Amillennialism (Greek: a- "no" + millennialism) is the view in Christian eschatology which states that Christ is presently reigning through the Church, and that the "1000 years" of Revelation 20:1-6 is a metaphorical reference to the present church age which will culminate in Christ's return. It stands in contrast to premillennialism, which states that Christ will return prior to a literal 1000 year earthly reign; and postmillennialism, which states that Christ's return will follow a 1000 year golden age ushered in by the church.

Terminology

Although the term amillennialism is widely used, some prefer the term realized millennialism, saying it describes the position more accurately than the former, which emphasizes what they do not believe about the millennium, rather than what they do believe. ^[1]^

Overview

Amillennialism teaches that the thousand year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6 is symbolic of the current church age, rather than a literal future 1000 year reign. It contends that the period described in Revelation 20 was inaugurated (i.e. began) at Christ's resurrection and will continue until His Second Coming. Amillennialism holds that while Christ's reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign. Also taught by amillennialism is that the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3 has already occurred, and means that "he might not deceive the nations any longer" (Revelation 20:3) by preventing the spread of the gospel. ^[2]^

Principles

There are several principles which, while not entirely unique to amillennialism, combine to form the grounding from which this understanding of eschatology springs.

The analogy of faith and biblical theology

The analogy of faith is a Reformation principle for the interpretation of Scripture, which can be expressed as "Scripture interprets Scripture". The fundamental principle of biblical theology is that of progressive revelation, which states that God reveals Himself in increasing measure throughout history, and that His revelation climaxes in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

As a result of these principles, we expect the New Testament to interpret to the Old, all the while showing us God, in Christ, more clearly.

Two-age theology

One of the major contributions of Reformed theology to this area of eschatology, and allied areas, has been the application of the two-age framework. This New Testament paradigm looks at Christian experience in terms of the 'now' and the 'not yet'. Perhaps that most eloquent and well-known statement of this principle is the Apostle Paul's words to the Corinthian church, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12). An example of the way this framework is applied in the New Testament is in the theme of "new creation". Beloved of New Testament writers, this theme is often referred to in terms indicating that it is both a present reality (2 Corinthians 5:17) and a future hope (Romans 8:20-21); the message of the New Testament is that the new creation is something we taste now and will, one day, know fully.

Covenant theology

While the covenant theology in its most developed form is associated with the Reformed tradition, Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism both apply aspects of the covenant theology in their own expressions of eschatology, which are also amillennial. This is most clearly seen in the agreement between the three traditions that the church is, in some sense and by some means, the inheritor of the promises in Scripture — in short, that just as Israel was the people of God in the Old Testament, so the church is the people of God in the New Testament. Such a belief, called supersessionism and denigrated as "replacement theology" by its critics, has been the historic belief of the church.^[3]^

Amillennialist theologians

Notes

  1. Anthony Hoekema, Amillennialism, http://www.the-highway.com/amila_Hoekema.html (accessed March 8, 2010)
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amillennialism (accessed March 8, 2010)
  3. A related charge, that of anti-Semitism, must here be denied. Although it is true that some anti-Semites have attempted to use supersessionism to justify their wickedness, in fact it is precisely the succession of the covenants which shows such attitudes to be sinful.

Resources

  • Hendriksen, W. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation, Baker Book House, 1998. ISBN 0801057922
  • Hoekema, A. A. The Bible and the Future, Eerdmans, 1979. ISBN 0802835163
  • Riddlebarger, K. A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times, Baker Book House, ISBN 080106435X

See also

External links