Questions & Answers

Why do you object to the label "optimistic amillennialist"?

Dr. Gentry:

Good afternoon, sir. I recently read an article by you in which you referred to the label "optimistic amill." as an oxymoron. Could you please tell me why you think that? I'd be very thankful. I am currently working through these eschatological issues and any help you could give me would be much appreciated. KC, Cleveland, OH

Dr. Gentry's response:

Thanks for your question. My comments are based on two factors:

  • Historically amillennialism has tended to be pessimistic in terms of the question of widespread, long-lasting cultural success for the Christian faith. That is, regarding these:

    • As a system of gospel proclamation it teaches that the gospel of Christ will not exercise any majority influence in the world before Christ's return;
    • As a system of historical understanding it, in fact, holds the Bible teaches there are prophetically determined, irresistible trends downward toward chaos in the outworking and development of history; and therefore
    • As a system for the promotion of Christian discipleship it dissuades the Church from anticipating and laboring for wide-scale success in influencing the world for Christ during this age.

    My debates with Strimple (Three Views on the Millennium), Gaffin (formal debate in Elkton, MD), and Fowler (in West. Theol. Jrnl.) confirm this to me.

  • It seems to me that the verses an amill would want to use in order to underscore his optimism are those that endorse a postmillennial perspective. Unless, of course, he is optimistic on grounds other than direct biblical revelation.

Please understand that my comment is not meant to be pejorative (as some frequently take it). I am simply highlighting the key difference between amillennialism and postmillennialism.

Hope this is helpful. May the Lord bless your present studies in eschatology.