Don K. Preston D. Div.
Some of the most outspoken critics of Covenant Eschatology, i.e. true preterism, are postmillennialists. Keith Mathison compiled and edited a book When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism. Jonathan Seriah, wrote a book attacking preterism and Kenneth Gentry has offered many comments condemning the true preterist paradigm. Several authors from the Reformed background wrote a response, Editor Mike Sullivan, to Mathison’s book. That book, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology: A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be? is available from my websites.)
Virtually all of these good men have been challenged to meet me in formal public debate, or in formal written debate. They have all adamantly, and at times, arrogantly, refused. Of course, it is strange for men who claim to be “reformed” and to follow in the steps of Luther and Calvin to refuse to engage in honorable controversy, since the reformed movement gained its impetus largely by formal debates. So, to say the least, it is disingenuous, for these would be champions of the faith to refuse to debate.
Postmillennialism is fundamentally and fatally flawed, in many ways. This brief article will set forth just a couple of the fatal flaws in the theology of some of the leading postmillennialists of our day.
The first issue we want to examine is that of the New Creation. Notice that in Revelation 20:11f the Old Heaven and Earth flee from the presence of the Lord at the end of the millennium:
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
Let me make some very important preliminary observations:
Notice that in Revelation 20:7 Satan is loosed at the end of the millennium, and goes out to make war with the saints. In his assault, fire comes out of heaven and destroys his forces, and he is cast in the lake of fire (v. 10). So, the destruction of Satan is patently at the end of the millennium. Notice now, Romans 16:20: “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”
Gentry comments on Romans 16:20: “Romans 16:20 hearkens back to the Adamic Covenant.” (Dominion, 1992, 113). Okay, so Romans 16 hearkens back to Genesis 3:15 which is the promise of the ultimate destruction of Satan and the Adamic Curse. Paul said that the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15– the overcoming of the Adamic Curse at the destruction of Satan, was at hand, coming soon. Now watch:
The destruction of Satan- and the overcoming of the Adamic Curse– would be at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:7-10).
The destruction of Satan and the overcoming of the Adamic Curse was near when Paul wrote Romans.
Therefore, the end of the millennium – the destruction of Satan and the overcoming of the Adamic Curse – was near when Paul wrote.
These facts are totally destructive to the postmillennial paradigm, but there is more.
The second major point to make here is this: Notice that Revelation 20:5 says that “the rest of the dead” did not live until the end of the millennium. But, Revelation 20:12 is the depiction of the “rest of the dead” being raised and judged. So:
The “rest of the dead” are not raised until the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:5).
But, Revelation 20:12 depicts the raising of “the rest of the dead.”
Therefore, Revelation 20:12 occurs at the end of the millennium.
Notice now that the “rest of the dead” appear at the Great White Throne judgment of v. 12. This clearly demands that the Throne Judgment occurs at the end of the millennium. And the Throne Judgment is also when the Old Creation fled away (was destroyed). Hang onto that for a moment.
This means that the Old Creation, the old earth and heaven, was destroyed at the end of the millennium. This is critical and it brings us to the first of the major problems for the postmillennial view.
It is common in postmillennial circles to affirm that the New Creation arrived in AD 70. Please grasp the significance of that. Let me document this a bit.
Roderick Campbell, (Israel and the New Covenant, p.108) applies Revelation 21, “I make all things new” to AD 70.
Jonathin Seriah, says, “The ‘heaven and earth’ of Judaism that passed away in the first century (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1) were ‘obsolete and growing old’ (Hebrews 8:13)” (The End of All Things, (Moscow, Idaho, Canon Press, 1999)54).
Kenneth Gentry, considered by many to be the leading spokesman of modern postmillennialism says that in Revelation 21:1f, “The Heavenly Jerusalem is the bride of Christ that comes down from God to replace the earthly Jerusalem (Rev 21:2-5) in the first century (Rev 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). With the shaking and destruction of the old Jerusalem in AD 70, the heavenly (recreated) Jerusalem replaces her” (2009, 367). He insists: “It seems clear from the time statements in Revelation following the New Jerusalem imagery that this must come to pass not long after John wrote (Revelation 22:6, 7, 10) (He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA, Apologetics Group, 2009)147, n. 44).
DeMar likewise says: “The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant encompassed monumental changes. Various expressions are used to describe it.” (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, Obsession of the Modern Church (Atlanta, Ga., American Vision, 1994)56). Among the expressions that Demar gives to describe the transition from the Old Covenant to the New is “New Heavens and a New Earth (Revelation 21:1)”
Finally, Chilton, even before his conversion to the full (true) preterist eschatology, was adamant that the New Jerusalem of Revelation has already arrived: “We are living in the new heaven and the new earth; we are citizens of the New Jerusalem.” (Paradise Restored, Horn Lake, MS., Dominion Press, 2007)206). Chilton clearly posited the arrival of the New Jerusalem at the removal of the Old Jerusalem in AD 70.
So, what is the problem you say? Let me express the problem succinctly:
The New Creation of Revelation 21 arrived with the passing of Old Covenant Judaism in AD 70 (Campbell, Seriah, Gentry, DeMar, Chilton, et. Al.– postmillennialism– Look at Gentry’s quote again: “With the shaking and destruction of the old Jerusalem in AD 70, the heavenly (recreated) Jerusalem replaces her” ).
But, the Old Creation passed away at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:11-12).
Therefore, the end of the millennium arrived at the passing of Old Covenant Judaism in AD 70.
Do you see the problem? It is fatal to the postmillennial paradigm that insists that the millennium began in the ministry of Jesus and continues to this day. (It is equally fatal to the claim that the millennium began in AD 70).
Per the postmillennial construct, the Christian age is the millennium and endures until the end of human history. But again, if the New Creation arrived in AD 70, then since the Old Creation was destroyed at the
end of the millennium, ushering in the New Creation, then without a doubt, that means that the end of the millennium is inextricably tied to the first century and the end of the Old Covenant age.
The only way to counter this severe problem is to be able to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the destruction of Satan, the raising of the rest of the dead and the destruction of the Old Heaven and Earth did not, after all, occur at the end of the millennium in 20:7-12. That cannot be proven however, since the destruction of Satan and the raising of the “rest of the dead” are both emphatically posited at the end of the millennium by the text. And, the raising of the rest of the dead at the end of the millennium, occurs at the Throne Judgment when the Old Creation passes.
We would also note this:
The Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:12 is the Throne Judgment of Matthew 25:31f.
But, the Throne Judgment of Matthew 25:31f was to occur in the first century at the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem (Matthew 24:34– This is proven by the fact that Revelation 21 is the time of the Wedding. Matthew 25:31 is the time of the Wedding, but, the time of the Wedding was in AD 70, Matthew 22: 1-10– and Gentry occurs).
Therefore, the end of the millennium Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:12 was to occur in the first century at the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem.
So the problem is indeed very real. But, the next problem which we will present in the next article, is, if possible, even more severe. Stay tuned!!