Agony, Irony, And Victory In Inaugurated Eschatology: Reflections On The Current Amillennial-Postmillennial Debate -- By: R. Fowler White

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 62:2 (Fall 2000)
Article: Agony, Irony, And Victory In Inaugurated Eschatology: Reflections On The Current Amillennial-Postmillennial Debate
Author: R. Fowler White


Agony, Irony, And Victory In Inaugurated Eschatology:
Reflections On The Current Amillennial-Postmillennial Debate

R. Fowler Whitei

How can we dare to speak of the victorious reign of Christ and his church in our culture? David F. Wells spoke for many Christians when he made the following observation in a 1996 essay entitled “Our Dying Culture”:

What is striking about our culture today is that its corruption is not simply at the edges. It is not simply found among the cultured elite … It is not simply found among postmodern academics … or among vicious street gangs, or among rappers who spew forth obscenities and violence, or among the venders of pornography, or in the bizarre and unashamed revelations of deeply private matters that are aired on television talk shows. What is striking is that this corruption is ubiquitous. It is not located in this or that pocket of depravity, but is spread like a dense fog throughout our society. It is even spread by those who are safe, ordinary, dull, and dimwitted, not merely by the incendiary and bellicose, the subversive and anti-social.1

Quoting Robert Bork, Wells summarizes, “Wherever one looks, the traditional virtues of this culture are being lost, its vices multiplied, its values degraded—in short, the culture itself is unraveling.”2

So again, in light of our present cultural agony, how can we dare to speak of the victorious reign of Christ and his church in our culture or any culture? Paraphrasing Gary North, there has to be more to Christianity’s victory in history than its hypothetical cultural defeat in history.3 The problem is particularly acute for those of us who affirm an inaugurated eschatology according to which the ascended Christ, as Victor over Satan, sin, and death, is said presently to exercise the right to rule and fill the earth to the glory of the Father by his Spirit and according to his word.

In this essay, I propose to begin the task of addressing this problem by establishing the thesis that, in keeping with the teaching of Gen 3:15 and the book of Revelation, a fully biblical inaugurated eschatology must recognize that perseverance in faith4 despite persecution is victory for the church in history. I shall attempt this task, first, by reviewing critically the recent interaction between amillennialists and postmillennialists and, then, by turning to the theology o...

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