How Much Can We Disagree on Eschatology?

Recently I was briefly involved in an online discussion regarding Sam Storms’ change in his millennial view from premillennial to amillennial. There have also been recent videos discussing the importance of eschatology in the life of believers and church life.  Several years ago Thomas Schreiner changed his view from amillennial to premillennial in his study of Revelation 20. Much of my training was in dispensational schools and I have no bone to pick with my dispensational brothers. Yet three years ago when we planted a church there were a few men committed to church planting who held to different views on eschatology. We decided not to enshrine a detailed eschatological position in the church’s doctrinal statement, which for some was a sure sign of compromise or flabby theology.


On our leadership team we've had differences from progressive dispensationalism, historic premillennialism, and amilllennialism. We have probably had speakers holding to these views. We don't hide the differences nor magnify them. We have lively and hopefully clarifying exchanges. Some of the concerns over lack of specificity seem inflated. I don’t know anyone who is saying eschatology is not important. The question arises as to how much agreement is necessary for church membership, partnership, or fellowship. My response would be that regarding millennial views an affirmation of the personal and glorious return of Christ to establish His kingdom is sufficient, allowing, without demanding, room for a temporal millennium, two-phase coming, seven-year tribulation, and restoration of Israel. We can disagree on these things and enjoy biblical unity and joint gospel witness, or can we?  That remains to be seen.


Here is how we express our position in our church doctrinal statement: “We believe in the personal and glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with His holy angels, when He will fully establish His kingdom and exercise His role as Judge of all.” We believe that is sufficient for a church body although individuals may flesh that out in different ways. We believe what the Scriptures clearly teach and what has been affirmed throughout the ages that Jesus returns to establish His kingdom. Beyond that makes for interesting and important discussion. I’ve been convinced of different millennial schemes at different times and it looks like I’m in good company. Some might see this as vacillation. I freely admit that in the area of eschatology.


We will probably all be surprised in some way at how God works it out. What Scripture teaches about the future is important, our views less so in many of the specifics. Some seem to have a clearer grasp on how future events will unfold. I think I have a good idea in the main. But I’m looking for Jesus to come again and I’m looking forward to his eternal kingdom. And if I don’t get some things right, He will.



2 Responses to “How Much Can We Disagree on Eschatology?”

  1. My understanding is that differences of eschatology correlate strongly with differences in hermeneutic.  If that is so (and perhaps you can cofirm or clarify that), do you think it is a good idea to have differing hermenuetic approaches to scripture on a given leadership team?  And wouldn't you have to essentially avoid preaching the whole counsel if certain passages cannot be exhaustively exegeted and interpreted in the congregations hearing due to such a commitment to diversity?

  2. Good question. We are committed to the fundamentals of the faith, to a high view of Scripture, to making disciples. We robustly affirm the authority of Scripture, its historical veracity, and preach the whole counsel of God. And it seems to me that the hermeneutical differences may be more a strength than a detriment. We have the freedom to exegete and expound Scripture without the coercion of an official position on the millennium. The lead pastor does 75% of the preaching but men on our leadership can treat a text according to their best understanding and we don’t need to agree with everything. If we were to preach on Revelation 20 we would mention that there are different views. We have stated this publicly. We agree to disagree on the future details. In reality those differences make little difference in how we live out our calling as Christians. Jesus is coming again and will reign forever. We live with that expectation and with the urgency to make Christ known until then.

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