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A Review Of The Meaning Of The Millennium: Four Views

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Bibliographical

Information

The book The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views was edited by Robert G. Clouse. It was originally published in Downers Grove, Illinois in 1977 by InterVarsity Press. Clouse combined writings from George Eldon Ladd, Herman A. Hoyt, Loraine Boettner, and Anthony A. Hoekema to produce this book. "George Eldon Ladd (Fuller Theological Seminary) present[ed] historic premillennialism. Herman A. Hoyt (Grace Theological Seminary) [wrote] on dispensational premillennialism. Loraine Boettner (theologian and author of The Millennium) discuss[ed] the postmillennial view. And finally Anthony A. Hoekema (Calvin Theological Seminary) describes the amillennial position."

Sketch of the Editor

Clouse obtained a B.A., Ph.D., and a B.D. from Bryan College, the University of Iowa, and Grace Theological Seminary respectively. In addition, in both Iowa and Indiana he serves as an ordained Brethren minister. He is currently a history professor at Indiana State University and "is a student of the history of Christian thought." Clouse has also coedited Protest and Politics and Women in Ministry: Four Views.

Summary of the Contents

Introduction

This chapter began with a very helpful introduction section written by Clouse. It provided some brief definitions on the four views that were discussed in the book. Furthermore, it described the differing time periods in which each of the four views of the millennium discussed in this book were predominant.

Chapter One: Historic Premillennialism

According to Ladd "premillennialism is the doctrine stating that after the Second Coming of Christ, he will reign for a thousand years over the earth before the final consummation of God's redemptive purpose in the new heavens and the new earth of the Age to Come." In this initial chapter on historic premillennialism, Ladd addressed three topics. First, he addressed the question of hermeneutics because the historic premillennialist view "is based upon the hermeneutic that the Old Testament prophecies must be interpreted literally." In addition, Ladd stated that the context of millennialism must be considered. He feels that "any millennial doctrine must be consistent with its New Testament context, particularly its Christology." Ladd believes that the doctrine of the millennium should not be based strictly on the New Testament (NT) alone. He then concluded his chapter with a study into what the NT teaches about a millennium.

Chapter Two: Dispensational Premillennialism

Hoyt wrote the second chapter on dispensational premillennialism. To begin his chapter Hoyt, like Ladd, took a deep look into what Scripture has to say about the millennial kingdom, which then continued into a focus on the principle for interpreting Scripture as found in both the Old and New Testaments. This discussion about interpretation then flowed into a study of nine interpretations of the kingdom and the biblical interpretation of the kingdom. Hoyt then devoted the rest of this chapter to providing information about the mediatorial kingdom including its history, six aspects of the kingdom in prophecy, and the kingdom in the Gospels, the kingdom during the present age, and the realization of the kingdom.

Chapter Three: Postmillennialism

"Postmillennialism is that view of the last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the millennium." This was the focus of the third chapter, which was written by Boettner. She began her discussion by analyzing the different terminology used in regards to the millennium because she feels that the terms currently used are inadequate. Because "postmillennialism places a strong emphasis on the universality of Christ's work of redemption" the next topic Boettner addressed was the idea of a redeemed world. Then, she discussed spiritual advancement in the world. Finally, chapter three concluded with Boettner providing information about different principles of interpretation in regards to the millennium so that individuals can make their own judgment on what they believe.

Chapter Four: Amillennialism

Hoekema is the author of the final chapter of this book. It is devoted to four specific topics that relate to amillennialism. First, he focused on interpreting the book of Revelation to show "the background for the amillennial view of the millennium." Then, Hoekema discussed his interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 and also "two OT passages commonly viewed as predicting an earthly millennial kingdom." A brief sketch of amillennial eschatology followed. The "sketch cover[ed] two areas: first, what amillennial eschatology teaches with regard to [four topics relating to] inaugurated eschatology, and, second, what it teaches with reference to [seven subjects relating to] future eschatology." This chapter ends with four implications of amillennial eschatology for the theological understanding of Christians.

Purpose of the Book

In editing this book, Clouse hoped "that these [four] articles [and responses would] aid the serious student of Scripture in formulating his or her own conclusions concerning the interpretation of the millennium."

Analysis of the Book

Organization and Content

The focus of this book was thoroughly established in the introduction section with very organized and easily identifiable headings and subheadings, which helped the reader to focus on the point the writer was currently addressing. The topics logically flowed from one point into the next. The ideas presented initially in the introduction were then expanded upon in this same orderly manner in the four chapters which followed. Unfortunately, no summary or conclusions were found in this book. This would have helped the reader to focus on the main points of each of the views. In general, the response sections were very concise. They did not need the formal layout and structure of the preceding article.

The scheme

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