American Postmillennialism

Postmillennialism is the belief that humans, by revamping society by means of taking over the world with Christianity, will usher in the Kingdom of God.

After this Golden Age ushered in by God’s people, Christ will return (hence “Post” millennium–Christ returns after the Golden Age we establish).

This used to be a standard view of many people, and was particularly popular in America in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s most famous theologians, was a postmillennialist. When he looked upon the results of the Great Awakening, he said:

‘Tis not unlikely that this work of God’s Spirit, that is so extraordinary and wonderful, is the dawning, or at least a prelude, of that glorious work of God, so often foretold in Scripture…. And there are many things that make it probable that this work will begin in America.

The Great Awakenings felt like the start of something big. It also fed into the notion that America was the shining city on a hill, leading the world to the coming of the Lord.

The Millennium, for postmillennialists, is not necessarily 1,000 years. When Revelation 20 mentions 1,000 years 7 times, 1,000 years merely represents an age.

In order to believe Postmillennialism you have to interpret the Scriptures symbolically, or spiritually, or at least not literally. This is true whether you are dealing with the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 or the prophecies about judgment in Revelation before then, or prophecies concerning the regathering of Israel, etc.

You also have to believe in the power of humanity to reform the world and that the church will win in the end. A little too ambitiously optimistic for this guy!

It was a heady time in America when Postmillennialism was popular. The Enlightenment filled humans with grandiose ideas of their potential. America was optimistic and two Great Awakenings swept the land. Christianity was large and in charge. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is pretty much a Postmillennial rally song.

A funny thing happened on the way to the humanly ushered in Millennium: the world wide scope of evil on display in the 20th Century. Pretty hard to come out of two world wars, depression, sexual revolutions, and whatnot and conclude we were making progress toward a Golden Age of Christian Victory.

Very few people are postmillennialists today. But I imagine it will come back if we have a sustained period of peace.

In fact, the modern Social Gospel movement borrows much postmillennial thought.

It is my contention, that when the Church concentrates of societal reform, they will lose their identity and purpose. The Church does not exist for the world. The Church exists for the edification of believers so they can be edified and built up to love their neighbor.

It’s easy to blur that line, or put the cart before the horse on that one, or replace “neighbor,” which is a person, with “society,” which is an unidentifiable mass of people. Regardless of how well the Church does in their mission, I guarantee you human endeavor will not bring Christ back.

Postmillennialism is basically Humanism with a Christian veneer. I suggest not falling for it, or its modern manifestation: the Social Gospel.

What is Christ’s Active Obedience?

I came across the following quote:

“If not for Christ’s active obedience and righteousness, received through faith alone, no one would receive eternal life”

A professor at Reformed Theological Seminary said it. So, let’s analyze the theology by looking at some words.

Since the professor teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary, we can safely conclude we are hearing Reformed Theology from him. “Reformed” basically means “Calvinist.” I’m sure there are more ins and outs to it, but basically, that’s what it means. This will give us a foundation upon which to analyze what we’re hearing.

Tip #1 in analyzing theology: Figure out who said it. Who are they? What do they believe? Where did they say this?

Active Obedience:
This is a theological term; it is not a biblical term. Therefore, in order to define what it means, we must go to that theological camp to figure out what the term means.

Tip #2 in analyzing theology: Define your terms using people who use that term. Don’t use opposing theological camp definitions. This is a Reformed Theology term, so use Reformed Theologians to define it.

Here is a quote from Wayne Grudem in an article on, a place to find all things Reformed.

If Christ had only earned forgiveness of sins for us, then we would not merit heaven. Our guilt would have been removed, but we would simply be in the position of Adam and Eve before they had done anything good or bad . . .
For this reason, Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience to God in order to earn righteousness for us. He had to obey the law for his whole life on our behalf so that the positive merits of his perfect obedience would be counted for us. Sometimes this is called Christ’s “active obedience.”

The primary verse used to defend Active Obedience is Romans 5:19, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Tip #3 in analyzing theology: Look up key verses listed in support of the doctrine. Does the Bible say what they say the Bible says?

OK, now we analyze the parts.

Tip #4 in analyzing theology: Think critically about what you are being told.

The initial quote from the professor says Christ’s active obedience and righteousness is what grants us eternal life through faith.

Active obedience refers to Christ’s sinless life on this earth. Christ’s actual righteous deeds are counted to us, so we pass as righteous.

Therefore, being justified (being made righteous) seems to rest solely on Christ’s active righteous deeds done during His life.

Here’s the strange thing about this: the resurrection is completely unnecessary. Click on the link above to the article written by Grudem. He wrote this article to define active obedience. He does mention “passive obedience” and says that refers to Christ’s “suffering and dying for our sins,” so at least the first half of the Gospel gets mentioned! But there is no mention of Christ’s resurrection in this article about being made righteous.

Here’s why this is problematic for me, and others. Romans 5:19 is the key verse for active obedience, it’s the verse that gets the closest to sounding like it.

The disobedience is talking about Adam’s sin in eating from The Tree. It’s not referring to his entire life of active disobedience, but rather a one-time act. The same is true for Christ’s obedience. The verse is not referring to every single obedient thing Christ did in His earthly life, but is rather referring to a one-time act: more than likely His death–“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

I do not think a person can legitimately take the Greek to mean that Romans 5:19 refers to Christ’s active obedience. It’s referring to one thing.

Furthermore, according to the same context, Paul speak of our justification (justification means being made righteous). He never says our righteousness was achieved by Christ keeping the law for us, but notice what he does chalk our righteousness up to:

who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
–Romans 4:25

Justification was accomplished not by Christ’s life, nor even His death alone, but also by His resurrection.

One of my main problems with the teaching of Active Obedience is that it

1) Makes justification based on works. Paul is adamant on the point that works of the law don’t justify. If that’s the case, why do we think Christ’s works of the law justify us? If righteous come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain!

2) Makes the resurrection pointless. The entire Monergism definition of Active Obedience  never once mentions the resurrection. It gets skipped. The reason why is because they don’t really need resurrection, yet Paul says Christ’s resurrection is what justifies us!

The quote above by the professor does not even mention any aspect of the Gospel and yet is about how to receive eternal life! If we’re saved by Christ’s active obedience, then the Gospel is not needed.

I know Reformed Theology is not trying to undermine the Gospel, but frequently, in order to support their ideas, it does.

Be sober and watch and pray.

KJV Vocabulary Lesson #2

In my ongoing quest to un-NIV Christendom (because really, you’re better than that), here is my next KJV vocabulary lesson.

Today’s KJV Vocabulary word is



It can be used as a noun or a verb.

NOUN: torn up chunks of animals
“The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin.” Nahum 2:12

VERB: to tear in pieces, cut
“Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf.” Genesis 49:27

So, next time you are doing your small group study on Nahum you will be able to impress people with your deep knowledge of The King’s English.

Which buys you no points with God, but it does impress the chicks.

KJV Vocabulary Lesson #1

I use the King James Version. I do this because I like it and I memorize in it. I can’t find stuff in other Bibles.

I get tired of people saying how hard the KJV is to understand. There is a way to redeem that situation: learn.

Seriously, you could. Just because it uses outdated words doesn’t mean you can’t learn what they mean. A little effort can provide you a great reading experience.  It will also allow you to rock Scrabble, Boggle, WordTwist and many other word-based games.

In an effort to un-NIV Christendom, allow me to edikate you in a fine piece of KJV Vocabulary.

Today’s KJV Vocab word is:



It is found in Isaiah 3:24 in the phrase, “and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth.”

A stomacher is an expensive robe usually worn at festive occasions. Now you know. And, honestly, that phrase sounds much cooler than the NIV’s bland “instead of fine clothing, sackcloth.”


KJV rules.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is: Arianism. Arianism.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a TWOT but I came across this one and figured it would be a good way to reintroduce the TWOT. TWOT. TWOT. Fun to say.

Anyway, to arius is human, especially if your name is Arius of Alexandria. Back when Christianity was sane, during the severe persecution of the first two centuries of the Church, there were very few heresies. But as soon as Constantine gave the official sanction to Christianity, everything fell apart.

Bright lights attract strange bugs. Heresy abounded as the Church settled into comfort. Arianism was the first major heresy. Arius thought that God made Christ, thus Christ is not really God, he’s someone that God created.

This destroyed his view of the Trinity and he placed Christ in subjection with God the Father rather than in equality. The Council of Nicea in 325 was called primarily to thwart Arius and get him booted. Booted he was as the Nicean Creed officialized the Church’s opposition to his teaching.

However, Arianism still hangs on in Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, Liberation Theology and Islam. It also hangs on in the minds of many believers who are not careful with their words. There are major ramifications of getting your Trinitarian views messed up.

Be careful out there.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is: Liberation Theology. Liberation Theology.

I have seen this in many places and always assumed I knew what it meant, but today I decided to look it up to find out for sure.

Liberation Theology is the view of Scripture that seeks to prove that God wants all people to eat liver. Oh wait, oops. That’s “Liveration Theology,” which is completely different.

Liberation Theology sees Christ as not only a Savior but a man who desires all oppressed people to be liberated, primarily poor people. It is primarily a Catholic concept. The founder is often seen to be Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Liberation theology also emphasizes individual self-actualization as part of God’s divine purpose for humankind. In other words, we are given life so that we may pursue it to its full potential. Therefore, obstacles or oppressions put in our path must be resisted and abolished.

Some proponents have also added basic Marxist ideas to it. Any Christian who uses the word “praxis” is probably a Liberation Theologian type. If they use the words “intentional praxis” you should just run the opposite way real fast.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is Sabellianism. Sabellianism.

Sabellianism is the act or process of owning or purchasing a Mercury Sable. Sables are nice four-door sedans and inspire much dedication by their happy owners. However, you need to be over 67 years of age to own one, leading to feelings of exclusivity.

Not really, I just made that up. Sabellianism is a belief about the trinity. It holds that there is one God but he reveals himself in three ways. There are not three persons, but three ways God is revealed.

This doctrine, believed by most to be heretical, is named after Sabellius, a guy. Tertullian, the well known scientist of turtle behavior, was his main opponent. Today there are still a few Sabellianists around in the Oneness Pentecostal churches.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is Preterism. Preterism.

Preterism is George W. Bush’s word for thinking about terrorist acts. The acts themselves are bad but even just thinking about them is grounds for arrest or at least a wire tap.

Not really, I just made that up. Preterism is the belief that biblical prophecy has all been fulfilled within the first century after Christ’s birth. The Book of Revelation is fully understood through events of the first century. Babylon, the great city, refers to Rome or Jerusalem. The great Tribulation was fulfilled when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

There are various Preterist views like Partial Preterism and Full Preterism. Unless you read the NIV, those will probably define themselves for you. Preterism more or less says there’s nothing about the future addressed in the Bible anymore.

Well, that’s a relief. I was beginning to get worried about the Rapture not coming. Guess it already took place. Shwew, dodged that bullet. But I guess now we don’t know what bullet is gonna get us next. Oh no, that’s even worse. Very worried.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation.

Lordship Salvation has to do with fishing fleets in the Berring sea. When one ship goes down, all other ships are to respond and save them, by faith plus works. Those who only believe they are saving the sinking ship without actually helping, really aren’t saving anyone.

Not really, I just made that up. Lordship Salvation is the notion that a person is saved by trusting Christ as Savior from sin and committing his life to Christ as Lord with submission.

This view was given most attention by John MacArthur when he published The Gospel According to Jesus. The real reason for the hubbub surrounding Lordship Salvation has more to do with the fact that MacArthur attacked leading dispensational leaders (Ryrie, Chafer, etc) rather than what he actually said in his book.

Lordship Salvation says there are many who think they are saved, but only those who bring forth fruit and resist sin and submit to God’s directions for life are truly saved. Tom Hanks, who claimed to be a Christian once in high school, is not saved because he is in the DaVinci Code. Whereas I, who will not see the DaVinci Code, am clearly saved, by grace even.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is Antinomianism. Antinomianism.

This is the habit or custom of being opposed to that stupid travel company that has that irritating roaming gnome yelling at me from various travel destinations in the world. How in the world does that seem like good marketing? I don’t even get it, how does a gnome get to Australia in the first place?

Not really, I just made that up. Antinomianism is based on two Greek words, anti–which means “against” and nomos, which means “law.” Antinomianism is the art of living without law.

Antinomianism is a cool word to say, as most big words are, and it is quite fun to call people this. It’s especially fun to call people this because it implies that you are more spiritual than those liberated sinning types.

The interesting thing about it is that all believers are technically antinomianists. We are no longer under law but under grace. At the same time, Paul tells us we are under the law of Christ, so it just depends on what law you are talking about.

Basically, antinomianism is the philosophy that you should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you can do it again, baby! It’s not a good thing and has no support in Scripture. Should we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is Axiology. Axiology.

You may not have heard of this word before, and that’s OK, I never had either, at least not in a context that I remembered it anyway. It is the study of the theological constructs surrounding Paul Bunyan. How was he able to fell all those trees? What implications does this have for the Cross of Christ?

Not really, just made that up. Axiology is based on the Greek word axios, which means “worthy.” Axiology then is the study of what is worthy. In a Christian context it deals with Christian morals and ethics.

Here is my attempt to use the word in context to aid you in using it in everyday conversation.

While reading my Bible this morning my wife asked me to take the garbage out and I pondered the axiological implications of the choice before me. Would God be pleased by me being concerned with the affairs of this world over His Eternal Living Word? Or is listening to my wife and serving her axiologically superior?

Go on, use axiology in conversation today. You know you want to. It’s one of those words that makes you sound real smarter.

Theological Word of Today

Today’s Theological Word is Docetism. Docetism.

Docetism is the study of the way female deer sit. What? Sorry about that. The guy in charge of making the corny jokes has been sacked.

Docetism is the stupid belief that Jesus Christ only seemed like He had a human body or human personality. He was actually all God all the time and was just pretending to be a guy. Since He wasn’t really real, His crucifixion wasn’t either.

Christianity has all but thrown out this garbage but it is actually stated in the Muslim Quran as a fact (4:157), but what do they know about it? Jesus was a real man who died a real death that was really helpful for the rest of humanity. It doesn’t just seem like it, it’s true!

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is Progressive Dispensationalism. Progressive Dispensationalism.

(Yes, I understand that is really two words, work with me.) I have had the book Progressive Dispensationalism sitting on the floor of my basement for about two years now, ready to be read whenever I felt sufficiently inspired to do so. I finally did. It should have stayed on the floor.

If you are not familiar with basic dispensational thought none of this will make sense to you, so don’t worry about it. If you are familiar with dispensational thought this will make a little bit of sense to you.

Progressive Dispensationalism is an attempt to compromise between dispensational thought and covenant theology. It deals with the various covenants of God (Noah, Abraham, David. . .) as dealt with through the dispensations. It ceases to find a clear distinction between Israel and the Church. It goes so far as to say that the Church is a form of the kingdom now and that Jesus is the King of the Church.

This article will explain the dangers of it more than I ever will. If you are interested in more information about this topic please consult the book I read. It explains where they are coming from.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is Nestorianism. Nestorianism.

Nestorianism is the study of the biblical teaching on the living places of birds. It is rather a limited study and yet, as with most theological concepts, people make the Bible say lots more than it really does.

OK, I just made that up. Nestorianism is the teaching that Jesus Christ was not divine and human at the same time. In fact, Jesus was divine in heaven but became just a guy on earth and then returned to heaven to be God again. They would never say that “God suffered” because He didn’t, Jesus the guy did.

Nestorianism was labeled a heresy back in the fifth century. It is named after the notorious Nestorius. This is somewhat unfortunate for Nestorius because he was opposed to this teaching his whole life! In fact, Nestorius was in the argument because he said that Mary was not the mother of God, just of Christ. So people labeled him as saying that Jesus was two people.

Nestorius’s dying words were “I never. . .” Not really, I made that up too.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is: Hermeneutics. Hermeneutics.

The only people who use this word are people who went to seminary or want to sound like they did. Upon hearing this word, my brain conjures up images of nerds running around with no clothes on. Not a very good word for me.

A “hermeneutic” is an outline or structure by which you interpret the Bible. You may have a Covenant hermeneutic or a dispensational hermeneutic. What you read in the Bible will be understood against your basis of interpretation, your hermeneutic. “Hermeneutics” refers then to the principles you will use to interpret a text.

Let’s say I have the “God is a woman” hermeneutic. My interpretation of every verse in the Bible will be read through this hermeneutic. That being the case, I will not use the same hermeneutics to interpret a passage as a sane person would, but rather I would use the hermeneutic which would shape each verse to prove that God was a woman.

If you have a messed up hermeneutic you will have a messed up interpretation of Scripture. Got it? Now you can confidently go forth and pretend you went to seminary.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is: pre-adamitism. Pre-adamitism.

We all know that “pre-” means “before” and I’m sure we’re aware of who Adam is–the first man created by God. Pre-adamitism has to do with something before Adam.

The basic idea is that there were plenty of people around before Adam, it’s just that God made Adam, or chose Adam, for a select group of people. This helps certain people rationalize the young age of the earth stuff. When you trace genealogies it does not appear that people have been around for that long. This causes a problem, for some, in light of science. So clearly it is the Bible that is wrong, not never-changing science.

Pre-adamitism was originally a Muslim idea, appearing in the 10th century. It showed up a few centuries later in Christian theology. It was used to explain the various races of giants in Moses’ and David’s day.

Pre-adamitism is basically a bunch of hooey, but if you see it around some time, you’ll know what it is. That’s my job, “to put the Who in hooey.”

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is: Socinianism. Socinianism.

Socinians were followers of a guy by the name of Laelius Socinus and later his nephew, Faustus Socinus. Uncle Lae was a very skeptical creature and he doubted pretty much everything that Christians believed. He denied God’s foreknowledge, the trinity, and was not convinced that Jesus was really God. He also denied original sin and hell.

Socinian belief is outlined in their “Catechism of Racow.” Their beliefs have been largely rejected. Basically, on the issue of salvation, you have Socinians on one end, Arminians in the middle, and Calvinists on the other end of the spectrum.

You should also remember that much of this thought came out of Poland. In fact, for a time the Socinian movement was called “the Polish Brethren.” I’m just pointing that out. Not making any stereotypical comments, merely making an observation.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is Pelagianism. Pelagianism.

It was decided long ago that Pelagianism was heretical, it won’t take you long to understand why. However, some Pelagian thought remains today. Pelagius was the mind behind this theological theory. No one knows too much about him except that he was a strict ascetic–disciplined himself highly.

Pelagianism is the belief that mankind can save itself by being good. Adam’s sin did not taint our nature, it merely set a bad example. Christ was not a sacrifice for us nor did He represent us on the cross. Instead, Christ merely set a good example. God’s grace is just an added bonus, the icing on the cake for good people.

Obviously this is heretical. If it were true there would only be two people good enough to be in heaven–Me and Pelagius. Be sure you thank God for his grace.

Theological Word Of Today (TWOT)

Theology is man’s attempt to understand Scripture. The problem is that man is generally stupid. Theology is not the same thing as doctrine. Theology is man’s conception of God. Talking theology is tough because you have to know all these big words and the history of theological thought in order to converse with someone of a differing theology.

In order to do my part to help people understand theology and doctrine, I will attempt to make big theological words easy to grasp. Right. No problem. Well, there’s one problem, I don’t always have a real good idea what thee guys are talking about. I like things simple, not smart sounding. Anyway, here’s a word I came across in some light reading yesterday I thought I’d expound on.

The Theological Word of the Day is: Supralapsarian. That’s supralapsarian. Break it down for me brothah.

Supra– means super, above and beyond.
Lapsarian–is a term used to describe the doctrine that man is fallen, that we sin and are not perfect.

Putting those together we have someone who really believes that man is really screwed up. This term is used to describe a particular kind of Calvinist. They believe that God has decreed the following things in the following order
1) God decreed to elect some to salvation and reprobate all others.
2) God decreed to create man both elect and nonelect.
3) God decreed that man would fall.
4) God decreed to provide salvation to the elect.
5) God decreed to apply salvation to the elect.

Basically, supralapsarian means that man is fallen because God made him fall and there’s nothing man can do about it. Don’t you just feel so much more smarterester? My thanks to LS Chafer’s Systematic Theology for this definition.

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