Of pans, posts, and other apocalyptic prefixes

Our 9:30am discussions on Revelation over the past several months have brought us all the way to Revelation 20.  That’s where we read about the millennium, the 1000 years of Christ’s reign.  It’s a controversial section of Revelation with numerous competing interpretations.

After re-examining the arguments for and against premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism in preparation for this past Sunday’s discussion, I was reminded of Christians who refer to themselves as pan-millennialists, confident that it will all pan out in the end!  =)  When pressed for my serious opinion, I say that I identify most closely with the amillennial camp; however, I think the pan-millennialist position is worth more than just a punch line to a joke.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of the sequence of events before and during Jesus’ second coming, His followers will be happy beyond words to finally be in His presence for all eternity.  Is someone really going to try sitting down the King of kings and Friend of sinners to say, “Look, Jesus, this all appears to be very premillennial, and anyone with proper doctrine knows postmillennialism is the way things are supposed to happen, so can we please start over and do this right?”  (Feel free to mix and match any of the prevailing perspectives in place of pre- and postmillennial in that quote.)  Recognizing the absurdity of this calls for greater humility in our millennial conversations.

Something ironic about present-day debates (and fights) on various millennial perspectives is that they are based primarily on just a few verses in Revelation 20.  Scripture nowhere else speaks specifically of a millennial reign of Christ.  Yet entire theological systems are built on these few verses, providing people with divisive labels for who’s truly biblical and spiritual (us) and who isn’t (them).  And in that we find further irony: Christians believe Jesus is Lord and King, and that He’s going to return one day.  Each millennial perspective holds this as the truth.  That means what we agree on is an awful lot bigger than the details over which we disagree.  Recognizing the unity between “us” and “them” calls for greater charity in our millennial conversations.

I love how Darrell W. Johnson concludes his discussion on Revelation 20 in Discipleship on the Edge saying how the most important number to consider is not necessarily one thousand, but rather the number one:

“When we woke up this morning, we were one day closer to the day when Jesus will finally [and ultimately] have His way!” (p. 345)

How is that going to inspire and change your life today?

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