What Does the Future Hold?

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
by C. Marvin Pate. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010

This is a *very* basic primer on eschatology. Pate, however, does manage to add some insights that aren't covered in Erickson and Grenz. He surveys all of the millennial options, noting where they agree on hermeneutics and noting difficulties in all of the options. He eventually sides with premillennialism, noting that the premillennial reading of chapters 19-20 makes the most sense of the lexigraphy and grammar, and I think he is right.

He made the strongest critique of postmillennialism. However, he seems to think that all postmillennialists are partial-preterists, yet this is not true. I suppose it doesn't matter, since non-preterist postmillennialism is actually the weakest of all eschatological positions. He forces postmillennialist to logically accept the claims of hyper-preterism and takes the argument to full-preterism. There is no reason why a postmillennialist should stop the partial-preterist wagon at Revelation 18 and not say that Rev. 19-22 also applies to the destruction of Jerusalem. If, however, he does, the following absurdities arise:

1. The second coming actually happened in A.D. 70 and your position is now heretical.

2. If (1) we are no longer in Revelation 20, but actually chapters 21-22 (since 19-20 is the 2nd Coming/Millennium, which happened at the fall of Jerusalem). If that is the case, we are currently in the eternal state.

His take on amillennialism is actually the weakest in the book. Besides the critique based on Revelation 20, he doesn't offer one. True, he brings in the claim that post-Augustine, there was an abandoning of literal hermeneutics in favor of Alexandrian, Platonic ones, and I think there is something to this, but he doesn't develop it. This is odd since premillennialists usually act like it's open-season on amillennialism, yet he pulls all of his punches.

Varieties of Premillennialism:

This chapter was interesting. I only caught this on the second reading through. Pate patiently explains the nuances between pretribulationalism, post-trib, and midtrib/prewrath rapture. I was impressed and it made me want to go read the Zondervan Counterpoints book Three Views on the Rapture. He does a nice job explaining how on the post-trib view various sections of Paul's epistles line up with the Olivet Discourse (a claim that most millennial adherents would affirm). Surprisingly, he begins to offer criticisms of his own position, admitting to potential weaknesses. This is a welcome admission given that some adherents to different systems claim that their's is the only one that protects the gospel (I"ve actually seen this claim on Klinean message boards).

Pate ends his book with an analysis of the Jesus seminar and current gnosticisms in the American university setting.

This book is fair, but suffers from a number of problems: the analysis isn't always thorough and Pate writes in an annoying populist manner. Other weaknesses include the identification of idealism with amillennialism, but this is faulty because Rushdoony (a postmillennialist) was an idealist and Jay Adams (an amillennialist) is a partial preterist.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
> Pate patiently explains the nuances between pretribulationalism, post-trib, and midtrib/prewrath rapture.

Midtrib and prewrath should not be portrayed as different terms for the same position.

They are vastly different.

The Pre-wrath Tribune: Pre-wrath Big Picture

PreWrath


Edited to add this link, which clearly shows the difference between midtrib and prewrath:

Rapture Problems Answered

Thanks. I didn't mean to imply they were the same. Thanks for the links.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
His take on amillennialism is actually the weakest in the book. Besides the critique based on Revelation 20, he doesn't offer one. True, he brings in the claim that post-Augustine, there was an abandoning of literal hermeneutics in favor of Alexandrian, Platonic ones, and I think there is something to this, but he doesn't develop it. This is odd since premillennialists usually act like it's open-season on amillennialism, yet he pulls all of his punches.

Thanks for your review. This particular claim, linking amillennialism with Augustine, surfaces often in premillennial literature, but is plainly false, at least if it is asserting that Augustine caused a shift in majority opinion. Chiliasm was in rapid retreat throughout the fourth century in both the East and West. (The East is particularly important for this point, because Augustine's works were virtually unknown there until the 12th century.)

In the East, Eusebius of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzus, and Basil of Caearea oppose chiliasm. They condemn Apollinaris for his chiliasm, among other things. That's why there is some debate as to whether chiliasm is officially condemned by the Council of Constantinople in 381. The anathemas seem to be directed primarily against Apollinaris' Christology, but the question is to what extent that involves his chiliasm, or all forms of chiliasm. In any case, I think chiliasm is mostly extinct in the East by the 5th century, with no help from Augustine or any other Latin writer. It's probably too strong, though, to say it was declared heresy.

In the West, there is also a shift in the 4th century away from chiliasm. Jerome denies it. Ambrose and Tyconius (the Donatist) offer non-chiliast readings of Revelation. Some scholars think Augustine early held some form of chiliasm but then abandoned it.

In any case, it certainly can't be any sort of "literal Antiochene" hermeneutics vs. "allegorizing Alexandrian" hermeneutics accounting for these changes, nor could Augustine be solely responsible for a theological course correction. After all, Augustine doesn't become the undisputed king of theologians in the West until several centuries after his death.

For further reading:

Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, s.v. "Chiliasm"
Brian Daley, The Hope of the Early Church
Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
His take on amillennialism is actually the weakest in the book. Besides the critique based on Revelation 20, he doesn't offer one. True, he brings in the claim that post-Augustine, there was an abandoning of literal hermeneutics in favor of Alexandrian, Platonic ones, and I think there is something to this, but he doesn't develop it. This is odd since premillennialists usually act like it's open-season on amillennialism, yet he pulls all of his punches.

Thanks for your review. This particular claim, linking amillennialism with Augustine, surfaces often in premillennial literature, but is plainly false, at least if it is asserting that Augustine caused a shift in majority opinion. Chiliasm was in rapid retreat throughout the fourth century in both the East and West. (The East is particularly important for this point, because Augustine's works were virtually unknown there until the 12th century.)

In the East, Eusebius of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzus, and Basil of Caearea oppose chiliasm. They condemn Apollinaris for his chiliasm, among other things. That's why there is some debate as to whether chiliasm is officially condemned by the Council of Constantinople in 381. The anathemas seem to be directed primarily against Apollinaris' Christology, but the question is to what extent that involves his chiliasm, or all forms of chiliasm. In any case, I think chiliasm is mostly extinct in the East by the 5th century, with no help from Augustine or any other Latin writer. It's probably too strong, though, to say it was declared heresy.

In the West, there is also a shift in the 4th century away from chiliasm. Jerome denies it. Ambrose and Tyconius (the Donatist) offer non-chiliast readings of Revelation. Some scholars think Augustine early held some form of chiliasm but then abandoned it.

In any case, it certainly can't be any sort of "literal Antiochene" hermeneutics vs. "allegorizing Alexandrian" hermeneutics accounting for these changes, nor could Augustine be solely responsible for a theological course correction. After all, Augustine doesn't become the undisputed king of theologians in the West until several centuries after his death.

For further reading:

Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, s.v. "Chiliasm"
Brian Daley, The Hope of the Early Church
Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum

I agree, with qualifications. That is part of my criticism of this book. However, in City of God Augustine routinely goes out of his way to distance himself from the "carnal" aspects of Scripture. Whether that is heavy enough to cause a worldwide paradigm shift is another matter. With regard to the East, much of the problem can be traced to Eusebius and Pseudo-Dionysius.
 
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