Archives For Amillennial

Some time ago an occasional visitor to Covenant of Love, Crystal, had left a comment poking fun at her own dispensational view:

“I know we’re kind of viewed as the simple hillbillies of the theology world, with our massive ‘Left Behind’ collections always close by so we can make sure and grab ‘em real quick should we be raptured at any second.”

That just about sums it up. Dispensationalism is the most popular “end times” view but it is not very well respected in Christian universities or among the more “academically minded” lot. I mean no disrespect to dispensationalists, but it is interesting that the average reader of Covenant of Love would fit within the theologically adept category, and the primary view of eschatology held by my readers is amillennialism. (See glossary of terms.)

Of the visitors of Covenant of Love who voted on March’s poll, “End Times, I Believe…”, 44% said they believe in amillennialism, 17% said they believed in dispensationalism and 17% said they believed in historic premillennialism while only 5% hold to the postmillennial view. 16% voted “other”, but most of the comments were ridiculous (“time will end when I want it to”, “the bible”, “nonsense” et cetera).

For my part I voted amillennialism. But I was raised disepensational, and here’s how I changed my views.

First I did not know there where other “end times” options when I was young. I thought that all end times debates revolved around when within the Great Tribulation would the rapture occur. But as a young inquisitive man trying to understand what I was being taught, many of the dots were not connecting for me. I couldn’t understand why if Christ did not return until the end of Revelation that it appeared that he returns in chapter 11. Especially since Paul teaches that the “rapture” would happened at the last trumpet which, incidentally, also occurred in Revelation chapter 11. I could not understand why it is we always speak of Christ’ “second coming” when in reality we were taught a third “secret” coming. I could not understand why we always speak of a “Great Tribulation” as mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24 when the great tribulation which Jesus spoke of is qualified by an “if”. “If such and such happens in the winter or if so and so is pregnant, then it would be a great tribulation…” And no matter how hard I tried, I could not see a seven year tribulation in the bible anywhere. I could not reconcile a reading of Daniel 9:24-27 which would strip seven years out of its 490 year context and throw it to some unknown date in the future. I also couldn’t understand how it was that Jews during the tribulation, after the Church was raptured, get saved. I was taught that God would remove his Church and turn his attention back to Israel as a national ethnic people group. And with the Church would go the Spirit as he has been functioning since Pentecost. This created a problem for me that opened up a whole new can of worms.

If God is going to remove the Spirit and the Church and turn his attention towards national ethnic Israel as he did in the Old Testament, then that begs the question, how were the Old Testament saints saved? This opened up questions about the nature of “Law” in the Old Testament in relation to salvation. If the law or even the legal provision of sacrifices saved no one in the Old Testament as we are told by the writer of Hebrews, then how where they saved in the Old Testament? How could Jesus have expected Nicodemus to have already known about “born again” before ever being taught it in a New Testament context? If the Old Testament was about national ethnic Israel and in the New Testament God turns his attention towards Gentiles, then what of all the Gentiles living in the world before Christ? If the Church “age” is in parenthesis as a result of Israel’s denial of Jesus the Messiah, then what does that say about the purpose of God in redemption history? How can we speak of “two” peoples of God, one saved by faith in Jesus and the other being a national ethnic people-group whom God arbitrarily chose to “save” in a sovereign deterministic fashion (“all Israel will be saved”)? This went against every inclination of my understanding of God’s love in salvation requiring a choice on the part of the recipients of the Lord’s prevenient grace, and that salvation was only through Christ and that there is neither “Jew nor Gentile, for all are one in Christ”. I felt like dispensationalism was saying, “ah, yes there is Jew and Gentile, because all are not one in Christ”. To that end, John MacArthur’s audacious claim that “Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Dispensationalist” has merit (though he grossly misconstrues Covenantal Theology): an arbitrary and wholly sovereign election of one group of people to salvation (Israel) with the arbitrary damnation of everyone else best fits the scheme of Calvinism.

Then I had to deal with all the date setters and doom-sayers who where looking under every rock for the anti-Christ. No matter how many times I read Revelation, Tim Lahaye’s novels, which unambiguously claimed factorial scriptural support in that they intended to indoctrinate people (as they successfully did) to a dispensational view, could not be squared away. The scriptures seemed to be diluted of all credibility more and more with each and every Jack Van Impe episode, Tim Lahaye novel or Grant Jeffrey rant. And then when all of this was said and done, I had to ask: what did this end times view have to do with the rest of the story which the scriptures tell?

While all of this stuff was bantering around in my head I was at the same time, in what seemed to me to be a completely different subject, introduced toward a Covenantal reading of the scriptures. That God’s plan of redemption all along was to call out one man, and in calling out on man God was calling out and establishing a family through which all the families of the earth would be blessed. God did not arbitrarily call out Israel to save Israel for Israel’s sake. God called out Israel so that this family could be a light to the world. But not all Israel were ever Israel, there was always an Israel within Israel. When Israel failed in its mission to redeem creation because of it’s idolatry, God would need a true “Israelite”, a representative of “Israel” (i.e. an “anointed King” or “Messiah”) who would represent Israel who in turn represented the world. The mission all along was to undo the effects of the fall, and so the true Israelite had to be “a second Adam”. A la Philippians 2:6-11, Jesus humbled himself when Adam raised himself up. Jesus became a man when Adam wanted to become a god. Jesus died when Adam sought divine life. Thus God raised Jesus up. So then, in keeping with the representative principle, those who are “in Christ” are also raised with him. He came and bound the strong man.

By this reading there are not two people-groups of God, but one. Salvation in the Old Testament was the same as in the New Testament: by grace through faith. And this, like a large house of cards, tumbled the last remnants of my dispensational thinking, because there will be no turning back to an “Old Testament dispensation of Law” in which God turns back to Israel. God never stopped focusing on Israel because “Israel” is a term which simply means “the people of God” and includes – as it always has – both Jews and Gentiles alike.

The other views of end times I discovered all fall within the framework of Covenant Theology, with the key question being the place of the millennium of Revelation 20. Is it a literal thousand years or not? Premillennialist’s say it is while post- and amillennialist’s say it is a symbolic period encompassing the complete reign of Christ on earth. Considering the apocalyptic nature of the book of Revelation it didn’t make much sense to me to read the book symbolically and then come to Revelation 20 and all of a sudden jump into a grammatical-historical reading. Such a shift seemed terribly inconsistent. Thus I was left with only two views: post- or amillennialism? But I could not reconcile the postmillennial view that everything will get better and better until finally the world will eventually be all but converted (something like 98% give or take) thus establishing the Kingdom of God which it will successfully hand over to Christ when he comes. The scriptures do not seem to portray such a positive end to human history. Rather it seems that things are going to get worse and worse until Christ returns to judge.

Thus I found myself in the amillennial view by default (give or take some details).

Amillennialism is called “Simple Eschatology” for good reason. It is the simplest view of end times. Christ is reigning in and through his Church who are raised with Christ (the first resurrection) in which the devil is bound by Christ’ work on the cross, through the continued work of the Spirit and the power given to the Church by Jesus himself. At an immanent date which no one knows, Christ will return, everyone will be resurrected (the righteous and the wicked) for judgment. Those who are resurrected in righteousness are those who have already been raised with Christ and found being “in Him”, the righteousness of God, and will live eternally in the new Creation – the old earth and heaven being consumed by fire. The wicked will be judged accordingly and – according to Revelation – cast into the Lake of Fire “for ever and ever”.

In this way I find amillennialism to be uniquely bound up in the redemption-historical-narrative of the scriptures involving not just stories about the latter of the last days, but of every element of this Christian life and what it means to be “in Christ”, “resurrected with Christ”, “seated in heavenly places”, having “authority over all the wiles of the evil one”, being declared “the righteousness of God in Christ” and so on.

So that’s the story of how I came to my eschatological view, what about you? How did you come to the view you hold of end times?

I was discussing Justification with a friend of mine not long ago as we were wrestling through some of N.T. Wrights ideas about the subject. As we did my friend chuckled a bit (he’s a jolly young fellow) and said to me, “Man, you give Wright lots of passes don’t you”. I thought about it for a moment and said, “Yah, I think I do”. In trying to think Wright’s thoughts after him, to use his own terminology, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt and answer questions posed by a critical reflection of his system as he might answer them. When I do that I tend to give him “lots of passes”.

True enough. But I am not – as some might charge – a “Wrightian Drone”. For instance, Wright is an Anglican Bishop. I can only assume by that fact that he believes and endorses the doctrine of infant baptism. I do not. But nothing I have read of N.T. Wright so much as brings up the subject of “infant” verses “believers” baptism, so I have had no reason to bring this up either. In general, both his critics and his fans cheer the fact that Wright has done a great service for the Church by drawing out the big picture of the scriptures, and I am personally grateful for his insistence on returning to the scriptures as the guiding authority over and above all traditions – even the Great Reformed Tradition.

But there is something Wright teaches in Surprised by Hope which I would like to contend with. In doing so, I hope to avoid the charge of having “Gnostic tendencies” on the one hand, or of being inconsiderate of the environment on the other. I agree with N.T. Wrights conclusions and I also agree with his premise, I just don’t think his premise reach his conclusions (at least not the way he arrives to them). His argument in Surprised by Hope goes something like this:

Premise: the Earth we inhabit now will be the same Earth we will inhabit in Eternity.

Conclusion 1: therefore what we do to the Earth now will have Eternal consequences.

Conclusion 2: therefore take care of the Earth.

Each one of those points is true in their own right. But I believe what is being implied by N.T. Wright’s argument is not correct when taken together and when his terms are defined. What I believe Wright means by this argument is that because this earth will be the earth which heaven meets in the future when the two become one, we need to take care of this world and not pollute it. If we pollute it now, it will have consequences in the age to come which seems to suggest that when heaven comes to earth the pollution will simply remain and (presumably) in eternity we will have some eco-cleaning up to do. So let’s take a closer look at his argument point by point.

Same Earth or Renewed Earth?

In order for Wright’s argument to stand as it is, the belief that it is the same Earth needs to be qualified. When Heaven and Earth come together the imagery is not so much that a “new Earth” apart from this one will be created, but rather Heaven will come down to this Earth. Yet even the phrase “this Earth” needs to be qualified. It seems to me that in order for his argument to stand, “this Earth” must be understood as “this polluted Earth”; the Earth as it is when Christ returns will remain as it is. This is the only way that it can be said that how we treat the Earth now (as far as the environment is concerned) will have direct consequences in Eternity.

If this is how N.T. Wright’s argument is formulated (and I believe it is), then I take issue. I do not believe that, for example, if I litter a styrofoam cup today, and if Christ comes back tomorrow, that my Styrofoam cup will remain on the Earth in eternity until (or if) it finally decomposes. 2 Peter 3:5-10 highlights this point:

“By the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the godless… But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be [burned up].”

Notice how the phrase “the world of that time was deluged with water and perished” is juxtaposed with the phrase “the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire”. Peter is comparing the Flood which he believed was global (a point we’ll take for granted) and which caused the world at that time to “perish”, with a future fire which will also “burn up” everything that is “done on” the earth.

But notice something else of interest here: before the Flood and after the Flood the same Earth is used. God just cleaned it up. Similarly the present Earth and the Earth in the age to come will be the same ball, the same rock, the same planet, but cleaned up. As Peter says, “everything that is done on it will be burned up”, which means that any toxins from vehicles, any litter on the ground, and all the eco-disasters which are ruining our present Earth will not have any consequences on the New Earth.

Eternal Consequences Affirmed

This does not mean that what we do now has no consequences in Eternity. As I affirmed Wright’s first premise, that the present Earth and the New Earth are the same Earth, so now I affirm his second point, that how we handle the Earth now will have Eternal consequences. But the consequences will not be of the Earth but of those who mishandle it. Paul writes in Romans 8:19-23:

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

Creation itself has been subject to the consequences of the fall and has been “groaning” to be redeemed. It is interesting that Paul here (like Peter above) juxtaposes creations groaning to be “set from free its bondage to decay” with children of God who have been groaning “inwardly while we wait… the redemption of our bodies”. For the redemption of our bodies they must first died like a seed planted in the ground before we can obtain an imperishable body (1 Cor 15:42); likewise the earth which is also awaiting redemption according to this text in Romans 8, it too must first be purified by fire (2 Peter 3:10).

The point is that the Earth after God’s barbeque will not suffer the consequences of the present worlds’ pollution. Rather, the consequences bare more on the present and on the Children of God which will reverberate throughout Eternity as it translates into lost souls who may have otherwise been redeemed. This is because how we steward Gods creation will testify of God either for the good or for the bad. If Christians who worship the Creator God won’t take care of God’s creation, what will that do for our testimony to a world that worships the creation and not the Creator? When non-Christians lead the way in Earthly care and environmental concerns they perpetuate the worship of their god (Gaia – Greek goddess of creation, New Age philosophies and so on, see G.K. Beale’s book, We Become What We Worship, Romans 1:24-25). But when Christians become global leaders in Earth care the ball falls in our court to testify or perpetuate the worship of our God the Creator (Romans 1:20) of planet earth and the universe!

Stewardship or Kingdom Living?

This leads us, naturally, to the concept of stewardship. We are to care for the earth, not for the reason which N.T. Wright puts forth – care for the earth because if we pollute it now we have to live in it for eternity – but for a different reason all together which I’ll now explain.

In the original creation God commanded the first humans to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). We know that creation suffered decay as a result of Adam’s rebellion (Romans 8:20) but now we need to add another dimension to the equation: The “already” aspect of the New Creation! The long awaited for redemption is here now – in the Spirit and by the Spirit, through Christ and for Christ – but not yet in full (i.e., Already/Not Yet). Paul writes in Colossians 1:15-20:

“For in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created… all things have been created through him and for him… and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”

Notice the tense: God was (pass tense) pleased to reconcile heaven and earth to himself through Christ’s atoning working on the cross. When Christ said, “it is finished”, that was it. It was finished! So while creation waits for redemption from decay (Romans 8:19-21) in the sense that the end has not yet come, still in another sense creation is experiencing its redemption even now, already! But here is the cool part which ties this whole discussion together: creation experiences redemption now by the blood of Christ through his body, the Church, who are already a new creation even now. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

As a new creation we are to live now, in this world, as Christ is now in heaven: “as he is (NOW), so are we (NOW) in this world” (1 John 4:17). So then we must ask ourselves, what is the heart of God towards creation? I think Jesus spells it out nicely in what has come to be known as The Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your Kingdome come.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

Gods Kingdom comes wherever and whenever God is reigning. As King, wherever Gods will is being done, that is where he is reigning. If his will is being done through you and I and on “earth as it is in heaven” then that is how God is reigning in this world, on this earth now! That is how creation is experiencing redemption even while it is fallen, because we who are now a part of the new creation while living in the fallen world are living in a way that brings in the new creation when we bring in the Kingdom. We do this when we let God reign in our lives and through our actions!

It is not about following a command or even about being good stewards. I think when the church teaches Earth care this way (similar to how they teach church giving as the command to tithe and stewardship), we miss the point and produce no fruit. There are commands and we are called to be stewards, but those are mere byproducts of the big picture: KINGDOM LIVING!

Conclusion: Why I Take Issue With Wright

So what’s the point? In this overview I have attempted to reach the same conclusions which N.T. Wright has reached but by taking another route. I am going out on a limb here and suggesting that N.T. Wright’s view of “End Times” is Postmillennial whereas my view is Amillennial. He has reached his conclusions about Earth care by taking the Postmillennial byway, which teaches that the earth will get better and better until one day the whole earth will be just about converted, and Christ will finally return to a Kingdom which has already been established by his Church through the Spirit. Contrary to this road I have taken the Amillennial highway which teaches that things are going to get worse and worse (especially in the church) until one day Christ will return to judge, cleanse and re-create.

So while this post may have seemed to be about how Christians ought to take care of creation in light of eternity, it was really (minutely) about a contrast between Postmillennialism and Amillennialism. I affirm all of Wright’s conclusions, but I do not need to be an Postmillennialist to get there. This earth will burn, but that does not negate our responsibility to be leading stewards in this world as we live out the Kingdom on earth in a way that reflects how Christ lived and is living now in Heaven. And one day when Heaven and Earth are married together, we will be called to account for how we cared for this world and the consequences for those who witnessed our testimony as the Creator’s stewards, when the earth is redeemed and as we live bodily forever on it. Amen.

What Does the Future Hold? seems to be a noble attempt to make the various views of eschatology available to the average Christian. In the last post I introduced the dilemma presented by Left Behind theology; namely that in large part due to its popularity and also in conjunction with the non-fiction material written by those who support this view, many Christians (I’d say most in Western Christianity) are under the assumption either that Left Behind is the only view believed in Christendom or at least that it is the only view available.

However, in the end I was disappointed with Pate’s book and in this post I want to explain why.

I was impressed to see Pate bring to the fore Oscar Cullmann’s work, Christ and Time, placing emphasis on the Already/Not Yet principle. I mentioned in another post that it is this principle I would like to see become more commonly taught in churches and in bible studies, and it appears Pate offers here to do just that in this easy-to-read non-academic book on eschatology.

But in the end it seems Pate makes either one of two mistakes: either he does not understand what it is the principle of Already/Not Yet teaches, or he knows but alters this biblical principle to support his own thesis. In other words, either he makes an intellectual mistake, or a bias one. I’ll return to this criticism later.

For brevity sake I am just going to look at his analysis of Premillennialism and Amillennialism only.

Premillennial Misleading:

In the historical analysis of the various views of eschatology Pate places the Premillennail view as the oldest view held by all prominent Christians for the first four hundred years A.D. Aiming to be brief and accessible I can only assume that Pate leaves out certain pertinent information in order to keep things simple. For example, one is left with the impression that all Christians from the Apostle John himself down until the time of St. Augustine were Premillennial. But this view can and has been challenged to show that some of the very earliest of John’s disciples held to something more like the Amillennial view (For example; Case For Amillennialism).

Secondly, Pate makes almost no distinction between Historic Premillennialism and Dispensational Premillennialism even though such a distinction is vast and prudently important. (Consider how these Historic Premillennialist wrote a book against any form of Dispensationalism, pre-mid-post-tribulationism: Case for Historical Premillennialism.) As a result of this error (I’m tempted to refer to it as an outright deceitful approach to teaching in order to give a particular view credibility) – as a result of this error, many have tried to claim that Left Behind theology has historical credibility by claiming roots in the early church. It has no such roots.

Amillennial Caricature:

Here Marvin Pate begins by discussion two different interpretive approaches to the bible, a) a literal approach and b) an allegorical approach. After giving an overview of each approach he charges the Amillennialist of “throwing caution to the wind” by taking the allegorical approach whenever they “feel as though it might be appropriate” [80]. Pates charge is absurd (to the nth degree) and reveals an extreme bias which he seems to be unable to contain.

He claims that the Amillennial view is Platonic in nature (spiritualizing everything) and that if they had kept to a Jewish “literal” interpretation of everything (“which the New Testament authors appear to do” [94]) they would have a proper understanding of the “Already/Not Yet” principle of the Kingdom of God. This makes me wonder if Marvin Pate has ever read the book of Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, the Gospel of Matthew or even (especially) John’s Revelation? For that matter, it makes me wonder if he even read Cullmann’s book (as I have). Where’s this “expert” getting his information from?

I’ll tell you. Marvin Pate is coming at us in this book from an extreme bias in which he is incapable of expressing accurately any view other than his own. This results in setting up strawmen oppositions which can easily be blown over.

Is it throwing “caution to the wind” to interpret Revelation chapter 20 allegorically when most of the book of Revelation is filled with symbolism? Wouldn’t it be throwing caution to the wind to conveniently interpret one chapter literally in what can be described as the most symbolic book of the bible? Isn’t it then the Premillennialist who has thrown caution (and reason and hermeneutics) to the wind by failing to read the biblical books according to their respected genre?

Putting “Already/Not Yet” to Service:

Finally Marvin Pate is very successful in one thing: completely failing to grasp and understand the biblical principle of “Already/Not Yet”. He states:

If the church would have followed the Jewish preference to the literal, normal method of reading a text… then the church’s teaching could have held on to both the already/not-yet tension and a future, temporal messianic kingdom of earth. [94]

What Pate fails to grasp (evidently in his entire eschatological framework) is the significance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (i.e the Jewish Messiah and also the Messiah of the world). The already/not-yet principle centers on this one event alone, and all things eschatological must revolve around it.

Pate reminds the reader of the Jewish concept of time being three fold: the Age before the Fall, the present evil Age, and the Age to come. Pate believes the “age to come” is the future millennial Kingdom which is inaugurated by the coming Messiah and the Resurrection of the dead, and so believes his view holds closest to the Jewish expectation. He is wrong.

If we know anything from Paul’s encounter with Jesus the Messiah (as Cullmann teaches in Christ and Time) it is that what Paul (as a Jew) expected the Messiah to do at the end of the Present Evil Age, Jesus the Messiah did in the middle – and this is what the already/not-yet principle is all about. It has nothing to do with interpreting a prophecy as having two meanings as Pate believes (totally misconstruing this principle. Did he even read Cullmann?).

The resurrection of Jesus meant that the Messianic Kingdom has begun – it has been inaugurated but not consumated. And so the Kingdom is here (already), but not fully until he consumates it at his second coming (not yet). Get it? Already but Not Yet – as the Amillennialist asserts. Again (redundancy so that he might get it), this principle has nothing to do with some so-called “double fulfillment” prophecy!

What this means for the believer is that the resurrection of the righteous has already occurred “in Christ” as Paul reminds us. And this shines light on the two resurrections in Revelation 20 which have baffled the minds of Premillennialist for ages – they have not been able to understand the resurrection of the righteous or of the wicked in Revelation 20 because they do not understand this principle (failing to grasp completely Isaiah 40-55 and the N.T. explicit teaching of Christ as the representative of Israel [a major point in Cullmann’s book] and Paul’s explicit teaching of one people of God, not two, among other things).

Either Pate does not know this, does not understand this, or does not believe what Paul and the other N.T. authors have to say about this. Failing to place the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah in the center of your eschatological model while twisting Cullmann’s biblical principle of already/not-yet (completely missing the point) will result in fantastic and untamed interpretations of the bible and End Times. The kind of fantastic interpretations that can be made into novel series and movies, but not the kind that follows God’s story very well.

When I first glanced through Marvin Pate’s book, What Does the Future Hold?, my initial thought was, it’s about time!

Long have I looked forward to a book which would present the various views of eschatology in an accessible manner.

Oh there are many books out there on the different views of end times. But generally speaking they all seem to be inaccessible to the regular guy or gal sitting in the pew on Sunday morning.  And not only that, if I mention Postmillennialism or Amillennialism to any random Christian who happens to cross my path (in my line of work I meet random Christians all day long) I would almost be sure to get a “huh?”

But there is one view of end times which dominates pop culture and not just Christian pop culture either, this view has infiltrated Hollywood as well. The Left Behind phenomenon hardly needs an introduction. (Jason Boyett refers to its readership as being in the “kajillions”.)

So what makes Left Behind theology so compelling? First of all it often jives well with current events, preying on the fears of people with the threat of a nuclear holocaust, a European Union, the popularity of this or that President as the potential next Anti-Christ and so on. People want to be prepared. They want to feel secure. They want to know what the Bible has to say about the world today.

The second reason why Left Behind is so compelling is that is makes for a good story, plain and simple. But never underestimate the power of a good story! Remember Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code? If fiction had no real impact on peoples beliefs there would have been no need for Christian professionals to write rebuttals, as many did.

But if you want a good book on Postmillennialism or on Amillennialism good luck. I’m not saying that there aren’t any, there are. But you better be prepared for deeper exegesis. And you better have a theological dictionary on hand so when you read them you will know what words like exegesis mean (to pull out of the text what it is saying).

Left Behind theology has rooted itself so deeply in the psyche of the casual Christian mind that it is often assumed to be the only view of end times in Christianity. Most people are oblivious to the fact that prior to 1830 (if you’re counting, that’s less than two hundred years ago) it was Left Behind theology that didn’t exist. And this brings me back to Marvin Pate’s book. The subtitle says it all, Exploring Various Views on the End Times, offering to educate the grassroots Christian of the options of end time theories that have been available to Christians throughout our history.

In that regard Pate was (somewhat) successful. What Does the Future Hold? is clearly written and highly accessible, defining any potentially technical terms used in as simple layperson words as possible. In less than a hundred and fifty pages he explores the whole of Christendom and covers the three dominating views (plus a skeptical view), the social context that gave rise to those views and how each view interprets Revelation 20. This is quite an accomplishment.

That said, in the end I was disappointed. Very disappointed.

And in the next post I’ll explain why.