Millennial Series: Part 6: Amillennialism as a System of Theology -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 107:426 (Apr 1950)
Article: Millennial Series: Part 6: Amillennialism as a System of Theology
Author: John F. Walvoord

Millennial Series:
Part 6: Amillennialism as a System of Theology

John F. Walvoord

The Growing Importance of Millennialism

While the millennial controversy is nothing new, it has come to be recognized only recently that it plays such an important part in determining the form of theology as a whole. Instead of being simply a way of interpreting prophecy, millennialism now is seen to be a determining factor in any system of theology. Premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism each influence the system of theology of which each is a part. The controversy between amillennialism and premillennialism for this reason has taken on a new and sharper antagonism and its outcome is now seen to assume significant proportions.

It is the purpose of the present discussion to trace some of the influences of amillennialism upon theological systems. In the nature of the case, it will be necessary to survey a large field rather than analyze its parts, and to form general rather than particular conclusions. While it is not always easy to determine causal factors in doctrine, it can be shown at least that the amillennial approach is in harmony with certain theological ideas and is conducive to certain trends. The important fact which stands out in this field of investigation is that amillennialism is more than a denial of premillennial eschatology; it is an approach to theological interpretation which has it own characteristics and trends.

Amillennial Bibliology

While the influence of the amillennial theory upon bibliology has seldom been recognized by its own adherents, it is, in fact, one of the important results which accrue from its relation to Biblical interpretation. In the previous discussion of amillennialism as a method of interpretation,1 the use of

figurative interpretation of the Bible by the amillenarians was found to be the basic concept of their system and that which distinguished it from premillennialism. While amillenarians reject the figurative method of interpreting the Bible as a general method, it is used extensively not only in the interpretation of prophecy but in other areas of theology as well. It was shown that the only possible rule which could be followed by the amillenarian was hopelessly subjective—the figurative method was used whenever the amillenarian found it necessary to change the literal meaning of Scripture to conform to his ideas.

The dangers of this type of figurative interpretation should be apparent to anyone who respects the inspiration of Scripture. By it, any passage of the Bible can be construed to mean something other than its plain, literal mea...

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