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Why the Early Church Finally Rejected Premillennialism

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By Charles E. Hill

Modern Reformation, Jan/Feb 1996, p. 16

Chiliasm is the ancient name for what today is known as premillennialism, the belief that when Jesus Christ returns he will not execute the last judgment at once, but will first set up on earth a temporary kingdom, where resurrected saints will rule with him over non-resurrected subjects for a thousand years of peace and righteousness.1 To say that the Church “rejected chiliasm” may sound bizarre today, when premillennialism is the best known eschatology in Evangelicalism. Having attached itself to funda-mentalism, chiliasm in its dispensationalist form has been vigorously preached in pulpits, taught in Bible colleges and seminaries, and successfully promoted to the masses through study Bibles, books, pamphlets, charts, and a host of radio and television ministries. To many Christians today, premillennialism is the very mark of Christian orthodoxy. But there was a period of well over a “millennium” (over half of the Church’s history), from at least the early fifth century until the sixteenth, when chiliasm was dormant and practically non-existent. Even through the Reformation and much of the post-Refor-mation period, advocates of chiliasm were usually found among fringe groups like the Münsterites. The Augsburg Confession went out of its way to condemn chiliasm (Art. XVII, “Of Christ’s Return to Judgment”), and John Calvin criticized “the chiliasts, who limited the reign of Christ to a thousand years” (Institutes 3.25.5). It was not until the nineteenth century that chiliasm made a respectable comeback, as a favorite doctrine of Christian teachers who were promoting revival in the face of the deadening effects of encroaching liberalism.

But how are we to view the Church’s earliest period up until the first decisive rejection of chiliasm in the Church? Continue reading

Eschatology by Ethos: Why the “Optimism” vs. “Pessimism” Paradigm Doesn’t Work

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Why the “Optimism” vs. “Pessimism” Paradigm Doesn’t Work

Kim Riddlebarger

Anyone familiar with the in-house feud between Reformed postmillenarians and Reformed amillenarians knows that the debate between these two positions is often framed in terms of “optimistic” postmillenarians vs. “pessimistic” amillenarians. Despite the widespread use and apparent utility of these labels, I remain unconvinced that one can formulate a proper and biblical eschatology merely by identifying a position’s distinctive ethos and then choosing the most “optimistic” of the various options.

To avoid being labeled an “eschatological pessimist”—a negative label that postmillenarians have successfully pinned on dispensationalists—a number of Reformed amillenarians self-consciously identify themselves as “optimistic” amillenarians. In making this identification, the optimistic amillenarian attempts to co-opt the attractive rhetoric of cultural progress and transformation used by postmillenarians, while at the same time avoiding the serious exegetical problem associated with postmillennialism—a rather embarrassing shortage of biblical passages in the New Testament that teach such a view.

While I am “optimistic” about the kingdom of God and the progress it will make during the interadvental age (and would likely qualify to be an “optimistic” amillenarian), I’m not so sure an unqualified affirmation of “optimism” is the best way for Reformed amillenarians to respond to those who determine the soundness of one’s eschatological position using the optimism/pessimism paradigm. Here’s why.

No Christian who truly believes that the resurrection of Jesus Christ inaugurates the new creation and guarantees the final victory over Satan and his kingdom at the end of the age wants to be identified as a “pessimist.” No doubt, the New Testament is crystal clear about who wins in the end. God will save his elect, usher in the age to come, consummate his kingdom, raise the dead, judge the world, and make all things new. These truths are certainly reason enough to be optimistic about the eventual outcome of the present course of world history, especially when one considers what Jesus Christ did to secure our redemption from sin’s power and consequence. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ removes the curse and defeats our greatest enemy, which is death. No small thing and a very good reason to be optimistic. Continue reading

His Number is 666

“His Number is 666”
By Kim Riddlebarger ~ Sermons on the Book of Revelation # 20
Texts: Revelation 13:11-18; Daniel 8:15-26

There is no subject–with the possible exception of the unpardonable sin–which has caused as much consternation for the people of God as has the so-called “mark of the beast.” John pointedly warns his hearers against taking such a mark on the back of the hand or the forehead. He also tells us that anyone who takes such a mark swears allegiance to the beast. This has given Christians throughout the ages a healthy suspicion of any government which persecutes the church or hinders the preaching of the gospel. It has lead to a number of questions in our own day about advancing technology and increasing government control over many areas of our personal lives. Such a warning from an apostle creates a climate in which sensational predictions and warnings about political events and technology are the norm. So we must do our best to bring clarity to this most difficult and controversial of subjects.

In past sermons, we have been working our way through Revelation 12-14 in which John introduces his reader to seven of the main characters in the great drama of redemption. Like the seal judgments of Revelation 6-8:1 and the trumpet judgments of Revelation 8-11, the vision recorded in Revelation 12-14 describes the entire period of time between the first advent and the second coming of Christ from a distinct theological perspective (or “camera” angle as we have been calling it). In this section of Revelation, John gives us a vivid description of the struggle between the people of God and our great adversary, Satan, who has been cast down from heaven to earth where he now seeks to wage war upon the church of Jesus Christ through the agency of his henchmen, the beast and the false prophet. Continue reading

Rumours of Monsters and numbers that go bump in your energy drink

I recently read the book Man of Sin, The: Uncovering the Truth about the Antichrist by Kim Riddlebarger. Below are highlights of the book I would like to share with you. I enthusiastically recommend this book, as it gives the eschatological perspective from the Amillennial side and it sure makes a lot of sense of an intricate subject. It has put many things into perspective for me and provides the answers to many questions.

Since I began using the internet as a born again believer, a sinner saved by grace, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), I have read (and not understood!) so many different view points on the end time Eschatology.  There is so much deception out there and we really need to discern and pray, to be able to sort the biblical truth from the lie. The reading of Riddlebarger’s book,  has been instrumental in my better understanding the end times.

A video clip floating around in cyber space is also not True !! Do not believe this man in the video clip ! Continue reading