REPRESENTATIVE THEOLOGIANS IN THE DIFFERENT SYSTEMS
We have said that each of the millennial views has been
held by men of unquestioned sincerity and ability. Among Postmillennialists
should be mentioned first of all the great Augustine, whose eminently sound
interpretation of Scripture set the standard for the Church for nearly a
thousand years. In later times there were Rev. David Brown, a Scotch
Presbyterian minister, and a considerable number of systematic theologians,
the Hodges at Princeton (Drs. Charles, Archibald A., and Caspar Waster Hodge,
Jr., the latter having been the writer's revered teacher), Dr. W. G. T. Shedd,
Dr. Robert L. Dabney, Dr. Henry B. Smith, Dr, Augustus H. Strong, and Dr.
Benjamin B. Warfield. Probably the most influential books from the
postmillennial viewpoint have been The Second Advent, by David Brown (1848,
revised 1849), which for many years was recognized as the standard work on the
subject, and Dr. Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology (1871). In more recent
times Dr. Warfield (died, 1921) has been recognized as the
outstanding postmillennial theologian. His influence was exerted through a
period of more than thirty- three years as Professor of Systematic Theology in
Princeton Theological Seminary and as Editor of the Presbyterian and Reformed
Review and later as one of the chief contributors to the Princeton Theological
Review. A book by Dr. James H. Snowden, The Coming of the Lord (1919), has
proved to be of special value. This latter book contains a strong refutation
of Premillennialism, although Dr. Snowden did not distinguish clearly between
Premillennialism and Dispensationalism.
The postmillennial position has been much neglected during
the past third of a century, most of the discussion having centered around
Premillennialism and Amillennialism. This has led some to conclude that
Postmillennialism is no longer worthy of serious consideration. Alexander
Reese, for instance, a Premillennialist, in his book The Approaching Advent of
Christ (1937), expressed his opinion in these words: "Here one can but make
the arbitrary statement that the postmillennial interpretation of Origen,
Jerome, Augustine, and the majority of the Church theologians ever since, is
now as dead as Queen Ann, and just as honorably buried." (p. 308.) Dr. Lewis
Sperry Chafer in an Introduction to Dr. Charles Feinberg's book,
Premillennialism or Amillennialism? (1936), says, "Postmillennialism is dead,"
a statement which he later qualifies by saying that it is dead in the sense
that it offers no living voice in its own defense when the millennial question
is under discussion. That, however, is not true today, and it was at least
debatable at the time it was made. That such was also Dr. Feinberg's opinion
was indicated by the title of his book, and by his almost complete ignoring of
But such statements are, to say the least, premature. Since
Postmillennialism has been so ably supported by outstanding theologians and
ministers whose influences continue at the present time, and since it occupies
such a prominent place in a number of standard theological works, it seems
rather curious to find Premillennialists attempting to assign it merely an
antiquarian interest. One cannot help but feel that in these cases the wish is
father to the thought. Dr. Warfield, who in the opinion of the present writer
is to be ranked with Augustine, Calvin, and Charles Hodge as one of the four
outstanding theologians in the entire history of the Church, was a
Postmillennialist, and his collected writings, reprinted in ten large volumes,
continue to exert a strong influence in theological circles.
Postmillennialism, like Christianity itself, has often suffered reverses. But
after each such period of neglect or misunderstanding it has been re-asserted
with even more power and conviction. Such no doubt will be the case after the
present period of neglect has run its course. We must remember that
Premillennialism too was in almost total eclipse for a thousand years, between
the time of Augustine and the Reformation, and that during the Reformation
period and for a long time afterward it was held by only a few small sects
that were considered quite heretical. Furthermore, Amillennialism as a system
was not clearly developed nor aggressively set forth until very recent times.
Four recent books have been written from the postmillennial viewpoint. They
are: An Eschatology of Victory (1955), by J. Marcellus Kik; Israel and the New
Covenant (1954), by Roderick Campbell; Thy kingdom Come (1974), by R. J.
Rushdoony; and The Puritan Hope (1971), by lain Murray (England). We believe
that the true eschatological system can be set forth only on the basis of
Postmillennialism, and that a careful study of Scripture will establish that
Among Amillennialists we find a considerable number of able
men, nearly all in recent years: Dr. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology
(Revised Edition, 1941); Dr. Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (1930);
Dr. Albertus Pieters, Studies In The Revelation of St. John (1937), and The
Seed of Abraham (1950); Professor Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial
Faith (1942); Dr. George L. Murray, Millennial Studies (1948); Dr. William H.
Rutgers, Premillennialism in America (1930); Dr. Abraham Kuyper, Chiliasm or
the Doctrine of Premillennialism (pamphlet); Dr. Martin J. Wyngaarden, The
Future of the kingdom (1934); Dr. William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors
(1939); Dr. William Masselink, Why Thousand Years?; Rev. William J. Grier, The
Momentous Event (1945); and Prof. Everett I. Carver, When Jesus Comes A gain
(1979). Among these the present writer has found the books by Pieters,
Hamilton and Carver particularly helpful.
Outstanding writers from the viewpoint of Historic
Premillennialism include: Rev. Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of
Christ (1937); Dean Alford, The Greek Testament (1874); Dr. Nathaniel West,
The Thousand Years in Both Testaments (1880); Dr. E. B. Elliott, Horae
Apocalypticae (4 vols., 5th ed., 1862); Dr. H. Grattan Guinness, The
Approaching End of the Age (1880); Dr. S. H. Kellogg, The Jews, or Prediction
and Fulfillment (1883); Dr. Henry W. Frost, The Second Coming of Christ
(1934); and Dr. George E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the kingdom of God
(1952), and The Blessed Hope (1956).
Outstanding dispensational writers include: John N. Darby,
Synopsis of the Books of the Bible (5 vols.), and other writings; Dr. C. I.
Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible (1909, revised 1967); Dr. William E.
Blackstone, Jesus Is Coming (1878, revised 1908); Dr. Jesse F. Silver, The
Lord's Return (1914); Rev. James M. Brookes, Maranatha (1870); Dr. James M.
Gray, Prophecy and the Lord's Return (1917); Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein, The Return
of the Lord (1925); Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (1948); Dr.
Charles L. Feinberg, Premillennialism or Amillennialism? (1936, enlarged
1954); Dr. John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question (1957); and Dr. J. Dwight
Pentecost, Things to Come (1958).
There are also other writers who have dealt with special
aspects of the Second Coming, as for instance, Dr. Oswald T. Allis, whose
valuable book, Prophecy and the Church, deals particularly with the
dispensational view. Dr. Allis is an Anti-Chiliast, but is not to be classed
as either a Post- or Amillennialist.