My friend Daniel Ritchie always writes succinct reviews. He tends to read all the books I have wanted to read in the last few years. In this case, he reviews Kenneth Gentry’s classic: He Shall Have Dominion.
How many times have you ever heard or read a fair representation of what postmillennialism really teaches? Rarely, if ever, I suspect. Postmillennialists are usually dismissed with unscholarly slogans like: “You believe the world is getting better and better” (this is rhetoric, not genuine Christian scholarly analysis). Thus to properly understand postmillennialism, and Reconstructionist/Theonomic postmillennialism in particular, it is necessary to go to the source. And there is no one better qualified than Ken Gentry to consult on optimistic eschatology: if you want the truth, get it from the horses’ mouth.
In this comprehensive volume, Dr. Gentry begins by highlighting the importance of eschatology in Christian theology, analyses pessimistic eschatologies and introduces the reader to postmillennialism (the view that Christ’s kingdom will be victorious in history). In parts two and three, he lays down the theological, heremenutical and exegetical basis for postmillennialism. The chapter (thirteen) on the expansion of the kingdom is especially helpful, proving that evangelical postmillennialism is not to be confused with Islamic jihad, but that Christian dominion is the effect of regeneration as the gospel advances.
Moreover, Dr. Gentry defends a partial-preterist variant of postmillennialism and provides the reader with a useful section explaining how certain passages (Matt. 24:1-34 etc) are to be understood preteristically. Even if you are not convinced by all of his arguments, Dr. Gentry’s work – in this and other books – shows us that partial preterism cannot be lightly dismissed just because the Reformers and Puritans did not hold to it (this is basically the Steelite argument). Furthermore, the section refuting the pragmatic, theological and allegedly Biblical objections to postmillennialism is very closely reasoned – highlighting the fallacious logic and scare tactics of pessimillennialists of various shades. Useful appendices exposing the cultural antinomianism of the Protestant Reformed Church and the heresy of hyper-preterism have also been included.
Interstingly, Dr. Gentry spends relatively little time dealing with Rev. 20 – which is usally regarded as the be-all-and-end-all of the debate over eschatology; this is a correct approach, as the case for optimistic eschatology is based on an analysis of the whole counsel of God, not one passage. However, he comes to the conclusion that the 1000 years began with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD (representing the defeat of the Jewish-Neronic attempt to destroy the church) and ends with a brief period of Satanically inspired rebellion against Christendom (Rev. 20:8-10).
This is a position I came to prior to reading He Shall Have Dominion, I believe it avoids the fallacious exegesis of amillennialism and the postmillennialists like R.J. Rushdoony and others (who try and argue that the 1000 years is the whole New Testament era), while not going to the other extreme of golden-age postmillennialism as held by many of the Puritans (the idea that the 1000 years of Rev. 20:4 represents a ‘golden age’ cannot be reconciled with other Biblical teaching on redemptive history – according to the prophets the ‘golden age’ of the church is the whole New Covenant era Is. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-5).
In conclusion, this is the best work on postmillennialism that has ever been written; the Counsel of Chalcedon said in its review: “If this book were a play it would deserve a standing ovation.” Dr. Gentry is the scholar par-excellence of the Christian Reconstructionists; if Greg Bahnsen was the Elijah of the Theonomy movement, then I am becoming increasingly convinced that Ken Gentry is the Elisha – as the spirit of Bahnsen has fallen upon him with double measure. Any serious critique of Reconstructionist postmillennialism will have to interact with He Shall Have Dominion in order to be worth the paper its written on.