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May 15, 2007 / Daniel

Bauckham on the millennium

Millennium theology has always been a source of disagreement in Protestant circles.  Right now the Evangelical Free churches are debating on opening up their doctrine statement to allow amil folks into their fellowship.  The Berean Fellowship,  which I’m a part of, is decidedly pre-mil.  We’re of the dispensational variety, not of the historical classic variety represented by folks like George Ladd.

Recently, I read Richard Bauckham’s The Theology of the Book of Revelation.  Bauckham is not a dispensationalist of any sort, but he does make some interesting points in his short little book on Revelation.  Here’s a quote from the section on the millennium.

“Life and rule–the two issues on which the contest between the martyrs and the beast had focussed–are the sole themes of 20:4-6, and they are merely asserted, without elaboration.   This shows that the theological point of the millennium is solely to demonstrate the triumph of the martyrs: that those whom the beast put to death are those who will truly live–eschatologically, and that those who contested his right to rule and suffered for it are those who wil in the end rule as universally as he–and for much longer: a thousand years!  Finally, to demonstrate that their triumph in Christ’s kingdom is not one which evil can again reverse, that it is God’s last word for good against evil, the devil is given a last chance to deceive the nations again (20:7-8).  But it is no re-run of the rule of the beast.  The citadel of the saints proves impregnable (20:9).”

Then later he adds,

“But once we take the image literally–as predicting an actual period in the future of the world–it is impossible to limit it to this function.  We then have to ask all the questions which interpretors of Revelation ask about the millennium but which John does not answer because they are irrelevant to the function he gives it in his symbolic universe….The millennium becomes incomprehensible once we take the image literally.” 

 So the question is, “Is Bauckham pre-mil or amil?”  This first section sounds pre-mil.  The second bit sounds amil.   


Leave a Comment
  1. Matthew C / May 16 2007 8:01 am

    He sounds definitely Amill.

    His arguments smack of Ockhamite nomminalism, separating language from its referrent.

  2. fiester25 / May 16 2007 3:48 pm

    However, he does understand the passage as following chapter 19 in chronology. Most amil folks argue that the book doesn’t have a chronology.

    I don’t think that he separates language from its referrent.

    I think that he bases his view more on the symbolic nature of the book of Revelation.

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