Theology Thursday: Why This Former Presbyterian Became a Baptist

It’s a long story, but an important one.  From the confusion and dismay of the Charismatic movement (look for future posts on that topic coming soon), it was the doctrines of the Reformation which brought me back to peaceful relationship with God and proper fear of Him.  Just as it was in the days leading up to the Protestant Reformation, so it is today in Christendom: The simple gospel of Christ had – and has again – become obscured behind corruption and superstition.  Newly Reformed and delighted to embrace and promote my new-found faith, and without a church home at the time, I joined a Presbyterian church, brought my family in, and had my very young children baptized.

But it didn’t take long before there were issues in our denomination – issues that most “ordinary parishioners” had no knowledge of and frankly, didn’t want to know about. Being a theologian at heart, however – and by the way I think every Christian ought to be – I read Reformed journals and web sites. Then later, as an officer in my PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church, I thought it wise to keep an eye on what the PCA was doing.  Having been led far astray once before (as a Charismatic), I maintain a particular sense of watchfulness.  No matter how noble and pure a denomination may be at first, historically it takes only about 40 years for it to abandon it’s first principles to pursue wealth, popularity, and prestige.  The PCA itself was born out of such a controversy, and we saw it happen to the now completely apostate PCUSA which – incredibly – also claims the Westminster Confession of Faith as it’s doctrinal standard!

I am one among dozens who have blogged about doctrinal disaster in the PCA, and the apathetic “leave theology to the experts” mentality that has given harmful teachings a deep foothold in the denomination.  One PCA church had taken to a very formal, Anglican-style worship that borrows heavily from Eastern Orthodox forms and is very closely wedded to the “liturgical calendar.” During last year’s Advent season, the sanctuary was festooned with all the trappings of the Latin liturgy and the pastors took delight in the beauty of all the pomp and ceremony.  Asked to explain the Advent Candles (Why are there five candles? Why is one of the outside four a different color?  Why is the one in the middle called “the Christ candle?”), the pastor shrugged and simply admitted that he had no idea what the symbolism meant, but “isn’t it beautiful?”

My first thought:  Is this even a Reformed church anymore? shrug

Driven by an urgent sense that the Reformed faith has no biblical alternative, I decided from the bottom of my broken heart that it was time once again to search for a new church. My first impulse, naturally, was to look within my own denomination. But a moment’s thought changed my mind about that, since both of the PCA churches I had belonged to had either fallen prey to or completely ignored the heretical elephant in the room known as Federal Vision. Nearby is a Reformed Baptist church, though, and I thought it worth a look.  So for the next few Sundays I went there and enjoyed some of the sweetest worship among a group of simple, beautiful Berean-style scholarly folk who take the bible very seriously.  The worship liturgy was a simple, plain, joyful song service interspersed frequently with prayer and scripture readings, followed by a well-prepared exegesis of a portion of scripture.

“Well, they aren’t Presbyterians but  it is nevertheless always a good thing for me to take fresh measure of my beliefs,” I told myself.  What scared me a little was that part of me that longed to bring my heart-achy search for a Reformed church to a conclusion, and so was vulnerable to seeking justification for moving over to this Reformed Baptist church. To counter that tendency I determined to do nothing until I had read, absorbed, and debated these things with both Baptist and Presbyterian brothers. The trouble was finding people from either camp who are actually willing to be challenged in that way. I had been a Presbyterian for over two decades. Both of my adult children were raised in that tradition, both baptized as infants by sprinkling. If I was to make any big changes in my theology at this point in my life, I had darn well better have good solid reasons for doing it.

So I dove into books and on-line articles, listened to audio recordings of debate between Baptist and Presbyterian theologians, looking at questions through the eyes of both sides, and re-examined my own personal hermeneutics.  After several months of study, I have concluded that the differences between Presbyterians and Baptists come down to three very important things:

Number-1ab  Different hermeneutics:

Reformed believers are guided by one of two hermeneutics. Both usually lead to similar conclusions, but an important distinction exists between the two. And the deeper I go in my studies of the scriptures, the more the distinction seems to really matter.

The Presbyterian hermeneutic is described in the Westminster Confession of Faith this way:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture… (WCF 1:6, emphasis mine).

The Reformed Baptist hermeneutic sounds similar but it is different because it does not include deduction or “good consequence:”

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture (London Baptist Confession 1:6, emphasis mine).

So what’s the difference? Both often lead to the same conclusion, as they do in the doctrine of the Trinity, for example. I have a silly, simplistic way of illustrating it: If one passage explicitly states that “all normal dogs have four legs,” and another explicitly states that “Spot is a normal dog,” then it is necessarily true that Spot has four legs even though that fact is not explicitly stated. The fact is contained in the book even though not explicitly. A Presbyterian might deduce that since there are other properties of normal dogs, such as two ears, a wet nose, and a wagging tail, then Spot must also have those qualities as well, even if the book doesn’t contain those things in its description of normal dogs. A Reformed Baptist could not reach that far, since two ears, a wet nose, and a wagging tail are not contained in the book’s description. While I realize that my silly simplistic illustration likely falls short of adequately describing the difference, I’m a simple country boy and receptive to correction if I really have misstated the difference. That’s just how I understand it.

It is that difference, I think, that accounts at least in part for the differences in Covenant Theology between Baptists and Presbyterians, and in the way that the two apply the Regulative Principle of Worship to the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Number-2ab   Different Covenantal Views:

Presbyterians view the Old and New Testaments as containing different administrations of the same covenant, which most refer to as the Covenant of Grace. They do this to preserve the continuity of Scripture between both Testaments. But to a Reformed Baptist, it isn’t necessary to preserve the continuity of the Testaments by describing the two as being “different administrations of one covenant.” The writer of Hebrews describes the Old Covenant as “type and shadow” of the New. The New fulfills the Old. But to a Baptist, the two are separate covenants altogether and while one prefigures the other, they apply to different groups of people and different points along the continuum of unfolding eschatology and progressive revelation:

  • First, the Old covenant was limited, under it’s different administrations, to one family, one race, one nation; whereas the New removes all such distinctions.
  • Second, the Old was temporal rather than eternal as the New covenant is.
  • Thirdly the Old was physical, geographical, and political, where the New is spiritual, universal, and “not of this world.”

Yet under the Old Testament, prefiguring the New, all who were eternally saved were saved just as they are in the New: By faith in One who was to come, the Seed promised to Abraham in the Old covenant, the Second Adam, the Mediator of – as the writer of Hebrews describes it – “a better covenant based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).”

Number-3ab  Different Applications of the Regulative Principle of Worship:

Both Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians subscribe to this principle, based on Sola Scriptura and described in the Westminster Confession of Faith in these terms:

…the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself, and is so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshiped according to … any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture (WCF 21:1).

This principle has been reduced by many people to simply, “When it comes to the worship of God, whatever is not commanded is forbidden.” This is quite unlike the Lutheran and Anglican principle which is, to reduce it to it’s simplest form, “whatever is not forbidden is permitted in the worship of God.” This leads them to all sorts of human inventions that “help the people worship,” from drama and dance to more superstitious stuff like making the sign of the cross and assigning mystical properties to the elements in the Lord’s Supper and observing a liturgical calender. Superstition, by the way, I take to mean trying to please, appease, delight, or “reach” God by any means other than revealed in His written word.

Because the Old Testament is to be interpreted through the lens of the New Testament, and because of the difference in the two views of covenant theology, the Reformed Baptist does not see baptism as a New covenant “replacement” of Old covenant circumcision. And as there is no explicit command in the New Testament to baptize any but confessed believers, Baptists reject what Presbyterians call “covenant baptism” (or “infant baptism”). To a Presbyterian, the command to baptize the infant children of believers is “necessarily deduced ” by the examples of Old covenant circumcision and “household baptisms” in the New Testament.

These three differences combine to form the theological basis for both credobaptism (believer’s baptism) and paedobaptism (infant baptism). They also represent what my search “boiled down to.” To most people I know, none of this matters. One just goes to “whatever church makes them happy” as long as it adheres to “the essentials.” That can’t be enough for me. In fact it hasn’t been enough for me ever. Not because I’m “too nitpicky,” but because love demands the pursuit of the truest possible knowledge of God.

What these differences mean to me in particular:

The Baptist position seems more consistent (Presbyterians baptize babies yet keep them from the Supper until they can articulate their faith in an adult manner), and closer to Sola Scriptura because it insists upon not exceeding what is written no matter how flawlessly logical and reasonable it may seem to do so. And equally important, the Baptist view of the covenants, which preserves the continuity of Scripture without the confusing of merger of Old and New signs, shadows, and types, quite literally makes it impossible for the deadly toxic weeds of Federal Vision theology to grow in Baptist soil. Perhaps I wasn’t really a very good Presbyterian all those years. It is too easy for even their own theologians to become bewildered and confused by their hermeneutics, getting lost in the details. I tend to run in favor of those things which “are so clearly propounded and opened in Scripture that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain unto an sufficient understanding of them (WCF 1:7).”

Another Southern Baptist Heretic

First, it was Beth Moore with her ridiculous “God-given” vision of the professing Church, including Roman Catholics, being joined together by God in unholy unity. Now Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback megachurch pastor, Rick Warren claims she had a vision from God after the suicide of her mentally ill son in 2013. In a Facebook…

via Rick Warren’s Wife, Kay, Joins Band of Vision-Seeing Prophetesses in the SBC — Pulpit & Pen

No Reformed Baptist church should remain in the SBC as long as they allow such witchcraft to be openly practiced and encouraged among their members in good standing.  While I hear little bits and pieces of encouraging news about a resurgence of “Reformed” theology and worship in the SBC, it seems drowned out by the stuff Broadman is peddling and the trash that SBC ministers are espousing.

Down with the Traditional Church!

Theology Thursday: It isn’t traditional worship and church life that is being maligned, it’s foundational, traditional Baptist theology which from it’s founding until about a century ago was Reformed!

Reformed Baptist Fellowship


This new direction is, needless to say, carried on side by side with an attack on the traditional church. This attack has become incessant from the church marketers, as indeed it has also from emergents, and it is, on its face, quite curious.

It is true that some traditional churches are desultory, dispirited, boring, dull, lifeless, inept, small, disheartened, or otherwise dying. One does wonder, though, why such a dead dog keeps getting kicked, sometimes quite viciously, by the church marketers. “If you have found church to be as painful as a trip to the dentist and twice as boring …” begins a typical attack that is also a solicitation of interest in this new breed of church-doing. Another advertisement for a megachurch, with the traditional church in mind, says church “is about avoiding hell … not sitting through it every week.”

But if the traditional church is so inept…

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Theology Thursday: Antichrist(s)

Long overdue – thanks one and all for your prayers while I have been recovering – here is the final post on comparative eschatologies, bibilcal/orthodox and unbiblical/fanciful. In this final post, we’ll look at what the major schools of eschatology teach about the Antichrist or Antichrists:

To Postmillennialists, the antichrist is viewed in the past, as various individuals, a movement or spirit (1 John 4:3) of deception. The Apostle John warned that even in his own lifetime, “many antichrists have come (1 John 2:18).”

To most Amillennialists, the antichrist is a future individual who gains political power over the whole world before the return of Christ. Other Amillennialists share the Postmillennial view and point to numerous examples, from Nero to Hitler, and some to the Papacy. Because of the Amillenial view of the worldwide decline of the culture and the church being driven underground, the former opinion makes more sense in the grand Amillennial scheme. Historically, world domination is the goal of every conqueror-dictator. Sooner later one is bound to succeed, at least for a time.

Historic Premillennialists teach that the antichrist is a future individual who inflicts persecution of Christians before the “rapture” at the end of the tribulation period.

Dispensational Premillenialists teach that a future world dictator will persecute both Jews and Christians, reaching the peak of his power after the rapture. “Mid-trib” advocates, say it occurs 3 1/2 years into the 7-year tribulation period.

Theology Thursday: On Hold

Due to a recent brush with death, I have not been able to finish the little series comparing the various schools of eschatology. I will resume the series where I left off when I am out of danger.

When I can find the words to define and describe my recent experience, I’ll share it in my personal blog. In the meantime, I covet the prayers of the righteous for myself and my family.

In His care and keeping,

Theology Thursday: Thy Kingdom Come (Part Three)

This is part three of a brief series on orthodox eschatology, with brief comments on common “mongrel” forms that are considered unorthodox, heterodox, and/or downright heretical.

Today’s post is a summary chart which describes each position, it’s common hermeneutic, and highlights. There are degrees and shades of these, so it can hardly be called an authoritative or even necessarily accurate summary, but a generalization. I’m painting with a very broad brush here, so don’t come down too hard on what you perceive to be an error, but comments, as always, are welcome.


Post-mil: Historical, grammatical method; context and genre are
interpretive considerations; Scripture interprets Scripture.
Apocalyptic literature mostly figurative, mostly fulfilled.
Context determines whether literal or figurative. Old
Testament interpreted by the New.

A-mil: As Postmil above. Revelation should be interpreted by it’s
intended audience, the 1st century Church, reassuring them
of Christ’s ultimate victory.

Historic Pre-mil: Historical grammatical method; context and genre
are considered, Scripture interprets Scripture. A “natural
reading” of apocalyptic literature determines whether a
portion is literal or figurative.

Dispensational Pre-mil: Strong inclination toward literalism.
Scripture divided into seven dispensations (periods of
time) in which God acted or acts in different ways towards


Post-mil: Occurs after the millennium (which is not a literal 1000 year
period of time), when a triumphant church has conquered the
culture, planet-wide. A “golden age” of righteousness on Earth
to conclude this present age. The Second Coming initiates a
general resurrection, judgment of all men, and eternal state.

A-mil: The Second Coming occurs after the millennium, which is
this present age. “The millennium” encompasses all of human
history between the two advents of Christ. The Church triumphs
through the purity resulting from persecution. The Second Advent
initiates a general resurrection, judgment, and eternal state.

Historic Pre-mil: The millennium is a “golden age” that begins after the
second coming. After a time of great tribulation, Christ returns
and initiates the thousand-year golden age of peace.

Dispensational Pre-mil: Second Coming before the millennium but
preceded by a secret “rapture,” the catching away of the Church
(living and dead) before, during, or following a great period of
tribulation. He returns and sets up an Earthly, geopolitical


Post-mil: Began at the first advent of Christ, present reality. Spiritual in
nature, encompassing both heaven and Earth. It grows and gains
throughout the present millennial age until it fills the earth.

A-mil: Began at the first advent of Christ, present reality, encompassing
heaven and earth. It grows to reach a remnant from every tongue
and tribe on earth, but relatively few are saved – over time,
however, cumulatively, it’s citizens are a vast unnumbered multitude.

Historic Pre-mil: While the kingdom has come spiritually, but will not
transform the earth until the millennium the Second Advent.

Dispensational Pre-mil: In no sense present today, it is an earthly kingdom
initiated by the return of Christ, established suddenly and cataclysmically,
primarily as a Jewish kingdom.

In future posts in this series I’ll describe what each group teaches about Antichrist(s), the rapture, the resurrection, judgment, Christ’s reign, Israel, the binding of Satan and his current status, and tribulation, and re-creation. Buckle up!

Theology Thursday Next Week

My apologies, Keachfan readers… today was crazy. I have most of the work done, but unfinished, so it will be next Thursday before I can publish the long-awaited chart I promised last week. Stay tuned!


Theology Thursday: They Kingdom Come! Part 2

Last week I introduced the topic of eschatology (the study of “last things”) and explained why it matters. Readers may want to go back and re-read last Theology Thursday’s post just to get a sense of where we left off and where we’re headed. This time I will introduce the three orthodox (historical, bible-based, well-founded, in keeping with Church teaching for many centuries) schools of eschatology, and list some un-biblical, heterodox (un-orthodox) and absolutely heretical perversions of them.

Over the next two or three weeks we’ll explore the history of each system, the main features of each, and how each system deals with issues and interprets certain Scripture portions. There are three historic and orthodox schools of eschatology, each with solid footing in Scripture and history, which are either embraced or tolerated as orthodox by most Reformed churches (Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, others). Each has one or two “mongrel” forms which are not orthodox at all, unbiblical, Scripturally unsupportable, and/or downright heretical, damnable lies. I’ll mention and describe these “mongrel” forms, but I’ll try to avoid going off on a tangent about them. That might be hard for me with my background in Charismania, but I’ll try.

Three Schools of Eschatology: Two are “millennial,” one is not.

Today I’ll just briefly summarize all three, and go more in-depth with each in later Theology Thursdays.

Postmillennialism is confessional and orthodox in it’s historic form, but in our day there are two “mongrel” forms of it that have come to shape the policies and actions of certain groups, both on the fringes of orthodoxy and “off the deep end” as well. Let’s look at the major features of Postmillennialism. Orthodox postmillennialism relies on historical-grammatical hermeneutics, include context and genre as interpretive considerations (genre referring to the type of literature among the 66 books of the bible – poetry and song, narrative, instructional, prophetic / apocalyptic, etc), context determines whether a passage is literal or figurative, and “let Scripture interpret Scripture.” To orthodox postmillennialists, the Book of Revelation is mostly figurative and mostly fulfilled in the year 70 AD (“partial” pretorism).

It’s general teaching is a gradual triumph of the gospel, as it spreads and changes lives, to become the dominant force on Earth, influencing law and culture, bringing in a “golden age” in which the Church has subdued the Earth to Christ, and the Lord Jesus returns to a triumphant Church which has conquered the culture, fulfilling God’s charge to Adam, “subdue the Earth.” This “golden age” resulting from the power of the gospel transforming the whole culture of the world is not a literal 1,000 year period, but is happening even now. The Second Coming of Christ occurs after this “millennium” in which the gospel has conquered the Earth. The Lord’s Second Coming initiates the general resurrection, judgement, and eternal state.

Unbiblical “mongrel” forms of Postmillennialism take the form of Charismatic “Dominion theology” in which the world is conquered by naming-it-and-claiming-it, speaking it into being by the word of faith, etc. The other mongrel form of Postmillennialism is so-called “Reformed” theonomy in which even the civil laws of ancient Israel are reinstated, and Church and State become one.

Amillennialism relies on the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. Context and genre are interpretive considerations, Scripture interprets Scripture, Old Testament interpreted by the New Testament. Some amillennialists see Progressive Parallelism in the Book of Revelation; Earth’s history repeated seven times. Most amillennialists are pretorist; either orthodox (“partial”) pretorist or hyper (“full”) pretorist, teaching that either most (“partial,” orthodox) or all (“full” or hyper-pretorist) prophecy in Revelation is already fulfilled by 70 AD. Hyper-pretorism, or “full” pretorism is absolutely heretical! The Second Coming, resurrection, judgment, and recreation have certainly NOT already taken place! “Partial,” or orthodox pretorism, however, as found in historic Postmillennialism and Amillennialism, is within the bounds of historical orthodoxy.

Like Postmillennialists, Amillennialists teach that we are in “the millennium” now; that it is not a literal period of 365,000 24-hour days, but that the “thousand years of peace” described in Revelation is figurative, meaning only “a really long time.” Amillennialism is better named “Non-millennialism.” The prefix “A” means “not,” as in “asymmetrical” (not symmetrical) or “asymptomatic” (having no symptoms).

Despite the power of the gospel to change the lives of those who believe it, Amillennialism teaches that the great majority of humanity will reject the gospel, and the Lord will return to rescue a persecuted remnant rather than a triumphant, world-conquering Church which dominates the planet-wide, “Christianized” human culture. It is often called pessimistic eschatology, but that is a misnomer. Optimism or pessimism depends on one’s point of view. The remnant does indeed overcome the world, but not in the form of a “golden age” where the whole world is majority-Christian and truly living in the power of Spirit-filled holiness. The Scriptures are replete with Remnant types and narratives, from the fist family to the tiny surviving remnant of those who fled from Egypt, those emerging from the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, etc. Amillennialism teaches that the Lord returns to rescue a persecuted remnant, and that the Second Coming initiates the resurrection, judgment, and final state of humanity.

takes three forms in our day. Historic, Dispensational, and Progressive. Only Historic premillennialism is orthodox! Dispensational Premillennialism is heterodox at best, but usually heretical in that it offers two different plans of salvation – one for Jews and another for Gentiles), wrongly dividing the people of God. The little Epistle to the Ephesians is the antidote for such foolishness. The Progressive form of premillennialism, first appearing in the 1980’s, teaches that the meaning of Scripture changes over time, and that Scripture means “whatever it means to me, at the time I read it.” This is a complete departure from the historical-grammatical process, which understands that the meaning of any portion of Scripture is whatever the author and the Holy Spirit intended when it was penned. This is “liberal theology” run amok. “Progressive Dispensationalism” will get no further consideration in this series, but it bears mentioning since it has found a place in some “Emergent” churches.

Historic Premillennialism relies on the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, context and genre are interpretive considerations, and Scripture interprets Scripture. In a “natural reading” of Revelation, context determines whether it is to be interpreted literally or figuratively, and the Old Testament is interpreted by the New. In Historic Premillenialism the literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth is to be seen as Christ-centered rather than focused on mankind and it’s destiny.

Dispensational Premillennialism’s hermeneutic has a strong inclination towards literalism. Scripture and history are divided into 7 dispensations, prophecy is interpreted literally, and the Old Testament is interpreted by the New. The whole bible is divided into 7 time periods (dispensations) in which God acts in different ways toward men, and whenever possible, Scripture is to be interpreted literally.

Historic Premillennialism goes waaaaaay back to the late first century. Premillennialism, as it’s name suggests, teaches that the Second Coming of Christ initiates a literal 1,000 year period of unprecedented peace on Earth, under the physical and political reign of King Jesus from Jerusalem, capitol city of planet Earth, followed by a rebellion, Armageddon, judgment, the destruction and re-creation of Earth and it’s inheritance by those who were saved in this present world. In Historic Premillennialism, the Second Coming is not separated from the “secret rapture” described in Dispensational Premillennialism by years of time (3-1/2 or 7 depending on one’s “pre, mid, or post-tribulation” persuasion). In all three orthodox schools of eschatology, the catching-away of the Church to meet the Lord in the air is not a separate event from the Second Coming, but simultaneous with His coming to Earth in judgment. Only in Dispensational Premillennialism are the two distinguished from one another, occurring as separate events with some period of time between the two.

In Historic Premillennialism, the chapters in Revelation appear in chronological order, the enthroned saints are on Earth, there are two physical resurrections (the just and the unjust are resurrected separately); Christ returns before the millennium but after the tribulation period. The Second Coming ushers in a literal 1,000-year period of planet-wide transformation.

That’s a kinda-sorta summary of the three basic forms of orthodox eschatology, with brief notes on un-orthodox variations of each. This is a lot of information in just a few paragraphs! It could easily become very confusing… so,

Next Week: A Chart to make this a little easier to keep all these different schools of thought organized in summary form.

Until then,

Theology Thursday: Thy Kingdom Come!

Welcome to another Theology Thursday! This is the first of a series on the promises the Lord has made to His people, to set everything to right in this world, and to re-create it unspoiled by sin. Theologians call this broad category of prophecy “eschatology.” And though I have written on this topic before, my remarks were limited to criticism of the single school of eschatology that has become the majority report among evangelical Christians in our time. This time I want to expand to the other schools of thought, to explain them, and to expose the “mongrel” forms of eschatology that have gained ground in recent years. While I lean towards one, I am by no means certain of it, nor would I make any one of the three historic schools of thought a test of orthodoxy.

Is Eschatology Important?

Inasmuch as one’s eschatology results from one’s hermeneutics (their way of interpreting Scripture) and on one’s view of the nature of God’s Kingdom, it matters a great deal! It is not, however, a primary test of orthodoxy (right doctrine) unless it omits or denies any or all of these three essential points:

The future, physical, bodily return of Jesus Christ to Earth;

The resurrection of all the dead, both righteous and unrighteous, along with the living, to face the judgment of God;

The future and physical destruction of this planet, and it’s re-creation by God into a perfect world, unstained by sin and forever free of it’s effects.

It matters how one interprets Scripture:

If one’s hermeneutic demands literal interpretation of all Scripture, then one’s eschatology will demand a very literal 1,000-year period of time, a “golden age” on Earth prior to it’s destruction and re-creation, during which Christ will reign literally from a literal throne in Jerusalem, and the Earth will be subdued. Literal interpretation of 1,000 years of peace is called “millennialism,” and takes two distinct forms – one historical and orthodox, the other recent and heterodox (unorthodox at least, if not heretical).

If one’s hermeneutic follows the historical-grammatical method, it does not necessarily follow that a “golden age” lasting a literal period of 365,000 24-hour days is required by Scripture. This is “non-millennialism” and also takes two forms, with historical-orthodox and modern-heterodox versions.

If one interprets the Scriptures according to one’s own imagination and “whatever it means to me at the time,” who knows what you believe anyway.

It matters how one sees the kingdom of God:

Is His kingdom political? Physical or spiritual? Of this world or the next? What is our role in His kingdom?

Some schools of eschatology (the study of future things) require that the kingdom of God is – or is to be – a physical and geopolitical one set up here on Earth. Others teach that the kingdom of God is spiritual and alien to this world, but that it’s influence will overcome the world and usher in that “golden age” where it becomes a physical and geopolitical reality in this world. And still another teaches that the kingdom is not destined to overcome this world, but to be in it and to rescue a remnant of it’s citizens (by means of the gospel) until the Lord returns, judges, and destroys the present creation.

It matters how we interpret Scripture! It matters how we view the King, His kingdom, it’s nature, and our role in it!

But it is not a test of whether or not a person is truly a Christian, unless, as I said above, it omits or denies any or all of those three essential points above.

In the next few thrill-packed episodes of Theology Thursday, we’ll look at the three basic schools of eschatology, what they teach, and warn against heretical forms of them that defy the clear teaching of Scripture. We’ll look one at a time at Postmillennnialism, Amillennnialism, and Premillennialism.