Why Chiliasm?

   Chiliasm harmonizes the Old Testament prophecies with those passages in the Apocalypse which speak of a reign of Jesus Christ and His saints upon the earth. It is important that we keep this in mind, that we be not diverted from the vital issues at stake. Also, let us recognize the great importance of Biblical perspicuity for the average believer. It is impossible for any disciple to exercise faith in the Bible unless the meaning of words is clear. No Christian can savingly believe in an illusion. All are not of the same level of understanding. If the Bible is a book of esoteric mysteries understandable only after long training in critical and philosophical speculation, then it is not adapted to men in general, but to an elite few. Obviously, we cannot buy this argument.

   Many problems in the theological world have arisen from the unabashed spiritualizing of the prophecies. Although in the past I myself adopted such views, I’ve come to find them untenable and, for the most part, impossible. Let us look at the Millennium, for example. If interpreters would carefully read the passage in which John speaks of the ‘thousand years,’ and harmonize it with other passages in which it is promised Christ’s saints will reign on earth and have power over the nations, they would run into far less difficulties, for the Scriptures interpret themselves. The fault comes from forcing these passages into an allegorical sense– and worse, in relegating the Millennium to some vague era in past history. This latter problem is a common outgrowth and symptom of those who have accepted the allegorical methods.

   But besides the fact that such methods are totally subjective, they also tend to damage Biblical perspicuity in a way that results in the dismantling of New Testament theology. If the natural meaning of words be kept intact, heresies such as the denial of the resurrection and of the personal, visible coming of Christ can have no way of lodging themselves in the hearts of unwary believers. Such is one advantage of the literal method.

   But when I say ‘literal,’ I suggest as an exegetical basis the maintaining of natural and obvious meanings. What is proposed is a method that recognizes the proper value of words in light of the fact that the Bible is a coherent book. It is about as far from any Gnostic/subjective theory as day is from night. If only followed out, it would not only be beneficial to the believer, but would effectually prevent the burgeoning of subjective and personal interpretations of Scripture.

   At this time I see Chiliasm as vastly superior to both Post-Millennial and A-Millennial systems. And I mean this in both an exegetical and spiritual sense. The A-Millennialists tend to see the Millennium as beginning with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Some modified forms of the doctrine would make it commence at a slightly later date– as, for instance, with the calling of the Gentiles (John Lightfoot), or the destruction of the Jewish temple by Titus. All forms of A-Millennialism, however, make the “reigning with Christ” occur in the spiritual realms. But such a view ignores the fact that in the Apocalypse the reign is promised as a future reality, in which “the kingdoms of this world” shall be placed under the dominion of Jesus Christ and His saints. This is not a hypothetical event. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of church history knows that never in human history has the world come under the dominion of Christianity, nor have the nations at large been released from their delusions concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.

   That “A-Millennial” theories have a tendency to break down under the slightest scrutiny should tell us that something is radically wrong with their pre-suppositions. Most of the proponents of A-Millennialism are covert heretics, who deny the resurrection of the body and disbelieve in the supernatural elements of prophetic fulfillment. And really, what are their allegorical methods but devious ways of bringing these supernatural elements into accordance with the “wisdom of this world?” Instead of believing as little children, they seek to give everything a natural (i.e., materialistic) explanation. That is why these systems fail to have any spiritual power. In many cases, the men who argue past Millennial theories have no desire at all for a personal and visible coming of Christ. By their own admissions, they believe the sinful and wicked state of this world will continue forever and ever. And they would not have it any other way.

   Thus there is a real spiritual warfare going on between us and them that cannot be put on the shelf and ignored. It will come to the forefront every time, because the very Sovereignty of God is being put in question. Although these issues involve all levels of active Christianity, the matter must ultimately be settled personally by each disciple. Ask yourself: Does the Bible predict the personal, visible coming of Jesus Christ to destroy the wicked, and to reward the righteous? If your answer is yes, you have made the first great step toward Chiliasm.

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