Preface & PART 1: INTRODUCTION – Chapter 1: The Significance of Eschatology

Kenneth L Gentry

Narrated By: Aidan McGuire
Book: He Shall Have Dominion
Topics: ,


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Chapter Text

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

So began Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. And such is an appropriate introduction to the present work. For this study in eschatology is also a tale of two cities: the City of God and the City of Man. And we today may declare that in many respects it is the best of times, while in other respects it is the worst of times.

As I write this book, modern man is witnessing remarkable world events. It has not been too many months since the Berlin Wall dividing the two Germanys fell (1989), Eastern Europe freed itself from Soviet Communist domination (1990), and East and West Germany reunited (1991). The Beirut hostage crisis has finally come to an end, after many years of frustration (1991). Within the past few weeks of my writing these words, the Soviet Union has officially vanished, having broken into twelve independent democratic republics (1992). In addition, there are remarkable revivals of Christianity in various Third World countries, as well as in the former Soviet Union. Such would suggest the best of times.[1] Five years ago, who would have thought that these world-shaking events would occur? The bleak shadow that the Soviet Bear cast over the earth has vanished with the dawn of a new day. In many respects, these events signal the best of times for those long afflicted by Communism and the rest of us who were threatened with nuclear destruction by its existence.

But these are also the worst of times. The Chinese Communists are still brutally repressing free speech. Not long ago, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein started (and lost) a cruel and potentially disastrous war, but he still remains in power (1992). There is fear that the turbulent Middle East will buy up the brains and weaponry of the former Soviet Union. Abortion still ranks as one of America’s leading surgical procedures and is widely practiced throughout the world. The AIDS epidemic shows no signs of abating, but rather of increasing; the same is true of the nearly incurable strain of tuberculosis that now accompanies AIDS. The federal government’s debt is enormous and growing rapidly. Though there are bright historical and social rays of hope, these are too often eclipsed by the clouds of political gloom and the smoke of cultural upheaval.

One day the world events listed above will be understood in terms of the all-controlling plan of God. “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psa. 115:3). For right now we can only surmise what God might be doing and what the end result will be. But I have not written this work as a prophetic commentary on the times; I am not interested in newspaper exegesis. Christianity has been embarrassed by too many failed prophets in this century.[2]

Yet I believe there is a system of biblical eschatology that has in the past and will yet again demonstrate itself a valid force in the development of world events. And that eschatology is postmillennialism.

For the last fifty years many Christians (wrongly) deemed postmillennialism a theologically dead issue.[3] It held too optimistic a prospect for the future for those who lived in an era that witnessed the rise of Communism and two World Wars. But postmillennialism has begun to make headway once again as a theologically credible alternative to the more popular eschatologies of despair. And it is important to realize that its remarkable resurgence antedates the collapse of Soviet and Eastern Bloc communism. These events cannot be laid down as the psychological bases for the modern resurgence of postmillennial optimism.

The market for works on eschatology is ripe. Many of the best-selling Christian works in the last few years have dealt with prophecy. In this work I hope to set forth compelling reasons for a return to postmillennialism by evangelical Christians. These reasons will be shown to be pre-eminently exegetical and theological. For the Christian, exegesis and theology should provide the basis of expectation for the future, not current events.

I would like to thank several friends for assisting me in proofreading the chapters: Tim Martin, Bill Boney, Edmond Sandlin, and Kim Conner. Their friendship, assistance, advice, and encouragement are much appreciated. They are Christians who are persuaded that He Shall Have Dominion. Thanks also to my son Stephen for spending several days helping me to double-check direct quotations for accuracy.

[1] Not all would agree that these are good signs. Dispensationalist theologian Robert P. Lightner comments: “Even the present evident failure of atheistic, communistic governments brings great fear and uncertainty.” Lightner, The Last Days Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Different Views of Prophecy (Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 1990). p. 161. Amillennialist John Heys agrees: “At the moment what is happening in Russia, and for us because of the ‘changes’ in Russia (which some trust), seems to say that the antichrist is not far away, to realize the one-world kingdom in which he will, because of the inventions, and the satellites which he will have placed in the sky, be able to rule the whole world and know whether all the citizens of his kingdom have that mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead.” Heys, “Our Hope for Our Savior’s Return,” Standard Bearer 66:7 (Jan. 1, 1990) 152.

[2] See: Dwight Wilson, Armageddon Now! The Premillenarian Response to Russia and Israel Since 1917 (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, [1977] 1991); Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Thu Folly of Trying to Predict When Christ Will Return (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 1991).

[3] See discussion in Chapters 4 and 18.




The study of eschatology is a worthy Christian endeavor. Its significance to the Christian worldview is evident in the large role it plays in Scripture, which holds priority in the developing of a truly Christian worldview. It is also crucial to the development of a distinctively Christian philosophy of history, which is fundamental to the Christian understanding of the here and now. In addition, eschatology significantly impacts the Christian’s cultural endeavors because it sets before the Christian the foreordained pattern of the future. If that pattern is one of pessimism, it will tend to discourage and thwart the Christian social enterprise.[1]

In this work, I will set forth a biblical eschatology that gives prominence to the gospel victory theme. The optimistic eschatological perspective from which I write is that of postmillennialism – a postmillennialism generated neither by a contemporary Reagan-era optimism nor by a Kierkegaardian leap of faith, but by a careful exegetical and theological study of the eschatological data of Scripture.

I believe, with Roderick Campbell, that “the church today needs this kind of vision – the vision of her reigning Lord with all the resources of heaven and earth under His command for the help and protection of His church and the ingathering of His elect.”[2] In the Foreword to that book, O. T. Allis wrote:

[M]y own studies in this and related fields have convinced me that the most serious error in much of the current ‘prophetic’ teaching of today is the claim that the future of Christendom is to be read not in terms of Revival and Victory, but of growing impotence and apostasy, and that the only hope of the world is that the Lord will by His visible coming and reign complete the task which He has so plainly entrusted to the church. This claim… is pessimistic and defeatist. I hold it to be unscriptural. The language of the Great Commission is world-embracing; and it has back of it the authority and power of One who said: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The duty of the church is to address herself to the achieving of this task in anticipation of the Lord’s coming, and not to expect Him to call her away to glory before her task is accomplished.[3]

[1] See: North, Is the World Running Down? and James B. Jordan, ed., Christianity and Civilization 1 (Spring 1982): “The Failure of American Baptist Culture.”

[2] Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant, p. 79.

[3] Allis, “Foreword,” in ibid., p. ix.