This will come as a surprise to any that know me. For a long time I defended theonomy and postmillennialism. Regarding theonomy, I don’t accept Bahnsen’s hermeneutics but I do advocate a form of social theory drawing heavily from the Old Testament reinterpreted by the Fathers in a community (e.g., taking the communal structure of Alasdair MacIntyre). An example of it can be seen here: National Anarchism, the Old Faith, and Rebellion.
Here’s the problem with eschatology (and for the record I am not considering the otherwise interesting views of mainstream theologians). And for the sake of simplicity I am only dealing with the mainstream Evangelical/Reformed views. Those are the easiest to describe and represent most of conservative Christendom.
A-, pre- and postmillennialism have equal explanatory power. They are tight systems and seem to explain away contrary evidence quite well. The problem I noticed with all three positions is they all engage in special-pleading. E.g., “These verses prove our position but the seemingly contrary verses don’t disprove our position because if you look at it this way, it can be seen to support or not-contradict our position.” While used by theologians and biblical scholars, this is actually a terrible form of argument. I point this out because I am going to posit some eschatological points that seem to disregard all three positions. While I won’t use many biblical texts (I could do that in a later post, I suppose), I hope it is in the spirit of the biblical evidence. So here goes:
With St Cyril of Jerusalem I say: “For I say that martyrs of the End Times will excel all martyrs. For the martyrs hitherto have wrestled with men only, but during that time, they should do battle with Satan in his own person.” (Catechetical Lecture 15).
Premillennialism got in trouble by (rightly) pointing out the rise of a future Anti-Christ. They erred in seeing that this anti-Christ will rule the world in the same way that a central computer rules a network. It does not allow for large-scale political resistance to the anti-christ (aside from not receiving the mark, per se). Sergei Bulgakov has good thoughts on this in his introduction to The Lamb of God. The current rebellion to Christ is merely the death-throes of the evil world order. Therefore, one can posit both resistance to the anti-Christ (and war upon him) while positing nations coming to Christ.
While every time sees their time as “the last days” because of “all the evil in the world,” it is not far-fetched to say that our generation has a few differences. Communication has gone global. Capital and wealth are highly liquid and it has never been easier to control such capital and wealth. While tyrants have always wanted to control their people, because of (1) liquid capital and (2) technology, tyrants can now control people on a global scale. It’s as simple as that.
So what is Russia’s role in all of this? I have gotten in trouble with Calvinists and Neo-Cons for being pro-Russian. Allow me to explain a few points. I do not endorse everything Putin has done. I do not see him as the resurrected King Arthur who will do battle with the Beast from the Sea (though not ruling out that possibility). Even good conspiracy theory sites (Henry Makow, for one) see Russia as the secret heart of oligarchy and New World Order Illuminatism. That could be possible, I suppose, but Putin’s actions, and the actions of the global elites against Putin, make that a tenuous claim. If Putin were truly an Illuminatist, why would he have crushed the Israeli and American-armed Georgian army in their genocide against Ossetia? Why does he oppose NATO’s desire for world domination? If Putin were secretly hoping for One-World Government, why does he advocate a multi-polar world?
In many ways I see strengths in all three positions (sorry, not trying to sound like John Frame!). The postmillennialist is correct in seeing whole nations coming to Christ in this aeon (Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus). The amillennialist is correct in seeing this aeon as the millennium (I loosely follow the reasoning of St Augustine on this). The premillennialist is correct to see the rise of Anti-Christ in this aeon.
Of course, that leaves the identity of AntiChrist…