By Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
Amillennialists are fond of claiming the postmillennial argument is falsified by the New Testament evidence. For instance, after citing my definition of postmillennialism, Strimple states: “The New Testament, however, presents a different picture” (Strimple in Darrell L. Bock, ed., Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond [Zondervan, 1998], p. 60). A couple of paragraphs later he writes: “True, God has promised ‘a time of universal worship, peace, and prosperity’; but the consistent witness of the New Testament is that that time will come only when our Lord Jesus Christ himself has come ‘a second time . . . to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him’ (Heb. 9:28)” (p. 61). If the New Testament were opposed to the postmillennial vision this argument would certainly destroy it. But is it?
In response to Strimple I would urge the following: First, except for my comments on Revelation 20, he does not interact with my New Testament exegesis. At one place he does mention my argument from the Great Commission (p. 62), but he dismisses it by declaring—not rebutting or proving or counter-arguing— that “Gentry has failed to establish that making disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them require the fulfillment be in postmillennial terms” (p. 62). (I will treat this dismissal under the next heading below.) This is disappointing, for on pages 38 through 55 I argue at length from the New Testament material, analyzing Matthew 13 (pp. 38–40), John 12:31-32 (pp. 41–44), Matthew 28:18–20 (pp. 44–48), 1 Corinthians 15:20–28 (pp. 48–50), and Revelation 20 (pp. 50–55). But though Strimple provides his own analysis of other portions of the New Testament, he does not respond to my New Testament exegetical argument.
This is disappointing, as I said. And especially in that if you consult my Response to Strimple (pp. 130–142) you will note that I directly engage his positive presentation:
(1) In my Response’s first section (“Commendations and Appreciation”) I note that I agree with much of Strimple’s theological understanding of eschatology, which he presents in his essay on pages 84–100. I write: “I was particularly impressed with his presentation of Christ as the fulfillment of the typology of Israel, the land, Jerusalem, David, and the temple.” Consequently, no rebuttal is called for on these matters of agreement.
(2) In my Response’s second section (“General Differences and Shortcomings”) I briefly note of several of Strimple’s biblical arguments—his treatment of Isaiah 2, Psalm 2, and 1 Corinthians 15—that he stops short of the exegetical drift of these texts and that my fuller exegesis demonstrates these passages support postmillennialism (pp. 131–32). Therefore, I refer you to my essay which deals more fully with several of the texts he brings into the discussion. Notice the difference of our depth of discussion.
(3) In his opening essay he arrives at his final, most important arguments, titling that section: “Two Passages Considered Crucial by Millennialists” (pp. 112–29). Those two passages are Romans 11 and Revelation 20. On pages 133–42 I provide an in-depth, point-for-point rebuttal to his six page exegesis of Romans 11 (which he gives on pages 112–18). And for a proper understanding of Revelation 20 I refer the reader to my own opening essay (pp. 50–55) and to my detailed reply to Blaising (pp. 236–54). In our theological battle, it seems, Strimple fires into the air while I fire at his advancing arguments.
Second, Strimple’s Response offers New Testament passages which he deems contra-indicative to my postmillennialism, many of which deal with suffering. But as I will show later, these passages fit easily within the postmillennial framework— when properly interpreted. And if they fit well within our eschatological framework, they obviously do not harm the postmillennial argument. His method in countering the postmillennial hope is somewhat like attempting to disprove the deity of Christ by pointing out verses that speak of his humanity, his mortal weaknesses, his death, and so forth, while omitting a consideration of those passages pointing positively to his deity. His argument is partial and inconclusive. Consequently, it appears largely to be wasted.