There are some who, aspiring after earthly greatness, talk of a temporal reign here: but then God's church on earth would not be militant, but triumphant. But sure it is that the saints shall reign in a glorious manner: 'Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.' … By the kingdom of heaven is meant that state of glory which the saints shall enjoy when they shall reign with God and the angels forever; sin, hell and death being fully subdued. (src)The same observation will work for premillennialists, too.So I stick with the view known as amillennialism, which is I think more common among British evangelicals than people realise. This is that Christ is now reigning from heaven, and we do not need to look for some kind of pre-second-coming second coming nor should we of necessity expect the entire world to be Christianised prior to his coming. His heavenly reign, into which all believers enter when they die, will be established eternally on the earth at the Judgment. Until then, we labour knowing that all things are even now under his feet, and enjoying the certainty that one day we shall see with the eye what we now only perceive by faith.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
A non-postmillennial Puritan
Christians have historically held quite a wide variety of views on the second coming of Jesus. Some think that it won't happen at all, but Christians who take the Bible seriously take seriously its clear teaching that this will happen. (The Apostle Peter warned that 'scoffers' would come, scoffing and asking after the promised coming. Whether even he realised at the time that some would be ordained as supposed ministers of the gospel is another matter.)Some Christians have latched onto the teaching that Jesus will reign, and understand by this an earthly kingdom with a physical throne and Jesus sitting on it, probably in Jerusalem. This is called premillennialism, and premillennialists expect Jesus to return, set up this kingdom and rule for a thousand years before judging everyone in the general resurrection.Others have taken the view that Jesus will not rule from Jerusalem, but that the whole earth will gradually become Christianised so that his rule is visibly seen across the whole world even as it is heaven. These are, and again there are different strains, postmillennialists.Sometimes, you hear Reformed postmillennialists claim the entire body of Puritans for their own, as if no other view on Christ's return could be found among them. Postmillennialism was the dominant view, but prominent Puritans did demur. Thomas Watson was a contemporary of the Westminster Divines and wrote a well-received series of sermons expounding its doctrines. In his lovely book on the Sermon on the Mount, he wrote: