An Empty Threat: Jonathan Edwards On Y2K And The Power Of Preaching -- By: Brandon G. Withrow

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 09:1 (Winter 2000)
Article: An Empty Threat: Jonathan Edwards On Y2K And The Power Of Preaching
Author: Brandon G. Withrow

An Empty Threat: Jonathan Edwards
On Y2K And The Power Of Preaching

Brandon G. Withrow

I hope the time is hastening, when God’s people in the different parts of the world, and the whole earth shall become more sensibly, as it were, one family, one holy and happy society, and all brethren, not only all united in one head, but in greater affection, and in more mutual correspondence, and more visible and sensible union and fellowship in religious exercises, and the holy duties of the service of God; and so that in this respect, the church on earth will become more like the blessed society in heaven, and vast assembly of saints and angels there.1

Jonathan Edwards, November 1745

Jonathan Edwards’ vision of the future, in which the gospel triumphs through preaching, displays a radically different face from the doomsday approach often found among today’s theologians. The pessimism of the modern worldview is exemplified by the hype associated with the Y2K bug. Some have cast a dark shadow upon the coming millennium, the future of technology, and the effectiveness of Christ’s kingdom. Many have built compounds in the mountains or on their farms as a refuge from what they perceive as a time of coming chaos or even war. Those who anxiously anticipate a Y2K disaster have accumulated food supplies, generators, ammunition stockpiles, and even absurdities such as Y2K hairspray, breath mints and so on. The best place to find such thinking is over the internet where “end of the world” predictions can be published for

free, and books by “experts” have no end.2

To make matters worse, many going by the name of Christianity have joined these kinds of movements. Though it seems that the majority of Christian leaders are promoting a balanced approach to the Y2K problem, there are still many who seem to resist balance and rush to predictions of antichrists, earthquakes, and the mark of the Beast. The message many Christians deliver is one of escaping the sufferings of this world, rather than the wrath of an angry God.

Rest assured, Y2K extremism is still the extreme and not the norm, but it seems to stem from a common belief that the world is getting worse. Christians generally hold to one of three modern views of the last days: premillennialism, amillennialism and postmillennialism. A brief overview of these positions may help us to clarify the distinctions of Edwards’ view.

The premillennial position, in its most basic form, proposes that Christ’s millennial reign will occur in the future when Christ...

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