My How Things Have Changed . . .

There are lots of different eschatological views in the church today.  It is probably fair to say that the dominant view among the Reformed is a-millennialism, and the dominant view among virtually all others is premillennial, pretribulation dispensationalism.  One can, of course, also find historic premillennialists (which would apparently include John Piper) and postmillennialists (such as Doug Wilson.)  (And, if you have no idea what this is talking about, you might check out the introductory material to the book of Revelation in the The ESV Study Bible.  While not perfect, as I sure each camp would take some issue with how its view is presented, it will give you at least a workable understanding of the terms and the frame of the debate.)

The point of this post is not to argue for one of these positions (which may well be beyond my abilities and is certainly beyond the scope of this one blog post,) but rather to note how much things have changed. Probably, in our day, we would say that the dominant eschatology of the American church is premillennial, pretribulation dispensationalism.  Charles Hodge, writing in the early 1870s, said nearly the opposite:

“The common doctrine of the Church stated above, is that the conversion of the world, the restoration of the Jews, and the destruction of Antichrist are to precede the second coming of Christ, which event will be attended by the general resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, the end of the world, and the consummation of the Church.”[1]

It is undeniable that Charles Hodge is here stating a postmillennial position, and he calls it “[t]he common doctrine of the Church.”

Regardless of where one falls on the eschatological continuum, it is interesting to note that in far less than a century “[t]he common doctrine of the Church” has completely changed on this issue.

[1] Charles Hodge, vol. 3, Systematic Theology (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 861 (originally published in the early 1870s).  (Here is a link to this book at Systematic Theology Vol III.  I was reading it this morning, as the citation indicates, in the Logos Bible Software program on my new MacBook Pro.)