This is my last post on these various subjects for the time being. I shall conclude with some final observations on Hoekema and his criticism of Postmillennialist interpretation of Revelation 20.
There is little to disagree with in Hoekema’s writings regarding Revelation 20. I say little because Hoekema barely attempts to criticize Postmillennialism. His main critique of Postmillennialism has to do with the fact that modern Postmillenial thinkers such as Norman Shepherd (and I would add Gentry, Demar, and Dr. Greg Bahnsen) have come to adopt a traditionally Amillenial view of Revelation 20. Due to this agreement, Hoekema sees that one cannot establish a postmillennial paradigm from Revelation 20. Fortunately, the Postmillennialist has never solely depended on Revelation 20 to establish postmillenial precedents. The Prophetic literature is replete with images of victory on earth. Hoekema describes portions of Revelation 20 as heavenly in nature, but as Kik has demonstrated, the imagery is almost entirely earthly. The saints do reign with Christ now and will continue to reign until the end of the ages. Augustine’s understanding of the leadership of the church judging the saints as the ones seated on the thrones is fairly plausible, though I would more comfortably side with Kik who states that the saints are the ones reigning this present earth. We are, as Paul states, inheritors of the earth. The world belongs to the saints, not the opposite.
One final disagreement with Hoekema is due to his futuristic understanding of essentially every passage that deals with the triumph of the church on earth. He poses the question: “ Why cannot these passages be references to the New Earth?” The simplest answer is that the gospel of Christ makes promises that are to be fulfilled. They are not merely suggestive in nature. Secondly, to suggest all these passages (Psalm 2, 72, 110) are referring to the New Earth is to deny the clearly earthly language of prophetic literature. It is undeniable that the New Heavens and New Earth provides blessings beyond human imagination, but the prophetic passages about a time of prosperity refer to an earthly prosperity. If the texts wanted to refer to our eternal home it would indicate a sense of completion as in Revelation 22:5 which states that in the eternal home “they will reign with him forever and ever.” Notice that the language of Revelation twenty is limited by a number (1,000 years), which indicates limit. It is inescapable that all of the language used throughout Scriptures has present earthly language attached to it. For instance, in Isaiah, the prophet describes a time of unprecedented health where “infants will no longer live but a few days and man will live to be over a hundred (Isaiah 65:20-21). As Keith Mathison has pointed out, this great age, which will come upon the earth, will be a foretaste of the New Heavens and the New Earth. If Isaiah had in mind the ultimate estate of the saints he would not have used language that indicates time.
Postmillennialism is not a position that is held simply because of one’s joyful disposition towards the future of the world, but because it is untenable to hold to any other position without doing harm to the text. Postmillennialism is cogent, harmonious, and entirely Scriptural in its presentation.