Reactionary Eschatology: Postmillennialism

The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit

"The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit," a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, from the series "The Revelation of St. John"

In this series we are discussing this simple question:
Are current events or the Bible driving my theology?

Other posts in the Reactionary Eschatology series:
Intro
Premillennialism

I am calling it Reactionary Theology when we let current events drive our theology. I want to look specifically at the affect of current events on our Eschatology. We will glance over each view and discuss its potential danger for reactionary theology and the reactionary theology contained within its history. In this post we will talk about Postmillennialism. It is not very popular, but it was about 100 years ago. Why?

Postmillennialism is very unpopular today, but gained much popularity coming out of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s. It basically says that Jesus will return after (post) the millennium. The Millennium will be a time that the world will get better and better until everyone follows God and has what they need. Once that happens Jesus will return.

Postmillennialism is a utopian understanding of the world and was very popular during the Industrial Revolution. Could this have been because people saw the potential allowed by new machinery and industry to provide everyone with basic necessities for a reasonable price? The Industrial Revolution also created opportunity to travel via cars, trains, or airplanes all over the world to share the Gospel with people who hadn’t heard it before. It seems that this view was heavily influenced by events of the time and if there is any doubt about it then we should ask why it suddenly faded away after the World Wars and Depression.

This view lends itself heavily to Reactionary Theology because it sees the world improving until Jesus returns. It generally holds that the Millennium is a literal 1,000 years so the big questions are whether or not that time has started and where within it we are right now. The only way to answer those questions is to impose current events into the prophecy of Scripture.

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

4 responses to “Reactionary Eschatology: Postmillennialism

  • Steve Scott

    I hold to a modified form of postmillennialism, which is kind of a misnomer, as most postmillennialists today don’t believe in a literal 1000 years. I also don’t hold to a “golden era” as it was commonly known in previous times.

    I think you hit it square on this one with the industrial revolution and advance of science. How could it be anything but optimistic? Oh, until the advancement of weaponry is put into affect, that’s how. Post plunges into pre.

    • Dan Allen

      Yeah, the world quite literally “dropped the bomb” (the a-bomb to be exact) on the average Postmillennialist’s theology. I would be interested to learn more about your eschatology. Have you posted your thoughts on your blog?

      Dan

  • Mark

    Dan,

    Interesting thoughts on the industrial revolution. I read somewhere regarding man’s attempts in the past to bring about the return of Christ, and I seem to think that the Industrial Revolution was involved here somewhere. I believe Arthur Sido had a good post on this issue. I came across an article involving the church in Germany at the time of Hitler, and my understanding is that the German church, or some of them anyway, felt that the rise of Hitler was their chance to bring about the fulfillment of scripture, and thus hasten Christ’s return. The dissenting parties met and issued the “Barmen Declaration”, decrying the nationalization of the church. I will e-mail you the file, because I don’t have a link to share.

    Mark

  • Mark

    Dan,

    I lied, it was not Arthur who wrote the articles regarding the industrial revolution. It was Dan Edelan at Cerulean Sanctum, and he wrote regarding the Industrial Revolution, Post-Milleniumism and Social Darwinism. The URL to the first post is following. I found it to be a great series, and very educational.

    http://ceruleansanctum.com/2009/02/revolution-theory-theology-devastated-western-christianity.html

    Mark

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