The Appeal of Pre-Millennialism

It's well known that Pre-Millennialism has a very pessimistic view of the future of history before the return of Christ. In that view, Jesus tried and failed to establish His earthly kingdom in His first coming and will not be able to do so until He comes again. Thus, the Devil is ruling the world, and history is God's Vietnam. Our only hope is not victory but escape.

But it's also true that the Pre-Millennial view of the Millennium itself is very pessimistic. If Old Testament prophecies like Isaiah 65:17-25 speak of a Millennial Kingdom after Christ's return, then Jesus is coming back to a situation in which (some) people are still dying and sinners are still rebelling. At the beginning of the Millennium, Christ will supposedly return to earth with those were raptured and glorified, but the curse still won't be fully undone. Christ will finally get to establish His kingdom on earth, but even that will only be partially successful. The only hope, then, is not the Millennial reign of Christ on earth but one last escape to an otherworldly Heaven. In the Pre-Millennial view, there is no point at which the creation is fully set free from its bondage of corruption. There is no point at which Psalm 148 will be fulfilled, with the entire creation united in praise. There is no point at which all things are made new.

Why would anyone want that to be the case? Why might Christians be so unwilling to consider the validity of the Post-Millennial position?

I don't think anyone would ever come out and say it, but it's highly likely that many Christians do not want Post-Millennialism to be true. Here are three possible reasons why Pre-Millennialism may be more attractive than Post-Millennialism.

1) If the world is likely to end any day, evangelism necessarily takes a very short-term perspective: the race is on to get as many people saved as possible before the rapture. This might appeal to some because it's much easier to make converts than disciples. Making disciples requires that we share not only the gospel but also our very lives with people (1 Thess. 2:7-8). Plus, long-term discipleship doesn't pay the immediate dividends of hit-and-run evangelism.

2) It's much easier to hunker down and wait for the end than to acquire the wisdom needed to re-build a Christian civilization. It's easier to stockpile weapons and dehydrated food than it is to lay new foundations for the next Christendom. It's relatively easy to whip people into a fast-burning eschatological frenzy, but it's far more challenging to reform the church, build new cultural institutions, and recover a fully-orbed Christian education.

3) It's much easier to blame the devil for the problems in the world than to admit that the church is responsible for cultural decay in a Christ-haunted society. If Satan is running the world, then we can easily blame him for all the problems in the church and the world. Blaming the Devil is a very convenient way to get God and ourselves off the hook for our sorry state of affairs. But if Satan is bound and the church is ruling the world, then we are on the hook for our failure to be salt and light.

To summarize, Pre-Millennialism is much easier than Post-Millennialism. There is far less responsibility on the church, which fits perfectly with the spirit of our age. It's no accident that Post-Millennialism has inspired some of the greatest mission endeavors and culture-building ventures in history. But I hear that they were a whole lot of work.

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

Liturgical Evangelism
Do Animals Go to Heaven?