Christian eschatology Eschatology views Viewpoints • Preterism • Idealism • Historicism • Futurism The Millennium • Amillennialism • Postmillennialism • Premillenialism • Prewrath Rapture • Posttribulation Rapture Biblical Texts • The Olivet Discourse • The Sheep and the Goats • The Book of Revelation • The Book of Daniel Seventy Weeks • Apocrypha Enoch 2 Esdras Key Terms • Abomination of Desolation • Armageddon • Four Horsemen • New Jerusalem • Rapture • Second Coming • May 2011 Prediction • Seven Seals • Tribulation • Two Witnesses • Antichrist • in Historicism • Son of Perdition • The Beast • in Preterism Israel & the Church • Supersessionism • Covenant Theology • New Covenant Theology • Dispensationalism • Olive Tree Theology • Dual Covenant Theology
Amillennialism (Latin: a- "no" + millennialism) is a view in Christian end-times theology named for its rejection of the theory that Jesus Christ will have a thousand-year long, physical reign on the earth. This is in opposition to premillennial and some postmillennial interpretations of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation.
In contrast, the amillennial view holds that the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current church age, (or more rarely, that it ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 — see Preterism). Amillennialism holds that while Christ's reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign.
Many proponents dislike the name amillennialism because it emphasizes their differences with premillennialism rather than their beliefs about the millennium, and although they prefer alternate terms such as nunc-millennialism (that is, now-millennialism) or realized millennialism, the acceptance and widespread usage of the different names has been limited.
Amillennialism teaches that the Kingdom of God will not be physically established on earth throughout the "millennium", but rather
- that Jesus is presently reigning from heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father,
- that Jesus also is and will remain with the church until the end of the world, as he promised at the Ascension,
- that at Pentecost, the millennium began, as is shown by Peter using the prophecies of Joel, about the coming of the kingdom, to explain what was happening,
- and that, therefore the Church and its spread of the good news is Christ's Kingdom.
Amillennialists cite scripture references to the kingdom not being a physical realm: Matthew 12:28, where Jesus cites his driving out of demons as evidence that the kingdom of God had come upon them; Luke 17:20-21, where Jesus warns that the coming of the kingdom of God can not be observed, and that it is among them; and Romans 14:17, where Paul speaks of the kingdom of God being in terms of the Christians' actions.
In particular, they regard the thousand year period as a figurative expression of Christ's reign being perfectly completed, as the "thousand hills" referred to in Psalm 50:10, the hills on which God owns the cattle, are all hills, and the "thousand generations" in 1 Chronicles 16:15, the generations for which God will be faithful, refer to all generations. (Some postmillennialists and nearly all premillennialists hold that the word millennium should be taken to refer to a literal thousand-year period.)
Amillennialism also teaches that the binding of Satan described in Revelation has already occurred; he has been prevented from "deceiving the nations" by preventing the spread of the gospel. This is the only binding he will suffer in history: the forces of Satan will not be gradually pushed back by the Kingdom of God as history progresses but will remain just as active as always up until the second coming of Christ, and therefore good and evil will remain mixed in strength throughout history and even in the church, according to the amillennial understanding of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.
Amillennialism is sometimes associated with Idealism as both teach a symbolic interpretation of many of the prophecies of the Bible and especially the Book of Revelation. However, many amillennialists do believe in the literal fulfillment of Biblical prophecies; they simply disagree with Millennialists about how or when these prophecies will be fulfilled.
The first two centuries of the church held both premillennial and amillennial opinions. Although none of the available Church Fathers advocate amillennialism in the 1st century, Justin Martyr (died 165), who had chiliastic tendencies in his theology, mentions differing views in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, chapter 80: "I and many others are of this opinion [premillennialism], and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise."
A few amillenialists such as Albertus Pieters understand Pseudo-Barnabas to be amillennial. In the 2nd century, the Alogi (those who rejected all of John's writings) were amillennial, as was Caius in the first quarter of the 3rd century. With the influence of Neo-Platonism and dualism, Clement of Alexandria and Origen denied premillennialism. Likewise, Dionysius of Alexandria argued that Revelation was not written by John and could not be interpreted literally; he was amillennial.
Origen's idealizing tendency to consider only the spiritual as real (which was fundamental to his entire system) led him to combat the "rude" or "crude" Chiliasm of a physical and sensual beyond.
In general, however, premillennialism appeared in the available writings of the early church but it was evident that both views existed side by side. The premillennial beliefs of the early church fathers, however, are quite different from the dominant form of modern-day premillennialism, namely dispensational premillennialism.
Medieval and Reformation periods
Amillennialism gained ground after Christianity became a legal religion. It was systematized by St. Augustine in the 4th century, and this systematization carried amillennialism over as the dominant eschatology of the Medieval and Reformation periods. Augustine was originally a premillennialist, but he retracted that view, claiming the doctrine was carnal.
Amillennialism was the dominant view of the Protestant Reformers. The Lutheran Church formally rejected chiliasm in the The Augsburg Confession— “Art. XVII., condemns the Anabaptists and others ’who now scatter Jewish opinions that, before the resurrection of the dead, the godly shall occupy the kingdom of the world, the wicked being everywhere suppressed.’" Likewise, the Swiss Reformer, Heinrich Bullinger wrote up the Second Helvetic Confession which reads "We also reject the Jewish dream of a millennium, or golden age on earth, before the last judgment." John Calvin wrote in Institutes that chiliasm is a "fiction" that is "too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation." He interpreted the thousand year period of Revelation 20 non-literally, applying it to the "various disturbances that awaited the church, while still toiling on earth."
Amillennialism has been widely held in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches as well as in the Roman Catholic Church, which generally follows Augustine on this point and which has deemed that premillennialism "cannot safely be taught." Amillennialism is also common among Protestant denominations such as the Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Methodist Churches. It is also common among groups arising from the 19th century American Restoration Movement such as the Churches of Christ,:125 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Christian churches and churches of Christ. It even has a significant following amongst Evangelical Christian denominations. Partial preterism is sometimes a component of amillennial hermeneutics. Amillennialism declined in Protestant circles with the rise of Postmillennialism and the resurgence of Premillennialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it has regained prominence in the West after World War II.
E. Michael Jones, a Catholic writer and publisher of Culture Wars magazine, ascribes the millenium to the period 410 AD to 1410 AD, a time he calls the "Rule of Christ". The period begins with the Sack of Rome by Alaric and the Visigoths, and ends with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, specifically the excommunication of Jan Hus by Pope Alexander V. Between those two events, the church enjoyed its apogee of influence in society.
Many premillennialists accuse amillennialists of over-spiritualizing parts of the Bible. Amillennialists argue that to understand the Bible literally, one must interpret it according to its genre such that poetry is not read as though it were history, for instance.
The amillennial view that good and evil will persist has led some postmillennialists to accuse amillennialists (and premillennialists) of being overly pessimistic. Amillennialists have countered that the Parable of the Weeds and the Parable of Drawing in the Net show that the good and evil will be sorted out only at the end of the world.
- ^ Anthony Hoekema, "Amillennialism"
- ^ Patrick Allen Boyd (1977). Thesis at Dallas Theological Seminary. p. 90f. "[P]erhaps, seminal amillennialism, and not nascent dispensational pre-millennialism ought to be seen in the eschatology of the period."
- ^ "Always Victorious!" by Francis Nigel Lee
- ^ a b Catholic Answers on "The Rapture"
- ^ Eusebius, 3.28.1-2
- ^ De Principiis, 2.2
- ^ Eusebius, Church History, 7.15.3; 7.25
- ^ The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.8, p. 273
- ^ The Anchor Bible Dictionary (1997) article "Chiliasm", The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (Johann Amos Comenius, ed. 1998) p. 42 and Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, A.D. 70 to 135 (James D. G. Dunn, 1999) p. 52.
- ^ Boyd, pp. 90f: "It is the conclusion of this thesis that Dr. Ryrie's statement [that dispensationalism was the view of the early church fathers] is historically invalid within the chronological framework of this thesis. The reasons for this conclusion are as follows: 1). the writers/writings surveyed did not generally adopt a consistently applied literal interpretation; 2). they did not generally distinguish between the Church and Israel; 3). there is no evidence that they generally held to a dispensational view of revealed history; 4). although Papias and Justin Martyr did believe in a Milennial kingdom, the 1,000 years is the only basic similarity with the modern system (in fact, they and dispensational pre-millennialism radically differ on the basis of the Millennium); 5).they had no concept of imminency or a pre-tribulational rapture of the Church; 6).in general, their eschatological chronology is not synonymous with that of the modern system. Indeed, this thesis would conclude that the eschatological beliefs of the period studied would be generally inimical to those of the modern system (perhaps, seminal amillennialism, and not nascent dispensational pre-millennialism ought to be seen in the eschatology of the period)."
- ^ "City of God, Book 20, Chapter 7"
- ^ Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 2 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, n.d.) 381.
- ^ Philip Schaff History of Creeds Vol. 1, 307.
- ^ John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, XXV.V
- ^ Jon Kennedy. The Everything Jesus Book: His Life, His Teachings. Adams Media. "With some variations, amillenialism is the traditional eschatology of the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Calvinist (Presbyterian, Reformed), Anglican, and Methodist Churches."
- ^ Ron Rhodes, The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations, Harvest House Publishers, 2005, ISBN 0-7369-1289-4
- "A Defense of (Reformed) Amillennialism" - a series of articles by David J. Engelsma from the Standard Bearer (April 1, 1995 through December 15, 1996)
- Monergism's articles on Amillennialism
- Grace Online Library: Amillennialism - various articles on Amillennialism
- "Millennium and Millenarianism" from the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Blue Letter Bible summary (dispensational premillennialism perspective)
- On The Thousand Year Reign (Chiliasm) Elder Cleopa of Romania—Eastern Orthodox view
- "Millennium" from Christian Cyclopedia (Lutheran perspective)
- "Millennium" by Nathan J. Engel (Lutheran perspective)
- Understanding Eschatology from an Amillenial Perspective - a series of lectures by Steve Gregg
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
amillennialism — noun A view in Christian eschatology that rejects the claimed future thousand year physical reign of Jesus Christ on the earth, in opposition to premillennial and some postmillennial views of the Book of Re … Wiktionary
amillennialism — amil·len·ni·al·ism … English syllables
amillennialism — Амилленаризм … Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов
amillennialism — |ā noun ( s) Etymology: a (II) + millenialism : the denial that an earthly millennium of universal righteousness and peace will either precede or follow the second advent of Jesus Christ compare postmillennialism, premillennialism … Useful english dictionary
Premillennialism — This article is about Premillennialism in Christian eschatology. For other uses, see Millenarianism. Christian eschatology Eschatology views Viewpoints • Preterism … Wikipedia
Two Witnesses — In Christian eschatology, the Two Witnesses are two individuals, concepts or corporate beings described in chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation in the events leading up to the second coming of Christ.] The images, symbolism, and allegorical… … Wikipedia
anilleniîialism — Since the Reformation era, most Protestant churches have subscribed to some version of amil lennialism, a spiritualized view of the Christian promise of the kingdom of God. Amillennialism had been articulated by st. Augustine (354 430) in… … Encyclopedia of Protestantism
Christian eschatology — Part of a series on Christianity … Wikipedia
Millennialism — Part of a series on Eschatology … Wikipedia
Augustine of Hippo — This article is about the theologian and philosopher, Augustine of Hippo. For his theodicy regarding the problem of evil, see Augustinian theodicy. Augustine , Saint Augustine , and Augustinus redirect here. For other uses, see Augustine… … Wikipedia