Many a godly mother has been there. She’s in the kitchen whipping up some lovely dinner for the family and she can tell by the look, smell, and taste of the thing that it needs salt, or maybe turmeric, or paprika. Fill in whatever spice makes the illustration most palatable. The point is this: Momma knows what the situation in the kitchen calls for.
Something similar is going on in the state of Christianity in America. If you walk into that kitchen and smell the aroma of what’s cooking, it is my humble contention that the meal would be enhanced by a generous use of the postmillennial seasoning. Now I’m not saying you have to reach for the postmil spice. No offense to those of you who go for the postmil spice. I’m just saying there are a several folks considering the postmil-medium grade and you don’t want to scare them off with that top shelf caliente fire.
So three cheers for postmillennialism and before I get to the timely advantages, let me make a couple qualifications. First, eschatology is a friendly debate—dare I say a conversation—among brothers and sisters in Christ who have all been covered in the blood of the Lamb. I see no sense in promoting hostile divisions in the bride of Christ from a doctrine that teaches of her earthly triumph. Second, I’m not arguing for doctrine according to taste. Cooking Sunday dinner without a recipe is loads of fun. But when it comes to your Christianity, you need to follow the cookbook. However, you are totally permitted to take a closer look at the cookbook given what’s going on in the pot.
Postmillennialism and Its Advantages
As a rough and ready sketch, you could say that there are three eschatological outlooks. The first would be eschatological pessimism that has little hope for the gospel and the kingdom of God on earth. The second would be the eschatological tiebreaker which claims the kingdom of God will run parallel to the kingdom of darkness on earth unto the end, neither gaining the upper hand until Christ returns and breaks the tie. The third (the postmillennial view) is that of eschatological hope. It teaches that Christ is reigning now and He is reigning to victory. Therefore, the gospel and the church will triumph on earth as the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). So, on to the advantages.
Postmillennialism encourages the right kind of progress. At the present moment there is a strong temptation to retreat. Retreat fits the bill if there is no eschatological hope. But, if Christ reigns unto victory, then we can march on toward that victory. He leads us in triumphal procession after all. How can we not get on with that procession? Now, somebody with eyes in his head might say, “Have you not looked at the situation? Don’t you see the deconstruction project going on?” Well, yes we do. And the Apostle Paul tells us that God makes us the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in every place (2 Corinthians 2:14). And this place is certainly included in every place. We are not looking for the consummation of the kingdom by the end of the week. We must progress to that consummation through trials and tribulations. But, progress we will.
A second advantage involves increased love for the kingdom of God. Our situation at the moment is ripe for division. When trouble comes, there is a carnal instinct to look out for number one. This instinct can permeate families, churches, and ministries. They run well for a while. But then they fall into the trap of self-preservation. Their personal or organizational triumph eclipses the welfare of the kingdom. But, postmillennialism is bound up with the advance of the visible church, the very kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. It fosters a healthy appreciation for baptized Christians everywhere, guarding against the separatist tendency that leads to isolation and selfishness. My point is not that you have to be postmillennial to love the kingdom of God. But, there is no doubt that the doctrine ought to enhance such love in those who hold it. We are linked together in a great war with Christ as our King. Saints have gone before us and saints will come after us. And Christians all over, and of various stripes, are engaged in the battle be it they know it or not. It is a grand vision of the conquest of the kingdom. And God can use that vision to enlarge our hearts (Psalm 119:32).
A final advantage is confidence. In times like ours, despair crouches at the door and it would rule over us. Along with this despair comes his partner, crankiness. Cranky is what the despairing man does when he fears he will curl up in the corner. He knows he ought not be down in that corner so he lashes out. He barks. We’re all tempted to these errors and the postmillennial vision is like a friend who talks sense into us. Christ rules, he says. Not only in heaven, but from heaven. He has all authority in heaven, and He has all authority on earth. Now there are no guarantees that we will avoid the lion’s den. We may very well get sawn in two. But, there is a guarantee about where the gospel and the kingdom are headed. God is not only controlling all things. He is controlling all things unto victory—the advance of His kingdom on earth, the Christianization of the world. So come what may in our generation, our confidence is not in jeopardy.
Herbert Schlossberg has said, “The Bible can be interpreted as a string of God’s triumphs disguised as disasters.” And so it is with the increase of Christ’s government on earth. Saul thought he was snuffing out the faith as persecution arose in Jerusalem, but he was merely sending out missionaries. Likewise, the Jews thought they were tamping down the Christian gospel when they forced Paul’s retreat to Rome, but they were propagating the faith among the Gentiles. All of the clanging pots, the sweat and the heat in the kitchen, is merely a sign that the loaf is rising, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matthew 13:33).