Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Eschatological Discussion -- Part 2

Initially when I looked in to the differing views of the millennial reign of Christ, my study was limited to Premillennialism and Amillennialism. This is, in part, due to my closest friends in the faith holding one of those two views but also because those two views were what my two favourite (at the time) contemporary Christian authors John Piper and Sam Storms held to.

Though Jonathan Edwards was a postmillennialist, and his views are shared in a book like "The End for which God Created the World", the first book I picked up that explicitly taught a postmillennial position was J. Marcellus Kik's work "An Eschatology of Victory".

For anyone reading this who did not have 2 hours to kill and did not watch John Piper's round table discussion, here is a quick link to a one page summary of the orthodox positions as they refer to the millennium.

Postmillennialism reminds us that there is a difference in language and in teaching between two kingdoms: The Messianic Kingdom and the Consummate Kingdom:

Kik writes:
....Revelation is concerned almost entirely with the Messianic kingdom which begins in time and ends in time. For instance, the "thousand-year" period of Revelation 20 cannot refer to the consummate kingdom because it commences in time with the binding of Satan and ends in time with the short period of the release of Satan. It deals with time before the last judgment. Also the Messianic kingdom, as such, ceases to exist, as is clearly indicated in I Cor. 15:24-28 where it is stated: "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom of God, even the Father....And when all things shall be subdued unto Him then shall the Son also himself be subdued unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." The eschatology of the Old Testament is chiefly concerned with the Messianic kingdom, and its types speak of the Messianic kingdom. The predictive didactic elements of the New Testament prophecy deal with the Messianic Kingdom. The consummate kingdom is not the great object of Old Testament prophecy or New Testament prophecy.

I am going to pull out a couple of interesting arguments from Kik's work hoping our readers and my fellow bloggers have some time to add to the discussion. I will post a point, hope and pray discussion follows and then post another:

1. The Crushing of the Head of the Serpent

The curse of Satan in Genesis 3:15 speaks of the crushing of the serpents head and speaks of defeat. The language used about the serpent eating dust in his defeat in the preceding verse is language used throughout scripture (particularly in Psalms and Isaiah) concerning the defeat of enemies.

What is interesting is how Paul describes this event in Romans 16:20: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."

Reading literally, Kik argues that Paul is telling his readers that Satan is defeated, not through a cataclysmic event, but by the feet of Christians. God crushes Satan (alluding to the Gen. 3 "bruising defeat") by means of the feet of Christians on the earth. Rev. 12 also describes the defeat of Satan describing, again, that it is by the means of Christians that God destroys Satan, here it is stated that the tools they use for this task is the "blood of the lamb" (work of the cross) and the "word of their testimony" (the gospel).

Both of these instances seem to indicate it is by means of the church that God intends to crush Satan. In Luke 10 Jesus is rejoicing at the successful ministry done by the seventy two disciples he sent out to preach the gospel. He says that he saw Satan cast down and that they had authority over serpents... a sort of picture of what happens as the gospel is preached successfully.

He also cites Colossians 2:15, 1 Cor. 15, Heb. 2:14 and 1 John 3:8 and says "To say that the defeat of Satan will only come through a cataclysmic act at the second coming of Christ is ridiculous in light of these passages. To think that the church must grow weaker and weaker and the kingdom of Satan stronger and stronger is to deny that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil... and it dishonors the first coming of Christ."

I would be lying if I said this wasn't alluring. The idea that the Great Commission was a literal and achievable command is exciting!

I think it is important to note that Kik is not arguing that we can usher in a return to sinlessness or perfection. My heart has been regenerated, I have received Christ's righteousness and he has nailed my sin to the cross through his substitutionary atonement... but I am not sinless, nor am I perfect.

To say that the gospel can be spread throughout the whole world and the nations can become disciples seems impossible... which gives us a much longer term vision of the world.

The questions that may be swirling around in your head may be: "what does a 'Christian world' look like? 80%, 90%, 100%?" or "is this a militant spreading of the Christian worldview or just peaceful gospel?" or other passages may come to your mind about tribulation and suffering... "how much will Christians be 'sharing in the suffering of Christ' in a Christian world?"

Don't worry. They are swirling around my head to...

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