Millennium Comparison Chart
||1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:
a. Dispensationalists argue for the necessity of the literal
interpretation of all of the prophetic portions of Scripture. Charles
Ryrie makes this point very clearly:
When the principles of literal interpretation both in regard to
general and special hermeneutics are followed, the result the
premillennial system of doctrine... If one interprets literally, he
arrives at the premillennial system.
This means that all promises made to David and Abraham under the Old
Covenant are to be literally fulfilled in the future millennial age.
b. Dispensationalists insist that God has two redemptive plans, one for
national Israel, and one for Gentiles during the "church age." This
presupposition forms the basis for the dispensational hermeneutic. As John
Walvoord states regarding the dispensational hermeneutic, "Pretribulationism
distinguishes clearly between Israel and the church and their respective
c. There is a "rapture" of believers when Jesus Christ secretly returns
to earth before the seven year tribulation period begins (the seventieth
week of Daniel, cf. Daniel 9:24-27). Believers do not experience the
persecution of the Anti-Christ who rises to prominence during this
"tribulation period." The Biblical data dealing with the time of
tribulation is referring to unbelieving Israel, not the church. Therefore,
church age, or the "age of grace," is to be seen as that period of time in
which God is dealing with Gentiles prior to the coming of the kingdom of
God during the millennium.
d. The visible and physical second coming of Christ occurs after the
great tribulation. Those who are converted to Christ during the
tribulation, including Jews (the 144,000) who turn to Christ, go on into
the millennium to re-populate the earth. Glorified believers rule with
Christ during his future reign.
e. Jesus came to earth bringing with him an "offer" of the kingdom to
the Jews, who rejected him. God then turned to dealing with the Gentiles
-- thus, the church age is a parenthesis of sorts. The rapture is the next
event to occur in Biblical prophecy. The signs of the end of the age
(i.e., the birth of the nation of Israel, the revival of the Roman empire
predicted in Daniel as seen through the emergence of the EEC [common
market], the impending Russian-Arab invasion of Israel, etc.) all point to
the immediacy of the secret return of Christ for his church. Antichrist is
awaiting his revelation once the believing church is removed.
f. The millennium is marked by a return to Old Testament temple worship
and sacrifice to commemorate the sacrifice of Christ. At the end of the
millennium, the "great white throne" judgement occurs, and Satan and all
unbelievers are cast into the lake of fire. There is the creation of a new
heaven and earth.
|1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:
a. While often popularly confused with "dispensational
premillennialism" with but a mere disagreement as to the timing of the
"rapture," historic premillennialism is, in actuality, a completely
different eschatological system, largely rejecting the whole
dispensational understanding of redemptive history.
b. The basic features of historic premillennialism are as follows. When
Jesus began his public ministry the kingdom of God was manifest through
His ministry. Upon His ascension into heaven and the "Gift of the Spirit"
at Pentecost, the kingdom is present through the Spirit, until the end of
the age, which is marked by the return of Christ to the earth in
judgement. During the period immediately preceding the return of Christ,
there is great apostasy and tribulation.
C. After the return of Christ, there will be a period of 1000 years
(the millennium separating the "first" resurrection from the "second"
resurrection. Satan will be bound, and the kingdom will consummated, that
is, made visible during this period.
d. At the end of the millennial period, Satan will be loosed and there
will be a massive rebellion (of "Gog and Magog"), immediately preceding
the "second" resurrection or final judgement. After this, there will be
the creation of a new Heaven and Earth.
||a. Dispensationalism was largely popularized through the
Scofield Reference Bible, and is now represented, for example, by the
notes in the Ryrie Study Bible. Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet
Earth served to keep the movement in the mainstream of Evangelicalism in
the late 60's and early 70's. The vast majority of the early Charismatic
movement was dispensational in its orientation even though most
dispensationalists emphasized that charismata ceased with the completion
of the New Testament. As the Charismatic movement has matured and become
more consistent in its own theology, dispensationalism has largely been
jettisoned. Because of this, and because of the resurgence of questions of
ethics (the dispensationalist cannot efficiently use his OT to answer
ethical questions) dispensationalism is apparently on the decline.
b. Leading dispensational theologians include John Walvoord, Charles
Ryrie, J. Dwight Pentecost, Norman Geisler and Charles Feinberg. Popular
dispensational pastors and writers include; Charles Swindoll, Dave Hunt,
Jack Van Impe and Charles Stan Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel movement
represent the Charismatic side of dispensationalism.
c. Dallas Theological Seminary is the leading dispensational
institution. Other dispensational institutions include: Talbot Theological
Seminary, the Master's College and Grace Theological Seminary.
|a. Without question, the best and most influential
historic premillennialist was the late George Eldon Ladd of Fuller
Theological Seminary. Through the work of Ladd, historic premillennialism
gained scholarly respect and popularity among Evangelical and Reformed
theologians. Other major historic premillennialists include the late
Walter Martin, John Warwick Montgomery, J. Barton Payne, Heny Alford (the
noted Greek scholar), and Theodore Zahn (the German NT specialist). The
best examples of current historical premillennial work would the many
scholars of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Evangelical Free).
b. Historic premillennialism draws its name from the fact that many of
the early Church Fathers (i.e. Ireneaus [140-203], who as a disciple of
Polycarp, who had been an disciple of the apostle of John, Justin Martyr
[100-165], and Papias [80-155]), apparently believed and taught that there
would be a visible kingdom of God upon the earth, after the return of
c. Several major Evangelical seminaries have some historic
premillennial representation such as Fuller and Trinity. Surprisingly, a
number of the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis (a
Reformed institution), held to a covenantal form of premillennialism --
J.O. Buswell, J. Barton Payne and R. Laird Harris. However, all of these
men have recently departed for glory, and the Reformed varieties of
premillennialism are probably gone with them.
||The standard dispensational textbook is J. Dwight
Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978). Other
important works include: Charles Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial
Faith (New York: The Loizeaux Brothers, 1953); Charles Ryrie,
Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977); John Walvoord,
The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation,
1983), and John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question (Grand Rapids:
The Zondervan Corporation, 1979). In addition, John Walvoord has authored
an updated work incorporating all of his popular writings; Major Bible
Prophecies (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1991).
||The best of all the historic premillennial writers was the
late George E Ladd. See his works on the subject: A Commentary on the
Revelation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1987), The Presence of
the Future (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1981), The Last Things
(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1982), and The Gospel of the
Kingdom (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1981). Also very helpful
is Robert Duncan Culver's Daniel and the Latter Days (Chicago: The
Moody Press, 1977). This is the single best defense of historic
premillennialism against the amillennial critique. See also J. Barton
Payne's Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House, 1980). Another important work defending the Biblical basis for
premillennialism is, Donald K. Campbell and Jeffrey L. Townsend, eds.,
A Case For Premillennialism:A New Consensus (Chicago: Moody Press,
||1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:
a. Generally speaking, postmillennialists affirm that the millennium is
a period of one thousand years of universal peace and righteousness in
this world, which precedes the return of Jesus Christ to earth in
judgement. Postmillennialists are divided as to whether or not the period
of time is a literal one thousand years, and whether or not the millennial
age begins abruptly or gradually. Some see the millennial age as entirely
future, others argue that it may have already begun to gradually emerge.
Postmillennialists also disagree as to the events that mark the beginning
of the millennial age, such as the conversion of Israel (Romans 9-11), the
binding of Satan (Revelation 20), and the defeat of Antichrist.
b. Postmillennialism is in one sense the historic position of the
church since the days of St. Augustine. Since all amillennial Christians
(to be discussed below) are also technically postmillennial in their
understanding of the millennium, (though self-consciously "postmillennial"
Christians cannot not be "amillennial" in any sense) and since the term "amillennialism"
was not coined until after the beginning of the twentieth century, it was
common for Protestant dogmaticians to speak of the contrast between "pre"
and "post" millennialism, without distinguishing between "a" and "post"
millennialism. Therefore, the difference between amillennial and
postmillennial Christians centers upon the character and length of the
millennial age. Postmillennialists see the millennial age as
commencing at some point during the present age, and as a period in which
the kingdom of God triumphs over the kingdoms of this world. Amillennial
Christians see the millennial age as occupying the entire period of time
between the first and second coming Christ. Generally speaking,
amillennial Christians see the millennial age as one of both the triumph
of the spiritual kingdom of God and the corresponding rise of evil in
c. According to postmillennialists, there will be universal preaching
and acceptance of the Gospel, and a complete and total victory of the
kingdom of God, over the forces of Satan and unbelief. Postmillennialism
is an optimistic eschatology of the victory grace of God in subduing evil
in the world. During this period Satan will be effectually bound by the
triumph of grace. Israel will be converted somewhere near the beginning of
the millennial Postmillennialists do disagree however, about the nature
and details of these events.
d. At the end of the millennial period, Satan will be released the
period of great tribulation and the apostasy described in Revelation 20
occurs, culminating in Gog and Magog and the Battle of Armageddon. Christ
then returns in judgement (the "great throne judgement"), the resurrection
occurs, and there is the creation of a new heaven and earth.
|1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:
a. The "a" millennial (literally meaning "no" millennium) position is
the eschatological view of historic Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed
Christianity. It would be my educated guess that about two-thirds of the
Christian family espouse an amillennial eschatology. The amillennial
position is as well the position of the vast majority of Reformed and
Lutheran theologians. The position portrayed in these lectures is the
Reformed understanding of amillennialism, which is better understood as
"present" millennialism [or "realized" millennialism], since Reformed
eschatology argues for a real, present, though "invisible" non-spatial
b. Amillennialists insist that the promises made to national Israel,
David and Abraham, in the OT are fulfilled by Christ and the Church during
this age, which is the millennium, that is the entire period of time
between the two advents of our Lord. The "thousand years" are therefore
symbolic of the entire inter-advental age. Satan is bound by Christ's
victory over him and the establishment of the kingdom of God via the
preaching of the gospel, and Satan is no longer free to deceive the
nations, through the presence of Christ is reigning in heaven during this
period with the martyrs who come out of the great tribulation. At the end
of the millennial age, Christ returns in judgement of all men. The general
resurrection occurs, final judgement takes place for all men and women,
and a new Heaven and Earth are established.
C. In most forms of amillennialism, immediately before the return of
Christ, Satan is unbound, there is a great apostasy, and a time of
unprecedented satanically inspired evil. This last Satanic gasp and
subsequent rebellious activity is destroyed by our Lord at his return.
||a. Postmillennialism was popular among American Evangelicals in the
period of unprecedented technological growth between 1870 and 1915. World
War I largely served to squash the tremendous optimism regarding the
growth of technology and the related optimism about the future of man,
which was carried over in church in the form of an optimistic eschatology.
Many Reformed theologians of this period are generally considered
postmillennial, including the "Old-Princetonians," Charles Hodge, A. A.
Hodge, and B. B. Warfield.
b. Recently, postmillennialism has seen a resurgence, with the rise of
Christian reconstructionism and theonomy. In addition, there is mass
confusion generated by critics of postmillennialism, such as Dave Hunt and
Hal Lindsey, who portray the movement as taking two quite different and
confusing forms -- that of "Theonomy," and that of "Dominion Theology."
Thus many Evangelicals fail to see these two forms as distinct and
divergent movements. Setting out the differences between the two forms
then is helpful.
1). The "theonomic" (reconstructionism) form of postmillennialism was
initially presented by J. Marcellus Kik, and reworked into a full--blown
ethical system by R. J. Rushdoony. The business of the church was to
work to see a theocracy restored upon the earth by emphasizing the
continuity of OT law (civil, ceremonial and moral) with the NT. Once
established, this victorious church would be the divine vehicle from
which the ever advancing kingdom of God would bind Satan and subdue all
evil in the world. The emphasis of theonomic postmillennialism is that
it is God who exercises dominion through his church establishing
His law as the law of the land. Other theologians in the postmillennial
theonomic movement are, the late Greg Bahnsen, Ray Sutton and Gary
North. Popular writers include Gary DeMarr, Kenneth Gentry, and Peter J.
Leithart. Whereas "normal" reconstructionism seeks to implement Biblical
principles into governments through moral, ethical and spiritual
influence, the "radical" form leads to Theocratic Dominionism, a
more universal development of Biblical theocratic republics.
2). The "dominion" form of postmillennialism (though not all
"dominion" advocates are postmillennial) is exclusively Pentecostal.
This form believes the charismatic revival "Latter Rain") is God's means
of binding Satan and allowing the Spirit-lead church to reclaim material
possessions and wealth, which had been surrendered to unbelief and the
kingdom of Satan. Once the Church understands its role and potential for
dominion, through the work of the Spirit, be able to establish the
kingdom of God on earth in it fullness, thereby bringing in a millennial
age. The emphasis here is that it is the believer who must learn to
exercise dominion if he is to take part in the advancing kingdom.
Bishop Earl Paulk, Paul Yongli Cho and perhaps Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth
Hagin and Pat Robertson.
c. The older form of postmillennialism, as practiced by Reformed
theologians such as Hodge and Warfield, has little in common in emphasis
with the modern theonomic approach to eschatology, which emphasizes the
rise of a theocracy as the vehicle of dominion. The modern form raises
serious questions about the Reformed understanding of the distinction
between law and gospel. The result in many circles a peculiar hybrid, (a
tertium quid, if you will) with a propensity for making strange
|a. Amillennialism has always been the majority position of the
Christian family. It was first articulated by St. Augustine, and has been
given a distinctive Reformed emphasis through the work of Geerhardus Vos
(the "Biblical-Theological" approach). As the "dispensational" movement
captured the hearts and minds of conservative American Evangelicals,
amillennialism was equated with "liberalism" or Roman Catholicism. The
supposed interpreting prophecy "spiritually" or "not-literally" has lead
to the rejection of amillennialism by many. In addition, amillennialism
suffered greatly from the failure of Reformed and Luthern writers to
defend the position against the likes of Dave Hunt, Chuck Missler and Hal
Lindsey, who has labeled the position as "demonic and heretical," and the
root of modern anti-semitism.
b. Leading contemporary "amill" theologians would include popular
writers such as J. I. Packer, Mike Horton, [the late] Calvin seminary
professor, Anthony Hoekema, and RC Sproul (now Postmill partial Preterist
- Ed). In addition, all of the Reformers, as well as the Reformed and
Lutheran confessional traditions, as a whole, have been amillennial.
||Standard classical Reformed postmillennial works are: Lorraine
Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed
publishing Company, 1957); Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New
Covenant (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company,
1954); Marcellus J. Kik, An Eschatology of Victory (Nutley:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1974). A classic expression
of the older form of "postmillennialism" is found in the recently
reprinted work; David Brown, Christ's Second Coming: Will It Be
Premillennial? (Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1990).
||The most important and useful amillennial work is the excellent book
by Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids:
William B. Eerdmans, 1982). Also helpful are: Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy
and the Church (Phillipsburg: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
Company, 1947); Arthur Lewis, The Dark Side of the Millennium
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980); William E. Cox, Amillennialism
Today (PhilIipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company,
1966); William E. Cox, Biblical Studies in Final Things
(Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966).
Eschatology Comparison Chart, by Kim
Riddlebarger. Excerpted from "For He Must Reign: An Introduction to Reformed