Since the Reformation era, most Protestant churches have subscribed to some version of amil-lennialism, a spiritualized view of the Christian promise of the kingdom of God.
   Amillennialism had been articulated by st. Augustine (354-430) in the fifth century. Augustine approached the promises concerning the kingdom of God in a somewhat allegorical or spiritualized sense. He suggested that the kingdom was inaugurated by Christ's ministry, death, and resurrection and continues through this present age along with the worldly kingdom of Babylon. When this age ends at some unknowable point in the future, the church will begin to enjoy the fruits of the fullness of eternal life.
   Both Martin Luther, himself an Augustinian friar, and John Calvin accepted this view and passed it along to their followers. it reigned supreme in Protestant circles until challenged in the 17th century by postmillennialism, which suggested that history was moving toward an earthly kingdom of peace and brotherhood, and in the 19th century by a rebirth of premillennialism, which suggested that God was going to intervene in the presently downward spiraling course of human events and establish his kingdom.
   Amillennialism retains the acceptance of the majority of Protestants (including most liberal Protestants and many conservative ones). Contemporary amillennialism has been strengthened by the collapse of the postmillennialist view; in the face of the tremendous evil experienced in World Wars i and ii, people lost confidence in the progress of human goodness. Holiness and faith, unlike technology, do not seem to be traits that can be passed down from generation to generation and improved upon. Premillennialism, too, has been weakened, as the repeated delays in the fulfillment of its expectations have been experienced by the Christian community. Most Protestants would suggest that time spent predicting the world's future by deciphering biblical passages only distracts from the responsibilities of living in the real world.
   in the 20th century, liberal Protestants have developed a renewed stress in Jesus as the announcer of the kingdom of God, which is both present and future. That emphasis has been separated from any consideration of a literal millennium, a thousand-year period of Christ's rule on earth. The millennium, in contrast to the kingdom of God, is mentioned only once in the Bible, in Revelation 20:1-6. Amillennialism often leads to a lack of interest in prophecy and related topics, and thus has produced considerably less literature than its two major competitors.
   See also eschatology.
   Further reading:
   ■ Darrell L. Bock, ed., Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999)
   ■ William E. Cox, Amillennialism Today (Phillipsburg, Pa.: Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1966)
   ■ Charles Feinberg, Premillennialism or Amillennialism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1936)
   ■ Kim Riddlebarger, Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the Endtimes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 2003).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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