The Spirituality of the Millennial Kingdom -- By: Alva J. McClain

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 113:449 (Jan 1956)
Article: The Spirituality of the Millennial Kingdom
Author: Alva J. McClain


The Spirituality of the Millennial Kingdom

Alva J. McClain

In the field of inductive logic there is a class of fallacies which arise through the careless use of language. Bacon named them “Idols of the Marketplace.” Nothing could be more profitless than discussion without some prior agreement as to the meaning of important terms. To try to win an argument where terms are not mutually understood is like trying, as Locke has reminded us, “to dispossess a vagrant of his habitation who has no settled abode” (Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book III, Chap. x).

Current discussions of the kingdom of God involve the use of certain terms which often carry different meanings when used by different writers. Sometimes a single writer will use the same term in more than one sense, or use different terms to convey the same idea. Among such terms are establish, earthly, heavenly, carnal, force, conditional, certainty, postponement, abeyance, etc. All these deserve attention, but I shall discuss only one.

False Platonic Influence

This is the term spiritual. No other word in the vocabulary of the doctrine of the kingdom has been the occasion of more misunderstanding and useless argument. A great deal of this confusion, in my opinion, has been due to the influence of Platonic philosophy in the field of Christian theology. Many a preacher, who may have never read a single sentence from Plato, has been perhaps unconsciously more or less under the sway of the rigid metaphysical dualism of this philosopher. To such men the premillennial doctrine of a divine kingdom established on earth, having political and physical aspects, seems to be sheer materialism. Yet their own theological views on this matter may involve some very serious practical inconsistencies. It has been said, with some

justification, that a man’s life and actions are the surest guide to his actual beliefs.

Let me illustrate this with a parable: During a church banquet a group of preachers were discussing the nature of the kingdom of God. One expressed his adherence to the premillennial view of a literal kingdom established on earth among men. To this a rather belligerent two hundred pound preacher snorted, “Ridiculous! Such an idea is nothing but materialism.” When asked to state his own view, he replied, “The kingdom is a spiritual matter. The kingdom of God has already been established, and is within you. Don’t you gentlemen know that the kingdom is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost?” And then this preacher reached hungrily across the table and speared another ...

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