Is Amillennialism Racist?

5 April 2009

In the preceding post, I addressed the accusations of racism that often attach to premillennialism.  In this post, I’d like to discuss another accusation of racism, this one leveled by Jim Jordan against amillennialism at this year’s Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference.

…which brings me to amillennialism, more evil than you can imagine.  The Great Commission is a postmillennial and a theocratic command.  Let’s go over it, in case there’s somebody here who doesn’t know that.  Jesus said “All power has been given to Me.”  How much power?  I can’t hear you.  All power?  All of it?  Where?  In heaven and on earth.  Any other place besides that, that counts?  Go therefore and disciple all nations.  Which nations?  All nations.  Do what to them?  Make converts in all nations?  No, disciple all nations.  Now what do the Jews understand by “disciple all the nations?”…They’re living in [a discipled nation].

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They understand that this is a theocratic command to disciple all nations.  Is Jesus going to fail?  I can see it now…”Jesus… can come back tomorrow, He can come back any day.”  And what’s Satan going to say?  “All power, huh?  All authority in heaven and on earth, and you just couldn’t pull it off, could you, boy?”  Do you think that’s gonna happen?

I don’t.

And I think it borders on blasphemy to suggest that that’s gonna happen….Gentlemen, I don’t think we should be be very tolerant.  Premils understand that Jesus’ kingdom is going to conquer all the nations and it’s going to fulfill the purposes of this creation.  I can get along with premils.  Amils say, “God is going to toss this world; Jesus is going to fail; the nations are not going to be discipled.”  I don’t think that we can afford to be very respectful to that.

The amillennial outlook is racist. It says that because white, European civilization is falling apart, Jesus is coming soon.  Jesus isn’t really going to bring much Christianity to the black and brown and yellow people in the world.

It’s arrogant to assume that God’s center of history is on the white, European race, and because the whites are falling apart, God has got to end history.  That is arrogant.  It’s racist.  And it ends history, and this is where the problem comes in the church.  The amillennial attitude says there’s nothing new, there’s nothing more to be learned, there’s no need to have a continuing conversation….Guys who look forward to the day, a thousand years from now, when theologians in Sri Lanka bring new insights out of the book of Nehemiah — that’s not going to happen.  We don’t need new insights.  We’ve got it all written down in our confessions and catechisms and in a few of our commentaries.  Don’t tell us there’s anything new that’s going to come.  Don’t tell us that vast new insights are going to come from Africans and Asians and Polynesians, when those people, with their gifts, convert to the Lord.  No, there’s no need for any new insights.

The Eastern church stopped everything with the seventh ecumenical council.  Our amillennial brethren have stopped everything three hundred years ago.  And that’s deadly.  And it’s intolerable….It cripples the Reformed faith.  In all our Presbyterian and Reformed denominations and seminaries, we have to pretend that this is a perfectly okay way to think, and what winds up being the case is, that view dominates.  Sorry, I just don’t think we can have that.

…There’s no longer any time left to be tolerant of people who have that idea of what it means for Jesus to have all authority that He, by His Spirit and through His church, is going to disciple all nations.

Jordan says a lot of highly charged things here, as of course he is well aware.  I’m not sure he expects anyone to agree with them all.  But he does point out an important dividing line in eschatology.  Pre-, post- or amil view is less important than believing that there will be a real victory, and that God will win it, taking seriously the promise that the God will win the nations to Himself.  A premil view that takes the dominion mandate and the great commission seriously — a combination I am presently calling dominon premillennialism, for lack of a better term — is every bit as committed to this as a postmil view; we just quibble a little about the timeline.

And yet, as Jordan points out, the organizational and denominational lines are repeatedly drawn in a way that lumps postmil and amil folks together on one side of the fence, with premil folks on the other.  Why is that?

And given those choices, can anyone blame people for fleeing to the premil side of the fence, where there’s generally no need to tolerate amillennialism?

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Election, Racism, and Millennial Views

29 March 2009

In the next three posts, I’d like to address two accusations of racism that crop up when discussing different views of the millennium.  One of these accusations is common; the other less so.  One is legitimate; the other not.  Together, they form an interesting contrast, and a useful point of departure for considering what’s really important in eschatology — and what is not so important.

The common accusation is leveled against premillennialists, based on their view that Israel has a privileged place in the kingdom.  The argument goes that God has made all one in Christ, and since there is no more Jew and Gentile in the Church, neither can there be any such distinction in the Kingdom.  To maintain such a distinction is therefore racist.

The irony is that the people who accuse premillennialists of racism are nearly always covenantal, Reformed theologians.  They are Calvinists.  They have accepted already that God chooses who goes to heaven (and, at least implicitly, who does not).  They are quite all right with this, and indeed will get very indignant on God’s behalf if someone dares to challenge God’s right to have mercy on whom He wills.

So, adding it all up, it’s perfectly all right to maintain that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, but it’s racist to maintain that God chooses who has a position of prominence in the kingdom.

Come again?

“Well, come on,” they will want to say, “The one choice is for God’s sovereign ends, and the other is just based on familial descent.”  To which one could reply with a hearty “So what?”  If God has mercy on whom He wills, and He wills to have mercy on the seed of Abraham — not exactly a novel concept — then who are we to gainsay His choice?  Does not the potter have power over the clay?

Of course, there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the church, in a certain sense.  But then, in exactly that same sense (and taken from the same sentence in Galatians 3:28), there is neither male nor female either.  Yet God reaffirms gender distinctions and distinct roles for the genders in the Church now, and — since Jesus remained a “he” after the resurrection, and not an androgyne — God will maintain different genders in eternity.  We will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but we will be male and female.  So where’s the problem with being, in a similar sense, Jew and Gentile? And come to think of it, where’s the fulfillment of passages like Deuteronomy 32:43 or Revelation 22:2 unless there are identifiable Gentiles?

This is not racism, it’s the biblical doctrine of election worked out in the history of the nations.


Black & Tan

25 May 2008

If those who hate the Word of God can succeed in getting Christians to be embarrassed by any portion of the Word of God, then that portion will continually be employed as a battering ram against the godly principles that are currently under attack. In our day, three of the principal issues are abortion, feminism, and sodomy. If we respond to the “embarrassing parts” of Scripture by saying “That was then, this is now,” we will quickly discover that unembarrassed progressives can play that game even more effectively than embarrassed conservatives can.

This gem comes to us from Douglas Wilson’s Black & Tan: Essays and Excursions on Slavery, Culture War, and Scripture in America. Weighing in at less than 120 pages, this is definitely not the last word on slavery or culture war. But then, it isn’t trying to be. Rather, Wilson raises some much-neglected points and offers a valuable corrective to typical contemporary evangelical sensibilities. Read the rest of this entry »