The Difference Between Premillennialism and Postmillennialism

Obadiah

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Hopefully we can get some conversation going on this topic.

1. The Premillennial view was first on the scene

Pointing out the early roots of premillennialism under a section entitled “History of the Premillennial View,” Norman Geisler writes the following:

The extrabiblical roots of premillennialism go back to the first century. “Among earlier writers the belief was held by the authors of the Epistle of Barnabas [4, 15], the Shepherd, the Second Epistle of Clement, by Paptas, Justin, and by some of the Ebionites, and Cerinthus.” There are no references to the millennial belief in the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Tatian, Athenagoras, or Theophilus. But even Bethune-Baker admits that “we are not justified in arguing from their silence that they did not hold it.” The premillennial view was also shared by Irenaeus, Melito, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Lactantius.

2. Then comes the Postmillennialism View

“Postmillennialism is actually a fairly recent system, having been formulated after the Protestant Reformation.” For several decades prior to World Wars I and II, many enjoyed a period of unprecedented optimism. Due to sharp upward trends in scientific advancements, standard of living, etc., postmillennialism became increasingly popular. The optimism, of course, declined rapidly with the advents of the World Wars.

As the term implies, postmillennialists believe that Christ will return at the end of the millennium (which is not necessarily taken to mean a literal thousand-year period). Christ’s return is expected as the grand climax of the perceived moral and spiritual advancements purported to be occurring in this present age; these positive developments are seen as issuing-in the millennial age.

Postmillennialism may be defined as “that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the ‘Millennium.’ ”

In other words, though not adopting the doctrine of universalism, postmillennialists are optimistic about the moral direction of the inhabitants of the world; that is, they adhere to the idea that the world is becoming a better place with the passing of time.
P. S. Karleen describes the postmillennial view as follows:

The postmillennialist holds that there will be an earthly kingdom, but without the visible presence of Christ. This view sees Scripture as teaching that Christ will return to earth after the kingdom has been inaugurated by human beings and has run its course. This kingdom is to be equated roughly with some period of blessing in the present age between the two advents of Christ.


Kerry Trahan, A Complete Guide to Understanding the Dispensationalism Controversy
 
Hopefully we can get some conversation going on this topic.

1. The Premillennial view was first on the scene

Pointing out the early roots of premillennialism under a section entitled “History of the Premillennial View,” Norman Geisler writes the following:

The extrabiblical roots of premillennialism go back to the first century. “Among earlier writers the belief was held by the authors of the Epistle of Barnabas [4, 15], the Shepherd, the Second Epistle of Clement, by Paptas, Justin, and by some of the Ebionites, and Cerinthus.” There are no references to the millennial belief in the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Tatian, Athenagoras, or Theophilus. But even Bethune-Baker admits that “we are not justified in arguing from their silence that they did not hold it.” The premillennial view was also shared by Irenaeus, Melito, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Lactantius.

2. Then comes the Postmillennialism View

“Postmillennialism is actually a fairly recent system, having been formulated after the Protestant Reformation.” For several decades prior to World Wars I and II, many enjoyed a period of unprecedented optimism. Due to sharp upward trends in scientific advancements, standard of living, etc., postmillennialism became increasingly popular. The optimism, of course, declined rapidly with the advents of the World Wars.

As the term implies, postmillennialists believe that Christ will return at the end of the millennium (which is not necessarily taken to mean a literal thousand-year period). Christ’s return is expected as the grand climax of the perceived moral and spiritual advancements purported to be occurring in this present age; these positive developments are seen as issuing-in the millennial age.

Postmillennialism may be defined as “that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the ‘Millennium.’ ”

In other words, though not adopting the doctrine of universalism, postmillennialists are optimistic about the moral direction of the inhabitants of the world; that is, they adhere to the idea that the world is becoming a better place with the passing of time.
P. S. Karleen describes the postmillennial view as follows:

The postmillennialist holds that there will be an earthly kingdom, but without the visible presence of Christ. This view sees Scripture as teaching that Christ will return to earth after the kingdom has been inaugurated by human beings and has run its course. This kingdom is to be equated roughly with some period of blessing in the present age between the two advents of Christ.


Kerry Trahan, A Complete Guide to Understanding the Dispensationalism Controversy
For the record historic Premillennialism was first, but it was not dispensational Premillennialism

Christ is coming again. Since the first century, Christians have agreed that Christ will return. But since that time there have also been many disagreements. How will Christ return? When will he return? What sort of kingdom will he establish? What is the meaning of the millennium? These questions persist today. Four major views on the millennium have had both a long history and a host of Christian adherents. In this book Robert G. Clouse brings together proponents of each view: George Eldon Ladd on historic premillenniallism, Herman A. Hoyt on dispensational premillennialism, Loraine Boettner on post-millennialism and Anthony A. Hoekema on amillennialism. After each view is presented, proponents of the three competing views respond from their own perspectives. Here you'll encounter a lively and productive debate among respected Christian scholars that will help you gain clearer and deeper understanding of the different ways the church approaches the meaning of the millennium. - Publisher
 
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