Event: An Evening of Eschatology (The Meaning of the Millennium)
Location: Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis)
Speakers: Sam Storms, Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson (Moderator: John Piper)
Date: September 27, 2009
These men gathered at Bethlehem Baptist Church to discuss the thousand-year reign discussed in Revelation 20. It was at times serious and intense, and at other times very funny. I enjoyed watching some heavy-hitters defend their beliefs head-to-head. Here are some of my jottings from the evening:
-Christ died so that we might die. He lives so that we might live. He absorbed our sin and God’s wrath and His righteousness was imputed on our behalf.
-Doug Wilson remarked (15:25 point in the video) that the Millennium is 1000 years of peace that Christians like to fight about. 🙂
-One’s view of the millennium pertains to when he believes the 1000 year reign discussed in Rev. 20:1-6 falls in time.
-Relevant texts regarding the Bible’s use of the word “ages”:  Matthew 12:32  Mark 10:30  I Corinthians 10:11  Ephesians 1:21
Some opinions and comments from the speakers:
Doug Wilson: Ages overlap from Pentecost to 70 AD. Jewish age ended 70; new age began then.
Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms: Jesus will reign on this earth.
Doug Wilson: This earth is longing for the resurrection for the created order – Rom 8
Doug Wilson: Intermediate state – we die and are with the Lord the day of our death – in heaven. We wait for the redemption of our bodies.
Jim Hamilton (Premillennial View): Revelation shows that there will be a resurrection of believers who reign with Jesus on earth for a thousand years. JW suggests that their offspring may not be regenerated and could die without Christ in that period. Then Satan is released, and there is a rebellion, to be followed by the final judgment, and a new heaven and new earth.
Doug Wilson (Post-millennial View): The Millennium is now on the earth. Jesus will come and judge death at the end of this age. The dead will be raised; we will be ushered into the golden age. The progress of the gospel is apparent here on earth; suffering is abating. Doug concurred with the Partial-Preterist view that the book of Revelation was written before 70 AD and the prophecies were fulfilled in the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.
Sam Storms (Amillennial View): The Millennium is vital, but it is in heaven. Revelation 20 saints are with Christ now and they are in the millennium. The Millennium is now and it will end at Christ’s 2nd coming. One problem with the post-millennial view is that suffering continues here on earth (according to Scripture). Believers who have died are in the millennium now.
It wasn’t easy to take notes because of the pace of the discussion and the heavy subject matter being discussed. The video of this event is now available (above and on YouTube), and anyone can review what was said during the two-hour long forum.
|Participant||Millennium View||Eschatological Stance on the Book of Revelation|
|John Piper||Premillennialist||Futurist (Post-Tribulationist)|
Doug Wilson made the point that the years 30-70 AD were the overlapping of two ages, the Judaic (Old Covenant) age and the Christian (Church) age. He likened this transition to the passing of a baton between two runners, where the first runner keeps running alongside the second runner for some distance, before completely letting go of the baton and giving way to the second runner. One relevant text for this idea is Hebrews 8:13. Doug noted that the Christian age began at Pentecost, but the Judaic age only ended 40 years later with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD (See the video, roughly from the 18:30-22:00 mark).
Sam Storms stated that the “millennium” is currently taking place in heaven, experienced by all who have died in Christ and are dwelling in the intermediate state, awaiting Christ’s Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the redemption of our bodies. Thus they are reigning with Christ now, but from heaven and not from the earth.
Doug Wilson, representing the Post-Millennial viewpoint, insisted that the Great Commission will be successful in human history, Christianity will more or less take over the world, and then Christ will return. Some Post-Millennialists believe that a literal 1000-year Golden Age will close out the Church age. Others, like Doug, believe that Church history will simply end in a climax as Christianity progressively permeates the earth more than ever before.
John Piper posted some follow-up thoughts two days after we attended this forum:
For two hours I moderated, more or less, a discussion among Jim Hamilton (professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky), Sam Storms (pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), and Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho).
The discussion was intended to focus on the relationship between the thousand-year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20 and the return of Christ to this earth visibly and physically to reign. This thousand years is usually called “the millennium.” Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible where the length of this period is mentioned.
A little later in this article, Piper summarizes the three views which were presented that night:
Premillennialism (represented by Jim Hamilton): The return of Christ happens before (pre-) the thousand-year reign of Christ, which is a reign of the risen Christ on the earth.
Amillennialism (represented by Sam Storms): The return of Christ happens after the thousand-year reign, a reign that occurs in heaven, in the intermediate state, and not upon the earth. Those who have died in faith and entered into the presence of Christ share his rule and reign during the current church age in which we now live.
Postmillennialism (represented by Doug Wilson): The return of Christ happens after (post-) the thousand-year reign, which corresponds to the Christian age, and the reign of Christ from heaven leads the church to triumph by and through the gospel to such an extent that the Great Commission will be successfully fulfilled, and the Christian faith will pervade all the cultures of all the nations of men. All Christ’s enemies will be subdued in this way, with the exception of death, which he will destroy by his coming.
Piper acknowledges that his own view is Historic Premillennialism, but adds that he sees Amillennialism as “the next most plausible view.”
*Someone mentioned a few days after this forum that John Piper had prepared 16 more questions which he never got to because time got away from the group.
**Each of the speakers has recommended several resources for further study: See here
An Introduction and Outline of all our posts on Revelation 20 (concerning the topic of the Millennium) can be found here.
All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.