5. Terminology (b): eschatological camps

(The post formerly known as http://oldmaid.jallman.net/entry.php?id=5 )

Non-rapturist, non-historicist

We will spend only a short time on Idealism and a lot of time on Preterism, with an in-between amount of time on Amillennialism. We do this because preterism will not be covered anywhere else, but both Idealism and Amillennialism will be covered again in other sections.

There are several camps in this category, and most overlap in a way that is not “bleedover”. They are the Idealist-Amillennialist, the Preterist-Amillennialist, and the Amillennialist.

Idealist-amillennialist

We ask yet another random person the Two Questions.

Question one is, “When do the events in Revelation take place?” This interviewee answers, “The book of Revelation is a poetic description of God’s hastening to avenge victims throughout human history. These events come true every time the weak are oppressed. Only the events that describe Judgment Day have never yet happened.”

For question two (“What era are we living in right now?”) the same interviewee answers, “We are always living in the time when the poetic events come true, because the weak are always being oppressed. Therefore we had better not be contributing to the problem or God’s wrath will fall on us. It doesn’t matter when the end of the world is, to an individual who won’t live long enough to see it.”

This person is an idealist. Idealists add to amillenniallism for their eschatology and to the Social Gospel school of behavior for their actions. Our critic Riddlebarger (pages 22-3) defines Idealism as a belief in Progressive Parallelism. “Progressive Parallelism is the idea that the series of visions in Revelation describe the course of history between the first and second comings of Christ, each from a different prophetic perspective, although these visions intensify before the end,” he says. Therefore Revelation includes both prophetic and apocalyptic material. “According to the Idealist interpretation, the Roman Empire may be a figure of continual persecution of God’s people throughout the church period. This means that Revelation is a combination of historicist, preterist, and futurist elements. To insist that the book be read through one particular lens to the exclusion of the others, says this view, is to miss an important aspect of the genre of apocalyptic literature, namely its complexity.”

Idealists, like the Puritans, read American history “providentially.” The Puritans believed God chose America for special mission and blessing. Idealists tread close to the territory of belief in which God chooses America for special judgment. Idealists do not expect special judgment; they believe there still is time to make things right.

(Aside: as recently as 2015 your host heard sincere believers sincerely propose that the USA must be special because the abbreviation is embedded in another holy word, JerUSAlem.)

Rossing compares the intention of Revelation to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. “Scrooge’s question to the Spirit is the right one to ask about Revelation’s visions as well: ‘Why show me this, if I am past all hope?’ The book of Revelation, like A Christmas Carol, shows us terrifying visions precisely because there is still hope for us and for the earth. Indeed, the hope of the book of Revelation is that God’s Lamb, Jesus, is already victorious and that God’s people will be faithful to the Bible’s vision of life” (page 85).

Idealists cite verses like, “To whom much is given, much shall be required” (Luke 12:48) or, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25). Idealists say that the reason God gives wealth to humans is so that they have more to give away; the fact that God trusted them to give the money away is the only reason they got it. Some Idealist apologists and authors include G.K. Beale, William Hendriksen, and Dennis Johnson.

The book of Revelation describes the fall of a city built on seven hills, a city represented by a rich woman “drunk” with the blood of victims. God then punishes this victimizer. Idealists make lists of the cities in history that were built on seven hills, cities from which great nations drew power … Jerusalem, Rome, Boston …

Preterist-amillennialist

Before we can ask the Two Questions, our random person introduces himself as a preterist-amillennialist. What is that? The passage below is preterism.

It was an ordinary September day, and the man who commanded the world’s most powerful army looked over the great city in silence. Just a few weeks earlier, thousands had died in an attack on it. The burning at the city’s heart could be seen from miles away.

The attack on this major center of world trade was the result of the religious fanaticism of a group of zealots in the Middle East, who, according to other adherents of their religion, had hijacked the meaning of their faith. The whole world witnessed the massive destruction visited upon the city that day.

The man who quietly looked over the destruction was the scion of a powerful political family. At this point in history, he was in charge of the only superpower remaining in the West. The man was the oldest son of the one person who might have, maybe even should have, ended the conflict with these extremists years earlier. Instead, the resentment continued to brew for years, and more than a few cheered and celebrated at the destruction.

Who was this man in charge?

Caesar Titus of Rome. And Caesar Vespasian was his father. The city that was overrun was Jerusalem, and the building that burned was Herod’s Temple. In The Apocalypse, we will investigate a day that changed the world forever: August 10, 70 A.D.

If you thought we were describing September 11, 2001, do not feel bad. You were caught in the “Winkle Warp.” As the story goes, Rip Van Winkle fell asleep for twenty years in the Catskill Mountains. When he awoke, an entire generation had died off. He looked for his young daughter, only to find her holding a child of her own. He saw himself leaning against a tree, only to realize it was actually his grown son. Rip Van Winkle had experienced a time warp, a “Winkle Warp.”

Rapturists experience a Winkle Warp when the read The Apocalypse. They look at descriptions of events and misplace them by two thousand years. They are still waiting for Daniel’s seventieth week, when in fact it encompassed the seven decades of covenantal transition during the first century. The Apocalypse is a series of visions describing this transition, including the Great Tribulation of the Olivet Discourse and the casting out of Hagar explained in Galatians. The bulk of the visions are not primarily about our future, and only a Winkle Warp can make it seem as if they are. True, we must not make the mistake of assuming that the lessons of The Apocalypse do not apply to our daily lives. When we meditate on the evil in our modern world, we need to keep the lesson of The Apocalypse before us. Yet the book must be interpreted within its frame of reference: 68 to 70 A.D.

(Currie, pages 222-3)

That is preterism.

Preterists answer our Two Questions of eschatology as follows:

Question one is, “When do the events in Revelation take place?” A preterist Christian replies, “The book describes the persecution of Christians by the Jews and the Romans especially under Nero, until the First Roman War turns the two persecutors against each other resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem.”

For question two (“What era are we living in right now?”) the interviewee answers, “We are living in the time of Rev. 20:1-5. We are living in the era after the fall of Jerusalem but before the appearance of the New Jerusalem, which will be seen after Judgment Day. We live in the time of the already and the not yet. Satan already has been bound. Before the end of time he will be released. Any Antichrist and/or antichrists would only come before Christ. We expect that the return of Christ will be without warning.”

The terms of preterism can be confusing if not applied consistently. Riddlebarger uses the terms “partial,” “moderate” and “full” preterism, but Currie and Olson use only the terms “not” preterist, “preterist,” and “hyperpreterist.”

Therefore for consistency and clarity we will use the terms “preterist” and “hyperpreterist.” So … a preterist believes that the bulk of prophecies in Revelation of the Apocalypse describe the fall of Judaea and Jerusalem in the first century. A hyperpreterist believes that the Second Coming of Christ also happened at that time, although a hyperpreterist can believe in a totally different date for the Second Coming, so long as it has already passed. (The Shakers are hyperpreterist because they think Jesus returned to earth as their founder Mother Ann Lee. The Jehovah’s Witnesses might qualify as hyperpreterists depending upon their interpretation of Christ’s returning to earth as an unseen presence in 1914.)

Most non-preterist amillennialists your host has encountered will insist that Catholics (and presumably Orthodox) teach that the Second Coming of Christ occurred in the year 70 when Jerusalem fell. (This would make the teachers hyperpreterists.) However your host has yet to encounter any Catholic/Orthodox apologist or author who said any such thing. (This is not to say that none of them have said it, only that those your host has encountered will immediately debunk anyone they catch doing it.) Without exception (so far), all Catholic apologists/authors yet encountered have stated that the judgment upon Jerusalem was about Jesus’ vindication, Jesus’ coming to heaven to sit on the kingly throne there. In a rare display of vim, Currie argues:

The most obvious conclusion from all of this is that Jesus really did mean the generation that included His disciples. To explain that away clumsily is no less insulting than is [Bertrand] Russell’s claim that Jesus was simply wrong. Indeed, Christians deserve to be the objects of scorn when they propose the type of word-parsing that rapturists perform on this [purported Winkle Warp] statement of Jesus.

[snip]

In Luke’s version of the Olivet Discourse, specifically Luke 21:20-24, there are details that were entirely fulfilled in 70 A.D. Even the New Scofield Reference Bible admits this. But the rapturist tries to claim that Matthew and Mark, because they omit some of the identical details of Luke, are actually talking about a different event! In notes on Matt. 24:16 and Luke 21:20 Scofield writes, “The passage in Luke refers in express terms to a destruction of Jerusalem which was fulfilled by Titus in A.D. 70 … Two sieges of Jerusalem are in view of the Olivet Discourse, the one fulfilled in A.D. 70, and the other yet to be fulfilled at the end of the age.”

We would not interpret other parallel passages in Scripture in this way. For example, there are multiple descriptions of Jesus’ Resurrection, each containing different details. Do rapturists believe in more than one Resurrection as well? Of course not, but that heresy would be entirely consistent with the hermaneutic they employ in the Olivet Discourse. Isn’t it much more likely that Luke merely chose to add a few details of the Olivet Discourse that Matthew omitted? (Currie, page 152)

Jesus had promised that “this generation shall not pass away” until certain events had been fulfilled. Currie and Olson agree that those Jewish individuals who plotted against Jesus—“His blood be upon us and upon our children” (Matt. 27:25)—were among those trapped in Jerusalem, and they paid for their choices with their lives. Thus there is no ongoing curse on the Jews, because the word “children” never meant “race.” Also the word for “this generation” does not refer to people not yet born. Currie states on page 153,

Jesus never intended us to question our understanding of what “is” is.

Before we finish with preterism, we will give a quick look to its reasoning (again, because we probably will not be returning to it later).

Currie is absolutely certain that John wrote Revelation of the Apocalypse no later than the year 68; indeed, the year 68 may be the date. For his proofs (pages 451-463), Currie lists three reasons: the content/references of the book, John’s distinctive writing style, and the timing of events in John’s life.

Apocalyptic content and references

The references in the Bible, Currie says, make plain that Christians were still familiar with the older Jewish apocalyptic defiance codes but were also beginning to form their own code that reflected their unique experiences. This blended code would continue among Christians after the Jewish center of culture was gone. Currie argues that many images described in Revelation are part of the old Jewish literary codes.

• (13:18) The number “3” was the number of God. (This did not originate with Christians.) The number “6” was the number of man. Thus the number “666” was a code for “the most powerful man on earth” or “the man who thought he was God.” This was a good description of Caesar Nero.

• (13:11-12) “The land” or earth was the code for Israel and the Jewish people. “The land beast” would be a person or entity from Israel who has done something monstrous.

• (13:1-7) “The sea” was the code for the nations/Gentiles. “The sea beast” would be a Gentile person or entity who has done something monstrous.

• The sea beast becomes the Roman Empire if its seven heads are seven Julio-Claudian caesars and the ten horns are the number of caesars who persecuted Christians between the rule of Nero and the rule of Constantine.

• (12:15) When “the woman” (the entire church, alternately a reference to Jewish Christians and/or Mary the first believer, because Gentile Christians are “children” of both of them) flees for her life, the “serpent” (Satan) tried to sweep her away with “a flood” (of Roman Gentile soldiers).

• (12:16) At the last moment “the land” (of Israel) “swallows” this flood (of Roman soldiers). When the Jews revolted against Rome, the Empire poured its armies into Israel—diverting its armies to killing Jews, not Christians.

• (13:3-4) After the sea-beast “seemed to have a mortal wound” the wound incredibly healed. People marveled and worshipped the sea-beast (Rome) and the dragon (Satan, the adversary, the devil) who gave it “authority.” “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” The Roman Empire almost died with Nero but Vespasian restored it to life. Aside from Jews and Christians the whole empire worshipped him. Vespasian was a working man like themselves, and though the people called him colorful names because of his tax policies he knew where to stop. After he put down rebellions all over the Empire he built a great Temple of Peace in the Vespasian Forum. Contemporaries called it one of the Wonders of the World.

But why did the Jewish people revolt? Currie argues that the Jewish religious leaders, the Jewish army, and the outlawed Zealots set aside their arguments long enough to fight for their freedom. He believes it fulfilled Daniel 9:24-27. According to the preterist interpretation, the “anointed one” (Jesus) was cut off. A “prince to come” (future Caesar Vespasian or his son the crown prince Titus) destroyed the city and sanctuary in “a flood” (of Gentile soldiers). This happened because “he” (the Jewish high priest) “caused sacrifice and offering” (to Nero) to cease. (This failed to get the High Priest back on God’s good side because the High Priest should not have started offering sacrifices to Nero in the first place. Also, indications are that he stopped the sacrifices because the nation was ready for war, as opposed to, say, stopping the sacrifices to Nero because he—or anyone—was sorry for sacrificing to a false god. Currie states that these actions make “the land beast” the Jewish High Priest and his horns two other duplicitous leaders [whose names escape one at the moment]. The people trusted the High Priest, and he failed them.) Because the sacrifices to Nero stopped, a desolator came on the “wings of abominations.” (Romans marched behind—and worshipped—a standard with an eagle, which in Judaism is an unclean bird.) The “one who makes desolate” would conquer “until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator” (i.e. even Eternal Rome would fall someday).

This is only a tiny, tiny fraction of preterism. (We did mention that Currie’s book is more than 500 pages, didn’t we?) Both Currie and Olson are very firm that Nero is not the Antichrist in their understanding. They both concede that he and many other characters in Revelation/Apocalypse are antichrist (with a small “a”) in that their actions are against Christ and therefore help Satan, the adversary, the devil. But they insist Nero is not the Antichrist. (They concede that he probably looked like it to the people who died during his reign; however one of the proofs that someone is not the Antichrist is that the world goes on after he dies or is defeated.)

John’s writing style

In making his case that Revelation/Apocalypse was meant to be understood as a guide/warning to the events before and through the year 70, Currie cites a second proof. He argues that the author John’s writing had “Hebraist elements” in it.

Experts tell us that these elements were identifiable in writings before the destruction of Jerusalem, but that they rapidly disappeared after 70 A.D. … Scholars proficient in this critical analysis claim this evidence is absolutely trustworthy and irrefutable. Some claim that their analysis proves that St. John wrote The Apocalypse first, then his Gospel, and finally his three epistles. (Currie, page 459)

Well, that sounds very confident. But what does it mean?

Let us use a different metaphor. Instead of comparing ancient Hebrew and koine Greek (which most people do not know), we can use two modern languages that are available in any classroom or dictionary. Let us compare English and Chinese.

In our example, an English-speaking person visits a Chinese-speaking country. For reasons known only to himself this English speaker travels halfway around the world to visit … a Western fast-food restaurant. The cashier asks him (in Chinese),

“You want-not-want fries with that?”

Our English speaker’s travel brochure tells him to answer “shi de” for Yes or “bu shi de” for No. This is not standard usage. The way to say Yes and No in Chinese is to affirm or deny the verb-of-action (in this case, “want” or “not want”). The words shi de and bu shi de are meant to affirm or deny a sentence that does not have a verb-of-action. For example, “It is hot outside-ma?” is answered with the Chinese equivalent of “Sure is” and “Tisn’t.” Our English speaker can still make himself understood. It is just not standard usage. Example:

Cashier: “You want fries with that-ma?” (where ma= question particle)

Tourist: “That is so.”

2nd Cashier: “You want-not-want fries with that?”

2nd Tourist: “That is not so.”

English speakers must learn “measures.” An English speaker can be understood if he asks for yi shu, “one book,” but standard usage is yi ge shu, “one (flat-thing) book.”

And what English speaker was ever delighted to make the acquaintance of the wandering le particle? (This particle is used to denote tense, among other things.)

Meanwhile a Chinese speaker who visits an English-speaking country will speak and write in stative verbs because the speaker still thinks in stative verbs. (Stative verbs fold verbs-of-being into verbs-of-action. In English they are separated; the verbs-of-being are am, is, are, was, were, be, been, being.) The Chinese speaker may say in English, “My son graduating college.” The speaker must add nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc. to communicate tense.

“My son graduating college last year.”

“My son graduating college this year.”

”My son graduating college next year.”

Finally, English speakers and speakers of simplified Chinese learned to read from horizontal lines that begin at the top left corner. Speakers of traditional Chinese learned to read from vertical lines that begin at the top right corner. (Traditional Chinese also has some “cursive” elements; simplified is “print-only.”) If any of these three tourists visits a country with a different writing style, the tourist will slow down the line at the hypothetical fast-food restaurant. (Consider how we would react if we learned to read the lines like the “across” in a crossword puzzle, or the “down” in a crossword puzzle, then had to read menus, road signs, or books written the other way. In our private notes, such as grocery lists, we would still write it “our” way.)

This is a little like what Currie means by “Hebraist” elements in John’s Greek. It certainly does not mean that Revelation has mistakes in it! It simply means that in Currie’s opinion, John’s written “accent” combined with his unique “voice” made his writings distinctive and easy to trace. When the Jewish nation was destroyed, John’s Greek would have improved through “total immersion” by having no other Jewish acquaintances to talk to.

(Personal aside: the third-century Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria said the unique “voice” of the writer of Revelation/Apocalypse did not “sound” to him like the “voice” of John’s epistles or gospel [your host is not clear which one]. Perhaps Currie will address this in a second edition. Otherwise Currie is satisfied that his experts are reliable.)

John’s life events

For Currie’s third proof he looks at John’s life. Currie notes that John was in and out of prison most of his life. Currie also notes that John was in prison during the reign of Caesar Claudius and/or Nero. (It is unclear as to which one, but it could be both.)

Then Currie presents a verse that would certainly get the attention of anyone who “takes the Bible literally, except when it is plainly meant to be symbolic.” In Rev. 10:11 an angel informs John, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” Currie argues (page 458, continuing) that if John wrote his book in the 90s, it would not be possible for John to literally fulfill this prophecy. When John was released from prison around the year 96, he was so weak he had to be carried into the church. He could speak only a few words. He died soon afterwards. John was in no condition either to write the book himself or to dictate it to anyone else. John could fulfill the angel’s requirements only in metaphor. (That is, John’s book survived.)

On the other hand, if John wrote his book in the year 68, (as Currie is certain John did), then John would have about thirty more years of life to fulfill the angel’s prophecy/command to prophesy, testify, witness, and work. Currie argues that there is no reason not to take the angel’s words literally. Currie concludes that not only could this verse be fulfilled both literally and metaphorically, but that it was.

How do non-historicist, non-futurist, non-preterists respond to preterism? Well, they tend to stand by their belief that John did not write his book to talk about the fall of Jerusalem, because they have been taught John wrote it around the year 96. Preterists stand by their belief that John wrote it around the year 68; it could not be in the 90s because John was dying at the time. (So far your host has yet to find anyone who proposes a date in between. Very much an all-or-nothing debate.)

Amillennialist

We now ask our final random person the Two Questions.

Question one is, “When do the events in Revelation take place?” This interviewee replies, “The book describes the persecution of Christians by the Romans, especially under Diocletian, until the Roman Empire fell and Christianity prevailed.”

For question two (“What era are we living in right now?”) the same interviewee answers, “We are living in the time of Rev. 20:1-5. We are living in the era after the fall of the Roman Empire but before the appearance of the New Jerusalem, which will be seen after Judgment Day. We live in the time of the already and the not yet. Satan already has been bound. Before the end of time he will be released. Any Antichrist and/or antichrists would only come before Christ. We expect that the return of Christ will be without warning.”

All amillennialists (including those who bring idealist or preterist codicils to the form) believe that we are living in the time of Rev. 20:1-5. All a-Mills believe that Jesus is a king right now and rules in heaven. Amillennialism is often called “present” or “realized millennialism” for this reason. Jesus already spoke of “My kingship” before He died (John 18:36) and described his realm as one that was not of the world. Our critic Riddlebarger (page 109) adds that Jesus forgave sins because Jesus already had authority to do so (Mark 2:10). A-Mills believe that when Jesus took up the throne in heaven He gave thrones to the Apostles of Pentecost and to the early heroes of the church. A-Mills believe that the martyrs and early heroes of the church rule beside Christ, although in a disembodied but conscious state. (Jesus—and Catholics/Orthodox say The Virgin Mary too—would be embodied, but not the martyrs or heroes. Those bodies remain in their graves on earth until the Last Day.)

Amillennialists teach that we live in parallel worlds, where the Millennium already exists in heaven as troubles continue on earth. Both realms are real. On the day Christ returns, the mortal world will be subsumed into the eternal, and there will be only one reality. We live in the middle of time. We live between the “already” and the “not yet”—not an either/or but a both/and. A-Mills believe that we cannot know the timing of the Last Day. If we knew, would we not be tempted to alter our behavior to ingratiate ourselves to the Judge? Therefore a-Mills question the motives of anyone who attempts to time the end of the world.

Amillennialists argue that non-amillennialists essentially teach that Jesus is not a king now. It is true that in the mortal world there is not much justice and there are many enemies. Amillennialists heartily agree—because seeking to establish justice and dealing with enemies is part of ruling. (See 1 Cor. 15:25.) This is why Jesus has to have authority now: to rule until all enemies are beneath his feet, and to commission human stewards to advance his rule. The task of living humans is to be ready when Jesus the king visits this “outlying province,” and to fit it for the king’s arrival.

When Christ conquered sin and death, Satan was bound for “a thousand years.” Thus Satan has already been bound. He will be released just before the end of time (whenever that is). A-Mills believe we cannot know the time of the end, and that we will have no “hints” so brazen as to give us an indication of that timing. (A “secret rapture” seven years before Jesus arrives with an army would qualify as a brazen hint.)

The condition of Jesus’ reign and Satan’s imprisonment continue for “a thousand years” because “a thousand” is the Bible’s poetic way to say, “all of it.” (A-Mills cite Psalms 50:10 which describes God as owning the cattle on a thousand hills, meaning all cattle on all hills. A literal interpretation would imply that God does not own the cattle on hill number 1,001. To this rapturists reply that a thousand-year reign is literal, but the cattle on hill number 1,001 is literalistic i.e. an absurd comparison and interpretation.)

Non-historicist, non-futurists believe that the Antichrist (actually, all antichrists) will come first. Any Christians alive at the time have to resist him. They are not promised that they will outlive him, only that he will not prevail.

Until that time, we fight a spiritual war against Satan’s slaves. A-Mills do not believe that all satanic activities ceased on earth, since Satan’s slaves have not been bound. Instead, the verses specifically state that Satan personally ‘cannot deceive the nations’ until the time of the final release and revolt. A-Mills compare this to a vicious dog that has been chained. It cannot roam freely or injure anyone it pleases, but it can injure the person who ventures within its range. When all the time of Satan’s imprisonment has been fulfilled he will be released and Antichrist will come. Jesus will return in a public (i.e. seen by nonbelievers too) one-and-only Second Coming and dispatch all foes, human and supernatural.

Immediately upon Jesus’ victory all humans will go to Judgment Day. Some will have an easier time because Jesus will vouch for them, but go they will. All humans report to the divine court. Amillennialists are firm, even ferocious, on this point. Some rapturists teach that true Christians can escape Judgment Day. They believe they will sit in the courtroom as spectators. Sitting in the audience at public court is legal on earth (many retirees do it for fun), but amillennialists argue that humanity will not fill a similar role in the heavenly courtroom. There is a huge difference between being ordered to report to court—only to find that Jesus has caused the charges against you to be dismissed—and not being required to go to court because charges were never filed against you in the first place. Amillennialists insist that all humans must face judgment. (In this instance a-Mills are closer to the Jewish position than to the rapturist position.) According to mainstream Christianity Jesus then gets the charges dismissed, but the defendant has to report to court to get this clemency. Amillennialists believe that anyone who teaches “you can escape doomsday” spreads a false teaching.

Throughout church history the majority of great thinkers of Christianity have all been amillennialist: Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc. In fact amillennialism did not take its own name until the early 20th Century. Until that time a-Mills called themselves either “the orthodox view” or postmillennialists (because a-Mills believe that the Judgment Day will follow the 1,000 years of Christ’s heavenly reign, where “one thousand” is the Bible’s poetic way of saying, “all of it”). Pure post-Mills believed in a literal 1,000 years of peace, with Christ ruling an earthly realm. When they emerged, a-Mills needed their own name. Idealists and preterists add beliefs onto a-Mill belief, but they do not subtract from it.

Summary of eschatological stances

We have three major eschatological positions: the historicist, the futurist, and the non-historicist/non-futurist position. These groups give distinctive answers to our Two Questions of eschatology: 1) When do the events in Revelation happen and 2) Then what era are we living in now.

Historicists are very different from each other but united by a common opponent (Roman Catholicism and any Protestant allies). They tend to agree on both of the “Two Questions.”

Futurists include both Postmillennialists and rapturists. (It also includes the “missing four” obscure groups of futurists, who are not a factor in our discussion.) These branches of futurism cannot agree on either of the “Two Questions.” Rapturists are the dominant school of futurism.

Non-historicist, non-futurists cannot agree on Question One. They disagree because some of them add Idealism or Preterism to their amillennial beliefs.

(Personal aside: We could easily spend many chapters discussing the disagreement between pure amillennialists and preterist-amillennialists, but that would sidetrack us from the question of why either group disagrees with rapturism. To learn more about the differences between preterism-amillennialism and amillennialism, see David Currie’s preterist book Rapture : the End-Times Error that Leaves the Bible Behind and Kim Riddlebarger’s amillennialist book A Case for Amillennialism.)

Because non-historicist, non-futurist Christians are so strongly united on Question Two, amillennialism becomes a “common denominator” for them. They believe that whatever prophecies may have been fulfilled in the past should not distract the Christian from what must be done now. The non-historicist/non-futurist believers are so united on Question Two that from now on we will refer to them simply as amillennialists.

Next stop: Behavioral-school terms

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Author: The_Old_Maid_of_Potluck

Author of Potluck2point0: The resource formerly known as http://oldmaid.jallman.net (a.k.a. My humongous [technical term] study of "What's behind 'Left Behind'").