Years ago, an academic colleague of mine was asked by his tenure committee about his views of the Millennium—the thousand-year reign of Christ described in Revelation 20. Was he a premillennialist, meaning that he thought that Jesus would return before this literally understood thousand-year period, or was he an amillennialist, believing the thousand-year reign refers symbolically to Christ’s rule from heaven now? My friend gave his view—I don’t remember what it was—then said, “But I’m not sure I would hold onto that under persecution.” The committee erupted in laughter.
The Millennium is not a primary or secondary or maybe even tertiary doctrine of the Christian faith. Those committed to the same robust orthodoxy have held varying views—and maybe have all the way back to the days of Origen and Irenaeus. I was always on the side of the premillennialists. I even wrote a chapter in a book defending the view and taught it to my students every semester for 20 years.
Many have referred to the past couple of years as an “apocalypse.” Some use the word just to mean “akin to a dystopian movie.” But others, mostly Christians, have pointed to the word’s actual meaning—an unveiling. We have seen awful things uncovered. People we thought were prophets and pastors turned out to be predators. Thousands of our neighbors died gasping for air, while others screamed at one another about whether to wear masks or get vaccines. Churches and denominations and even families split in a way we never would have imagined a decade ago—not over modernism versus fundamentalism, but over our differing views about a minor character in the movie Home Alone 2.
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