Friday, 26 November 2010

Eschatology - so...which view is the right one?

Guest blogger Mick Taylor continues his series on ‘the Last Days’

Biblically, I would argue that the Post-millennialism and Dispensationalism should be rejected. Post-millennialism, while attractive, ignores too much biblical material and minimises the on-going battle with evil. Dispensationalism cannot be accused of ignoring scripture but it does handle it in a peculiar way. Particularly it ignores how the apostles consistently saw Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel being fulfilled in Christ and the NT Church.

Also, to make the system work, many things are divided which more naturally fit together. For instance, in the dispensational view there will be multiple judgements in the future. There will be the judgement of believers’ works at the rapture, then a judgement of Gentiles before the millennium, a separate judgement of Israel and judgement of the wicked at the end of the millennium. Similarly there are multiple resurrections at the rapture, the beginning and end of the millennium. It’s as though pieces of jigsaw have been torn into segments and forced to fit in different places in the puzzle.

This leaves Classic pre-millennialism and a-millennialism as schemes which do the most justice to the biblical material. Both have strengths and weaknesses and areas of uncertainty that probably won’t be resolved before the great day of Christ’s return. On balance I find a-millennialism makes the best sense and, for me, handles the material in Revelation as a whole and the key verses in chapter 20 in a way that is sensitive to the nature of apocalyptic literature.

One development in a-millennial thinking that has recently been evident is a non-triumphalistic yet optimistic and positive view of the church and its mission. While agreeing that the battle with evil will continue and that at the end we can expect this to reach an unprecedented level, alongside this there will be an equally evident increase in the vibrancy and purity of the Church. The choice for the watching world will be even more clearly pronounced and the Church will be victoriously defiant as it waits for the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We are called to build such a church, for the glory of God and the honour of Christ. This modification is significant and surely right. We should look forward to a glorious Church but it will always be in conflict with the forces of darkness until Jesus returns.

To be concluded…