Amillennialism: A False View of Prophecy

This whole document is taken from the “Way of Life Encyclopaedia of the Bible and Christianity“, edited by David Cloud.  Cloud gives an introductory paragraph, and then quotes from another author, which makes up the rest of the document.

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A-Millennial.  The teaching that the 1,000 year period of Rev 20:2-7 is not a literal 1,000 years.  According to a-millennialism, the events recorded in Rev 19-20 are to be interpreted symbolically.  In other words, the binding of Satan, the resurrection, and the 1000 year earthly reign of Christ are believed to be symbols of the present church age and of the heavenly condition of the saints, not literal future years.

[The following is from “Amillennialism: A False View of Prophecy” by the late T. P. Simmons].

Post-millennialism is dead.  Solomon said: “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”.  Post-millennialism has sickened and expired. 

Why Post-millennialism Died

Post-millennialism believed, for the most part, that the preaching of the gospel would accomplish the conversion of the overwhelming mass of the people of the earth in this age and thus usher in that reign of righteousness alluded to in Revelation 20.  Writing in 1833, in “An American Commentary on the New Testament”, Justin A. Smith said: “It has been said that in twenty-five years more, if the present rate of progress continues, India will be as thoroughly Christian as Great Britain is today; there will be thirty millions of Christians in China, and Japan will be as fully Christianized as America is today.  The old heathen systems, they tell us, are honey-combed through and through by Christian influence.  It looks as if the day may come soon, when these systems, struck by vigorous blows, will fall in tremendous collapse.   Meantime, ‘every weapon formed against’ Christianity, breaks in the hand that holds it”.  That was written seventy-one years ago, and we are farther from post-millennial expectations now than we were at the time it was written.  The author of the quoted words did not anticipate the hold that evolution would get on the religious world and the consequent rise of modernism and neo-orthodoxy.  Nor did he foresee the rise of those anti-Christian philosophies that brought on both world wars and have now culminated in godless communism, which has engulfed more than half of the inhabitants of the world and has turned the world into an armed camp.  In the light of the past fifty years it is not hard to understand why post-millennialism died.

Amillennialism Has Come in the Place of Post-millennialism

There has come in the place of post-millennialism a worse scourge.  The time was when it was rare to find a post-millennialist among the rank and file of Baptist preachers, but now we have many amillennialists among them.  Thus amillennialism has taken over the defunct stock of post-millennialism.  This stock has been carefully sorted.  Outdated items have been discarded.  The remaining items have been renovated.  The premises have been painted and made more attractive.  New personnel have been employed.  An ambitious sales program has been put on.  The result is that business has been much improved.

The Source of Amillennialism

It is not that amillennialism is really new.  No; in essence, it is older than post-millennialism.  But before the death of post-millennialism it had been largely dormant for two hundred years.  Post-millennialism had so many able advocates (such as Broadus, Carroll, Boycee, Pendleton and Mullins) that amillennialism was smothered.  But with the passing of post-millennialism, it was rejuvenated.  It received a shot-in-the-arm.

Amillennialism had its source in the “philosophy and vain deceit” against whichPaul warned the Colossians (Col 2:8).  Philo, a Jewish contemporary of Jesus, set out to blend Hebrew and Greek thought.  By the allegorical method he did away with everything in the Old Testament that was not in harmony with the philosophy of Plato.   In doing this, Philo was simply applying to the Old Testament principle that the Greeks had employed for centuries in the interpretation of Homer.  This allegorizing method of interpretation of Scripture was established in the great center of learning at Alexandria.  Here it was passed on to Clement of Alexandria, Dionysius and Origen.  It was Origen that did more than any other to popularize this method.

The Early Church Premillennial

Premillennialism was the original faith of Christendom.  Charles Feinberg, in Premillennialism or Amillennialism, says: “Every book that we have read and studied on the question of the millennium, whether it was favourable or unfavourable to the doctrine, or whether it gave full force and value to the testimony or tried to dissipate its implications, admitted freely that the entire Church of the first three centuries was premillennial, almost to a man”.  This is admitted by Harnack, Mosheim, Geisler, Chiilingworth, Stackhouse, Bishop Newton, Bishop Russell, Gibbon, and even by Daniel Whitby.  Not only was Montanus a premillennialist, but so also were Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Papias, and Irenaeus [church leaders in the first centuries].  

Why the Early Church Was Premillennial

The early church was premillennial because early Christians believed in a characteristically literal interpretation of the Word of God. The departure from the truth of premillennialism on the part of the Catholic Church, which is so well inscribed on the pages of history, came as a result of the adoption of the allegorizing method of interpreting the Scripture already referred to.  Because of Origen’s influence in this respect, Milner, the great English historian, said: “No man, not altogether unsound and hypocritical, ever injured the Church more than Origen did”.  Other so-called “church fathers” [leaders in the churches in the first centuries] took up this method.  From them it passed on to scholastic theologians and was carried over by some Protestant dogmatists.

Amillennialism and Modernism

Just as the modernist has allegorized the first chapters of Genesis, so the amillennialist has allegorized Scriptures that refer to the regathering and conversion of the Jews and the personal reign of Christ on earth.  Moreover amillennialism is like modernism again in that it undertakes to say in a ruthless and arbitrary way what can be true and what can’t be true.  It arbitrarily decides that God is through with the Jews as a nation.  It decides that the sacrificial system of the Jews could not in anywise be restored without abrogating the new covenant.  It decides that the glorified saints could not rule on this earth over men [who will be in natural bodies].  It makes these decisions, not on the basis of a careful examination of all the Scriptures, but presumptively; and then proceeds to twist the Scripture wherever necessary in order to make it agree. It is no wonder that the modernistic Southern Baptist Theological Seminary [the largest and oldest Southern Baptist seminary in America] is a hotbed of amillennialism [along with all other seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention].  Modernism and amillennialism are Siamese twins.

The Meaning of the Term “Amillennialism”

Amillennialism means “non-millennialism”.  It would have suited amillennialists much better if the Bible had said nothing about the binding of Satan and the reign of Christ and the saints for one thousand years.  In fact it would have suited them if the book of Revelation had never been written.  The only use they make of the last nineteen chapters [of Revelation] is to try to explain them away.  If they were honest and thought they could get by with it, they would take the position of Dionysius and the Alogi in denying the canonicity of the book of Revelation [saying, in other words, the book of Revelation doesn’t belong in the Bible].  It is a thorn in their sides.  But the book of Revelation is with us to stay and amillennialists must make some disposition of the prophecy contained in the book.  Thus we have non-millennialists telling us about the millennium.  That is like having an atheist write on the attributes of God.

Amillennialism Denies God’s Word Concerning Christ’s Throne

Amillennialism says that Christ is now on His throne, the throne of David, which was promised to Him (Luke 1:32).  But the Bible says that Christ is now on the Father’s throne and that He will ascend His own throne when He comes in glory (Rev 3:21; Matt 25:31).

Denies God’s Word Concerning the Binding of Satan

God’s Word pictures in Revelation 20 the complete restraint of Satan during the millennium, but amillennialists say the restraint is only partial.  That is just a plain outright, blatant denial of the Word of God.  Amillennialists need to be stripped of their pious and hypocritical pretenses and made to stand with all other deniers of the Word of God.

Denies God’s Word about the Kingdom of the Beast

No doubt A. Pieters represents the consensus of opinion among amillennialists when he says: “The Battle of Armageddon, in the nineteenth chapter [of Revelation] means the victory of Christianity over Roman paganism, in the first three centuries of our era”.  But the Bible describes the pagan Roman Empire when it says “and one is”, that is, one of the seven kings or kingdoms.  Then it is said of the beast of the earth “he is the eighth” (see Rev 17:10-11).  By no sort of mental gymnastics can any honest man make out to himself that the empire of the beast was pagan Rome.  Pagan Rome was in existence when John wrote; and he plainly says that after it another was to come; and that the beast was to come still later.  The one that was to come in Johns’ day is plainly Papal Rome.  And the empire of the beast is still to come.  John plainly said in his day that the beast “is not” (Rev 17:8).

Denies the Teaching of God’s Word That the Beast is a Man

The Bible teaches unmistakably that the beast is a man by declaring his number is “the number of a man” (Rev 13:18) and by revealing that he will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20) where he is still found at the end of the millennium (Rev 20:10).  Only a man who is more interested in maintaining his own notion than in accepting the Word of God would ever dream the Bible here has reference to anything other than a man.  But amillennialism says the beast only represents a system or abstract conception.  Thus again it flatly denies the Word of God.

Must Distinguish Between Beast and Man of Sin

Since amillennialists do not believe that the second coming of Christ is pictured in Revelation 19, saying that the destruction of the beast portrayed therein is but the triumph of Christianity over Roman paganism, they are logically forced to deny that the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 is the same as the beast of Revelation; because the man of sin is to be destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s coming.  Yet nothing is plainer than that the man of sin and the beast are identical.

Rejects God’s Place for the Second Coming of Christ

Amillennialism rejects God’s place for the second coming of Christ and then substitutes its own.  This is typical of amillennialism as a whole.  It says that we have not the second coming of Christ in Revelation 19, where that coming is plainly pictured to all except those who have blinded their eyes by becoming victims of the “philosophy and vain deceit” (Col 2:8); and then places the second coming in the latter part of Revelation 20, where God makes no mention of it.  God has plainly indicated that Revelation 19 sets forth the second coming of Christ by revealing in Zechariah 14:1-4 that at the time when Christ takes vengeance against all nations in the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:13-16; 19:17-21), “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives”.  How pitiable it is when one amillennialist says of Zechariah 14:4, “Someone’s feet are to ‘stand upon the mount of Olives’; but it is not certain who the person is”.

Nullifies the Imminency of Christ’s Coming

New Testament Christians were commanded to “watch” and Christ’s coming was revealed as always impending.  After revealing the millennium John represents Jesus as saying again: “Surely I come quickly” (Rev 21:20), which means suddenly rather than soon.  This represents the coming of Jesus as the next thing in the prophetic program.  This is what the Bible always means by “at hand” or “draweth nigh”.  But amillennialism, by representing the thousand years as being before Christ’s coming and as having extended now for much more than one thousand years, takes all the meaning out of such representations as noted.  I doubt that any amillennialist can say that he is expecting Christ at any moment.  One amillennialist says that the loosing of Satan (Rev 20:7), which he puts, of course, before the second advent, will be the revival of paganism; and he says that there will emerge “some kind of collectivism whose paganism embodied in some kind of world state of government will vent its wrath against the saints to stamp out the remembrance of them and historic Christianity in the earth”.  Certainly then he cannot believe that Christ’s coming is imminent [could happen at any moment].

Flagrantly Contradicts God’s Word by Teaching a General Resurrection

As plainly as language can express it God’s Word describes a resurrection in which only the righteous take part (see 1 Thess 4:15-16; 1 Cor 15:21-23; Rev 20:5-6).  Then it tells of another resurrection in which only the wicked have part (Rev 20:11, 15).  But amillennialists think they know more than the inspired writers did about this matter, so they put the two together.  The Word of God is not final to amillennialists.  Their pet theory is final, so they presumptively rearranged God’s word to suit that.

Accuses God of Repenting

God says He does not repent of His gifts and calling (Rom 11:29), but amillennialism says He does.  They admit that God once called national Israel and bestowed national blessings upon them, but they say that these have now been forfeited forever.  Thus, according to amillennialism, there is no such thing as the immutability [unchanging nature] of God.

Accuses Jesus and the Prophets of Falsifying

Amillennialists say that when Jesus comes again He will not re-establish the Jewish nation at earthly Jerusalem.  Jesus and the prophets said that He would.  In Matthew 19:29 Jesus said: “Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”.  Now let not any amillennialist expose his ignorance by saying that the “regeneration” here is the triumph of Christianity over paganism in the first three centuries or at any other time. 

The apostles have not yet sat on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Moreover the “regeneration” is represented as coinciding in time with the sitting of Christ on the throne of His Glory, and this is to be when He returns.  This regeneration connects with the “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21) and with Isaiah 65:17-25, where the prophet describes a state of affairs in Jerusalem that could exist only in earthly Jerusalem.  It is a state that will involve death, sinners, building houses, planting, labouring, and prayer.  The reader is perhaps beginning to feel that I have no patience with amillennialismor time for it.  I regard it as being wholly and absolutely false and as just another system of deception that has emerged from the bottomless pit to be used of the devil in blighting the lives of individuals and disturbing the peace of churches.  I am truly sorry for those who have been duped by it.   I urge them to repent and return to their first love.  (“Amillennialism: Refuted by the Word of God”, by the late T. P. Simmons, The Baptist Challenge, January 1984).

References

Way of Life Encyclopaedia of the Bible and Christianity, ed. Cloud, David W., 2008, entry “A-Millennial” p. 18-21, pub. Way of Life Literature, Port Huron, MI 48061

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