Story Time: The Eschatology Story
I've written a couple stories of "conversion". But none of them have dealt with the major subject of this blog. It dawned on me the other day that I've only hinted at and not fully disclosed my eschatological journey. Unlike my other stories, this one covers far less time and rather anticlimactic.
The Dispensation of Unknowing
Like most people raised in the Baptist church, I was unaware that my eschatological beliefs were being crafted to fit a very distinct form of theological thought. I was raised knowing (not being "taught") the simple structure of Dispensational Premillennialism. I won't say I was brainwashed (like some other converted preterists sometimes say). I was simply taught by Baptist teachers who really didn't know there was another way to think of eschatology.
I read the Left Behind books growing up. I can even remember thinking it would be nice for God to leave a few faithful Christians on earth after the Rapture. These specially trained Christians could do all kinds of good things for the world post rapture.
At this time I did have a private pact with myself. I required myself to read the book of Revelation once a year. I didn't do this for any other book. Don't ask me why. I just did it. There is and will forever continue to be something special about the book of Revelation that draws new believers to it.
As I grew older and began to evaluate other portions of my theology I never really returned to the topic of eschatology. It still did not play a significant role in my thinking or study. I like to think I remained an atheistic dispensationalist.
The Fair Chance Game
Eventually I started buying used theology book online. And I would look for good deals everywhere. I would look to combine shipping to save myself money. On multiples occasions I purchased books that were "off my radar" to take advantage of the shipping and balanced cost reduction. Among these books were John MacArthur's Because the Time is Near, The Second Coming and R.C. Sproul's The Last Days According to Christ. I decided that I would, as best I could, give every view a fair shake. I'd read what I could and pursue my residual questions. I finished those three books thinking that Sproul's was the most fascinating. I understood most of what was in MacArthur's book. I had been raised on that type of thinking but the preterism found in Sproul's book was very new. I had blandly accepted that I was not a premillennial believer anymore. I was generally accepting amillennialism and found that the majority report of the church had been some form of historic amillennialism.
I'd like to admit that I was faithful to continue my study but I wasn't. Other things were pressing, I was teaching through Romans and my time was regularly crunched.
The End Game
At the 2012 Ligonier Conference I purchased Kim Riddlebarger's book A Case for Amillennialism and Keith Mathison's Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope. I really came out of the two books split. I appreciated and enjoyed both books immensely. I was also torn significantly between the consistent preterism of Mathison and the occsional Idealist approach of Riddlebarger. I really wasn't overwhelmed for either argument. But what I did find was that I accepted the Psalm and Prophetic passages as speaking to a physical millennium.
Perhaps because of my premillennial background, I found myself between a rock and a hard place. I was bent on interpreting OT passages as referring to a millennium that was on the earth. Rejecting Dispensational Premillennialism left me with only Historic Premillennialism and Postmillennialism. In the end I chose the one that was more consistent with preterism and the full force of realized eschatology. Amillennialism swung too far in the other direction but Postmillennialism was just right.
This really is where I stand to this day. I'm not overwhelmed by the arguments for the Postmil position. I simply accepting that the Psalms and Prophets discuss the kingdom in physical and earthly ways. As long as I continue to see those texts in that light it will be hard for my view to change. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.