Friday, October 31, 2008

Millennialism and Agrarianism, Part 2

(Go read Part 1 first)

In the first part we took a little time to examine how some people have attempted to occlude the true orthodox belief systems of the church concerning the millennium, and to a greater extent the beliefs of the Baptists more particularly about the millennium.

Today I want to examine what the millennium is biblically, and how some errors concerning the millennium have come about. Then I would like to address the issue of how a millennial viewpoint impacts our philosophy of Agrarianism.

A quick review of chapters 19 and 20 of Revelation is now in order.

It is important to note that Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation begins with the words “And after these things...”:

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever” (Rev 19:1-3).

The words “and after these things” show us clearly that the writer, experiencing these events in the spiritual realm, and watching them as they unfold in time, is relating the events to us in chronological order. This order continues until we see some type of “hard” or evident break in the train of thought or relation of events.

In the previous chapter (Chapter 18) we have seen the destruction of “Babylon the Great”. A close study of that chapter shows that the specific characteristic of Babylon the Great that is in view is the political and economic elements of the Beast system. Babylon the Great is condemned for her unfair economic policies, her wicked treatment of workers, her salacious and consumptive lifestyle, and for her fornication with the kings of the earth. Specifically it is the “merchants of the earth” who mourn over the loss of Babylon the Great, because her economic policies and power have made them very, very rich. The overwhelming violence of the destruction of the world economic order is very notable, as it is likened unto a great millstone being cast into the sea. The destruction of the economies and of the trade of the world leads directly into the judgment of the Great Whore and of the Babylonian system on which she thrived. This chapter alone deserves a much better and closer examination, and I hope to do that some time.

What follows in Chapter 19 is an exposition into the judgment of the Great Whore, and of the Babylonian system she has fostered in the world, and of the praises given to the Lord God for all of His righteous judgments and wrath as it is poured out on the ungodly.

In verse 9 we see the words of blessing and congratulation to those who are “called unto the marriage supper of the lamb”, and in verse 11 we see Christ, pictured on a white horse, riding forth to judge and to make war on spiritual Babylon.

We should pause here to note that it was the universal understanding of the Protestant believers and of the Anabaptists that the Great Whore is the Romish religion and the political and economic system she represents. The great Baptist theologian and commentator John Gill here says that this Great Whore is: “Jezebel, Babylon, the Romish antichrist, before spoken of, Rev. 17:1”. Always remember this, because once we have properly identified the characters in the great scene, and once we have properly identified this revelation as the chronological judgments poured out on God's enemies, we are much less likely to fall for later and more unorthodox interpretations.

We must also remember that it was “Babylon the Great”, the economic and political system of the Great Whore that is destroyed in Chapter 18.

Starting with verse 14 and continuing on until the end of the Chapter, we see a great war between Christ and the “armies which were in heaven” and the forces of “the kings of the earth and their armies”. This battle results in a great slaughter of the forces of the kings of the earth and their armies.

In verses 19 and 20, we read: “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev 19:19-20).

Let us point out again just who these characters are.

The true Church has consistently identified the “beast” here as the Antichrist Pope of Rome and his Romish Religion. The two most accepted and most universally used Protestant confessions identify the Antichrist as the Pope of Rome:

London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689: The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God; whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

Westminster Confession of Faith: There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.

The false prophet here is not identified in the Protestant confessions, but he has generally been identified either as the actual Pope of Rome, or as a representation of the apostate church that would follow, or of apostate protestantism as a whole. Our interpretation identifies the false prophet as the latter of these interpretations, but for our study here – an exact identification is not relevant.

Now, our text here in Revelation tells us that at the culmination of this great battle, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be taken, along with all those who have taken the mark of the beast, and they will be thrown alive into the lake of fire. So it is fair to say that after this war, there is no more Beast or False Prophet.

Chapter 20 continues on with the chronological exposition of events. Immediately after the Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, in verse 1 and 2 of Chapter 20, an angel comes down from heaven and binds Satan in chains for a thousand years. Now, no matter how someone chooses to understand this “thousand years”, whether it be a literal thousand years, or just a very, very long time, we are forced to interpret this to say that Satan is powerless and immobilized during this millennium. The next verse (verse 3) tells us that during this time the nations of the world will be deceived by him no more until the very end of that millennium.

So I have to pause for a minute and ask you all some questions that I have asked so many of those who have misinterpreted these verses...

  1. Today, as we sit here, are the nations deceived? Is Satan bound? Can anyone with any access to any of their senses (both temporal and spiritual) honestly conclude that Satan is now bound and the nations are not deceived?

  1. Is the Babylonian system of credit and debt, of coinage and paper money, a sysgtem which consumes the poor and makes the wicked rich still around?

  1. Is the Pope of Rome and his Papist religion gone? Have they all been thrown into the lake of fire? Is the Pope of Rome still around and still deceiving and being deceived?

  1. Are the Kings of the earth who deny Christ and whose armies do evil – are they all gone?

As you can see, you would really need to do some spiritual, scriptural, and logical gymnastics in order to conclude that the nations are no longer deceived and that Satan is now bound.

Another question. Do you believe that postmillennialists developed their theory from the Bible alone, after which they applied what they had learned in the Bible to what they saw happening around them? Or is it more likely that they developed their theory as a response to what they called “premillennial pessimism”, after which they developed apologies for all of these verses and realities which do not support their theory? I would have to say that postmillennial apologetics developed because the Bible does NOT support the theory, and because actual world events actually evidence the opposite to what postmillennialists say should be happening.

Now, following this we see that the first resurrection has come to pass, and the resurrected saints rule and reign with Jesus Christ on earth for a thousand years. Again, it matters not if you determine that this thousand years is literal or not. It could be an actual thousand years, or “a really long time” as some interpret it, or it could be a thousand years of years, it does not matter. In any case, there is no Pope of Rome or Papist religion. There is no apostate church. There is no Satan around to deceive the nations until this long period of time is finished. Even if you conclude that Jesus Christ does not bodily return until the end of this long period of time (and again, this interpretation takes a lot of scriptural gymnastics) you must conclude that this millennial period is absolutely one of peace and harmony, where the nations are not deceived by Satan.

I have to ask here:

  1. Was Satan bound during the dark ages, when men's lives had no real value?

  2. Was Satan bound during the inquisition, when God's children were killed by the millions?

  3. Was Satan bound when the armies of the Pope killed 2.5 million Christians in the valleys of the Alps?

  4. Was Satan bound during the religious wars following the Reformation?

  5. Was Satan bound during the age of Revolution, when men murdered one another wholesale on the battlefields of Europe and America?

  6. Was Satan bound during the 20th Century when wars claimed the lives of a large percentage of the world population?

  7. Was Satan bound when Stalin killed 30 million of his own countrymen?

Apparently, to many (not all) modern postmillennialists, the answer would have to be “yes”.

We move on. Ok, so since we know that Babylon still exists, both in the Babylonian mystery religion, and in the Babylonian economic system of the world; and since we know there is still a Pope in Rome; and since we know that Satan surely is not currently bound; and since we know that the Pope of Rome has been re-consolidating his temporal powers over the kings of the earth through the machinations of his Jesuit order and his Opus Dei, and through all of his other tentacles in the halls of world power; and since we know that evil men and seducers continue to wax worse and worse; and since we know that the first resurrection of the dead has not come to pass, then we can know that we are not in the millennial reign of Christ.

All of these facts lead us to believe that the millennium is still future. We avoid the errors of the premillennial dispensationalists by rejecting their numerous and sometimes laughable errors. We avoid the errors of the postmillennialists and their somewhat delusional interpretations of the current state of the Church and of the world.

According to the scriptures, following this millennium is the second resurrection, where the lost are judged out of the books of their works.

Now we will discuss just what all of this has to do with Agrarianism.

I want to bring back to your memory that Postmillennialism developed as an answer to what was perceived as “premillennial pessimism”. I need to address this again, because this false idea is central to the structure on which postmillennialism stands.

True historic premillennialism is not pessimistic. We need to define what we mean by that, and what postmillennialists mean when they make the charge. Historic premillennialism holds that, as the Bible says, Jesus kingdom is not currently of this earth; it is both NOW and NOT YET, and that those who enter into His kingdom while on earth, and who live by His precepts and by His commandments will live separately from the kingdom of this world. We are in the kingdom of God (which is spiritual) and we live by His laws and precepts, and the Bible says we will likely be persecuted greatly for doing so. Yet, He will maintain a remnant of believers in the world as it grows darker and more evil, in order to show forth His great light and His glory to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms. We believe that just as things seem to be darkest, Christ Himself will destroy the political and economic system of the wicked, and that His remnant will be protected through this, and that He will come to judge the wicked and the evil by destroying the kings of the earth and their armies with the brightness of His coming. Now... there is nothing pessimistic about that.

What the postmillennialist is really saying is that they don't like the fact that this system does not give THEM power on earth until the millennium when Christ reigns. They don't like the fact that they cannot take over the political systems of the world by themselves (meaning without Christ) and rule and reign on earth according to their own interpretation. Since this is the foundation of their system, they must count those who see themselves not as citizens of this world, but as citizens of the Kingdom of God, as pessimists who refuse to engage in political and economic domination (what they call political activism). The postmillennialist generally (not always, of course) is kind of fond of the systems of the world. He would just like to tweak it and put “Christian” clothes on it, with himself (or folks like him) in power. This is why the postmillenialist system breeds so many worldling “christians”. This is why the great conservative “christian” political machine in America has failed grandly in their schemes of world domination. This is why the glee of the so-called “christian right” after the Reagan revolution has turned into sorrow. In the 28 years of political action by dominionist postmillennialists, the “conservative christian” movement hasn't even been able to outlaw abortion! You would think that with Satan bound, banning abortion would be quite easy. Now, even if they had achieved this one victory, we would be a long, long way from seeing what the Bible describes as the millennial reign of Christ on earth. But it is interesting to see how the consistent failures by those who have erroneously interpreted these chapters of the Book of Revelation have been “spun” by those who claim that we are in the millennial reign today.

Also we should note that, just as the postmillennialist calls millions of apostates and false professors “christians” in order to falsely inflate his statistics, he must also unite himself (in many cases) with these apostates and false “christians” in order to try to effect political change according to his philosophy. I am a bit pessimistic about that idea.

But, as I have said, we historic premillennialists are not pessimistic at all. We're not any more pessimistic than the first Christians who fled Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen. The postmillennialist would have had the Christians stick around and vote. We're not any more pessimistic than the Christians who fled Jerusalem for Pella on the Decapolis before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. We are no more pessimistic than the Christians who fled Rome and the environs for the catacombs, or for the valleys of the Alps. We're no more pessimistic than the Waldensians who fled those Alps under the onslaught of the Popish armies, or those who returned and made war and defeated their enemies to retake their land. We're no more pessimistic than the Anabaptists who were drowned, hanged, or burned by so-called “protestants” who were bent on holding political power and who became persecutors and inquisitors themselves. These same Amish and Mennonites (called “pessimistic” by postmillennialists) came to North America and built a society that has continued and thrived unto this day. We're no more pessimistic than the Puritans and the non-conformists who left Europe for the wilderness of North America in order to escape religious men with power. We're no more pessimistic than the reformed Agrarians in the South who were invaded by Industrialists of the North. We're just not pessimistic at all. We know how God works because we have an entire Bible filled with parables, types, and shadows, that teaches us of God and of His plans for this world. We just do not feel that it is our job to rule the world until Christ Himself decides to do what He promises to do to the world in His Word, namely REFINE IT BY FIRE. We're the oldest optimists.

Ok, so Agrarianism really has separatism and this type of realistic optimism as its fundamental foundation. We believe that separatist Christianity is made for Agrarianism and vice versa. Postmillennialism is at home in the modern, colonized, industrial system of today. This is why the Presbyterians have done so well in the biggest cities. Sorry to say it, but it is true. Being reformed has not helped some professing “christians” to see the errors of Industrialism.

We believe that Agrarianism (and Separatism) are God's way of protecting and providing for His elect remnant people. We see in all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, that the cities all became corrupt, and those who ruled over the religious life in those systems all became corrupt as well. We don't desire to rule other men's consciences, but we do desire to be left alone to live according to ours. We are not willing to call antichrists “christians”. We are not willing to call Mormons or those of the modern Charismatic cults “christians”. We believe that God defines what is and what is not a “christian”, so we don't do as the worldlings do by inflating our numbers to push a doubtful position. We do not believe at all that Christianity is taking over this world. We believe JESUS CHRIST will take over this world, and He will do so by His second coming, which will be visible and physical, just as was His first coming, and His ascension into Heaven.

Agrarianism requires that we properly identify the errors of the Babylonian system which rules the earth today, and that we know why industrialism failed, so that we can rightly avoid the errors of those who went before us. Industrialism prevailed because good Christian men spiritualized or explained away the plain teaching of the scriptures about how Christians are to live. The promise of Industrialism was that it would free men up to engage in leisure, and in politics, and in wealth building. It made men slaves to their lusts, and it made them want to exercise power in order to maintain their standard of living. It was the same promise made at the Tower of Babel, that men would be free to build a tower up to heaven and bypass Christ in the doing of it. Men believed they could build a just and moral society by harnessing the intellectual and physical power of mankind. Men came to believe that the society would get better and better, just so long as man didn't do what God commanded, which was to separate themselves and spread out over the earth to subdue the land and gain dominion over it. So by corporate work and corporate thinking, fallen man believed he could build a righteous and just society without the nuisance of a Messiah to rule over it. This was the promise of industrialism, just as it was the promise of the Tower of Babel. But God did not intend for men to work together to create a globalist society without Christ to rule over it. He intended for Christians to separate and build Christian agrarian communities that were more interested in obedience than they were in political power. That's just the way I see it, and I believe I am right.

As I said in my introduction, I do not see postmillennialism as any type of heresy, other than the Preterist version (or the Hymanean heresy) which the Bible itself condemns. I think it is possible for good men to be wrong on their opinion of the millennium. What I do not accept is when deceptive means are used to trick men back into participating in the world's systems, and to keep them from separating from the world as the Bible commands.

I pray that God will give His children protection and peace and that He will lead His elect into all truth according to His Word.

I am your servant in Christ Jesus,

Michael Bunker

** I know some postmillennialists will quibble that there is a fundamental difference between Theonomic postmillennialism and Dominionist postmillennialism, and that my posts only deal with those who believe the millennium has already begun. I think the difference is one of verbiage and not of effect. Some Theonomic postmillennialists believe that Satan is not currently bound, but will be bound when Christians institute a Theocracy which will impose God's law on the masses. Dominionist postmillennialists (primarily pentacostals) believe Satan is bound by Christians taking spiritual authority in the invisible realms and binding Satan and devils, releasing massive amounts of wealth and prosperity for the enjoyment of carnal professors. Both systems hypothesize a Christian golden-age and Christian rule on earth before Christ returns... a belief that for me is as fantastical and unbiblical as anything the futurists have imagined. The futurists have "Left Behind". The Dominionists and Theonomists have "Right Ahead". I think both are Disney-like fantasies.

4 comments:

Fox said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gregg said...

These articles were very helpful, thank you for writing them.

What are the main differences between historic and dispensational premillennialism?

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this for the second time Michael thankyou. I had alot of questions concerning this topic. Some answers I found on my own, most were revealed with this sermon and the previous one.
Debylin

Bill Peck said...

Michael,

it was a blessing and a privilege to hear this sermon in person, and it's also a huge blessing to be able to read it again. Many questions on this topic are now much clearer to me because of it...praise the Lord! Peace bro,

BillyBob (formerly known as Bill)