Why Hold to a Pre-Mill View?
by Norman L. Geisler
February 2, 2007
There are many arguments for premillennialism and several are noteworthy. Arguments for Premillennialism
Unless Premillennialism is True, God Lost the Battle in History
God started human history by creation human beings in a literal Paradise. It had trees, plants, animals, and rivers (Gen 2). It had a specific geographical location on earth, by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (Iraq). There was no sin, evil, or suffering there. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment.
But this Paradise was lost by sin. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and brought sin, suffering, and death on themselves (Gen. 3:14-9) and on all mankind (Rom. 5:12). Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden which was sealed off by a closed gate and guarded by an angel (Gen. 3:24). In short, the Tempter won. He brought death and its fear on mankind (Heb. 2:14).
Hence, if the Paradise lost is not a Paradise regained, then God lost the battle and Satan won. If physical death is not reversed by physical resurrection, then Satan retains the ultimate victory. And if a literal Paradise is not regained, then God lost what He created. But God is omnipotent and cannot lose any battle. Hence, there must be a literal Paradise regained such as we have in the premillennial view of the millennium or else God did not reverse the curse and gain the victory over the Satan damaged earth and human race.
But God will regain the Paradise lost. This He will do by a literal resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-19; Luke 24:39-43) (see Chap. 8) and by a literal reign of Christ on earth. He will reign until death is actually1 defeated (1 Cor. 15:24-27; Rev. 20:4-6). But this will not be until the end of the millennium and the beginning of the New Heaven and Earth of which John says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). So, only by a millennial reign will the true Paradise be restored.
Unless Premillennialism is True, History Has no End
It is widely acknowledged that a linear view of history (that history is moving forward toward a goal) is the result to the Judeo-Christian revelation. History is said to be His-story for God has planned and is moving history forward toward its End (Eschaton). But without a literal historical millennium there is no real End to history. On a traditional amillennial view history mere ceases to be but never really comes to a climax. It simply ceases to be and then the eternal state dawns. For on the premillennial view, the millennium is not the first chapter of eternity; it is the last chapter of time. It is the time when, by Christ’s reign, sin, suffering , and death will be finally overcome. For only “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” (1 Cor. 15:24-25). But Christ only does this through His millennial reign. So without a literal millennium there is no real End to history.
Only Premillennialism Employs a Consistent Hermeneutic
To deny premillennialism is to deny the consistent application of the literal interpretation of the Bible. For the non-premill view 1) it takes parts of the Bible literally but not all (e.g., prophecy); 2) It takes part of prophets literally (First Advent) but not all of the Second Advent; 3) It takes part of the Gospels literally, namely, Christ’s death and resurrection (Matt. 26-28) but not all of Jesus statements in the Gospels, namely, His statements about His Second Coming (Matt. 19:28; Chaps. 24-25); 4) It takes part of a verse literally but not the rest. When quoting Isaiah Jesus stopped in the middle of a sentence and pronounced it literally fulfilled (in His First Coming), but the rest of the verse speaks of His Second Coming which must be taken literally too (cf. Isa. 61:1-2 cf. Luke 4:18-21); 5) It takes one resurrection literally but not the other (Rev. 20:5-6; John 5:28-29). But the two are listed together in the same texts. Both are said to involve people coming out of graves (Jn. 5:25-28) where dead bodies are.
Further, if the non-literal (i.e., allegorical) interpretations of amills and postmills were applied to other sections of Scripture it would undermine the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. If applied to Gen. 1-3, it would deny the historicity of Adam, the Fall, and the Doctrine of Creation. (If the End isn’t literal, then why should the Beginning be literal?) If applied to the texts on the Cross, it would deny the atonement. And if applied to the resurrection narratives, it would deny Christ’s victory over death. In short, applying the same hermeneutic, which non-premills apply to prophecy, to other parts of the Bible would deny all the fundamentals of the Christian Faith.
This is why premillennialism is a kind of hermeneutical fundamental of the Christian Faith. There are three kinds of fundamentals:
1) Doctrinal Fundamentals (e.g., the Trinity, Deity of Christ, Sacrificial Atonement, and Resurrection). These are a test of evangelical authenticity.
2) Epistemological Fundamentals–Inspiration and inerrancy). These are a test of evangelical consistency (see Vol. 2, Part Two ).
3) Hermeneutical Fundamentals (Literal Hermeneutic and Premillennialism that results from it). These too are a test of being evangelical consistent. For to deny foundational fundamentals is logically to undermine salvific fundamentals as well.
Premillennialism Adds Urgency to Evangelism.
Premillenialism, especially in those who hold the imminency of Christ’s return (see Chap. 17), creates a certain sense of urgency not generated by the other views. For if Christ is coming before the millennium at a time we know not, then one must live in a constant sense of expectation. Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13) and “Night is coming, when no one can work.” If one believes his time is limited and Christ may come at any moment, then he will have more of a sense of urgency about evangelism. This, of course, is not to say that there is no sense of urgency in the other views for everyone is going to die and some will die at any moment. But there is a far greater sense of urgency if one believes it could be our last opportunity to reach anyone at any moment. It is no coincidence that many of the modern missionary movements (William Carey, David Livingston, and Adoniram Judson) and evangelistic efforts (John Wesley, Billy Sunday, D. L. Moody, and Billy Graham) were headed by premillennialists.
Premillennial Immenency Adds an Incentive for Holiness
It is not that there are no other incentives for godliness, but certainly the imminent premillennial expectation is an added one. For John declared: “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 Jn. 3:2-3). So, the sense of imminency has a purifying effect on one’s life. It also has a sobering effect. As Peter said, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Pet. 3:10-11).
Our spiritual forefathers did not put this in our doctrinal statement because they thought it was unimportant. To the contrary, premillennialism is based on a hermeneutical (interpretation) fundamental. The literal historical/grammatical fundamental on which it is based underlies all the salvation fundamentals of the Faith. Giving it up belies to serious problems for the future of the church. First, we are giving up the very basis for all the fundamental Christian doctrines. Second, there is the underlying tendency to sacrifice important doctrines for the sake of unity, fraternity, or multiplicity (growth). Yielding to this tendency set a bad precedent for future deviation on even more important issues. One final thought. It is of more than passing significance to note that few, if any, evangelical groups slide from premillennialism to liberalism. However, this is not true of non-premillennial views. It is not accidental that premillennialism is a safeguard against liberalism for some of the reasons already given.
1Death was officially defeated by the Cross and resurrection of Christ (Col. 2:14-15; 1Cor. 15:54-55). Yet death still reigns in that all men still die (Rom. 5:12). Death will not be actually defeated until after His Second Coming (Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:50-54; Rev. 21:4).
Note: This article was updated in 2009 and titled The Importance of Premillenialism.