Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, February 05, 2010

Defending Premillennialism [5]

Outlining the Basics

Since having spent three posts providing a bit of foundational work regarding hermeneutics and the application of hermeneutics to the subject of eschatology, I want to begin pressing on to studying individual passages. Additionally I want to interact with specific objections raised against premillennialism by the various non-premillennial positions that I will note as we move along.

However, before we do that, it may be helpful to first provide a general outline of the basic tenets of premillennialism so as to have a focal point for my exegesis when I come to those passages. I did touch on the historical background of premillennialism in my previous study on eschatology. That post can be read HERE.

Also, I have left off from any discussion regarding distinctions between so-called historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism in its varied forms. Some readers may think I am being thoughtless and irresponsible to do so. Believe me, I understand there are theological nuances, and proponents of each variation will adamantly insist those nuances are significant, but the historic position, along with classic and progressive dispensationalists, all have to affirm some core theological points in order to be premillennial. Some may say the distinction dispensationalists make between Israel and the Church is so sharp it brings about a radical alternative to the historic group, but premillennialism, in order for it to be true, must for example recognized a restoration of the nation Israel to a physical land. It is those similarities I am seeking to note.

The following represents the main outline I took from Robert Duncan Culver's excellent little book defending premillennialism from the book of Daniel called Daniel and the Latter-days. I felt his outline of premillennialism was succinct, but at the same time precisely detailing the points I wish to defend, and even though the book is out of print, it is thankfully available on line, so it is readily accessible. The points under consideration here are located in "Part 1" of the book, chapters 1, 2, and 3 in the table of contents, but linked as part 3, part 4, and part 5 at the site. If folks need more information fleshing out the details they can dig a bit deeper for themselves at the website.

The basic points of premillennialism are as follows:

1) The period of time between the resurrection of the just and of the unjust.

2) The period of Satan's imprisonment.

3) An initial stage in the everlasting kingdom of Christ.

4) A period begun by the visible return of Christ in glory to judge and rule the nations.

5) A period closed by the final eradication of all evil from God's universe at the final judgment of the wicked.

6) A period during which the saints of the first resurrection will be associated with Christ in His reign.

Related to these 6 major tenets are 3 important details taking place before the millennium and leading up to it:

1) A final personal Antichrist shall appear near the close of the present age who will become master of the world and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming.

2) A period of great tribulation for Israel is to transpire during Antichrist's oppression, from which deliverance will be provided by Christ at His coming.

3) The closing days of the present age will witness the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the millennium by the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation.



Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks Fred for this post.

"The closing days of the present age will witness the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the millennium by the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation."

Do you think we're in the early "closing days" since Israel has been restored to the land as a nation?

And do you agree that there has not been a "conversion of the nation" of Israel as of yet?

5:22 AM, February 06, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

The secular nation of Israel is an interesting providence of God in that I see the Lord arranging the political sphere to be ready for the last 7 years of Daniel's 70 7s to conclude, but I do not believe it is "the Restoration" the OT and NT proclaim.

8:46 AM, February 06, 2010  
Blogger Highland Host said...

It is a fact that no known premillennial writer before the Reformation held to the restoration of Israel. Does this mean they were not 'proper' premillennialists?

Which is not to say that I don't hold to the restoration of Israel, which I do.

12:34 AM, February 07, 2010  
Blogger Lew Miller said...

Michael Vlach has posted an article under "Patristic Era/Israel" in which he lists several patristic fathers who state the belief in the future salvation of Israel and even use the term "restoration." One example is Tertullian (c. 160-225).
Tertullian said: β€œHe [God] will favour with His acceptance and blessing the circumcision also, even the race of Abraham, which by and by is to acknowledge Him.” (Against Marcion, 5.9 ANF 3:448) He also urged Christians to eagerly anticipate and rejoice over the coming restoration of Israel: β€œ. . . for it will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel.” Tertullian, On Modesty, 8 ANF 4:82

4:03 AM, February 07, 2010  
Blogger P.D. Nelson said...

Tertullian also believed that the seventy weeks were fulfilled in the first advent. See here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.iv.ix.viii.html and here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.iv.ix.xi.html

And there must be some question as to what he was speaking of when he meant restoration of Israel as to how that restoration was to be.

8:25 AM, February 07, 2010  
Blogger P.D. Nelson said...

Oh not that I am denying the restoration of Israel per se but Fred knows I do not hold to a pre-mill view.

8:28 AM, February 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I would imagine most premillennialists before the Reformation would be pretty much everyone from 100 AD to 400 AD, until Origen and Augstine's platonic hermeneutics fell into full swing and made premillennialism the belief of heretics. That would mean there was roughly 300 to 350 years where premillennial thought was taught among Christian groups, but seeing that that period of time during the church was trying to keep one's self from being martyred, as well as answering Gnostic views of Christ's person like Arianism, Ebionites, etc, developing a robust understanding of Israel's restoration was not on the immediate agenda for apologists.

Additionally, a good lot of early Christians of all stripes were anti-Semitic so they allowed their bigotry to shape a nascent form of supercessionism that was fully developed by Augustine and those who followed his hermeneutical model.

Tertullian, regrettably, was one of the more well-known anti-Semitic Christians for his time period.

5:29 AM, February 08, 2010  
Blogger Highland Host said...

So that no-one before the Reformation actually taught the restoration of Israel as currently understood. Justin Martyr, an early premillennialist, was also notably opposed to the restoration of Israel. Regrettably my patristic works are still in storage a long way from me, as are all my books on eschatology, so I can't check these things as I would like to.

My point was that the second and third of Fred's "important details" are disputed by some historic premillennialists, which leads to the question, "are these people not regarded as 'proper' pre-mil types?"

1:54 AM, February 10, 2010  

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