AMILLENNIALISM VERSUS DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

0 Eschatology

As things are getting worse and world is becoming more wicked, the wider the gap is becoming between the believers in Amillennialism and those who believe in Dispensational Pre-millennialism. Let’s have a look on some of the core issues causing these eschatological differences:

ORIGINS OF AMILLENNIALISM AND DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

Amillennialists often claim that Dispensational Pre-millennialism was a “new invention” by John Nelson Darby in 1830. This is a lie. It seems that the historical argument is on the side of premillennialism since people close to the Apostle John held premillennial views, and because premillennialism was the overwhelming view of those in Asia Minor and the church of the second century. As an example, Papias (A.D. 60–130) was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, Asia Minor. He was a contemporary of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. He held on to a chiliastic [premillennial] view.

Amillennialism on the other hand, has its origin with Augustine who, to a large extent, laid the foundations for Roman Catholic eschatology in the fourth century and was later adopted by most of the Protestant Reformers along with many other teachings of Augustine. Prior to Augustine, Amillennialism was associated with the heresies produced by the allegorizing and spiritualizing school of theology at Alexandria which not only opposed Pre-millennialism but subverted any literal exegesis of Scripture whatever. Protestant leaders such as Calvin, Luther, and Melanchthon are properly classed as Amillennial. Although these men made great contributions with regards to the doctrines of salvation, the completely failed on eschatological issues. Sadly, to many they have become idols  and whatever they believed and preached are blindly followed without a willingness to search the Scriptures for themselves.

INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECIES

In Dispensational Pre-millennialism, a literal interpretation of the Bible is applied. The literal interpretation gives each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Allowances are however being made for symbols, figures of speech, and types, of course. It is understood that even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. So, for example, when the Bible speaks of “a thousand years” in Revelation 20, dispensationalists interpret it as a literal period of 1,000 years (the dispensation of the Kingdom), since there is no compelling reason to interpret it otherwise. They believe that the Word of God says what it means and means what it says.

In Amillennialism, an “allegorical” method of interpretation of prophecy is being used. Allegorical interpretation looks for a so-called deeper, spiritual meaning within the text. It becomes easy to read one’s own beliefs into the allegory and then think that they have scriptural support. They are also very inconsistent in their approach. For instance, they believe in the literal creation in Genesis but deny the literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth in the book of Revelation. Also, in general, they agree that all prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, but to those that relate to His second coming, they apply allegory.

VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND OTHER PROPHECIES

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that Revelation is a futuristic prophetic book. They also interpret the prophecies in Matthew 24 and in many other pieces of Scripture as related to the Second coming of Christ. There is no historical evidence that these prophecies have already been all been fully fulfilled – not in 70AD or any other time in history. The Bible tells us to watch for the signs of His coming and we are currently seeing many of these prophecies playing off before our very eyes.

The majority of the Amillennialists, including the Roman Catholic Church, hold to the believe that Revelation is a historic book, merely depicting the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second. Although most of the prophecies in other books of the Bible are spiritualizes by Amillennialists, they often also defend their eschatological view by saying that all prophecies were fulfilled during the first coming of Jesus Christ.

VIEWS OF THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN

Dispensational Pre-millennialists hold to the believe that Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years, as clearly stated six times in Revelation 20. The millennial reign is also being described at great length in various passages in the prophetic books in the Old Testament.  It will be a time unlike any in history and it will also be unlike the conditions in the eternal state described in Revelation 21 and 22.

Amillennialists however do not hold to the believe that Jesus Christ will physically reign on the earth for exactly a 1,000 years. The’”y believe that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection and that He is now reigning at the right hand of the Father over His church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.

VIEWS ON THE BINDING OF SATAN

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Satan will be bound at the second coming, after the seven year tribulation and before the thousand year reign of Christ, as clearly mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3. They believe that he currently “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Although Satan is revealed in Scripture as a created being of great power, wickedness, and cleverness, Amillennialists ignore or minimize his power and activity. Because they believe that we are already in the Millennium, they also believe that He is already bound. They identify the binding of Satan as an act subsequent to the victory of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection.  This interpretation has no basis in the text of Revelation 20:1-3 itself, but that it is superimposed upon the text. No one reading Revelation would possibly arrive at such a conclusion unless determined to make it harmonize with a preconceived idea, namely their view on the 1,000 year reign.

VIEWS ON THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that there will be a tribulation for a period of seven years, divided in to 3 ½ years each, as mainly described in the books of Daniel and Revelation as well as in Matthew 24 and 25.

Most Amillennialists believe that the Tribulation is not a future event, but it intensifies right at the end. Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as fulfilled in the papacy. Some also confuse the fact that Christians have to go through tests, trials and tribulations as part of the process of sanctification, with the seven year tribulation. They tend to forget, or rather ignore what Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

VIEWS ON ISRAEL

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that there is a distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church. They believe that the church age will draw to an end and that God’s focus will return to the Jews during the seven- year tribulation. This is clear throughout prophecy, but especially in Zechariah 12-14. Romans 11 can also not be read in any other way.

Amillennialists believe that God is done with the Jews and that all blessings to Israel have now been given to the church in a spiritual sense. This view is generally being referred to as Replacement theology. As they do not understand that God still needs to honour his promises to Israel, they also do not understand the actual reason why there need to be a rapture, a seven-year tribulation (the “Time of Jacob’s trouble”) and a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (to honour the land covenant).

VIEWS ON THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

The majority of Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe in the doctrine of the rapture. This believe is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, John 14:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Luke 21:36 tells us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” In Revelation 3:10 we read, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” In a mocking way, we are often being called “escapists.” Maybe we are, but one thing is for sure – we understand the coming time of tribulation and the wrath of God that will be poured our on this evil world.

Amillennialists do not believe in the rapture. In fact, there is no place to fit in a rapture in their broader Amillennial eschatological view.

Sadly, most Amillennialists hardly ever reflect any excitement about the Second coming of the Lord. To them it is an event somewhere in the far future. Even worse, many of them are fulfilling the prophecy in 2 Peter 3:3-4  without even realizing, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”