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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Summer Edition 2001

Three Dangers Of Premillennialism

    In circles where Christian doctrine is not important, or is not taken seriously, folks may question what can be so "dangerous" about the harmless teaching of premillennialism. We would suggest that the following three areas of danger respecting the popular premillennial teaching of today are worth noting.

    1. Speculation. Modern premillennial teaching is based on men's speculation, not on a sound exegesis of God's Word. This one example proves our point: if it were not for Revelation chapter twenty, nobody would have ever heard of the idea that Jesus was coming back to set up his kingdom and reign on earth for a thousand years. Nobody, that is, except those Jews who rejected Jesus as their Messiah in the First Century, and even they would not have known from the Old Testament that Messiah's kingdom was to last a thousand years!

    So now what does Revelation chapter twenty itself actually say? Here are the facts: Revelation twenty says nothing about the reign of Christ on earth, it says nothing about the reign of the saints on earth after the second coming, and it says nothing about the involvement of the Jews in any type of a political kingdom.

    Rather, the chapter centers around four distinct visions that John says he "saw." Here thery are: (1) John saw a conquering Savior (vss. 1-2), (2) he saw compensated sufferers (vss. 4-6), (4) he saw the consummation and the Sovereign (vss. 7-11), and (4) he saw the courtroom scene (vss. 12-15).

    Now what John Himself actually says that he "saw," if one reads the text and pays any attention to it, is obviously very different than what the "fruitful imaginations" of modern premillennial theorists conjecture. They are reading their own ideological preconceptions derived from their misunderstanding of Old Testament messianic prophecies into the text. They do not pay sufficient attention to what the text of Revelation chapter twenty itself actually says and does not say. They are not careful or honest students of the Word of God, but are "handling the Word of the Lord deceitfully." Only those who are not keen to know what the Bible really teaches--who are content to substitute fiction for facts, and fables for faith--should pay any attention to them.

    Here are the New Testament facts by which we should interpret the "millennial question" of Revelation chapter twenty: Scripture clearly teaches that the devil was potentially and judicially bound at the first advent of Christ (Mark 3:27; John 12:31; Hebrews 2:14) in order to accomplish the divine purpose of redemption, that is, that the nations should not be deceived by Satan any longer, but should now, rather, become Christ's disciples ( Matthew 28:19-20)!

    Further, there is no indication that Christ sets up any kingdom, or initiates his own reign at the point of, or in conjunction with, the resurrection of martyred "souls" mentioned in Revelation 20:4-6. The assumption that Jesus is coming back to set up His messianic kingdom at this juncture is merely preconception and conjecture--premillennial speculation—a dogma without cognitive substance—an emperor that has no clothes!

    2. Subversion. A second danger of premillennialism is doctrinal subversion. Premillennialism subverts the clear New Testament teaching of the present messianic reign and kingdom of Jesus Christ, thereby arming its devotees with a conception of Christianity having no messianic content, when, in fact, messianism was the core idea of New Testament Christianity, and definitive of the apostolic faith. "Thou art the Christ" (Matthew 16:16)--not, "thou shalt become the Christ, Jesus, in the future millennial age, when you have returned to set up your kingdom."

    Robert B. Yerby, in his excellent book, Up, Up and Away, has aptly called the premillennial theory "the great reign robbery." Where did we ever get the idea that Christ is coming back to set up his kingdom and to reign, or that he will be crowned at some future time? He already did that two-thousand years ago! He is crowned now! What kind of mentality has my church had for the rest of its life? What about yours?

    3. Substitution. Thirdly, there is the danger of gospel content substitution. If Christ's messianic kingdom is redemption, or the plan of full salvation, then to postpone the kingdom means in essence to substitute something else in place of holiness in heart and life as God's revealed plan for the nations in this present age.

    Such a denial of the full salvation redemptive content of this present age (as premillennialism must of necessity maintain in order to make room for the glories of its millennial era--that is, the robbing Peter to pay Paul principle) leads both logically and naturally to antinomianism.

    Why does the world need a post-second coming millennium to have righteousness, peace, and joy on earth when, according to the New Testament, these are the very benefits that are intended to result from an acceptance of the Christian gospel?

    The only answers premillennialists can offer are based, ultimately, not on logical, rational, or biblical foundations, but on the erroneous theological axioms of John Calvin's predestinarian system of  humanistic ideology!

    The great awakening revivals of the past that gave birth to the modern Wesleyan Holiness Movement did not move forward on the speculative biblical interpretation, chaotic doctrinal formulation, or emotional/subjective affinity toward antinomianism, that so characterize a modern evangelical church-world crazed by dispensational premillennialism.

    Adam Clarke stated it well:"Thousands, in their affections, conversation, and conduct, are wandering after an undefined and indefinable period, commonly called a millennial glory, while expectation is paralyzed, and prayer and faith restrained in reference to present salvation: and yet none of these can tell what even a day may bring forth; for we now stand on the verge of eternity, and, because it is so, 'now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation'" Clarke's Christian Theology, p. 492).

We rest our case against premillennialism on the text of Revelation chapter twenty itself, on the facts of what the text itself does and does not say, and on the common sense understanding thereof.

    Yes, it makes more sense to see the thousand years of Revelation chapter twenty as portraying the present gospel age! End-time Bible prophecy logic, in dealing, as we are, with a book of symbols, means common sense. Such common sense, literal  approach  to Scripture, we believe, is the church's true purifying hope. It is Gnosticism, friends, that cannot see in spiritual revelations literal meanings. Christianity is not Gnosticism, however, for within Christianity (which itself has no such metaphysical dichotomies as Gnosticism engenders) spiritual entities are just as real and literal as are are all physical and material substances. 

    Premillennialism is based on the dualism of Platonic philosophy  with says that spiritual entities cannot be real or literal in substance--only the material world is real and literal. Thus, a "spiritual" understanding  of Revelation chapter twenty, so premillennialists reason, cannot be taking the Bible "literally."

In case you think we are only making this up, let me refer you to the words of O. Palmer Robertson, in The Christ of the Covenants, p. 214, who says:

"Dispensationalism . . . emphasizes God's activity of setting apart a people for himself physically as it relates to Israel and spiritually as it relates to the New Testament people of God. The distinction is indeed one of metaphysics. A form of Platonism actually permeates the hermeneutical roots of dispensationalism."

The false premises of the premillennial position stand philosophically, exegetically, and theological exposed. Now are you willing to give that erroneous theory up? The absolute fact of the matter is, friends, that the Bible does not teach it at all. If you still chose to cling to it, you are choosing to be extra-biblical. And what is the point or advantage in being extra-biblical?

    It is enough. Let us go foward in being only "Christians."

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