Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

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TruthInLove
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Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by TruthInLove » Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:32 pm

I've recently heard some high-profile Christians who maintain a predominantly preterist view of eschatology who say they have problems with all 3 of the common views on the Millennium of Revelation 20 (i.e. Postmillennial, Premillennial, Amillennial). These folks suggest that the Millennium isn't a time period at all (indefinite or specific) but rather a description of the quality of the martyr's vindication. I'm just curious what scriptural justification there is to view the Millennium in this way and how such a qualitative view of the Millennium fits with the apparent chronology given for the binding and release of Satan, the resurrections and judgement of the dead. I'm not being critical or judgmental of such a view, just hoping for a more thorough explanation than I've been able to garner elsewhere. Thanks in advance.

dwilkins
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Re: Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by dwilkins » Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:06 am

Can you give us a reference to what they're saying?

Doug

TruthInLove
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Re: Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by TruthInLove » Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:28 am

Thank you for the response. Here are some more details.

I've heard this from Hank Hanegraaff on several occasions.

He gives his interpretation of the Millennium in these places: He gives his interpretation of the Binding and Loosing of Satan here:
  • "The Apocalypse Code", page 127, footnote 72 (the corresponding text for which can be found on pages 256-257)
The actual footnote is quite lengthy so I probably shouldn't quote it without his permission.

For those who may not have a physical copy of the book to look it up, the partial footnote can be found by doing the following:
  • Go to http://www.amazon.com/The-Apocalypse-Co ... 0849901847
  • Click the image of the book where it says "Look Inside" to see a preview of the book
  • Find the section I'm referring to by using the "Search Inside This Book" feature on the left using the search text "a relatively short time" (leave the quotes off, otherwise the text will not be found)
It sounds to me like he's saying that the freeing of Satan after the Millennium is really only hypothetical and will not actually happen at all since the Millennium will really be eternal. It seems that he's suggesting that Revelation 20 states things in this symbolic way so as to dramatize or emphasize the quality of the martyr's eternal vindication as compared to the relatively short time (10 days) they will suffer during a 1st century persecution.

While this may be one possible interpretation, it doesn't seem like it's a necessary one or that the evidence even suggests it. However, I guess that's my question. What are the problems of the Amillennial view that this interpretation resolves?

dwilkins
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Re: Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by dwilkins » Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:36 am

Knowing what to do with "the Millennium" is one of the trickiest things I've run across in scripture. It doesn't help that it's only mentioned in one cluster of references in a very difficult book. It also doesn't help that we've invented a term to capture this concept that I think has by definition confused what is going on. There is no "the Millennium" in scripture (I've used the term in the past for the sake of expediency, but I'm starting to think that I've conceded too much from the start). Instead, there is the thousand years that Satan will be detained (you'll notice that Hanegraaf doesn't mention this in either of the examples you provided, probably because he has no way to describe how the quality of that detention will relate to the quality of the saints' reign) and the thousand year reign of the saints. It's common to see these as parallel concepts, or two sides of the same coin. However, I don't think this is logically possible.

If you adopt a recapitulationist view of Revelation (this is required for Amillennilism, but rejected by Premillennialism) you are accepting that the story of crisis repeats itself several times (the most persuasive outlines to me say 7). In that approach, Satan is bound for 1,000 years. At the end of it, he is released for a short time before the Gog and Magog war. The other versions of the story in Revelation this is the 42 months that the Beast is active placing his mark on men. When he's done issuing the mark of the Beast there is a cataclysmic battle (Armageddon/Gog and Magog war) where he is captured and destroyed. The implication of this recapitulation of the story for the definition of the thousand years of the saints is profound. That's because Rev. 20:4 says that those who are raised to reign for a 1,000 years were those who were killed for not taking the mark. It is logically impossible for them to have reigned during the 1,000 of Satan's detention because that would mean that they reigned before they were killed. Both Augustine and Wesley (and others) saw this tension and concluded that Satan's 1,000 years was a different period of time than the saints' 1,000 years.

Hanegraaf asserts that the saints' 1,000 years is simply a quality of reign, and that it doesn't end. I think he's 1/2 right. I wish he'd engaged Daniel 7:18,25 and Revelation 22:5 to see that at the time that things are set right immediately after the climactic battle the saints are handed the kingdom and reign with God "forever, forever and ever." The reign of the saints is certainly described in scripture as having a duration as well as a quality. And, this is the key to your question. Is Amillennialism wrong? By seeing the simple statements of the length of the reign in scripture, but without realizing the implications of it, the writers of the 381AD modification of the Nicene Creed made both Premillennialism and Amillennialism impossible. In that document they asserted based on Daniel 7 and Revelation 22 that the kingdom of God that was to come was going to last "forever." They did this to refute the Premillennialists who were saying that it would only last 1,000 years. This was an effort by the church to make Premillennialism heretical. But, Amillennialism also says that this period will end with the Second Coming. So, though they were proponents of a vaguely formulated Amillennialism in that day (so that they saw the thousand year reign of the saints as an long period of time where God's kingdom would be expressed in the hearts of men), they invalidated their own system as well. I suggest taking the strengths of both systems and anchoring them on a Second Coming at the destruction of the Old Covenant during the Jewish war. In that way, the anticipation of this event in the NT can be honored and the truth of an Amillennial reign (though one without end) can be as well. To do this, you simply make the two millennial periods sequential, with a short break in between for the climactic battle.

To state it simply, Amillennialism as it is formally defined is impossible because the reign of the saints described in scripture is "forever and ever". It doesn't end with the Second Coming, it begins with it.

Doug

TruthInLove
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Re: Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by TruthInLove » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:42 am

Hi Doug,

Thank you for your thoughtful and extensive explanation and for taking the time to review the links I posted. I greatly appreciate both. I'll digest this for a while as you've given me some new ideas to consider.

In the meantime, can you recommend any good sources that helped you in your understanding of the view that you presented and how it fits within the context of other eschatological prophecies?

Also, how do Amillennialists typically explain the difficulties/weaknesses that you pointed out in their particular understanding?

Thank you again.

dwilkins
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Re: Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by dwilkins » Wed Dec 31, 2014 5:32 am

An explanation of bi-millennial preterism can be found here:

http://preteristcentral.com/Why%20Two%20Millennia.html

I don't agree with all of Kurt's formulation, but I think he does a good job of showing why the two periods can't be parallel.

If you want to see a wider explanation of my own understanding look on Amazon Kindle for an ebook called "Making Sense of the Millennium".

I don't think that Amillennial advocates are aware of the criticism I gave. They are usually attacked for their definition of the millennium itself, not how it fits into other doctrine.

Doug

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Re: Seemingly Uncommon Interpretation of the Millennium

Post by backwoodsman » Thu Jan 01, 2015 12:55 pm

TruthInLove wrote:What are the problems of the Amillennial view that this interpretation resolves?
I may have missed it, but in the links you gave, I didn't see where he mentions any specific problem(s) he has with amillenialism; and as an amillenialist, I can't think of any problems his view solves. So, if you want Hank's view, your best source will probably be Hank.

In any case, before giving any credence to someone's criticism of a view they don't themselves hold, be sure they have a good working knowledge of the view in question. Many who point out supposed fatal flaws in others' views, haven't taken the trouble to learn how those who hold the view respond to the issue. In such a case, concluding that a view is impossible seems premature and foolhardy, at best.

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