CTR 11/1 (Fall 2013): The Meaning of the Millennium

CTR Fall 13 Front CoverFor centuries, the millennium that is mentioned in Revelation 20 has been a source of spirited discussion among Christians. So in recognition of the potential for robust scholarly engagement about such an important topic, on October 12, 2012, Criswell College hosted a conference on The Future Kingdom: Perspectives on the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The intent of this forum was to allow attendants to hear presentations from scholars who represented differing viewpoints on the theological spectrum of the millennial debate. In doing so, because the leadership of Criswell College is committed to the premillennial view of the return of Christ, three variations of premillennialism were represented by distinct advocates of traditional dispensational premillennialism, progressive dispensational premillennialism, and historic premillennialism.  Likewise, the conference welcomed proponents of opposing viewpoints including amillennialism, postmillennialism, and even full preterism. Altogether the presentations were rich in content and elicited fruitful dialogue among the presenters and with the audience.  Therefore, this edition of CTR intends to provide the material that was shared at the conference.

HouseTo begin, our lead article is by H. Wayne House, who defends a traditional dispensational understanding of premillennialism. Dr. House is Distinguished Research Professor of Theology, Law, and Culture at Faith Evangelical College and Seminary in Tacoma, Washington. His article takes the reader through the basic constructs that are intrinsic to the classical dispensational scheme including the distinction between Israel and the church, the added feature of Pretribulationism, and the central role that a redeemed national Israel will have in the coming millennial reign of Christ.

BealeOur second article is by Gregory K. Beale, who serves as professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, PA. Dr. Beale defends an amillennial view of eschatology by focusing his attention on providing an exegetical and theological exposition of Revelation 20. Likewise, Beale provides responses to various passages that premillennialists use to support their view of Christ’s return and his coming kingdom.

BlaisingThe third article is written by Craig A. Blaising, who is the Executive Vice President and Provost as well as Professor of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Dr. Blaising offers the second defense of premillennialism in this volume. But he does so with a progressive dispensational outlook which differs somewhat from a traditional dispensational perspective of the kingdom of God and the outworking of prophetic fulfillment.

Craig-BlombergOur fourth contribution serves as the final article defending premillennialism. It is provided by Craig L. Blomberg, who is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary in Littleton, CO. In this essay, Dr. Blomberg advocates historic premillennialism which upholds a premillennial understanding of the return of Christ. Yet it rejects all the basic forms of dispensational theology including its commitment to pretribulationism and a future for national Israel.

IGentryn the fifth article, Kenneth H. Gentry gives a concise overview of postmillennialism. Dr. Gentry currently serves as the Executive Director of GoodBirth Ministries which is a religious educational ministry committed to advancing Christian scholarship and education. His essay shows the fundamental differences between postmillennialism and the other competing views, especially as it pertains to how the kingdom of God should impact human history prior to Christ’s return.

Our sixth entry pauses the millennial discussion to serve as a nice stand-alone piece on another subject. In this article, Dr. Brian Kidwell gives a synopsis of his dissertation which recently was defended at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY. Specifically, he examines the role of Adam in Paul’s theology as expressed in the book of Romans and gives special attention to exegetical issues pertaining to chapter 7.

Fipreston1nally, our last entry comes from another advocate of an alternative millennial position. Don Preston, who is president of the Preterist Research Institute in Ardmore, OK, argues for a full preterist perspective of the millennium. In doing so, essentially Dr. Preston contends that the millennial era refers to the period of time that transpired between the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel which occurred when the temple was destroyed in 70 A. D.

Subsequent to these articles, this volume concludes with several book reviews in the hopes that they can inform readers about works which can improve their theological libraries. And also remember that past issues of CTR can be accessed online at atla.com. Your local university or seminary can provide you with a password.

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