and Rapture Positions
study of eschatology must at some point come to grips with two major
issues that are frequently debated, studied, and documented.
Millennium and the Rapture are terms
that are pivotal to one's understanding of God's plans for the future,
for the nation of Israel, and for the Church.
positions have evolved in regards to these two issues. Differing
definitions of interpretation, context, word meanings, timing, etc.
have forced these views into several camps.
are overviews that give an introduction to what these views hold
to and from when and where they originated.
view is usually traced back to Augustine (354-430 AD); however,
Origen (185-254 AD) from Alexandria, Egypt, who was greatly influenced
by Greek philosophy, taught that the kingdom was not physical but
spiritual. It is interesting to note that all the other early church
fathers were premillennial. A basic teaching of amillennialism is
that the kingdom began with Christ's first coming and will continue
until His Second Coming. They teach that there is no 1000-year kingdom
on earth. They use an allegorical system of interpretation of prophetic
events. The Olivet Discourse and the greater part of the book of
Revelation are largely viewed as past historical events or are spiritualized
out of existence. They do believe in a Second Coming of Christ for
His own, which takes place at the end which is immediately followed
by the judgment of the wicked and the eternal state. They believe
that conditions in this world will continue to deteriorate up until
the time of the coming of Christ.
a PDF file of Parousia #19 for an in-depth look at the
"Origens" of Amillennialism.
view found its beginnings in England and was first taught by Unitarian
minister Daniel Whitby (1638-1726). This view basically teaches
that the return of Christ takes place at the end of the millennium.
They do not take the 1000 years in Revelation 20 literally but suggest
it is speaking of a long period of time. Loraine Boettner, a postmillennialist,
in his book "The Millennium" states, "The millennium
to which the postmillennialist looks forward is thus a golden age
of spiritual prosperity during this present dispensation, that is,
the Church Age. This is to be brought about through forces now active
in the world. . . . The changed character of individuals will be
reflected in an uplifted social, economic, political and cultural
life of mankind. The world at large will enjoy a state of righteousness
which up until now has been seen only in relatively small and isolated
groups: for example, some family circles, and some local church
groups and kindred organizations. This does not mean there will
be a time on earth when every person will be a Christian or that
all sin will be abolished. But it does mean that evil in all its
many forms eventually will be reduced to negligible proportions,
that Christian principles will be the rule, not the exception, and
that Christ will return to a truly Christianized world." There
is a new form of postmillennialism known as "Reconstuctionism"
which teaches how the world will eventually be Christianized. David
Chilton writes in his book, "Paradise Restored", "Our
goal is world dominion under Christ's Lordship, a world takeover
if you will; but our strategy begins with reformation, reconstruction
of the church. From that will flow social and political reconstruction,
indeed a flowering of Christian civilization." There are other
similar forms of postmillennialism such as "Dominion Theology"
and "Kingdom Now Theology."
view is the view of the early church fathers which takes a literal
approach to the Scriptures. It teaches that after the seventieth
week of Daniel is completed, Christ will establish His kingdom here
on earth and reign for 1000 years. The primary subjects of this
kingdom will be the surviving remnant of Israel that will eventually
turn to Christ as their true Messiah and King just after the completion
of the seventieth week. There will also be a remnant from among
the surviving Gentile nations, especially from Egypt and Assyria,
none of which will have taken the mark or worshiped the beast or
his image. Premillennialists have various views on the timing of
the Rapture, but they all place that momentous event before the
1000-year reign of Christ and His kingdom.
view was first known as "the secret" or "any moment
rapture." It is a relatively new position which was first taught
by the founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church, Edward Irving in
the late 1820's. It was then picked up by Plymouth Brethren pastor
John Nelson Darby, and he first preached on it in 1843. It came
to America in the late 1800's and was popularized by C.I. Schofield
when he revised his Bible notes in 1917. Pretribulationists teach
that the return of Christ has been imminent since the days of the
early church and that the church will be raptured sometime before
the seventieth week begins. Although they have no Scripture that
in so many words teaches it, they teach that there are no signs
and the rapture could take place at any moment. The seventieth week
of Daniel is therefore considered to be a seven-year period of God's
judgmental "tribulation" (hence the term pretribulation).
This position generally views the seventieth week as the day of
the Lord's wrath from which the church is excluded.
view emerged in 1941 with the publication of the book, "The
End: Rethinking the Revelation" by Norman B. Harrison. They
believe that the Rapture of the Church will occur at the mid-point
of the seventieth week of Daniel. They see the second half of the
seventieth week as the wrath of God and as a result the church will
not be here when God pours out His wrath on the earth.
are a number of views in the posttribulation camp. Some posttribulationalists
see the church in tribulation since its beginnings and do not view
the seven year period as futuristic. The most prevalent view today
is that the seven year period is yet in the future, and that although
the Church will experience this time of tribulation, it will be
sheltered by God's protection before the second coming. George Ladd
in his book "The Blessed Hope" and Robert Gundry in his
book "The Church and The Tribulation" both teach that
the church will experience the seven year period which will conclude
with the rapture of the church.
Prewrath position teaches that the true church will be raptured
when the great tribulation by Antichrist, inspired by Satan, is
cut short by God's day-of-the-Lord wrath, which will occur between
the sixth and seventh seals of Revelation, sometime during the second
half of the seventieth week. The persecution associated with the
great tribulation of Antichrist is viewed as the wrath of Satan,
whereas the events that follow, beginning with the seventh seal,
are considered the wrath of God. There is another term that is sometimes
expressed, "historical premillennialism," which refers
back to the teaching of the early church fathers before 325 A.D.
They believed that the church would face the persecution of Antichrist
and Christ would then reign for 1000 years upon the earth. With
the exception of two, Origen and Clement of Alexandria, who were
allegorists, they all taught this view. Prewrath is plainly and
simply an expansion of this view which was biblical then and biblical
for a series of End Times Charts, one of which pictures these four