Postmillennialism: A Victorious Eschatology, Part VII

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

In our first study we argued that church history provides no definitive position on eschatology. Even to this day, though Dispensational Premillennialism is the predominant position, the evangelical world outside traditionally Baptistic church, such as Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran and Reformed are either Amillennial or Postmillennial. So though premillennial dispensationalists tend to get most of the media attention, this does not mean that Amils and Postmils have been left behind. We are still alive and well on planet earth!

On our second lesson, we went through the Biblical Case for Postmillennial eschatology. We saw that eschatology ought to come primarily from Genesis as opposed to starting in Revelation. In fact, if you do not understand the purpose of creation, you will not understand the purpose of redemptive history. Creation tells us that God made us vice-regents, representatives of His on earth to have dominion over all things. Further, He created this a good world, which was only marred due to man’s sin. Nevertheless, his purpose is to restore creation through the Second Adam and bring victory to His Church.

We will conclude this study by offering some classical objections to postmillennial eschatology and make some observations on how postmillennial eschatology calls us to be as Christian worshipers.

What are the objections to Postmillennial Eschatology?

a)      Objection: Postmillennialism incites violence because they believe they can coerce people to believe the gospel.

Answer: Postmillennialists have never claimed in any of their writings that violence is the means to achieve an end. In fact, we believe that the only One who can righteously bring judgment is God Himself and not man. Postmillennialists believe very strongly that only the gospel can change hearts. We can never change hearts through violence, but only through the gospel proclamation. Man is changed by the grace of God working through the means of grace. Greg Bahnsen summarized the Postmillennial Vision in this manner: “Postmillennialists believe that the victorious advance of Christ’s kingdom comes about by means of the preaching of the gospel and the powerful work of God’s Spirit in regeneration and sanctification. That is, it is the pursuit of the Great Commission, rather than the use of violence or military confrontation, which peacefully secures the widespread conversion of the world and brings it to obey all that Jesus has commanded (cf. Matthew 28:18-20).”[1] In fact, generally, Postmillennialists are very skeptical about the legitimacy of American wars.[2] This charge is simply a false charge.

b)      Objection: Postmillennialists overlook the dimension of suffering and weakness in the Christian life. They forget the theology of the cross.

Answer:  This is a traditional Lutheran Amillennial critique. It is a very unfair criticism. It is almost as if Amillennial writers choose not to read our literature. Postmillennialists never downplay the “the dimension of sorrow and suffering in the life of the Christian or in the History of the Church.”[3] Can you imagine the postmillennial Scottish Covenanters denying the element of suffering when their own brothers were brutally massacred? In the 17th century the Covenanters were shot at the spot for not giving allegiance to the King. This period came to be known as “the Killing Time.” Even though, the Covenanters who are still very much alive today in small Presbyterian denominations are committed to the victory of the gospel, they do not minimize the harsh history suffered by their forefathers.

The great postmillennialist Charles Hodge wrote about II Corinthians 4: “”We constantly illustrate in our person the sufferings of Christ… [being] neglected, defamed, despised, maltreated….”[4] Greg Bahnsen summarizes beautifully the postmillennial view of suffering: “Postmillennialists trust the word of

the Lord that, even when contrary to outward appearances, our sufferings in this world eventuate in a greater manifestation of Christ’s saving rule on earth, not a diminished one. We suffer to be sure, but it is a suffering-unto-victory, rather than a suffering-unto-defeat”[5]

c)       Objection: Postmillennialism entangles church and state

Some object that if the kingdoms have been given to Christ, then this violates the separation of Church and State. First, we have to define what we mean by separation of Church and State. If by that you mean that the Church does not have the right to speak against the immoral acts of the government, then I’d say that separation does not exist in the Bible. But if you mean that the Church has different responsibilities than the state, then I agree.

This is an important point in our modern day. Postmillennialists do not believe that the US Constitution is God’s law. Further, Postmillennialists do not believe that America is the New Israel. [6] We must be very careful in confusing America’s agenda with the kingdom’s agenda. We believe that though both church and state are under the rule of Jesus, “they are responsible to fulfill their God-given duties…in other words, “the church never has the right to wield the sword, and the state never has the right to administer the sacraments.”[7]

d)      Finally, a Biblical Objection. Postmillennialists say that the number of saved will be much greater than the number of lost. How does this idea harmonize with Jesus’ teaching that the gate is narrow…and few are those who find it (Matthew 7:13-14; see Mat. 22 and Luke 13). Does this contradict the Postmillennial hope that the Great Commission will be accomplished?

Answer:  This is a very fine objection, which deserves a fine answer. We begin to answer this question then we consider that the gospel accounts portray the Jews as strong opponents of Jesus. The religious leaders despise Jesus and they despise him even more when He declares to be the Messiah, the One sent from God who pre-dates Abraham.  Jesus’ observation about the gate being narrow has more to do with the exclusivity of his message. In other words, to say that the gate is narrow is to say that there is only one Messiah. It does not mean that only few are going to make it to heaven in the space of all redemptive history.

The second answer to that objection is to note that we must keep the gospel in its original context. Jesus makes statements that only apply to a first century audience, not to the twenty first century. For instance, when Jesus addresses the Pharisees and condemns them for killing the prophets, he is referring to the Old Testament prophets. Jesus is addressing a particular generation. We have to be careful not to apply the language Jesus meant for one group and apply it to a different group. With that in mind, when Jesus speaks of the narrow gate and how few are those who find it, Jesus is referring to the Jews that lived in the first century. In fact, even throughout the course of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews “become more and more hardened in their rejection of Jesus until they finally crucified their Messiah.”[8]

So this text is not addressing the question of how many people will ultimately accept or reject Messiah.

All these passages and others like it, have a very particular time-frame in mind. In order to refute Postmillennialism, critics have to take them out of their historical context and misapply them. In Revelation chapter 5, John says that Christ by His blood ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. This does not prove the Postmillennial case, but at least it gives us a picture of the redemption of Christ through the gospel. That it will be broad and cosmic in scope.


[1] Cross-Examinations: Objections to Postmillennialism answered by Greg Bahnsen, 1992.

[2] Greg Bahnsen opposed the Gulf War. Also, James Jordan, Gary North, Douglas Wilson, Peter Leithart and others.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Quoted in Bahnsen’s article.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dr. D. James Kennedy may have been the closest to think in these terms.

[7] Keith Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, pg. 203.

[8] Mathison, p. 209.

In our first study we argued that church history provides no definitive position on eschatology. Even to this day, though Dispensational Premillennialism is the predominant position, the evangelical world outside traditionally Baptistic church, such as Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran and Reformed are either Amillennial or Postmillennial. So though premillennial dispensationalists tend to get most of the media attention, this does not mean that Amils and Postmils have been left behind. We are still alive and well on planet earth!

On our second lesson, we went through the Biblical Case for Postmillennial eschatology. We saw that eschatology ought to come primarily from Genesis as opposed to starting in Revelation. In fact, if you do not understand the purpose of creation, you will not understand the purpose of redemptive history. Creation tells us that God made us vice-regents, representatives of His on earth to have dominion over all things. Further, He created this a good world, which was only marred due to man’s sin. Nevertheless, his purpose is to restore creation through the Second Adam and bring victory to His Church.

We will conclude this study by offering some classical objections to postmillennial eschatology and make some observations on how postmillennial eschatology calls us to be as Christian worshippers.

What are the objections to Postmillennial Eschatology?

a) Objection: Postmillennialism incites violence because they believe they can coerce people to believe the gospel.

Answer: Postmillennialists have never claimed in any of their writings that violence is the means to achieve an end. In fact, we believe that the only One who can righteously bring judgment is God Himself and not man. Postmillennialists believe very strongly that only the gospel can change hearts. We can never change hearts through violence, but only through the gospel proclamation. Man is changed by the grace of God working through the means of grace. Greg Bahnsen summarized the Postmillennial Vision in this manner: “Postmillennialists believe that the victorious advance of Christ’s kingdom comes about by means of the preaching of the gospel and the powerful work of God’s Spirit in regeneration and sanctification. That is, it is the pursuit of the Great Commission, rather than the use of violence or military confrontation, which peacefully secures the widespread conversion of the world and brings it to obey all that Jesus has commanded (cf. Matthew 28:18-20).”[1] In fact, generally, Postmillennialists are very skeptical about the legitimacy of American wars.[2] This charge is simply a false charge.

b) Objection: Postmillennialists overlook the dimension of suffering and weakness in the Christian life. They forget the theology of the cross.

Answer: This is a traditional Lutheran Amillennial critique. It is a very unfair criticism. It is almost as if Amillennial writers choose not to read our literature. Postmillennialists never downplay the “the dimension of sorrow and suffering in the life of the Christian or in the History of the Church.”[3] Can you imagine the postmillennial Scottish Covenanters denying the element of suffering when their own brothers were brutally massacred? In the 17th century the Covenanters were shot at the spot for not giving allegiance to the King. This period came to be known as “the Killing Time.” Even though, the Covenanters who are still very much alive today in small Presbyterian denominations are committed to the victory of the gospel, they do not minimize the harsh history suffered by their forefathers.

The great postmillennialist Charles Hodge wrote about II Corinthians 4: “”We constantly illustrate in our person the sufferings of Christ… [being] neglected, defamed, despised, maltreated….”[4] Greg Bahnsen summarizes beautifully the postmillennial view of suffering: “Postmillennialists trust the word of

the Lord that, even when contrary to outward appearances, our sufferings in this world eventuate in a greater manifestation of Christ’s saving rule on earth, not a diminished one. We suffer to be sure, but it is a suffering-unto-victory, rather than a suffering-unto-defeat”[5]

c) Objection: Postmillennialism entangles church and state.

Some object that if the kingdoms have been given to Christ, then this violates the separation of Church and State. First, we have to define what we mean by separation of Church and State. If by that you mean that the Church does not have the right to speak against the immoral acts of the government, then I’d say that separation does not exist in the Bible. But if you mean that the Church has different responsibilities than the state, then I agree.

This is an important point in our modern day. Postmillennialists do not believe that the US Constitution is God’s law. Further, Postmillennialists do not believe that America is the New Israel. [6] We must be very careful in confusing America’s agenda with the kingdom’s agenda. We believe that though both church and state are under the rule of Jesus, “they are responsible to fulfill their God-given duties…in other words, “the church never has the right to wield the sword, and the state never has the right to administer the sacraments.”[7]

d) Finally, a Biblical Objection. Postmillennialists say that the number of saved will be much greater than the number of lost. How does this idea harmonize with Jesus’ teaching that the gate is narrow…and few are those who find it (Matthew 7:13-14; see Mat. 22 and Luke 13). Does this contradict the Postmillennial hope that the Great Commission will be accomplished?

Answer: This is a very fine objection, which deserves a fine answer. We begin to answer this question then we consider that the gospel accounts portray the Jews as strong opponents of Jesus. The religious leaders despise Jesus and they despise him even more when He declares to be the Messiah, the One sent from God who pre-dates Abraham. Jesus’ observation about the gate being narrow has more to do with the exclusivity of his message. In other words, to say that the gate is narrow is to say that there is only one Messiah. It does not mean that only few are going to make it to heaven in the space of all redemptive history.

The second answer to that objection is to note that we must keep the gospel in its original context. Jesus makes statements that only apply to a first century audience, not to the twenty first century. For instance, when Jesus addresses the Pharisees and condemns them for killing the prophets, he is referring to the Old Testament prophets. Jesus is addressing a particular generation. We have to be careful not to apply the language Jesus meant for one group and apply it to a different group. With that in mind, when Jesus speaks of the narrow gate and how few are those who find it, Jesus is referring to the Jews that lived in the first century. In fact, even throughout the course of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews “become more and more hardened in their rejection of Jesus until they finally crucified their Messiah.”[8]

So this text is not addressing the question of how many people will ultimately accept or reject Messiah.

All these passages and others like it, have a very particular time-frame in mind. In order to refute Postmillennialism, critics have to take them out of their historical context and misapply them. In Revelation chapter 5, John says that Christ by His blood ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation. This does not prove the Postmillennial case, but at least it gives us a picture of the redemption of Christ through the gospel. That it will be broad and cosmic in scope.


[1] Cross-Examinations: Objections to Postmillennialism answered by Greg Bahnsen, 1992.

[2] Greg Bahnsen opposed the Gulf War. Also, James Jordan, Gary North, Douglas Wilson, Peter Leithart and others.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Quoted in Bahnsen’s article.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dr. D. James Kennedy may have been the closest to think in these terms.

[7] Keith Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, pg. 203.

[8] Mathison, p. 209.

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
This entry was posted in Eschatology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Postmillennialism: A Victorious Eschatology, Part VII

  1. Postmil site; please visit us.

    TheAmericanView.com

  2. Uri Brito says:

    Hey John, we had lunch together some years ago at the Worldview Super Conference and we have talked on the phone twice.
    Visit us at blogtalkradio.com/trinitytalk

  3. Pingback: Postmillennialism: A Victorious Eschatology, Terminus « Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

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