Grace Toward One Another
As we begin the study of prophecy, and the book of Revelation in particular, I think it’s important to make the point that we need to extend grace to one another regarding the position we hold. Prophecy, especially the book of Revelation, can be a very confusing subject. The best of Bible scholars struggle to piece it all together.
Furthermore, it’s not a doctrine that should break fellowship between us. It’s not like the doctrine of salvation or the doctrine of the Trinity. Those are foundational doctrines of the Christian faith that we must all be in agreement on. But when it comes to prophecy, there is a lot of room for disagreement and grace. I don’t have the same position on prophecy as my pastor, but we respect each other and don’t allow it to get between us. We both understand how difficult this doctrine is. Thus, we allow love and humility to reign in our relationship.
Therefore, whether we’re Premillennial, Amillennial, Postmillennial, or Preterist, it’s important that we accept each other where we’re at in regard to this doctrine, and simply look at it as a difference in interpretation. I think the main thing to keep in mind, is that we all belong to the same Savior and King, and that regardless of our position, we’re all going to end up at the same place. I have a friend who jokes that he’s a pan-millennialist. Meaning it will all pan out in the end.
I would like to say a word about Dispensational Premillennialism (DP). For over 40 years I was a DP. I can recall looking down on Amillennialists and Postmillennialists. I regarded them as being ultra liberal, and didn’t even want to read why they believed as they did. That was not only a lack of understanding, but it was immature and prideful.
Dispensational Premillennialism is by far the most common viewpoint of prophecy. So much so, that it’s almost become a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith to many. That was pretty much where I was at. But that’s not the truth. It’s simply a difference in interpretation, and that is all. It’s not something that should divide us, or give us reason to look down on someone who doesn’t have that position of prophecy. Each of the four major positions on prophecy have very good reasons for believing as they do. So, in humility, we must grant grace to those who have a different position than we do.
My Prophecy Position: Amillennialism
I’ve already indicated, I’m no longer a DP. I’ve been studying this doctrine passionately for quite awhile now, and at one point I came to the conclusion that Premillennialism is the correct interpretation. However, I made the mistake of allowing myself to set aside one of the major rules of interpretation: Never interpret the New Testament according to the Old Testament.
That was a serious mistake, and as I continued to study, I realized I simply couldn’t escape what the New Testament reveals. Thus, whatever difficulties the Old Testament presents, there is an answer.
Therefore, the primary reason I cannot accept the DP position is, that it requires one to interpret the NT according to the OT. In order to come to a proper understanding of any NT doctrine, one must always interpret the OT according to what the NT teaches. Once we’ve thoroughly studied the NT, and have come to a certain understanding, then, and only then, can we proceed to the OT.
It seems clear to me, that the NT teaches the Amillennial position. I believe the Amillennial position is the most honest. What I mean by that is, that I believe it deals with the NT texts in the most unbiased manner. I believe it’s faithful to the rules of interpretation. It begins with a proper understanding of the NT, and then properly proceeds to the OT. As we proceed from here, I believe this will all become apparent.
Note: Throughout the studies of eschatology on this website, my main focus of comparison to Amillennialism, will be the DP position, since that is the dominant eschatological position among Christians today.