By Robert Lowery
Will Christ establish an earthly kingdom for 1,000 years—the premillennial viewpoint? Or will the advance of the gospel lead to a 1,000-year period of relative peace throughout the world—the postmillennial viewpoint? Or are Christians currently experiencing the millennium, reigning with Christ (either on earth or in God’s presence)—the amillennial viewpoint? Indeed, the nearly 2,000-year history of interpretation reveals there is no problem-free interpretation of Revelation 20.
We must remember that God did not give us the Bible to tickle our intellects but to transform our lives. Accordingly, the following five resources model a way to deal with the topic because their contributions reveal a spirit of humility, a commitment to being responsible interpreters of Scripture, and a conviction that one’s position on the millennium is indeed important for Christian living.
The first book I ever read on the millennium was The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, edited by Robert G. Clouse (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1977). Four scholars present their positions: George Ladd on historic premillennilliasm, Herman Hoyt on dispensational premillennialism, Loraine Boettner on postmillennialism, and Anthony A. Hoekema on amillennialism. The volume is arranged to promote dialogue with lively, gracious debate.
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, edited by Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999) is part of Zondervan’s “Counterpoints series.” The volume allows the reader to set the different views (unfortunately excluding historic premillennialism) side-by-side and compares the strengths and weaknesses. The essays by Craig Blaising (dispensationalism), Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. (postmillennialism), and Robert B. Strimple (amillennialism) help the reader gain a better appreciation for other perspectives while strengthening and redefining his or her own views.
Another “Counterpoints” volume is edited by C. Marvin Pate, Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998). The contributors (Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Sam Hamstra Jr., C. Marvin Pate, and Robert L. Thomas) deal with the issue of whether or not Revelation as a whole should be read as a blueprint for the future or as a book of powerful imagery speaking to the church throughout the ages.
Stanley J. Grenz made a significant contribution to the discussion with the 1992 InterVarsity Press publication of The Millennial Maze: Sorting Out the Evangelical Options. He especially focuses on three key themes: hermeneutics, philosophy of history, and the kingdom of God. He assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each of the major positions and reaffirms the valid insights of each while being fair and even-handed. It is, I believe, the best of the five volumes surveyed.
Finally, the work edited by Steve Gregg, Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997) is an evenhanded summary of the four traditional views of Revelation in parallel columns. Gregg has researched a vast array of commentaries and commentators showing how their view on the millennium impacts the way they interpret the entire book of Revelation.
Robert Lowery is dean and professor at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian Seminary.
Why I Take a Premillennial View” (Longer Version) by Alex V. Wilson
“Why I Take a Premillennial View” (Shorter Version) by Alex V. Wilson
“Why I Am an Amillennialist” by Robert Lowery