What is postmillennialism?
Question: "What is postmillennialism?"
Answer: Postmillennialism is an interpretation of chapter 20 of the biblical book of Revelation which sees Christ's second coming as occurring after (Latin post-) the "Millennium", a Golden Age or era of Christian prosperity and dominance. The term subsumes several similar views of the end times, and it stands in contrast to premillennialism (the view that Christ’s second coming will occur prior to his Millennial Kingdom, and that the Millennial Kingdom is a literal 1,000-year reign) and, to a lesser extent, amillennialism (no literal millennium).
Postmillennialism refers to a belief that Christ returns after a period of time, but not necessarily 1,000 years. Those who hold this view do not interpret unfulfilled prophecy using a normal, literal method. They believe that Revelation 20:4-6 should not be taken literally. They believe that 1,000 years simply means a long period of time. Furthermore, the prefix "post" in postmillennialism denotes the view that Christ will return after Christians (not Christ Himself) have established the kingdom on this earth.
Those who hold to postmillennialism believe that this world will become better and better—all prove to the contrary notwithstanding—with the entire world eventually becoming "Christianized." After this happens, Christ will return. However, this is not the view of the world in the end times that Scripture presents. From the book of Revelation, it is easy to see that the world will be a terrible place during that future time. Also, in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 Paul describes the last days as “terrible times.”
Those who hold to postmillenialism use a non-literal method of interpreting unfulfilled prophecy, assigning their own meanings to words. The problem with this is that when you start assigning meanings to words other than their normal meaning, a person can decide that a word, phrase, or sentence means anything they want it to mean. All objectivity concerning the meaning of words is lost. When words lose their meaning, communication ceases. However, this is not how God has intended for language and communication to be. God communicates to us through His written word, with objective meanings to words so that ideas and thoughts can be communicated.
A normal, literal interpretation of Scripture rejects postmillennialism and holds to a normal interpretation of all Scripture, including unfulfilled prophecy. Concerning the interpretation of prophecy, we have hundreds of examples from Scripture of prophecies being fulfilled. Take for example the prophecies concerning Christ in the Old Testament. Those prophecies were fulfilled literally. Consider the virgin birth of Christ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). Again, consider His death for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-9; 1 Peter 2:24). These were fulfilled literally. This is reason enough to assume that God will continue in the future to literally fulfill His Word, His prophecies of future events.
Recommended Resource: The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns.
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Questions about Theology
What is postmillennialism?