Few doctrines unite and separate Christians as much as eschatology. For although we agree that Christ indeed will return to Earth, we differ on the when and how.

Our differences are understandable. Passages such as those in Daniel and Revelation do not lend themselves to simple explanations. For example, the one reference to a millennium in Revelation 20 offers tremendous opportunity for speculation. Will this be a period of precisely 1,000 years? Or is this to be interpreted metaphorically as a long period of time? Will Christ return before the millennium or after it? Or is his kingdom already established here on Earth?

We have no intention of answering these questions. Consider the popularity of books written during the past dozen years that established end-times scenarios. In spite of their carefully documented explanations, the questions remain, along with a good deal of confusion and rancor. As historian Robert Clouse points out, this topic has been “one of the most divisive elements in recent Christian history.”

So we asked five scholars to sort through the issues, identify points of agreement, and tell us why eschatology is important and how it can unite rather than divide us.

What follows is an edited transcript of a day-long discussion with representatives of distinctly different eschatological viewpoints. John Walvoord, former president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, may be the most recognized contemporary proponent of the pretribulational, premillennial point of view. Gleason Archer, professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, represents the midtribulational, premillennial view, while Alan F. Johnson, professor of biblical studies at Wheaton ...

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