Thoughts and Quotes on the Millennium

This past week we’ve been covering the millennial views in my theology class. We’ve already covered most of it, so it was mainly just a quick overview. Here are a few quotes that I found of interest.

Post-Millennialism

Here are a couple quotes from Lorraine Boettner:

“The ‘thousand years’ is quite clearly not to be understood as an exact measure of time but rather as a symbolic number. Strict arithmetic has no place here. The term is a figurative expression, indicating an indefinitely long period of time, a complete, perfect number of years, probably not less than a literal one thousand years, in all probability very much longer” (Boettner, The Millennium, 64).

I don’t know what he means by “quite clearly”. And “strict arithmetic”? Seriously. I counting to a thousand “strict arithmetic”? And I love how a ‘thousand years’ could possibly mean something less than a literal thousand. How does that make any sense?

“The millennium to which the postmillennialist looks forward is thus a golden age of spiritual prosperity during this present dispensation, that is, the Church Age. This is to be brought about through forces now active in the world. . . . The changed character of individuals will be reflected in an uplifted social, economic, political and cultural life of mankind. The world at large will enjoy a state of righteousness which up until now has been seen only in relatively small and isolated groups, for example, some family circles, and some local church groups and kindred organizations. This does not mean that there will be a time on earth when every person will be a Christian or that all sin will be abolished. But . . . Christ will return to a truly Christianized world” (Boettner, Meaning of the Millennium, 117-118).

Its no wonder that this view took quite the hit between WWI and WWII. Turns out humanity isn’t ‘progressing’. So how far are we from a “Christianized World”?

Amillennialism

Here are a couple quotes from the usually solid Anthony Hoekema:

“The latter term should rather be thought of as a figurative description of the way in which Satan’s activities will be curbed during the thousand-year period. . . . This does not imply that Satan can do no harm whatever while he is bound. It means only what John says here: while Satan is bound he cannot deceive the nations in such a way as to keep them from learning about the truth of God” (The Bible and the Future, 228).

This quote attempts to deal with the problem presented in Revelation 20. Satan is released from the prison after 1,000 years. What does it mean that Satan is bound for 1,000 years. A classmate of mine said that if this interpretation is true, then God must have put him on a pretty long leash. Interpreting “bound” as Satan “not being allowed to deceive the nations in such a way as to keep them from learning about the truth of God” is just weaksauce. That’s not binding. That’s limiting power, which is exactly what God has been doing since the Fall.

“The Book of Revelation is full of symbolic numbers. It would seem rather likely, therefore, that the number “thousand” which is used in this passage ought not to be interpreted in a strictly literal sense. Since the number ten signifies completeness, and since a thousand is ten to the third power, we may think of the expression ‘a thousand years’ as standing for a complete period, a very long period of indeterminate length” (The Bible and the Future, 227).

This quote cracked me up. I actually laughed pretty loud in class, and it was quiet, so I was the only one laughing. But c’mon! “since a thousand is ten to the third power”?!?!?!?! That’s just horrendous hermeneutics! Where does that come from?! How is that AT ALL in the text?! Did I miss a point in Bible interpretation which said that we’re to divide numbers by 10? I mean SERIOUSLY! C’mon folks! How can someone seriously stand behind this!

The last quote is from Benware, and is a good commentary on these beliefs:

“One wonders how much clearer God could be if He wanted to communicate that Messiah’s kingdom was to last for a thousand years.”

That’s if God is to be interpreted literally.

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One comment on “Thoughts and Quotes on the Millennium

  1. BethsMomToo says:

    In general I have noticed that while many outwardly profess to agree with the Grammatical-Historical method of Interpretation…it is very difficult for them to consistently apply it. There is a big difference between taking things like literary style into consideration, eg. use of metaphors, and employing an allegorical method of interpretation. Some misunderstand the difference between a metaphor and an allegory, while others tend to allegorize where it best supports their own beliefs.

    I’ve noticed another bad habit many of us have developed- we are often too quick to “spiritualize” every meaning. I noticed it in the 1Peter study that we have been doing. It often takes quite a while to convince a person of a more natural, concrete meaning to a particular passage. It’s a matter of relearning how to approach a passage, paying closer attention to the grammar and context. If we employed such a method in our normal every-day use of language, people would think we were crazy! The purpose of language is to communicate, not obfuscate. [unless you’re a politician, of course ;)]

    I suspect we may have picked up this “overly-spiritualizing” method of interpretaion from Bible studies we have attended and we employ it to the point of not even realizing we are doing so. I see it as a bad habit that needs to be unlearned.

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