The Error of Postmillennialism
By Dennis Pollock
Antivirus programs have become a standard component of computers these days. Anyone who surfs the net, sends and receives emails, and refuses to guard himself against viruses will surely have an infected computer sooner or later (probably sooner).
In the Church, Christians are often subject to spiritual viruses. These are false and misleading teachings that emerge seemingly from nowhere, and begin to multiply and take on a life of their own. Sometimes these viruses gain a foothold for a while, then lose steam for a season, and suddenly reappear in a slightly altered form to a new generation.
The Heresy of Dominion Theology
Such is the teaching known as Dominion Theology. In other versions it might be called Christian Reconstructionism, Kingdom Now or Postmillennialism. The main idea is to reverse the plain teachings of Jesus and the Apostles concerning the last days.
Whereas an unbiased reading of the Scriptures leads you to the conclusion that the last days will be times of great difficulty and wickedness, this teaching reverses the scenario and predicts that the Church will eventually dominate every aspect of society and the entire world shall become Christian! There is no reference to Christ returning and accomplishing this — world dominion is strictly the Church’s business.
Ministers who believe these things will often make belittling references to the idea of Jesus returning to take His people to Himself. Those who have an eager expectation of the Rapture of the Church are characterized as “sitting around and waiting for Jesus to come.” The real Christians are the ones who are out there changing the culture, transforming society, infiltrating the arts, and creating a Christian world — not looking to the skies for some kind of escape.
This kind of teaching has a militant sound which is appealing to many. We like the idea of flexing our muscles and going out and changing the world. Perhaps the world isn’t doomed after all. Maybe we can save it if we just try hard enough.
The problem with this doctrine is that it looks a whole lot better at a distance than it does close up — that is if we get “close-up” to the Scriptures. A careful and close scrutiny of what Jesus and the Apostles taught about the last days and Christ’s return reveal what a complete fallacy this is.
The worst part of this teaching is that it entirely throws out what the Bible refers to as our “blessed hope” — “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The return of our Lord has no relevance for you if you are convinced you will be building a new righteous world on your own, and that perhaps in a thousand years or so the job will be completed. Jesus couldn’t possibly return now — you have too much work to do!
The Main Tenet of Dominion Theology
As we have noted, at the center of Dominion Theology is the idea that the world shall improve and progress more and more over time, transformed by the Church. Every aspect of culture and society will be affected. Christians will infiltrate the movie industry, take control of the government, become leaders in art, science, music, medicine, education, and every other major field. False religions will crumble, atheism will collapse, and agnosticism will disappear as the world turns to Jesus. “The earth shall be filled with the glory of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
Of course, Christians have always believed this would be the case, but orthodox Christianity expects to see this when Christ returns and establishes His kingdom rule on this earth. This new theology tells us there is no need to wait for Jesus — we can do this all by ourselves.
The first argument against such a notion is that, even apart from what the Bible predicts, where is the evidence of this? Is America of the 21st century a more godly nation than the United States of the 1950s? Are our movies and television programs more thoroughly Christian than they were fifty years ago? (Please stop laughing!) Do we have a higher percentage of Americans attending church regularly than there were in 1955? Are Americans more sexually pure that they were back in 1945? The answer is a huge, resounding no!
America is far more secular than at any time in its history. Never have our movies and TV shows been more filthy and vulgar than today. Never has music been more coarse or the typical language heard in our streets more crude. If we are making moral progress, you would have to get out a microscope to look for it. And in Europe the case is far worse than here in America.
Evidence of the Scriptures
But of course, the ultimate test is the Bible. If you are trying to decide the legitimacy of a teaching, when all else fails, open your Bible and start reading. The Scriptures could hardly be more plain in revealing that our world will be in a morally degenerate condition just prior to the coming of Christ.
Paul wrote, “in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers…” (2 Timothy 3:1,2). This hardly sounds like the glowing, transformed society predicted by the Dominion folks.
In like manner, Paul told the Thessalonian believers that Christ’s Second Coming cannot occur “unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Then he explains why it is that God will allow the Antichrist to rise to power and rule over the earth: “because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…” (2 Thess. 2:10-11).
A wicked and rebellious world will receive a powerful deluding force in the person of the Antichrist due to their unwillingness to receive God’s truth. They have hated truth and loved falsehood. They have mocked Christ, calling His inspired Word a myth, and ridiculing His commands for sexual purity as primitive and antiquated. Now they shall experience the greatest delusion ever to come on the face of the earth.
You may be saying to yourself, “Well, Paul was kind of a grumpy guy, but the Lord Jesus was so positive — I’m sure He had lots of good things to say about how as we get closer to the end of things, everything is going to get better and better…” Don’t be so sure! Jesus declared that the last days would be similar to two previous societies: the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17:26-30).
Jesus deliberately chose the two most wicked societies and times the Bible records. In both Noah’s generation and Lot’s, the prevailing cultures were so wicked, so vile, violent and immoral that God destroyed every living person, save for the families of Noah and Lot.
Of Noah’s day we read, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). Of the people who lived in Lot’s day, the Bible tells us, “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD” (Genesis 13:13). Jesus chose these two cultures to describe the conditions of the last days, saying, “Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30).
Skirting the Scriptures
The folks who preach Dominion Theology know these verses are in the Bible. They prove a tremendous inconvenience to them, but they often attempt to solve the problem by suggesting that Jesus has already come.
Yes, you read that right — they have somehow managed to convince themselves that Jesus has already come! They don’t always put this out for general consumption, knowing that many Christians just couldn’t stomach such an idea, but if you listen to them carefully you will catch bits and pieces of this bizarre doctrine.
They suggest all the exhortations to watch for Jesus and all the dire predictions of perilous times and calamities in the last days were fulfilled historically in 70 AD when the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem. In their view, this was the coming of Christ. There is no more return of Jesus to look for — forget about the Rapture and go out and convert the world.
Often, if they speak at all about the return of Jesus, they will refer to it in a mocking tone. How they love to use the phrase, “sitting around and waiting for Jesus to come.” The implication is that if you were as spiritual as they are, you would give up on this foolish notion of Christ returning to take you out of the world, and you would get busy changing the world.
There is an accusation of spiritual wimpiness here: real men change the world while the wimps sit around and hope to escape the world. If you are excited about the return of Jesus you must not be a real man — or a real woman!
Good or Bad?
Again, the basic question to be answered here is what does the Bible say? Is it a good or a bad thing for Christians to give serious thought to the return of Jesus Christ? Is it recommended or condemned in the Bible?
Of course, this is the ultimate no-brainer. Anyone who has read the Bible the least little bit knows the answer to that. The New Testament is absolutely inundated with exhortations for us to watch for Jesus’ return.
Paul writes, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Jesus tells us, “…you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately” (Luke 12:36). Peter encourages us, “…gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
Is there a danger of Christians sitting around and doing nothing as they wait for Jesus? Perhaps so, but in my experience I find that those who have the greatest passion for the return of Jesus Christ are far more likely to be out sharing the gospel and active in their churches than those cold-hearted believers who never give it the slightest consideration.
The classic example of this was the Apostle Paul. Here was a man who was constantly on the go for Jesus. He was evangelizing non-stop, building churches, healing the sick, and getting himself thrown in jail for his aggressive style of Christianity. Yet, Paul could never stop talking about the day of Christ. The return of Jesus fills his epistles and obviously filled his heart. There is no need to try to reconcile evangelism with eschatology. They are best friends!
The True Motivation
You may ask, “But if you believe you can convert the whole world, won’t that serve as a greater motivation than believing that the world is going to fall apart?”
Our motivation for reaching our world should have nothing to do with the percentage that we think may or may not believe. Imagine a Christian businessman who tells you, “I don’t think I will ever share my faith with anyone in my office. I know I could never convert the entire office, so why should I even try?” What incredibly stupid reasoning!
So what if you can’t convert your entire office? You may be able to win that depressed lady in the cubicle next to you, or that young man you sometimes eat with at lunch. The fact that we don’t expect to win the entire world for Christ should never stop us from witnessing.
Jesus told us from the outset that the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many will take that path. But He also tells us to go and preach the gospel to all creation, and His love and His Spirit compel us to do just that, regardless of which direction our world is moving.
One of the cardinal doctrines of the Church is the return of Jesus Christ for His people. Paul writes, “…we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13).
We will not “sit around” as we await His return, but we will work, we will watch and we will not apologize for our love for the glorious return of the King of kings, the mighty God, the One who is called Faithful and True, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.