Leithart and Postmillennialism

To be postmillennial is to be committed to the claim that the state of creation, over time and in time, will be recognizably as the prophets predict: Zion will be raised as the chief of the mountains, nations will beat tanks into tractors, chemical weapons into fertilizers (napalm – a sign of millennial bliss?), peoples from the four corners will be eager to hear the instruction of Jesus, and will live by it.  Wildernesses will turn to gardens, wild animals – and bestial humans – will be pacified.

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13 thoughts on “Leithart and Postmillennialism”

  1. If you think that we are in the millennium now, how does that make you a postmillenial? Would you not, by definition, be amil?

    Aaaaaand . . .
    #2, everyone believes that “Zion will be raised as the chief of the mountains, nations will beat tanks into tractors . . . [and] peoples from the four corners will be eager to hear the instruction of Jesus, and will live by it. ” Postmil offers nothing new in this regard, it’s simply a question of “when” and “at what speed”

  2. Jarrod, answering #1 – Postmils and Amils do not differ on when the millenial started (there may be nuances, but we are generally agreed that the millenial began when the Son was born (Isaiah 9).

    Postmillennials differ with Amils on the question of historical optimism.
    Answering #2 – Amils take your Isaiah quotation as symbolic of the world to come, Premils see it as a reference to the 1,000 years, and postmils see it as a fulfillment in this present world order before the second coming. No one argues, as Wilson has observed in his book Heaven Misplaced that the eternal world is pure bliss, what we disagree on is the future of this present world prior to the final resurrection. IMO, only post-millennialism offers any generation ideology and vision of peace. Again, the question of the millennial has never been a debate of whether there will be bliss in the eternal life, but the question is one concerning this present world. Keep that in mind and it will help sort through these questions.

  3. Hi Uri –

    Actually, I thought postmils thought that the millenium will have begun 1000 years prior to the parousia, e.g. we might not know when exactly it began, but we will recognize that it began when it ends. So I’ve learned something today.

    Richard Lovelace said that he thought amils could be in all stripes, optimistic or pessimistic. I don’t know enough to say.

    However, my point in #2 is that Dr. Leithart’s statement was that “To be postmillennial is to be committed to the claim that the state of creation, [over time and in time,] will be recognizably as the prophets predict,” but if you take out the sentence in brackets, it is an agreeable sentence to every Christian who believes in a physical resurrection and a new earth, which ought to be all of us.

    The outfall of this is that it doesn’t make postmil seem particularly attractive. It doesn’t make it seem unattractive, either, but I fail to see why the idea of the new creation happening “over time” is superior to the idea of new creation “all at once.”

    -Jerid

  4. Jarrod,
    addressing your first paragraph, you may be thinking of puritan postmil. They, as Murray recounts, believed in a literal 1,000 years to take place before the parousia. Modern postmils, since the days of Warfield and Hodge, believe in the symbolic nature of Rev. 20…see Chilton and Jim Jordan.
    Concerning the rest of our observations, the problem is the brackets are there for a reason. I am not sure how anyone, but a postmil, can see the prophetic words of peace and righteousness being recognized in time and over time in this world, before the parousia. It is precisely what makes postmils distinct. Be careful, you may be going through a conversion without recognizing it.

  5. Yeurie – I have no idea why you keep calling me “Jarrod” either.
    1st para – I probably am, I haven’t read much of modern postmils. I’ll get kicked out of the PCA if I do. 🙂
    [Attention to men of the PCA: that was a joke. And my name is Bob, from Arkansas.]

    2nd para – Well, I know why brackets are there, and I see the distinction between a postmil and an amil. I’m asking you to tell me why the idea of prophetic words being enacted slowly, and then the return of the Lord in the year 4200 or 534,091AD makes postmil a superior position to an amil who believes that Christ may return at any time and make the earth into the promised vision in an instant.

    Essentially, I’m failing to see the attraction of the postmil position.

  6. The attraction of postmil is you get to live by faith now knowing that when you are dead your children will get to reap the benefits of a faithful dad who lived by faith.
    Also, you can actually take the Great Commission seriously. You are not just confessing that nations will be baptized and DISCIPLED (but ultimately they will not, because Christ can come back tomorrow), you actually get to believe that nations will be baptized and DISCIPLED in the future.
    Also, when you pray thy kingdom come on earth as it is heaven, you actually believe it is taking place and is not reserved to the spiritual world where eye cannot see nor ear hear.
    Also, you get to worship like David: O God destroy your enemies! Bring justice to earth! Tell me when was the last time you heard an Amil pastor use an imprecatory psalm in a pastoral prayer? Michael Horton told Peter Leithart that the church should not sing all psalms because they belong to a theocratic people and not a New Covenant people… BS!
    If by optimistic amil, Lovelace means that we believe that the future is glorious, but biblically we’re just not sure, then at least the OAmil’s have a better grasp of the prophetic joy than most Amils. My question, of course is, in an amillennial framework, if the end could come tomorrow when we know the gospel has not gone as far as it will, then why be optimistic?

    Ok, I will stop now.

  7. I’m still failing to see how any of that is limited to someone with a postmillenial position. But maybe I’m so deep under cover as a postmil that I don’t even realize it.

    Although I would be more interested in your thoughts on the imprecatory psalms.

    And finally, Horton probably isn’t representative of the Amil position. I hope.

    I think Lovelace meant that the future would be better, he was sure of that – he just wasn’t sure how much better it would be.

  8. If you are under cover, be sure your “sins” will find you out.

    I wish Horton was not representative of the amil position, but Kim Riddlebarger on the White Horse Inn (the Horton crew) is the premier amillennialist today.

    Well, briefly, on imprecations, we know the Israelites prayed fervently that God would destroy their enemies and bring a new order to their lives and society. If the Psalms, under Christ have not changed in substance (I Corinthians 15:26), then we are still under the same psalmic duty.

    Blessings.

  9. The saints in Revelation 6 also pray for vengeance. These are dead saints, too: unburdened from sin. I don’t quite understand the paradox of prayers of imprecation – even NT prayers of imprecation – and “loving” enemies and praying for them. When, exactly, is the right time?

    I know this, at least: even if we were to pray imprecations against our worst enemies, we would be entirely satisfied if they were to turn to Christ in repentance and away from whatever those evil actions were.

    I haven’t spent much time with any of the eschatological positions: amil seems the most Biblical to me, but I have serious questions because the “results” of the amil position seem to be the most unBiblical. Premil seems just too difficult to believe – unrealistic. But I am also not swayed by the postmil position. At the end of the Old Covenant era, Israel had had times of faithfulness, unfaithfulness, growth, retraction, apostasy and repentance. Believing that Christ has not changed the substance from the OT makes me ask, “Why do we expect the church to be so faithful when Israel was not?” Also, despite the best intentions of “optimism,” we see apostasy in lands once known for their failthfulness – England comes to mind.

    I’ll have to do some serious reading at some point.

  10. Yes, the saints are reflecting the attitude of the psalmist in a sinless way; they too reflect a psalmic attitude, because they too long to see the justice of God prevail.
    I will let you do your studies on these issues, but one quick answer to your question: “Why do we expect the church to be so faithful when Israel was not?” Because Israel’s Lord had not yet ascended, we, in the New Creation live under the Ascended Lord who has promised that all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him! Happy Easter Season!

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