Every once in a while you get someone who just comes out and says it. When such a someone is on the opposite side of a theological disagreement, and when what they say perfectly exhibits exactly what you’ve been criticizing them for, it makes for a moment of thankfulness. I accept any and all such admissions. In fact, not only am I thankful, but joyful.
That joy, however, is short-lived when the subject is eschatology and the admission is one of historical defeatism. This is exactly what has happened in the wake of the SCOTUS opinion on homosexual marriage. A website of premillennialists has just come out and said what American Vision has been pointing out for a long time: premillennialism logically entails cultural surrender, and when cultural defeats happen, premillennialists secretly love it—“we’re one step closer!” Except now, it’s no secret (as if it ever was!).
I have made this point repeatedly in the past, notably here and here, and every time I do, someone retorts that it’s unfair to say premillennialism entails cultural defeatism and the happy embrace of it. Well, don’t take my word for it. Let the premillennialist leaders say it for themselves. Cripplegate.com author and Baptist pastor Clint Arthur renders the following assessment after the pitiful SCOTUS opinion:
It isn’t easy for Christians to identify a silver lining to Friday’s ruling that is worth celebration; unless you’re a premillennialist.
Whereas postmillennialism believes that Christ will return to earth when the gospel has triumphed over unbelief and conquered the globe, premillennialists aren’t holding their breath. Premills teach that the world will slide from bad to worse until it is so irrecoverably bad that only Jesus can fix it. That will be his cue to return and establish a rule of peace, righteousness, and sanity in the courts.
So, it is on days like this that I read with relish passages that others may dismiss as pessimistic. I prefer to see regress in society as a welcome sign that the Bible is accurate, and that Jesus is coming soon.
He then quotes a few Bible passages in defense of cultural decline and historical defeat: 2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 3, and Matthew 24. While it is not difficult, with just a little study and simple questions, to learn that the passages all pertain to the first century audience to whom they were originally written, and were in view of the last days of the Old Covenant age. Applying them universally and for all ages is, therefore, a mistake.
That aside, witness how gleefully—“with relish” “a welcome sign”!—our premil author accepts his lumps: almost with rhetorical flourish!
I can see why people would accuse me of cynicism. But, just like Michael Burry, the guy who made $100 million by shorting the sub-prime mortgage bubble moments before it burst, I’m just betting on the inevitable. Friday’s ruling is yet another harbinger of what the Bible predicts will happen. The world will slide into a miry cesspool that no human can restore. And then Jesus will return to make all things new. Every SCOTUS faux pas is a step closer to that great day.
For what it’s worth, at least now you can see I am not putting words in anyone’s mouths. And you can see that it’s not just the fringe, the uneducated, the aberrations, or the crazies out there who drive this narrative. The embrace of, and near-celebration of cultural defeat is explicit on the lips and in the hearts of standard, conservative, Bible-believing, Christian premillennial leaders.
This means that my previous criticisms, based on logical entailment, of their views not only stand, but are well-warranted. Thus, instead of searching for silver linings in monuments of cultural decline, generations of premillennialists deserve a large dose of the blame for it.
I can only repeat what I wrote before:
The discouraging fact is that this eschatology permeates the Christian Right and dominates the outlook of many Christian political activists. What does it say about their political activism? It says one thing: it says they are in this thing for the express purpose of losing it. Their eschatological outlook can mean nothing else.
It means the Christian Right enters the political game expecting to lose. They expect to lose the pro-life cause. They expect to lose the marriage fight. They expect to lose all our freedoms and biblical values in society. They expect to lose private property and free enterprise. They expect to lose the second amendment. They expect to lose the tenth amendment. They expect to lose the first amendment.
All of the shocking headlines on FOX that reveal gradual realizations of such things are not meant to be motivational in regard to actually doing something about them. They are only confirmatory of their eschatological expectations.
Even if they do not articulate these expectations, and would probably deny them when confronted, the eschatology dictates them. The logic is inescapable, and as far as these people truly believe in “worse and worse” history and rapture escapism, the psychological effects will be inescapable, too.
Among the many detrimental effects, one of the most important is the lack of any viable and principled plan to win. If winning is not on the table, then there will be no vision of what victory looks like, and certainly no strategy or tactics to achieve it. There will also be no willingness to sacrifice for such a plan. There is only waiting and praising our losses until Jesus comes back. This is bad news.
The good news is that premillennial defeatism is demonstrably wrong. Anyone who studies the simple use of Psalm 110:1 by the New Testament writers will be forced to conclude Jesus is currently enthroned, has all power in heaven and in earth, and that He shall not leave that heavenly throne until all His enemies are under His feet. This means that He will not return until that work is completed, and when He returns, there will be no more enemies.
This means that Christian defeatism is at odds with biblical eschatology. It means bad eschatology is one of those enemies—an intellectual one, but an enemy nonetheless. But this means that a huge part of the work to be done is to make a footstool out of bad eschatology. Dispensational defeatism must itself be defeated in time and in history.
Until this is done on a substantial scale, the Christian Right will not only continue to be the irrelevant and unproductive loser that it has been for a generation, it is actually a detriment and a drag to the progress of the kingdom.
Yes, eschatology matters. If you’re not in it to win it, then why are you there? Be biblically optimistic and have a plan, or get out of the way. You’re blocking up the doorway for people who do.