second coming. Right?

  9. I wouldn’t call him a doofus.

    How about Hack?

  10. How about Hack?

    And, he’s a dead hack. Much easier to jump on.

    At any rate, I know that Horton, Frame, Godfrey, Clark, Van Drunen, Poythress et al. wouldn’t call him a “doofus” or a “hack.” But, perhaps those guys are “hacks” too?

  11. Those guys you list will mark you down on your papers for poorly representing the positions of those whom you critique. Being honest is the hallmark of WSCAL research. Whether the profs always practice what they preach I couldn’t say.

    NB – I am a hack, and don’t you forget it. Which is why I am a pew sitter and not about to quit my day job any time soon.

  12. Some of the glaring weaknesses that really bothered me in the popular “pre-everything” eschatology that continues to dominate evangelical pulpits, even as a wee lad, are

    1)The “secret return” of Jesus that is really not secret at all if planes crash, cars collide, etc. You really have to massage the Bible to get two second comings of Jesus.

    2)The inevitablity of wickedness reigning on the earth just before Jesus’ return. Tough to preach Jesus coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle, a glorious church, cowering in the corner under the hot breath of the evildoers’ storm troopers.

    One final thwack at the “mid-eschatological cowboys” out there: You gotta love Jesus taking His bride out in the parking lot and kicking the snot out of her just before he sweeps her into His arms. Twisted…

  13. Are you trying to say you’re Postmil?

  14. Tough to preach Jesus coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle

    Frank Valenti sighting!!!

  15. You know better than to label me, Rube :-)

    I lean toward amillenialism with a few twists. Seems more Biblically plausable than the other options. To go literal in Revelation would be much too bizarre, unleashing of dragons, whores, seals and bowls. On a humorous note, I witnessed a sermon on the “seals” of Revelation in which the poor wretch translating it into Spanish used the wrong word for “seals” — “focas”, and basically described the mammals, “seals”, being opened, like a nightmare at Sea World. Pretty funny stuff.

  16. “Como bufalo…” What verse was that spanish song from? Something about “strong like a bull”, right?

  17. You know better than to label me, Rube :-)

    Ha — I didn’t even think of that! So would you say that you “lean toward [Arminianism] with a few twists”?

  18. Bruce,

    Those men would not label him a “hack.” Suppose he misrepresented people (let’s note *when* he wrote his paper. There was no Riddlebarger writting about Amillennialims, then. No amillennialists making their position more palpatable, etc., but, let’s assume he did “misrepesent (though I’d rather say he wasn’t completely chariable)). Okay? Suppose that. Now, are you saying that this misrepresentation gets you called “a hack?” Okay, well now let’s see how consistent you are. Here is a discussion I had with R. Scott Clark,

    Read his claims about Bahnsen and see how I unquestionably showed that Clark “misrepresented” Bahnsen, and didn’t represent him fairly.

    Now, will you be a man of consistency and publicly call Clark a “doofus” and a “hack?” Or, do we just do that to dead people?

  19. P.S.

    Let me add, Clark has misrepresented Van Til on numerous occasions. Clark says that we “never can know anything the same way God does.” He says Van Til says this. I showed him, from Van Til’s own words (and I can do that here if requested) that he misrepresented Van Til. So, is Clark a “doofus” and a “hack?”

  20. Bahnsen’s a hack. Not so much for misrepresenting, but for the puerile and unscholarly writing of his misrepresentations (based on what I saw above). I regret not making that nuance more clear. However, this, of course is all just my opinion. I am not asking you to like it or agree with it.

  21. Once again, I want to re-iterate that I am a hack. So don’t get too exercised over a hack’s opinions.

  22. Yes, but I’m asking if you’ll apply your same rules to Clark? Is R. Scott Clark a “hack?” Yes or no? You did say that, “Being honest is the hallmark of WSCAL research,” did you not? So, at best, if Clark isn’t a hack, does he fall below the standard of WSCAL research? Have you heard the things Clark has said in class? Not only has he misrepresented people, but it has been childish and peurile. So, I ask you, is he a “hack?” That you’re avoiding this just shows me that all this is is a personal vendetta. Why do you refuse to be honest here? Is it because Bahnsen is dead, and Clark isn’t?

    And, fwiw, I’ve talked to all those men, and they would not call Bahnsen a “hack.” What do you know, Bruce, that Horton, Godfrey, Frame et al. do not know? How is it that you’ve attained this status? Doesn’t it cause you to rethink your claims when people who are characterized by “honesty” would disagree with you?

    Also, I’d watch the fallacies. You could say, maybe, “this is inexcusable for Bahnsen,” or something like that. But, to say that Bahnsen *is* a hack, and, as you admit, you base this off *one* article, is to argue fallaciously.

    Lastly, you call yourself a “hack.” Is this what Christains should aspire to? Even laymen? Calling yourself a “hack” isn’t something I’d be proud of.

  23. OK. How’s this? Bahnsen, in this one article, doesn’t come across as the scholarly genius I once thought he was.

    Don’t worry about my aspirations. They all pretty much got killed off a while back.

  24. Bruce,

    That’s fine.

    Let’s say we grant it. So what? Bahnsen would be the first to admit he wasn’t perfect. At any rate, it appars that no one can be a scholarly genius since almost everyone has had momments like the above. So, you still prove too much. But, now I’m just being picky.

    All Christians should aspire to “show thyself a workman approved” in whatever they do. Even if its commenting in comboxes in the Blogosphere. Jesus is king of the Blogosphere too, ya know! ;-)

    Great, now we’re back to “dominion theology.”

  25. If you really want to see a “hack”, follow me around the golf course sometime. FWIW, Bruce is a very funny man, Wacky. Methinks you didn’t see the humor or sarcasm in his postings.

  26. I think this is what you were referring to, Reuben:

    Jesus Adrian Romero wrote a worship song based on Psalm 92,

    and the tenth verse of Psalm 92 says, “You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me.

    In Spanish, the word, “wild ox”, is translated “buffalo” – “Pero tú aumentarás mis fuerzas como las del búfalo; Seré ungido con aceite fresco.”

    I walked into a youth rally in Mexico, where all the students were singing the chorus, which says “como bufalo” over and over, with their hands raised, swaying… “Buuuuuuuufalo!” – “Buuuuuuuufalo”!

    I thought I had stumbled into an Aztec ritual of some kind.

    But funnier still was a college prof who was amused by the propensity of charismatics to slap up any Bible passage on the overhead and set it to cheesy music. He opened one class session with a robust singing of I Samuel 25:21-23. “any that pisseth, any that pisseth, any that pisseth against the wall,” then singing, “she hasted, she hasted, she hasted, and lighted off the ass.”. Then he had us sing it in a round. Hilarious.

  27. Albino,


    Many a time in college I found myself wondering.. What in the world are we singing, and why am I singing it over and over?


  28. Thanks a lot albino you have completely wasted my morning. Instead of doing the things I need to do I was totally distracted by the concept that the KJV had the term “pisseth against the wall” in it. I was so distracted that I had to look it up in the Hebrew lexicon to see what the best translation would actually be. Sure enough there it was clear as day, “shathan” “to urinate”. NIV, NAS, even NKJV translate it as “every last male” or something similar. But the Hebrew expression for “every last male” is best translated “those who can piss on a wall”.


    Anyways isn’t this post supposed to be about eschatology?

    Amill is not represented fairly at all in the above graph or even in the modifications.

    All the prophecies needing to be taken spiritually? Ridiculous. Many, most were literally fulfilled in the nation of Israel (I Kings 8:56, Jeremiah 29:10). Now that doesn’t mean that there are further spiritual realities accomplished in Christ, in fact it is further solidified in Christ for he came not to abolish but to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt 5:17).

    Christ is reigning until puts all his enemies under his feet and the last enemy is death (I Corinthians 15)

    Every millenial view but Amill has huge difficulty interpreting 15:25 because it describes a completely victorious Christ who is actively reigning but has not yet destroyed death.

    Revelation makes so much sense when you read it with Christ reigning and YET “bad” things still happening. Revelation 20 makes sense when Christ is reigning (and his church with him) and YET death continuing.

    I also disagree that amillenialism supposes the gospel will NOT have “overwhelming numerical success”.

    I think a “great multitude which no one could count” (Rev 7:9) would qualify as a overwhelming numerical success.

    As for a percentage of the world population throughout all history? Some might speculate it to be 1 third, other 2 thirds. But I get a feeling that whatever percentage you come up with you are implying the ability to count it so therefore anyone who seeks to qualify “how many” or even “more then half” or “less then half” is going to fail.

  29. “Percentage of world population throughout all history” is one measure, another is percentage of world population at the second coming. Since #1 recently asked our pastor, I have on the tip of my fingers the current estimate of 2 billion confessing Christians today, out of a world population of about 6.6 billion, so that’s less than a third right there. And we all know that the answer to Westminster Larger Catechism question #61 (“Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?”) is “All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.”

    My point is, the (elect) Christian percentage of the world population today is “much less than half” (and probably even much less than 1/3), and I would assert that at every point in history since not long after Noah the percentage has been “much less than half”. So it would take a very long duration of “much more than half” percentages to bring the all-time percentage to “more than half”.

    So to put it in mathematical terms, I think Postmil is saying “Yes, that very long duration of ‘much more than half’ is going to occur”, and Amil is saying “No, the true church will remain best characterized as a ‘remnant'”.

  30. 3 cheers for amill! 3 boos for all else.


    an obnoxious, lying hack.

  31. All the prophecies needing to be taken spiritually? Ridiculous.

    I see my error now.

    Ridiculous .eq. Worthy of Ridicule .ne. Written by a Doofus

  32. signed,

    an obnoxious, lying hack.

    I see that hand, brother.

  33. I see that hand, brother.

    Hey! What part of “every head bowed, every eye closed” didn’t you understand?

  34. There clearly isn’t even close to the amount of vehement energy behind eschatological debates as there is in soteriological debates. Why do you suppose that is?

  35. Because most people (including myself) don’t have a full enough theology to understand how eschatology affects us today.

    If you want vehemence in eschatology, I maintain that Theonomy is just a Postmil Eschatological theology of the state (whereas 2-Kingdoms is an Amil Eschatological theology of the state).

    Wacky would disagree, calling himself both (optimistic) Amil AND Theonomist. Amil AND Theonomist I can kind of understand (biblical civil government SHOULD happen, but it never will), but throw “optimistic” in there, and I don’t get it. “it never will” doesn’t seem optimistic to me.

  36. “should happen but never will.” i don’t even get that much, rube. but then again, i cannot grasp how theonomy doesn’t grasp type/shadow and fulfillment either. i am sure whacky will say i don’t grasp anything though! what hope one can find in a system that defeats itself seems quite odd to me.

    but to daniel’s question, i think it is due to how most folks think “various forms of dispy’ism, charts and dizzying timelines, etc.” i know i had no interest at all in eschatology until recetly because i assumed it was just a bunch of crazy connecting of scriptural dots and ghost stories (read: rapturism), ending up with everyone shrugging their shoulders and adopting whatever -ism they liked.

    now i have come to see how good amilism comports with 2k/natural law, reformed confessionalism, a theology of the Cross (contra glory) and living peaceably WITH the pagans while also radically separate FROM them. it’s also comfortably simple, which is what i think the true religion is anyway, simple…yet profound. it naturally arises from scripture and is not given to the connect-the-dots oddities. also, it seems perhaps more incidental or a natural result of correct soteriology. soteriology seems to have more of a direct or obvious bearing on the essentials of the faith, which is why more vehemance.


  37. To say that theonomy should happen but never will is like saying that Adam shouldn’t have sinned, but he did. It’s stupid. Right, if Adam never sinned, life would be a theocracy. Sure. Great. Oh, but that’s right, he DID sin, so all bets are off. Now there are common grace institutions that are not cultic but cultural. I don’t understand why the debate doesn’t simply end there.

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