5 Ways Amillennialism Distorts the Biblical Worldview Dec 24, 2018 11:17:49 GMT -5
Post by Daniel on Dec 24, 2018 11:17:49 GMT -5
5 Ways Amillennialism Distorts the Biblical Worldview
By Jonathan BrentnerDecember 21, 2018
Amillennialists make another key error by denying the reality of the tribulation. They do so by allegorizing much of the book of Revelation as well as numerous Old Testament passages.
This is my third article on how an amillennial view of Scripture can, over time, open the door to Socialism. I’m writing in response to an article depicting how socialism is gaining a foothold in many churches across the United States.
In my previous post, I showed how the symbolic interpretation of future prophecy used by amillennialists weakens the literal interpretation of the rest of Scripture. Although this does not happen immediately, it has happened in many denominations steeped in amillennialism for many decades.
Please know I am not saying all amillennialists are socialists, certainly not. My point is that churches with a long history of amillennialism and its accompanying worldview seem to be much more susceptible to a Marxist way of thinking.
I believe this is because they distort the biblical worldview in a number of ways:
1. Amillennialists Err in Their Misguided Optimism
Recently, my wife and I watched a rerun of the Frasier television show. In it, Dr. Crane remained steadfast in his belief in the goodness of humanity despite all the criminal activities of the man who stole his briefcase and then his car.
I have witnessed this same outlook among Christians and even pastors who reject a premillennial type of worldview. I have observed that they regard all politicians as the same without differentiating between those who espouse clear unbiblical beliefs and those whose ideology is much more biblical.
I have noted that those who favor amillennialism are more likely to vote for candidates that advocate abortion, homosexual marriage, and even socialism.
Could it be that the belief of amillennialists that Satan is bound or at least restricted in this age leads to their openness for supporting candidates with such unbiblical values? I am not sure, but I have observed that those immersed in amillennial thinking are much more likely to vote in such a way than those who advocate a clear premillennial worldview that includes belief in a tribulation.
Here is how Anthony Hoekema expresses the optimism of amillennials: “This means that we view no world crisis as totally beyond help and no social trend as absolutely irreversible. It means that we live in hope — a hope that is built on faith and that expresses itself in love.”
This sounds quite impressive; who wouldn’t want to believe this? However, such optimism contradicts the biblical view of where our world is headed. God’s Word teaches that the world will reach a point where evil is irreversible, and God will intervene just as He did in Genesis 6, hence the tribulation.
2. Amillennialists Miss the Signs of the Approaching Tribulation
Anthony Hoekema expresses the amillennial view of the signs of the end times in this way, “These signs, however, must not be thought of as referring exclusively to the time just preceding Christ’s return. They have been present in some sense from the very beginning of the Christian era and are present now.” In other words, there is nothing new or unique about the signs we witness today.
However, what was the purpose of Jesus’ providing signs of His “coming and the close of the age” if they were not to be uniquely present before His coming and at “the close of the age” (Matt. 24:3)? Jesus expected the Pharisees to recognize the signs of His first coming (see Matt. 16:1-4); why would He not want us to do the same with the signs He provided in Matthew 24 regarding His return to earth?
Jesus has not yet returned as He described in Matthew 24:29-31; therefore, the signs of Matthew 24 still have relevance for us today. It almost seems silly to assert this, but so many today either claim Jesus returned in AD 70 or else interpret these signs allegorically with no significance whatsoever for us.
The symbolic interpretations of prophecy espoused by amillennialists blind them to the many signs of the approaching tribulation. Since they do not regard Revelation 6-19 as literal, they miss how all the signs of the coming new world order and advances in technology would fulfill several prophecies of this time.
For example, we have the technology today for the antichrist to be able to control all the buying and selling worldwide just as the Lord through John predicted in Revelation 13. Furthermore, the recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) make it possible for one man to exercise such control.
Because they misinterpret prophecy, amillennialists believe the pendulum will eventually swing the other way, evil will decrease, and nations will again restore order just as throughout history. Is this really what the signs tell us?
3. Amillennialists Overlook Biblical Warnings of the End Times
Jesus portrayed the end times as a period of terrible wars, famines, destructive earthquakes, an increase in lawlessness, a time of persecution, and a reign of terror by the antichrist (Matt. 24:3-28). He portrayed these signs as birth pangs that would get progressively worse over time in advance of His return to earth, such as what we are starting to see today!
The Apostle Paul told us that wickedness will greatly increase in the end times (see 2 Tim. 3:1-4; 2 Thess. 2:1-12). He believed lawlessness would increase, culminating with the rise of the antichrist.
Scripture reveals our earth is headed for a time of tribulation, referred to as the “day of the Lord” throughout the Old Testament, during which God will pour out His wrath on sinful humanity. This sudden destruction, however, will fall upon an unbelieving world and not upon those of us in Christ to whom Paul promised deliverance from God’s wrath (1 Thess. 5:3-11).
The biblical warnings alert us to be like the watchman on the walls such as in ancient times. Likewise, we warn others of the approaching danger and tell them of Jesus’ imminent return for His church. There is much good news for those of us who know the Savior.
4. Amillennialists Miss the Purpose of the Tribulation
Amillennialists mistakenly reduce the tribulation into a symbolical struggle between the church and her enemies. Although most limit the scope of this struggle to the first century church, Saint Augustine believed that both the tribulation and millennium symbolically represent the entire current church age.
This misguided perception of the tribulation can easily change one’s perceptions of the purpose of both the church and tribulation. The Gospel message thus becomes all about the here and now devoid of not only our imminent hope in Jesus’ appearing, but also biblical warnings of the wrath that is coming.
Paul’s total time in the city of Thessalonica was exceedingly short, perhaps as short as a month or two. Yet, by the time the Jews there forced him to leave the city, he had taught the young believers there all about the Old Testament “day of the Lord,” Jesus’ return for His church, and “the signs and seasons” of Jesus’ appearing (1 Thess. 5:1). Not only did they know all about God’s coming judgment on the world, the new converts eagerly watched for Jesus’ appearing (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
Paul regarded Jesus’ return for His church, aka the rapture, and the tribulation as an essential aspect of the Gospel message and instructed his new converts in these things immediately after their conversion. Along with turning from idols to serve the living God, their anticipation of Jesus’ return displayed the reality of their conversion.
With so little biblical teaching on these things today, many believers fall for false teachings that deny the reality of judgment and thereby distort, not only the Word of God, but also provide a false sense of security as to where this world is headed.
5. The Amillennial View of History Leads to other False Teaching
The optimistic view of amillennialism regarding history and the prevailing evils in our society has opened the door to much doctrinal error. Again, I am not saying that historic amillennialists embrace these teachings; but for many, amillennialism has become a stepping stone to blatant false teachings such as dominion theology and preterism that pervert New Testament teaching regarding Jesus’ return and the future of the church.
The rapidly growing popularity of Dominion theology explains why Socialism is becoming so popular in Christendom. This offshoot of amillennial optimism believes that the church will prevail in converting the world and usher in the millennial kingdom. Jesus, for His part, stays away from the earth until the end of the church’s reign upon the earth.
Can you see how this unbiblical view of the end times easily leads to a Marxist type of worldview? If one believes all current evil societal trends will reverse themselves and the church will convert everyone in the world to Christianity, then of course one will be open to an ideology that envisions, albeit falsely, a better life for everyone in this current world system.
Once one combines an allegorical interpretation of prophecy with the overly optimistic worldview of the amillennialist, it opens the door for further departures from the Word of God that have, over time, opened the door to socialism. This is not speculation; this is what has happened in many denominations and churches as evidenced by the article I referenced in the introduction.
Again, please, please do not take my words as a denial of the need for believers to extend visible acts of compassion to those in need either locally or around the world. Franklin Graham, an ardent premillennialist who believes the same way I do, founded and leads an organization called Samaritan’s Purse. With a budget of over $800 million, this group meets the needs of the suffering and poor throughout the world.
It’s simply not true that premillennialism causes people to overlook the suffering in this world. Their beliefs motivate them to reach to the needy around them and in the world.
Posted with permission