Imminentizing the Eschaton

It’s sad to see that public debate on political, religious, or social issues is all but disappeared from American life. Our country (and churches) lost a great deal when it lost the ability (desire?) to publicly, respectfully, and thoughtfully debate about important issues.

From a Christian perspective, while eschatology (study of the end times) isn’t at the level of important issues like the deity of Christ, Pelagianism v. Augustinianism, or infant v. believer’s baptism; it was quite refreshing to watch a lengthy round-table discussion about eschatology among godly, well-learned men with different perspectives. This video (click on “watch”), from the Desiring God 2009 conference, was moderated by John Piper (who didn’t hide his historic premillennial leanings) and featured one man from each of the three prevailing views of the end times: Jim Hamilton (premillennial), Sam Storms (amillennial), and Doug Wilson (postmillennial). It’s a long video, but it’s good to see men who respect each other debate these sorts of issues. It is okay to disagree with each other while being united in important doctrines like the gospel and who Christ is. Kudos to John Piper for stressing the areas of agreement between these men.

My brief comments about the discussion itself is that though Doug Wilson is witty and wicked smart, a roundtable discussion isn’t really fair to the postmillennial position because of the presuppositions about Scripture that feed it. The postmillennial position isn’t merely a compiling of a couple verses or chapters from the eschatological passages of Scripture, but flows from a complete reading of redemptive history. The amillennial position presented by Storms seemed incomplete and some nuances of it were new to me. Namely, the present spiritual reign with Christ of those in the intermediate state was a new concept to me, and I’m not sure can be well defended from Scripture. The historic premillennial position has some glaring inconsistencies in biblical interpretation and seems to be based on one literal reading of one chapter in Revelation. Wilson does a commendable job of pointing out the inconsistencies respectfully, to which Hamilton has no answer. A warning to my non-premillennial readers: Jim Hamilton is annoyingly disruptive with his constant interruptions and overall attitude toward championing his position.

For the record, my humble, incomplete views are kind of a combination of Wilson’s and Storms’. To my meager understanding of eschatology, Wilson’s contemporary postmillennial position is close to that of historic amillennialism and is (thankfully) far from the theonomist/reconstructionist/politically-driven/utopian/stereotypical postmillenial position. I guess you could call me a partial preterist, optimistic, historic amillennialist, which would probably put me closer to the contemporary postmillennial camp than anything. Some more thoughts on the eschaton in the near future…

PS. The title for the post is a witty phrase Wilson used in the debate. I think he thought it was funnier than anyone else in the room. I found it hilarious.

4 thoughts on “Imminentizing the Eschaton

  1. But to not cop out and to answer in my own words, I think it matters because1) It is part of understanding and declaring the full counsel of God. It's in the Bible and it's not going away. We should seek to understand it and how it relates to Christ and what we can learn about God from it.2) Biblical prophecy is such a large part of the Bible. Much of the Old Testament prophecies are about Christ's first coming, which the Jews eagerly anticipated by studying the texts. The Jews of Jesus' day were wrong about the nature of his first coming, so we should strive even more to long for His second coming and have a right understanding of it.3) It is part of the glorious story of redemptive history. Being confident of the second coming, judgment, and resurrection of the dead (regardless of one's position on the millennium, provided one has one and it is optimistic) should foster a "big-picture" mentality and long-term "planning" for the future. If we don't care about the end times and think our views on such don't affect how we live, that's short sighted and doesn't look to God being glorified in the final days.

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