Mission and Eschatology (4)
The term a-millennialism is a bit difficult to define. (And if you struggle to follow the argument, don’t worry. Just skip this post and go on to the next one!) Some people seem to think that a-millennialists actually reject Revelations 20, but this is not the case. Rather, they interpret Revelations 20 in a non-literal and a non-temporal way. The thousand years of Christ’s reign is regarded as a spiritual, non-earthly and non-political reign. A-millennialists do not expect a time of peace or righteousness to come on earth, but share a fairly pessimistic world view with the pre-millennialists. Together, the pre-millennialists and the a-millennialists form the larger part of modern Fundamentalism and together they stand against the post-millennialists who believe that the kingdom of God will come due to man’s involvement in social issues on earth.
The a-millennialists are usually not very worried about the deterioration of life on earth and they are also not very worried about the so-called signs of the times and they are also not much interested in missions.
While the above may be a description of a-millennialism in a nutshell, this is definitely an oversimplification of the issue. David Bosch, as an example, described himself as an a-millennialist, but nobody would ever be able to say that he did not care about things on earth and that he was not interested in missions! His understanding of a-millennialism meant that, someone who expected peace to come on the new earth, should work towards peace on the present earth. Those who expected that there will be no tears on the new earth, had to work towards making the present earth a better place to live on so that people did not have to cry as much.
While the pre-millennialists tend to focus entirely on the salvation of the soul and the post-millennialists focus on the saving of the present world, a-millennialists typically don’t focus on either one of the two, focussing rather on the new world which is to come one day, looking forward to the day when Christ will come again to put an end to things as they are at present.
When evaluating the three typical viewpoints, specifically regarding their view on missions, it should be clear that not one of the three really give an acceptable answer to our involvement in missions. And therefore I would like to propose another way of reading Revelations 20 which I believe should enable us to focus fully on missions as I believe God intended us to do it. But that will be in a next post.
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This is a blog where I would like to share some of my ideas about contemporary mission. I have more than 25 years experience as a full-time missionary in Swaziland, have done a PhD on the theology of mission – specifically on the relationship between mission and eschatology – and am presently specialising in the problem of HIV/AIDS and how the church should approach this problem. You are welcome to respond and share your ideas on this blog.
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- A Theology of Missions or Missionary Theology?
- When a missionary’s support falls away
- The difference between being passionate or being fanatical about something
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- First World Technology in a Third World Country
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