One of the disadvantages to the book A Case For Historic Premillennialism is that it does not have one author. Instead, the book is a collage of essays by different authors edited by two people. While Craig Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung each wrote one of the essays in the book, there are six other essays written by other authors. While this allows one person to focus entirely on one subject as their area of expertise, there is also a little bit of disjointedness as you read through the book. So as I begin to blog about the book’s content, I will post on each chapter individually because each chapter is an essay itself dealing with one specific subject. The introduction is by the editors who outline some points of interest as follows.
First, the popularity of the left behind books is alluded to in the subtitle of this book, and in the introduction. Along with that is the wild speculation that seems to go with trying to predict the events of the coming end of the age. Note that 100% of attempts to identify the antichrist to date have proven wrong. Since Jesus instructed His followers that no one knows the day or the hour, why do many Christians insist on setting dates for the return of Christ?
The four basic millennial positions are outlined, which are: Historic Premillennialism, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Dispensational Premillennialism. Their explanations in the introduction are as follows.
In its simplest form, premillennialism refers to the conviction that Christ will return at the end of human history as we know it, prior to a long period of time, depicted in Revelation 20:1-7 as a thousand years, in which he reigns on earth, creating a gold era of peace and happiness for all believers alive at the time of his return, along with all believers of past eras who are resurrected and glorified at this time.
Postmillennialism takes this thousand-year period, or millennium, as the final period of time during this present era, in which believers, yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit, facilitate a Christianizing of the earth to an unprecedented extent, thereby creating the idyllic earthly conditions described in Revelation 20 and in numerous Old Testament passages (particularly in the closing chapters of a number of the Prophets). In this scheme, Christ then comes back after the millennium.
Amillennialism has typically understood the entire church age, symbolically, as the millennium, during which believers spiritually reign with Christ but does not look forward to a literally transformed earth or literal millennium in the way that both premillennialists and postmillennialists do.
The nineteenth century also saw the development of a new form of premillennialism with the founding of the Plymouth Brethren denomination in Great Britain and Ireland by J. Nelson Darby. To distinguish this branch of premillennialism from its predecessor, scholars today speak of the newer development as dispensational premillennialism and the older form as historic or classic premillennialism. Dispensationalism, in fact, represents an entire system of interpreting the Bible, not just an approach to eschatology or the study of future events. Of particular interest, however, is its characteristic view on the relationship between the rapture and the great tribulation. Nineteenth-century dispensational premillennialism developed the first unambiguous articulation of a “pretribulational” rapture, thereby separating the rapture and Christ’s second coming into two discrete events.
The introduction continues pointing out how denominations have a potluck for their doctrines. Reformed churches are getting caught up in an interest on end times where years ago they would have embraced nothing but Amillennialism. Pentecostal churches have dispensational leaning when it comes to end times even though their emphasis on the charismatic gifts will not allow them to be cessationalist. A nod is given to Progressive Dispensationalism noting that this view has much in common with Historic Premillennialism; later it is referred to as “its very close cousin”. One of the contributors holds the PD position. Covenant Theology has undergone some changes as well moving a bit more toward the perceived center. Also, the rise of Preterism’s popularity is pointed out. Given all these developments, the most overlooked position of the four above is Historic Premillennialism.
That premise acts as the springboard for this book. The book itself was born out of a conference centered around the subject of premillennialism. All except two of the chapters reflect oral addresses given at a 2007 conference sponsored by the Denver Seminary Institute of Contextualized Biblical Studies. Instead of bringing in outside speakers, Denver Seminary utilized in-house professors and teachers. So I am indebted to Denver Seminary for the publishing of this book.
The final section in the introduction does just that; it introduces each chapter by giving a brief description of each one. One chapter is directed solely at Covenant Theology, another is directed at the issue of pre-tribulationalism, still another examines quotes from the early church fathers. All in all the pluses outweigh the minuses in this book. My next post in this series will begin examining chapter 1.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman