Staff's ROD

Staff's ROD #26, Historic Premil

Our 12th emphatic belief is "that the historic (not dispensational) pre-millennial eschatology is an acceptable alternate view." Why would we make such an allowance? And why not allow dispensationalism?


First, let's understand the differences between historic and dispensational premillennialism.  In the Reformed camp, both the a-mil and historic pre-mil were accepted views, differing only on their interpretation of two (2) end-time passages (Rom 11:26 all Israel; Rev 20:2-7 thousand years). Such a relatively minor disagreement does not serve to overthrow the vast majority of agreement between the two positions, nor warrant ecclesiastical separation among the already few faithful who defend the doctrines of grace.  Dispensational pre-mils employ strictly literal interpretations to arrive at their conclusions of multiple eras yielding differing plans of salvation, while the church is a mere parenthesis until God gets back in the game with National Israel, refitted with a new temple, sacrifices and offerings, Levitical priests, etc.


Quoting George E. Ladd in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, he writes: "[Historic pre-mil] 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."   Whereas dispensationalism employs a strictly literal hermeneutic, our historic pre-mil brethren "identify the church as spiritual Israel. A vivid illustration is found in Romans 9:24, where Paul talks about us whom He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles."  Mr. Ladd points out that Paul cites Hosea 2:23, a passage "which refers to a literal, national Israel, [yet] Paul deliberately takes these two prophecies about the future salvation of Israel and applies them to the church, [which consisting] of both Jews and Gentiles, has become the people of God.  The church is spiritual Israel ..."


Second, there is some tradition that our early church fathers such as Irenaeus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr and Papias (a disciple of the Apostle John) appear to have held pre-mil views (hence the term, 'historic'). More modern proponents include Dr. John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer and Gordon Clark.  If some of these names surprise you, it's because they did not suffer their eschatology to eclipse their soteriology