Eschatology: My Perspective by Matthew Svoboda

Amillenials aren't fans of charts

This should be a pretty fun and interesting series. I’ve studied Eschatology quote extensively over the last few years. I have read 3 full commentaries on the book of Revelation from 3 different perspectives, I have read countless books and articles, and I have listened to over 30 hours of lectures. On top of that I did an 8 week series for my small group in which I merely did an exegesis of what I feel are 8 of the more important passages on this issue. I say all of that to tell you, I am no expert. I have studied hard, given myself a ton of headaches, and have gained a lot of joy out of my time of studying Eschatology.

While some of you loonies think Eschatology is in the holy triumphant of doctrines along with the Trinity and Justification by Faith Alone, most of us realize this is an issue that we can disagree and still have the deepest forms of Christian intimacy with one another. Therefore, I am happy to interact with all of you on this post, but as soon as you start acting like a 15 year old brat I will simply ignore you, whether or not you are making good points. I am thankful to Aaron for asking me to write a post for his blog… He is a friend of mine so let’s make this as edifying and enjoyable for all of us as possible!

This is a topic that some spend way too much time on and in which others don’t devote enough time thinking, “we’ll never figure it out until Jesus comes back anyway.” You “Panmillennials” need to man up and engage Scripture on this issue! God had it written in his word for a reason. Study it until you become convinced in your own mind what it teaches.

I grew up Dispensational… Not by conviction, but by default. I thought every Christian believed what the great Tim LaHaye taught us. He was a legend in my Southern Baptist Church. Heck, he is a legend in 90% of the United States. When I moved to the Midwest I was hoping he wasn’t as popular he as he is in the South, well, he is. When I went to Bible College (Boyce), I was sitting in Theology III and we arrived at Eschatology. I had never studied it much, but I did know what Scripture taught in regards to the “key events” of the End Times. My professor started to summarize the major views- he then said a word that forever changed my life (yes, I’m being a little dramatic, but it did change how I view the Scriptures and relate to the world around me)—Amillennialism. When he described it with a preface of “not many people believe this anymore” I was a little taken back, but I soon realize he merely meant not many Baptists believe this anymore.

Too show you all of my cards up front I do want to tell you that I believe the “millennium” is going on now as Jesus is reigning with the saints who are in heaven and his kingdom will have no end. I am a modified Amillennial. I don’t hold to covenant theology, I do believe in a future anti-Christ, a future escalated tribulation (the tribulation has been going since the beginning of the church age, but it will get worse at the very end), and I believe that Satan is bound from deceiving the nations, etc…

Amillennial is the best word to describe my view although I have a few differences with your “typical Amillennial” (which is in and of itself hard to nail down).

There are several things that attracted me to Amillennialism and I am going to share some of them with you.

1) The historical evidence seems to indicate that this was the most dominant view amongst the early church fathers. In the beginning there wasn’t a distinction made between Postmillennialism and Amillennialism. Yet, the evidence is pretty strong that the view in which the Millennium is before the return of Christ was the majority.

2) It is simple. The simplicity of Amillennialism was very attractive to me and it still very much it. We Amills don’t need to spend tons of money on ridiculous charts. We just have to buy a Bible and then we can clearly explain our position. :) More seriously, Amillennialism is a very clear cut timeline. Maybe I am simple minded, but this simple fact helped attract me to Amillennialism. Part of this simplicity is due to the Amill understanding of “this age, and the age to come.” We don’t have another 1,000 year time period in which we have trouble figuring out where things go. I will comment more on “this age and the age to come” later on, probably in the second post.

3) Hermeneutics. Amillennialism functions with a hermeneutic that appropriately takes the different genres in Revelation into account and deals rightly with the literal/symbolic tension. Some Premillennials do this as well, but Dispensationals usually fail badly in this area. With a gospel-centered hermeneutic, this Amillennial, is sure to emphasize Jesus in every aspect of Eschatology, not Israel, or the church.

4) Biblical Theology. IMHO, Amillennialism has the best understanding of the End Times from a biblical theology perspective. What I mean by that is that I believe Amillennialism does the most justice to the most texts. It makes better sense to me when looking at the entire historical-redemption narrative of Scripture. Every view has “tough verses,” but I believe Amillennialism answers their tough verses best and has fewer of them and every other view.

This post is a mere primer. My next post is going to be titled “Problems with Premillennialism.” It should get interesting, maybe a little heated, but hopefully grace filled. I wrote this post to help you all understand where I am coming. I listed those 4 things above because some of my arguments against Premillennialism are from those 4 things, but I will also address certain passages and texts.

For now, I want to open up this comment thread for any questions regarding Eschatology. In the next comment thread I want the discussion to stick to the specific points I make with the problems of Premillennialism. So, if you would like to discuss some hermeneutical issues, ask me anything about “my Amillennialism,” or anything else in regards to studying Eschatology this thread is for that!

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  • http://www.postmoderneschatology.com chad

    Great introduction. I too have been accused of studying it all a bit much. It is nice to see a clear cut presentation of the Amillennial position that doesn’t get to heady, or just jump the ship. I will be keeping up with the series.

    • http://sbcvoices.com Matt Svoboda

      Chad,

      If Aaron will let me maybe I will do a 3 post series… My next post could be a more detailed, but not to heady argument for why I believe the Bible teaches Amillennialism and then my third post could be “problems with premillennialism.”

      Aaron, what say you? Chad, would you be interested in that?

      • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

        Matt, I was actually going to ask if you’d want to add a third post :) Go for it!

        You could also do one on the problems of postmillenialism if you’re up for it.

        • http://sbcvoices.com Matt Svoboda

          Aaron,

          Here is the thing about Postmillennialism- I could the whole, “The world becoming christianized??? ROFL!” But, after listening to Douglas Wilson and doing some more research I have realized that those who hold to a postmill belief is not the same postmill that we all have stereotypes about. It is a complex, well-thought out system that may need to be taken more serious than we give credit. Douglas Wilson is a very smart man and I cant write a post critiquing it until I myself have a better grasp on the “postmillennialism that we see today.”

          The more I read the more I realize that we cant write off postmillennialism with the same old stereotypes of the past. Not that I think it is true, I don’t, but it has more credibility than i once thought. As of now I don’t feel I have a good enough grasp of todays postmill position to interact with it in the appropriate manner. Once I study it a little more I will be sure to let you know!

          Thanks for letting me do two more posts here though!

          • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

            No worries – looking forward to the other two!