Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Who can be Optimistic?

A common criticism of Postmillennialism is its optimism, namely its assertion that things will improve prior to the Second coming. The world will become more and more Christian. Surely you cannot say, so the complaint goes, that things are getting better. Why only a fool would make such a claim.

First of all, a good argument can be made that, worldwide, things are getting better. But I am not going to make that argument, for it is irrelevant.

Secondly, one could reply to this argument, which is based on newspapers rather than scripture, with a similarly non-scriptural-referenced feel-good rebuttal. Such as: Do you think Christ is really going to return only to find an utterly defeated church? No, your God is too small. Christ will return a victorious King, His Church, through the power of the Spirit having spread to all nations.

Actually that argument can be backed by scripture, but it is sometimes made without referring to scripture, as if it is manifestly true.

Even if we concede that things are getting worse, it is totally and utterly irrelevant. If the dismal state of society alone convicts us that things cannot turn around and get better, then, in effect, the implication is that Satan has more power than God. Do you really think that God cannot usher in a revival at any point in history of His choosing?

The only relevant question is whether scripture promises a victory for the church on earth. If it does, then we must embrace the optimism of postmillennialism regardless of present conditions. We cannot assume that things are so bad that even God cannot alter our downward spiral.

To do so is to make the error of Sarah, who laughed at God’s promise of a son. Surely even God cannot cause seed to grow in an old barren womb is an argument of similar logic to the one that rejects postmillennialism merely because it is optimistic.
1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Gen. 12:1-3)
Some translations use the phrase all families rather than all peoples. No matter, through one descendent of Noah, God has vowed to bless representatives of all descendents of Noah.

This is a promise—an unconditional promise. It does not read, all peoples will be blessed IF AND ONLY IF YOU DO (whatever). It is a promise God made, and surely He will keep.

There are three possibilities:
  1. God has fulfilled the promise already.
  2. God will fulfill the promise after Christ returns.
  3. God will fulfill the promise before Christ returns.
Postmillennialists believe the third option is correct, and find support for their position elsewhere in scripture.

But that's enough for now.

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