Amillennial Historicism

I read the entry for antichristus in Richard Muller’s Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Sources.  He gives the basic summary of the historicist position.  So here is how I look at it:  per timing and structure, I accept the Reformed position that the papacy is the antichrist.  I also accept the basic amillennial timeline (millennium is now).  The historicist narrative would seem to give it a “postmillennial” flavor to it, given the destruction of Antichrist, etc.  If so, so be it.  I really don’t care about labels.  I have no desire to defend either “postmillennialism” or “random ethic common grace amillennialism.”  I admit a sort of tension follows.  That’s fine.  I’ve come to accept the dictum of “Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty,” so I have no problem in saying that this system isn’t as neat and tidy as one could make it. In fact, I would be worried if it were.

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7 comments on “Amillennial Historicism

  1. Justin says:

    I too see many similarities between the historicist and postmil positions. I have no real pressing desire to resolve any potential tensions between the two. I do have issues with many of the uses of “QIRC” (to deny the confessional view of creation and to caricature theonomy, among other things).

    I understand the overall “QIRC” thrust, but the term itself seems a bit arbitrary, perhaps even self-refuting. How does one become certain that a given degree of certainty is “illegitimate?” It seems to me that “QIRC” immediately falls on its own sword, and could be itself construed as a QIRC, or perhaps QUACK (Quest to Undermine All Christian Knowledge, explained here).

    “QIRC” seems to me to fly in the face of the “good and necessary consequence” deductions that are to be normative for the Christian’s life, according to the WCF:

    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture…

    The manner in which it is used by its greatest proponent(s) today would also (in fact, does!) condemn many -if not most- of our post-reformation “fathers” (for lack of a better term- I think the WLC allows for them to be called such) in many (most?) areas. The biggest problem with the use of QIRC (in my experience) is that as soon as one questions a given application of the concept of “illegitimate certainty,” one is accused of, well, being on a “quest for illegitimate religious certainty,” even though the definition of QIRC prevents one from being able to be certain of what “illegitimate certainty” is. It’s almost like (were I to listen to my Clarkian friends) VanTillianism is being taken to an extreme.

    Anyway. Thinking out loud.

  2. It is arbitrary to a degree, but I think it is useful in examining a lot of young men who get interested in the Reformed faith, yet think they can find ultimate certainity in Roman Catholicism.

    • Justin says:

      I would agree with you on that! I can see where that ultimate certainty would be comforting to folks. Sorry for the long ramble. I appreciate your position on amil/historicism/postmil. It makes me feel better about not fleshing my own position out more fully.

  3. Andrew says:

    As I understand it ‘QIRC’ does not address all certainty, it says something about illegitimate religious certainty. So it does not follow that one can’t be certain about illegitimate religious certainty. And even if one supposes that certainty to be a kind of religious certainty it does not necessarily follow that it is illegitimate. This would have to be argued for. The use of ‘degree’ seems to me to be an unwarranted gloss.

    The confession identifies two principles of religious knowledge (typical in Reformed prolegomena) whilst also acknowledging the ‘not alike plainness’ of Scripture. Illegitimate religious certainty is possible insofar as religious beliefs held with certainty do not comport with revelation and the witness of the Spirit.

    On the good and necessary consequence clause I would suppose, then, that illegitimate religious certainty is a psychological state not supported by express statement in Scripture or GNC.

    The meaning of GNC has been somewhat truncated in our day but as I understand it (Carl Trueman has a good lecture on this but I don’t know the name of it off hand) it means a lot more than simply necessary inference. There seems to me to be fruitful possibilities here for natural theology, amongst other things.

    So my take on QIRC is that it is a heuristic device that arises from a negative application of the Reformation principles of the sufficiency and clarity of Scripture.

  4. Andrew says:

    Actually it’s in the Westminster confession today 2007 lectures, also on iTunes. I listened to it today again, such a good lecture.

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