The Soteriological Impact Of Augustine’s Change From Premillennialism To Amillennialism: Part One -- By: David R. Anderson

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 15:1 (Spring 2002)
Article: The Soteriological Impact Of Augustine’s Change From Premillennialism To Amillennialism: Part One
Author: David R. Anderson


The Soteriological Impact Of
Augustine’s Change From
Premillennialism To
Amillennialism:
Part One

David R. Anderson

Pastor
Faith Community Church
The Woodlands, Texas

I. Introduction

In a recent article1 we introduced the concept of “Spread Sheet Theology” by suggesting that this might be an alternate way to describe Systematic Theology. A good system is unified, comprehensive, consistent, and everything “fits.” That means if we make a significant change in one part of the system, it may well affect other parts of the system. We made the claim that Augustine’s choice to do away with premillennial eschatology is a case in point. That is, when Augustine became amillennial, this major change in his eschatology affected other parts of his theology, namely his soteriology. The purpose of this study will be to demonstrate how Augustine’s change to amillennialism still has ripples in soteriology today. In order to do this, we will develop the study in four parts offered in two installments: the Eschatology of Augustine, the Soteriology of Augustine, the Soteriology of John Calvin, and the Soteriology of Today. Admittedly, each of the subtitles could contain volumes. What we are trying to do in this study is to show how Augustine’s change in eschatology affected not only his soteriology, but the soteriology of Western Christianity from the Medieval Period until today.

Though pretribulational, premillennial eschatology is often criticized as a “recent” development in theology, such is simply not the case. That chiliasm was the norm in eschatology up until roughly A.D. 400 is no

debate among church historians.2 So we can safely say the church fathers were premillennial. But were they pretribulational?

The primary defense for a pretribulational approach to the rapture is the early church’s view of imminency.3 If one is premillennial and believes in a rapture such as that described in 1 Thessalonians 4, then the only chronological option for this rapture which is consistent with imminency is a rapture before the beginning of the Tribulation.4 Thus, a stronger argument can be made for the early Fathers being

pretribulational and premillennial than any other eschatological position with regard to Christ’s Parousia. With the notable exception of...

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