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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (16 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310201438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310201434
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,132,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

Are these the last days? Could Jesus return at any time to establish his thousand-year reign on earth? What is the nature of Christ’s millennial kingdom referred to in the book of Revelation? What must happen before Jesus returns, and what part does the church play?

Three predominant views held by evangelicals seek to answer these and related questions: premillennial, postmillennial, and amillennial. This book gives each view a forum for presentation, critique, and defense. Besides each contributor’s personal perspective, various interpretations of the different positions are discussed in the essays.

Like no other book, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond lets you compare and contrast three important eschatological viewpoints to gain a better understanding of how Christianity’s great hope, the return of Jesus, is understood by the church.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.
Eschatology is easily, often, and much abused. Nevertheless, it is foundationally important to a distinctly biblical world-view. Though we are creatures constrained by time (Job 14:1–6) and space (Acts 17:26), God has set eternity in our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). Consequently, we have an innate interest in the future— which necessarily affects our conduct in the present.
Given these realities, how could the inscripturated disclosure of the future not be important and practical for God’s people? Does not 2 Timothy 3:16–17 teach us that "all Scripture is God-breathed" (hence important) and profitable in preparing us for "every good work" (hence practical)? Eschatology’s considerable task is to explore the whole revelation of the inerrant Word of God in order to discern the divinely ordained, prophetically revealed flow of world history from creation to consummation with a view to issuing "a call to action and obedience in the present."
In this chapter I will present the biblical foundations for and basic contours of that system of eschatology known as postmillennialism. I will begin by defining its basic idea: Postmillennialism expects the proclaiming of the Spirit-blessed gospel of Jesus Christ to win the vast majority of human beings to salvation in the present age. Increasing gospel success will gradually produce a time in history prior to Christ’s return in which faith, righteousness, peace, and prosperity will prevail in the affairs of people and of nations. After an extensive era of such conditions the Lord will return visibly, bodily, and in great glory, ending history with the general resurrection and the great judgment of all humankind. Hence, our system is postmillennial in that the Lord’s glorious return occurs after an era of "millennial" conditions. Thus, the postmillennialist confidently proclaims in a unique way that history is "His story."
Despite the frequent appearance of prophetic statements in the early church fathers, an intriguing phenomenon presents itself to us: No ancient creed affirms a millennial view. Though subsidiary to the Scripture, creeds play an important role in defining Christian orthodoxy by protecting the church from the corruption of belief within and against the assaults of unbelief from without.
Ancient Postmillennialism
The early creedal formulations of Christianity provide only the most rudimentary elements of eschatology. For instance, the Apostles’ Creed simply affirms: "He ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead," and "I believe . . . the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." The eschatology of the Nicene Creed makes only slight advances, asserting that he "ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end."
Both amillennialism and postmillennialism fit comfortably within these and other ancient creedal affirmations. Premillennialism’s fit is a bit more awkward, however, because of its requiring two separate resurrections and two distinct judgments rather than general ones involving all people simultaneously. Consequently, as classic dispensationalist Robert P. Lightner admits: "None of the major creeds of the church include pre-millennialism in their statements." Not one of the millennial views, though, is expressly affirmed by any early creed as the orthodox position. This is not surprising in that, as Erickson explains, "all three millennial positions have been held virtually throughout church history."
This noted, we should expect to find a gradual development of the millennial schemes, rather than a fully functioning system in early Christian history. For example, Walvoord confesses when defending dispensationalism: "It must be conceded that the advanced and detailed theology of pretribulationism is not found in the Fathers, but neither is any other detailed and ‘established’ exposition of premillennialism. The development of most important doctrines took centuries." And although premillennialism finds slightly earlier development (especially in Irenaeus, A.D. 130– 202), theologian Donald G. Bloesch notes: "Postmillennialism was already anticipated in the church father Eusebius of Caesarea" (A.D. 260–340). Schaff traces it back even farther, observing that Origen (A.D. 185–254) "expected that Christianity, by continual growth, would gain the dominion over the world."
Two other prominent church fathers whose historical confidence appears to express a nascent postmillennialism are Athanasius (A.D. 296–372) and Augustine (A.D. 354–430). As Zoba notes, Augustine taught that history "would be marked by the ever-increasing influence of the church in overturning evil in the world before the Lord’s return." This would eventually issue forth in a "future rest of the saints on earth" (Augustine, Sermon 259:2) "when the Church will be purged of all the wicked elements now mixed among its members and Christ will rule peacefully in its midst." This early incipient postmillennialism contains the most basic element of the later developed system: a confident hope in gospel victory in history prior to Christ’s return.
Reformation Postmillennialism
Later, as Bloesch notes, "postmillennialism experienced an upsurge in the middle ages," as illustrated in the writings of Joachim of Fiore (1145–1202) and others. But a more fully developed postmillennialism enjoys its greatest growth and influence in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, especially under Puritan and Reformed influence in England and America. Rodney Peterson writes that "this perspective had undergone changes, particularly since Thomas Brightman (1562– 1607)." Brightman is one of the fathers of Presbyterianism in England. His postmillennial views are set forth in detail in his book A Revelation of the Revelation, which was published posthumously in 1609 and quickly established itself as one of the most widely translated works of the day. In fact, some church historians consider this work the "most important and influential English revision of the Reformed, Augustinian concept of the millennium." Thus, Brightman stands as the modern systematizer (not creator) of postmillennialism.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 April 1999
Format: Paperback
There are a number of books available explaining the differences in the various millennial positions. This book stands with Grenz's "The Millennial Maze" as one of the better volumes.
Bock's concluding essay on the way in which our presuppositions affect our exegesis is outstanding.
The only weakness is the fact that the authors are not allowed to respond to the other authors' criticisms. One Zondervan Counterpoint volume allowed this, and it was very helpful. This format should be incorporated into all of the Counterpoint volumes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Uneven presentation; OK discussion, but not concise 7 Dec 2004
By Robert Burns - Published on
Format: Paperback
In investigating the issue of the millennium, where should you start? Ultimately, I think this book makes the wrong choices in answering this question. While the discussion is interesting at times, I can't help but feel that Darrell Bock's summary essay should have been re-worked and presented at the beginning of the work. Basically, Bock writes that one's hermeneutical approach (the prism by which one interprets Scripture) largely determines what you believe the end times looks like. Bock notes how each passage deals with eschatological texts, and what questions each feels are key to understanding the nature of Jesus' return. If he had placed this at the beginning, I think it would be more helpful to the reader. Perhaps he could have then placed another essay "wrapping things up" at the end.

Kenneth Gentry Jr. contributes the postmillennial perspective, but does a much better job critiquing the positions of the others than advancing his own case. In his own essay, he really needed to a) explain his own hermeneutical approach in a coherent and distinctive fashion, rather than use generalities, and b) take the time to formulate a detailed explanation of how postmillennialism interprets Revelation 20 (the key text). As someone who considers himself sympathetic to postmillennialism's expectation that God's Kingdom is irrestibly advancing even in this current age, I really wanted Gentry to make a solid case. After all, Jonathan Edwards (arguably the greatest American mind ever) was post-mil, so surely it's a reasonable position. Alas.

Robert Strimple presents the amillennial position and does an excellent job presenting his overall hermeneutic and understanding of key passages. Of all the essays, his is probably the best. He boldly tackles Romans 11 to explain how amillennialism understands what is usually read as regarding a future conversion of Israel (although it seems Strimple only represents a portion of amil proponents who feel that Paul is not speaking 'prophetically' here).

Craig Blaising advances the premillennial position, and does a fair job with the exegesis portion, but I agree with the reviewer below who feels that premillennial positions come in basically two varities, and that each should have been allowed to speak for itself individually. Blaising spends too much on time on the history of thought regarding the nature of the eras beyond our own, and not enough time directly discussing the hermeneutics involved in how premillenialists arrive at the premillennial understanding of Revelation 20. In fairness, he is representing both the "George Ladd" premil folks (like me), and the much more strictly literal approach dispensationalist interpreters, so he's got to couch his argument in the shared understanding of the central text.

At any rate, I recommend Stanley Grenz's The Millennial Maze instead of this book. Grenz, although he is an amil guy, is extremely fair. Each position's history and hermeneutic is discussed in concise fashion, and followed with a targeted critique. I'm not finished reading it yet, but I actually thought that in presenting postmillennialism, he made a much better argument than Kenneth Gentry did in this book. In addition, I feel like I understand dispensationalism a WHOLE lot better than I ever did.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Strong on "Post" and "A", Mediocre on "Pre" 9 Jan 2002
By David R. Bess - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have read a few comparison books on eschatology in general and the millennium in particular. This one is the best yet on the millennium. I would have given it five stars, except for the mediocrity of the premillennial presentation.
Gentry, as usual, expresses himself very well and is very convincing, both in his own essay as well as in his responses. Strimple, considering the limitations of this work, does a fine job of covering various Scriptures that address the amillennialist position. The worst essay of the three is penned by Blaising, who takes entirely too many pages to explain the premillennial stance. He gets bogged down in the history of premillennialism, and then is so technical in the actual presentation of his own view that he is very tough to follow. The reader comes away scratching his/her head wondering what in the world did Blaising actually say! Premillennialism, however, is so commonplace that it requires the least explanation of the three positions.
Bock provides a very cordial, conciliatory conclusion, touching upon points that are crucial to formulating one's own view of Revelation 20:1-6. I was rather surprised when he revealed his own position near the end of his essay, for I certainly did not detect it through his earlier remarks.
This book gives a great presentation of the postmillennial and amillennial views. The presentation for premillennialism pales in comparison, but other readers may find Blaising's essay more helpful than I did.
Overall, this work is a good investment for anyone wanting to compare the three basic millennial views.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent summary of Millennial views 20 Dec 1999
By Todd Grotenhuis - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent exploration into the varying millennial views. Each author presents myriads of Biblical and theological evidence in making his case. For those who are uncertain of the basis for differing millennial views, this volume will clear up the questions. The responses that each author presents to his colleagues' views are also very well thought out. The book is somewhat technical and assumes the reader's understanding of some basic theological terms; I found myself needing to take extensive notes on the book to adequately process the information presented. Nonetheless, Bock and company do a marvelously comprehensive job of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the differing positions, allowing the reader to make a fully informed decision him- or herself.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Three Views Debated Sensibly 3 July 2000
By "kerry195" - Published on
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book almost immediately after it came in the store. I found it both enlightening and very educational, as I learned more about the pressupositional mindset that underlies the hermeutical methodology that all three viewpoints uses in approaching scripture.
Gentry - His presentation is very well done- I've read his works before. However, his rebuttal of the premill position was very poor in quality (all he did was restate his previous arguments...which are really only impressive to postmill and amill folks).
Strimple - spends most of his time attacking premillennialism, sadly. He does, however, present an accurate case for amillennialism. In fact, he confuses premillennialism and dispensationalism, treating them as synonyms. His rebuttals to the other positions aren't really too impressive and he and Gentry pretty much did the same thing (repeat their earlier arguments instead of really interacting with Blaising's presentation).
Blaising - does a wonderful job of exegetically presenting his case for premillennialism. Blaising's response to amillennialism and postmillennialism is pretty good.
Bock's essay - Bock's essay summed up the whole book well. This book won't really 'convince' anyone of either view if you already come to it holding certain viewpoints about what is 'proper' and 'fitting' in our understanding and application hermenutics to the text.
Overall- I'd recommend this book. I find it interesting that myself (I'm premill dispensational) and another reader (amill) both read the book and came to two different conclusions about who 'won' the debate.
I'm thinking of changing my view to pan-millennialist---- it'll all 'pan out' in the end *grin* I recommend the book to anyone who wants to take a good look at the differing millennial views. The one thing I do regret not seeing in the book is a presentation of the historic premill view, since it does differ from the dispensational (progressive or classic or revised) view.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Counterpoint Series 15 Nov 2004
By James Spurneaugh - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm going to apply this commentary for the entire Counterpoint Series published by Zondervan Publishing Company. My compliments to that company for creating this series. I initially purchased "Four Views on the Book of Revelation" but soon realized it was only one in a series. I got so much out of that volume, that I decided to purchase the entire set to study and keep for reference. My spiritual growth has been remarkable as a result. Seminary students and professionals would probably enjoy this series, which seems geared for them. But this series is also excellent for those college-educated laypeople who feel inclined to enhance their understanding of Christian theology. That is, with one caveat: Buy a decent theological dictionary to refer to at first. It probably won't get used much after about the third book you choose to read, but initially you will be need it to be confident of some of the terms used among advanced theologians. Then, the Counterpoint series will give you a full understanding of many different concepts and concerns of the Christian faith which have been applicable from early on until the present. I've learned a lot, and the only way I think I could do better is if I were enrolled in Seminary. A list of all the titles I am aware of from this series is:

Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?

Five Views on Law and Gospel

Five Views on Sanctification

Four Views on Hell

Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World

Four Views on the Book of Revelation

Three Views on Creation and Evolution

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond

Three Views on the Rapture

Two Views on Women in Ministry
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