Millennial Series: Part 7: Amillennial Soteriology -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 107:427 (Jul 1950)
Article: Millennial Series: Part 7: Amillennial Soteriology
Author: John F. Walvoord

Millennial Series:
Part 7: Amillennial Soteriology

John F. Walvoord

Recent discussions of the millennial issue in theology have crystallized the problem of the relation of millennialism to the doctrine of salvation. The growing realization that premillennial doctrine affects theology as a whole has inspired an attempt to prove that premillennialism teaches or implies an heretical view of salvation. Allis writes, for instance, “The Dispensational interpretation of prophecy minimizes the Cross! The traditional interpretation magnifies it!”1 Philip Mauro goes a step farther in his pamphlet, “Dispensationalism Justifies the Crucifixion.” Having made their accusation with one broad statement, they sometimes withdraw it with another, as in the case of Allis, “Dispensationalists do not reject the Cross or minimize its importance: they glory in it.”2 The impression is left, however, by the space that separates the accusation from the retraction that premillenarians are either inconsistent or heretical. The idea that the millennial controversy affects the doctrine of salvation is, however, not held by all. Rutgers finds the doctrine of salvation as held by conservative amillenarians and premillenarians a point of agreement rather than disagreement.3 It is the purpose of this discussion to evaluate the influence of amillennialism on the soteriology of its adherents. Such an approach will serve as a background for consideration of the influence of premillennialism on its soteriology. While there is a large measure of agreement between them, certain important differences can be noted.

Historical Development

Without attempting a detailed historical analysis, it is possible to trace the broad movement of amillennialism in

relation to soteriology. Beginning with Augustine, amillennialism became identified with a theology which was continued in Protestantism. Augustine had a profound sense of the unity of the divine purpose and program. His form of amillennialism identified the millennium with the present age. He viewed Christianity as being engaged in a vital struggle, the City of God versus the City of Satan. The outcome will be victory at the second advent of Christ. As a part of this program, Augustine developed a doctrine of sin which involved man’s total depravity, and a doctrine of grace which provided for man’s inability through the sacraments as ministered by the church. Salvation was mediated through the church and its sacraments and while it was by faith, it was attainable only through unceasing effort. While the precise bearing of...

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