An acquaintance of mine recently suggested that we might be getting it all wrong when we try and “reclaim” the United States for God. To be fair, he didn’t say he was certain of this, but he pointed to Scripture which supported the claim and raised his suspicion. “My Kingdom is not of this world”, Jesus said. “It will be like the days of Noah. It will be like the days of Lot”. How? In those days, people were “eating and drinking”, “buying and selling”, and then their end came all of a sudden, and it was all gone. Besides, Jesus “had no place to lay his head”.
Those Scriptures are, in part, why I’m not a postmillennialist. No event has taken place that even compares to the Days of Lot or the Days of Noah. “On that day one will be taken and one will not”. I’m skeptical of rapture theology, but it always bothered me that those who build a case against that view often cite “we will meet Him in the air”, and not the end of Luke 17 when Jesus describes what could be construed as a sort of rapture; that seems to be the central text in support of it. But I’m getting off topic.
The postmillennial view is that Jesus is the king of the whole world now, despite the fact that Paul seems to think (in 2nd Corinthians) that Satan is still the ruler of this world, which is yet another reason I reject the view. It’s also a bit odd because, were He the king, you’d expect Him to make an appearance, or at the very least you’d expect Him to conquer His enemies as He promised to do. I understand that the postmillennial Christian would say that this is exactly how to resolve the apparent conflict; Jesus’ kingdom isn’t like earthly kingdoms (it’s “not of this world”), and that we conquer through the Gospel, not through violence. All well and good, I suppose, but not compelling. Still, the postmillennial Christian is right to be optimistic, joyful, and productive. The fruit of their theology can go bad (as when, as I’ve seen fairly often on Gab, Christians want to literally go to war to “spread the Gospel” by force), but it often goes right. I’ve seen local revival largely inspired by postmillennial Christian teaching.
Premillennial theology can also go good or bad. On the one hand, it keeps those of us who hold to it modest. We don’t expect to conquer the world; that’s for Jesus to do someday. But we affirm, along with our postmil brethren, that we are to “make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that [Christ] commanded”. And if we are even remotely successful in this endeavor, that means we will have Christian families, Christian towns, and Christian nations after a while. And so the historical record bears it out; we see Christendom and the spread of the Gospel throughout the world through the international exploration, trade, and colonization of Europeans. For the likely fictitious person who thinks colonization is bad and has read this far, if you love Christ you should be pretty happy that Christian settlers around the world ended human sacrifice and other horrors and converted untold hundreds of millions over the centuries. All humans colonize; Christians also build Christ’s Kingdom.
When premillennial theology goes bad, it goes bad in the sort of pessimistic way my acquaintance began to think about. It leads to inaction. It leads to Christians who don’t get involved in local politics or business or anything outside their church, really, and it produces the sort of predictable results we’ve witnessed over the past twenty years with the radical leftward sprinting that has characterized not just the deepest blue cesspool of San Francisco but the entire country. It leads to thinking that only ministry is a viable role for Christians, because all the rest will be burned up anyway. It leads to thinking the Gospel is the sum total of the faith, not the basis for our faith, and so Christians end up without any training, without any understanding of why they ought to believe what they do. It leads to Christians with zero apologetics resources, Christians who can’t defend their faith to their own doubts, let alone the atheist they live next to.
This is why in the past I’ve proposed a “mere theonomy”. The idea is that obedience to the Great Commission and even moderate success will lead to the building of Christian civilization, for which we have great historical precedent, and that we should be prepared as Christians to do more than share the Gospel; we should be prepared to build civilization on the basis of God’s word. It will be built on something no matter what we do, so why not the truth? This fact, that some religion or another will rule, is why I reject the premillennial pessimism. It’s why I think some sort of theonomy is required. Christ wins the ultimate victory but that doesn’t mean we can’t win victories, too. Christ will rule as king of the whole world, but He is our king now and he has commanded that we build His kingdom now, and Christians have been doing that for 2000 years.
I suspect when the end comes, it will be unexpected precisely because the premillennial and postmillennial views are too neat and tidy, and we won’t exactly expect how we get there. But I affirm with Scripture that it will be “like the days of Noah and Lot”, and so far beyond anything we can do to influence in the end. That means, leading up to those events, we need to be obedient. We don’t understand how our contributions will matter, but they will. So, be optimistic. Your goal is world conquest through the Gospel and, as you take ground, build on that firm foundation. Jesus wins in the end, so act like it.