Between Exile and Reconstruction

There are basically two camps among reformed theologians regarding eschatology and cultural engagement.  The amillennials like Carl Trueman and Kevin DeYoung and the postmillennials like Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart.

It's a difference in emphasis between victory and faithfulness.

If as a post-millennial you think that a more pessimistic person will be less faithful, then you are putting too much stock in man.  It’s a form of "name it and claim it" to say, “You’ve got to believe we CAN win in order to go out and actually fulfill the Great Commission.”  That’s just not true.  Tolkien was far closer to the truth.  We do NOT know if the Gospel will advance with success in our lifetime, in our country, but we can be faithful pessimists.  (I don’t say we must be pessimists; neither do I believe God forbids it in the short term.)

If as an a-millennial you think others make God's promises too earthly-minded, then you are overly spiritualizing your worldview.  It's a form of Gnosticism, of denigrating the body and earth that God made us with, to imply that God finally just take us away from all this yucky physical stuff that tempts us.  As if there's no mental sins.  Jesus teaches us to pray for His Kingdom to come to earth, not go to heaven.

What brought all this on was an intriguing set of essays by Leithart and Trueman in First Things a few months back.  Leithart asserts that the best of Protestantism is in the future, not the past.  Overcoming division and error should be our vision and is our destiny in Christ.  This is true.

Trueman asserts on the next page that the church should get ready for cultural exile - to be the minority in a society that doesn't take God into account in its lifestyle or policies.  "Today's world is becoming a colder, harder place."  This is also true.

This is a fight we don’t need to have.  Let’s do all we can to advance the gospel in every nation.  We will disagree over how much success we will have, and what we should do, perhaps.  Let each be convinced in his own mind on this, each member contributing differently to the body of Christ.  Triumph is in our future, but so is lament.  Let us fight faithfully and look to Christ for the victory.

No comments:

Post a Comment