Adventures in Eschatology

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clockI have been addressing over the last few months issues surrounding the study of the differences between Dispenstational/Covenant theology and also all the eschatological sub-categories that surround these two basic hermeneutical positions. I must admit that it is a very large and complex area of study. I have much to learn and alot of reading and studying still to do. What I thought might be beneficial for some is that I post my notes as different articles so that perhaps some might have some corrections, comments or might even learn something from my study. I have a long way to go hence I will probably be contuing this as a little series of posts throughout a long period of time.  There could obviously be long gaps in between posts hence you might have to bare with me. Once again, I must implore you to read this with a grain of salt since I’m still learning as I go. I’m certain some will disagree with perhaps some of my conclusions (even though I really don’t have many at this point) but this is how I learn; by having to discuss and verify my materials. In other words, don’t be shy to post comments!

I want to take the time to perhaps define what it is that I’m actually addressing within these posts. Let me define some of the terminology and issues surrounding these particular idioms.

When I stated that I had taken on the study of eschatology what I mean is that I am examining what the bible has to say regarding the “things of the end”. What is going to happen when all things end! It is the study of events that are going to happen later on in the future. I am basically dealing with what will happen at the return of Christ, the resurrection and the final judgment/final consummation. There has always been tremendous interest in this particular field and a wide variety of interpretations regarding the things of the end.

The Millennium

When we use the term the millennium what we are implying by this terminology is exactly what we generally get in the english language, mainly “a thousand year” period. The term is found in Revelation 20 where the events of this particular extent of time is dealt with by the apostle John. There are basically three main schools of thought relating back to the interpretation of what is meant by “the millennium”. They would be defined as followed:

  • Premillenialism: This view sees the return of the Lord Jesus Christ as being before the Millenium. In other words when the Lord returns, He will set up at that time His Kingdom and reign for a literal 1000 years. 
  • Postmillenialism: This particular theolgical stance sees the Lord Jesus’ return as being after the millienial age. They still see the millenium as 1000 years but as a golden age prior to the coming of the Lord.
  • Ammillenialism: This term technically means “no millenium” however it is defined generally as the millenium being symbolic of the time between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Rapture

The term “rapture” simply means to be “caught up” and derived from the Greek term “harpagesometha” found in the text of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 wherer we read: we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. In other words the rapture is the removing of believers who are alive during the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus. There are also three schools of thought regarding the issues surrounding when this event will take place.

  • Pre-Tribulation: The Pre-Tribulation rapture is the view that the rapture will occur before the beginning of the Tribulation period. In other words those who are believers will never see the tribulation but will be taken away prior to its beginning.
  • Mid-Tribulation: The Mid-Trib position is that the rapture happens half-way through the seven-year Tribulation. In other words believers will go through the tribulation but will be caught up during this time.
  • Post-Tribulation: Quite obviously this states that the rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation period. In other words the believers will continue through the tribulation as witnesses of the Lord Jesus until the very last day.

Preterism vs. Futurism

The main point of the debate between these two views is found in the interpretation of the text of Matthew 24. A preterist would argue that the events spoken of by the Lord Jesus have already occured during the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the Romans in A.D. 70. There are two schools of preterism mainly the full-preterist who sees everything in Matt. 24 as accomplished and the partial-preterist who sees the majority being accomplished but with the return of the Lord still being future. The futurist view sees the events in Matt. 24 as being still in the future and nothing in these texts were necessarily accomplished in A.D. 70.

Dispensationalism vs. Covenantal theology

There are two schools of interpretation when addressing the scriptural attestation of eschatological matters. Mainly we have the dispensational camp and the Covenental camp. There are fundamental differences in the way both theologies view matters such as the Kingdom of God, Israel and the church and roughly everything we have just listed above.  It seems that both parties argue for the literat-grammatical interpretation of scripture while accusing the other of being inconsistent. Another point that I have noticed is that there are many “straw-man” arguments used by both sides to attempt to make the other “look bad”. I will not be addressing these in particular since I don’t feel they carry any weight in my study.

Anyhow, I do hope you enjoy and as soon as I have some time to get these posts together, I will gladly offer them here.


Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 15, 2009 at 9:12 am

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