As of today, I have read well over 100 extensive articles/books relating to Eschatology, also referred to as the doctrine of last things, doctrine of the last days, or doctrine of end times. I have read through the three main views from various and sundry writers regarding Pre-Millennialism, A-Millennialism, and Post-Millennialism. As best I could, I pushed aside my preconceived notions about each major position in order to truly understand each position. I have striven to be balanced, to be biblically based, and to uncover true arguments for each position and against each position. I have narrowed my criteria down to 5 elements (in no particular order except for number 1):
1) Biblical Exegesis
2) Arguments presented by each author
3) Pros of each position
4) Cons of each position
5) Arguments against the other positions
My aim is not to reveal my final conclusions, but to address how each author addressed their topic and the arguments used against the other positions.
Conservatively speaking, sixty percent of the arguments from many of the authors I have read were straw men. In other words, the arguments were based upon perceived notions of another position and knocking it down rather than addressing the real argument that position holds. For instance, one of the straw man arguments against A-Millennialism is “those who hold to the A-Mil position allegorize and do not take Scripture literally or seriously,” or some variation thereof. To be honest, this straw man argumentation makes me want to reject the position(s) of those who were setting up the straw man arguments, however, sadly, I found at least one proponent of each position who engaged in straw man attacks.
Much of the time, proponents of each position showed outright disregard for his opponents in the eschatological discussion, even to the point that, if I did not know they were true believers, you would think they were decrying heretics of the most evil and dubious sort. As defenders of the Gospel and not necessarily of our brand of eschatology, there must be more Grace-Filled discussion. Each position of eschatology is not denying the Second Advent of our Lord but merely has varying details of His return. Further, proponents of each position are striving to be biblically based and trying to allow Scripture speak for itself rather than adding concepts that are not there.
But not all positions can be correct at the same time, right?
One Pre-Mil proponent was surprisingly refreshing when his whole argument was based on what the A-Mil position truly believes and addressed the argument itself without bashing those who hold to the A-Mil position. This was most pleasing in that he demonstrated Gospel-Grace in the heat of arguing for his position.
One drum that was continually beat by the Pre-Mil proponents was that the A-Mil position did not believe in a literal 1000 year reign of Christ. From my reading, this is a straw man argument. The A-Mil position does in fact believe in a 1000 year reign of Christ. However, through a lengthy and highly nuanced study, they believe the 1000 years is symbolic, or better stated, more representative of “fullness of time” or the “complete time God intends”. They further believe the millennial reign is concurrent with the Church Age, inaugurated by Christ’s First Advent and will be consummated at His Second Coming- the “here and not yet”.
Conversely, the Pre-Mil position claims there will indeed be a 1000 year earthly reign of Christ. They base this position, in part, on the fact that 1000 is mentioned six times in six verses (Revelation 20:1-6). This leads us to the point that based on your view of Revelation 20:1-6 determines into which eschatological camp you fall. But more importantly, your lack of truly understanding the other positions determines the degree to which you will use straw man arguments which are no arguments at all. And this is where the defense of the Gospel takes precedence.
The Gospel demands that we esteem others better than ourselves. The Gospel demands we speak (write) with words that are seasoned with salt, meaning we use the choicest of words in order to preserve biblical and Gospel unity rather than demeaning our brothers because they differ in a secondary (read: the details of the Second Coming) issues. Let me clarify by saying, the Second Coming is a Primary issue, but the details are secondary, and I will leave it at that.
This should remind us that our unity is around the Gospel; not the details of our understanding of Eschatology.
Let it be known that Christ’s Second Coming is imminent. He will return just as He was received up into the clouds before His disciples. He will come to judge the righteous and wicked. Death will be defeated and all of His enemies will be under His feet. This is our hope! This is our joy! This is the Gospel!