What is the Amillennial position?
Dr. David Reagan and I recently had the pleasure of asking this question of our old friend Evangelist Don McGee on the show Christ in Prophecy. Don is the founder and director of Crown & Sickle Ministries (Rev. 14:14) based in Amite, Louisiana. Don travels all over the Unites States preaching about the soon return of Jesus Christ and speaking at Bible prophecy conferences.
Nathan Jones: You know, Don, I and many other people grew up with Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth. I also read every one of the books in Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins Left Behind series, and so generally I always thought that there was primarily just the Pre-Tribulation and Pre-Millennial viewpoint. But, the more I studied Bible prophecy the more I realized that this view is a minority case and that most people especially like the Catholics believe in an Amillennial position, and lots of Protestants do, too. Can you explain what the Amillennial position is?
Don McGee: Kind of in a nutshell, the early church was Pre-Millennial, and I use that term broadly because there were a lot of varieties of that especially 2,000 years ago. When I say “Pre-Millennial” I’m meaning that the return of Jesus is before the Millennium at the Second Coming of Jesus to this earth. Jesus will come and reign for a thousand years.
The Amillennial view came in with guys like Origin and Constantine and people like that. Those men came out of a background that said philosophically that anything of the body, meaning anything physical, was bad and that it was only the spirit that counted. It is Gnosticism basically.
Amillennialists when they got into Scripture spiritualized it by saying, “Jesus is not going to come back to a literal earth because a literal earth is physical, therefore it is inherently evil. Jesus cannot do this so what I have to do now since I am denying that is then I have to come up with an idea that I can believe.” What they came up with was Amillennialism. The “a” there is often called the alpha-privative and it simply means that it negates the Millennium. In Greek if you put an “a” in front of a word it negates the word. So, there is no Millennium to them. That is what they did and that is where the term Amillennial comes from.
Nathan Jones: They do not then believe in a literal 1,000 year reign of Jesus on earth?
Don McGee: They do not believe in that. They believe at the Rapture, though in fact they don’t even like to use the term Rapture, but they believe that when Jesus does return it could be even 10,000 years from now. As they say, Jesus does come back and takes the Church out, but they don’t even refer to it as the Rapture. They call it the Resurrection. They believe that — Bingo! — 2 Peter 3:10 kicks in and the earth is destroyed and burned up and that’s it.
Dr. Reagan: They take the position that the Millennium actually began at the cross?
Don McGee: Yes, and that we are in it right now, though I can’t understand that. If Jesus is ruling and reigning over this world right now. He is doing an awfully bad job of it and I have some correction to offer.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, they argue the Millennium began at the cross. Early when Augustine began to argue this he argued that Jesus was going to reign for a 1,000 years and then He will come back. Well, in 1000 AD Jesus still hadn’t come back, so then the spiritualizers had to spiritualize the first 1,000 years and they’ve been doing that ever since then.
Don McGee: The majority of Christendom (and I use that term very broadly) is Amillennial.
Dr. Reagan: That they argue we are in the Millennium right now is so hard to believe since the Bible says that during the reign of Christ the earth will be flooded with peace, righteousness and justice as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14). They also argue that Satan is bound now because it says when the Millennium begins he is going to be bound. Do you believe that Satan is bound now?
Don McGee: Peter says he’s not. Peter says that he is roaring lion, and that was written after the resurrection (1 Pet. 5:8). And, Peter says that he is out to devour anyone that he can. So, no, Satan is not bound.
Dr. Reagan: John many years after the Resurrection said the whole world is under the power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19). Satan was bound by the cross in the sense that believers ever since then received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and now have greater power in combating Satan. But, it says in the Book of Revelation that Satan will be bound and that he will no longer be able to deceive the nations (Rev. 20:2-3). That is a special kind of binding.
Don McGee: He is not talking about Satan not deceiving just the Christians. He is not talking about Satan not deceiving just the Jews. He is talking about the whole world.
Dr. Reagan: Also, the Bible says that when the Millennium begins that Jesus Christ will reign on the throne of David. Is He on the throne of David right now?
Don McGee: He is not on the Throne of David right now for several reasons besides the obvious. Secondly, the throne of David never has been, is not, and never will be in Heaven. It is in Jerusalem. So, Jesus is at the right hand of His Father on His Father’s throne. He is sitting on a chair, but He is not on a throne, if I can use that term.
Nathan Jones: Amillennialists will say that there is a spiritual kingdom, and I believe that is true. There is a spiritual kingdom where Jesus rules and reigns over the Church, but not a physical kingdom which is totally dedicated to the Millennial Kingdom time period.
Don McGee: Well, I don’t see how they could come up with that either. One of the problems that Amillennials have is that they try to take the Kingdom of God and try to put it into the Church. If you go to Luke 13:28, Jesus Himself talks about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob being in the Kingdom of God. Now, were they in the Church? I mean, were they Pre-Pentecost or Post-Pentecost? They aren’t in the Church as we know the body of Christ to be and yet they are in the kingdom.
Dr. Reagan: Let me play the Devil’s advocate for a moment. I have actually had people write in several times and tell me this idea of Jesus reigning a thousand years is only mentioned in one place in the Bible in the book of Revelation and therefore it’s not that all important and also it couldn’t be true.
Don McGee: Do we have a test that if something in the Bible is mentioned three times it is no good, or if it is mentioned five times, but that it’s like got to be mentioned ten times for us to finally believe it to be true?
Nathan Jones: Six times I found “a thousand years” as the description for the length of the time period, found in Revelation 20.
Dr. Reagan: Why isn’t it just good enough if God just mentions something once? I have also had people write in and say, “Well, now, if you go over to 1 Peter you will find that it says that Jesus is going to come and the earth is going to burn up immediately afterwards, and so how can there be an earth for the Millennial reign?”
Don McGee: It is going to burn up, but that’s going to be before the eternal state. You have to consider all the prophecies about a topic altogether. You don’t take one prophecy out of context and stand on it and declare that this is all God has to say about that. Well, you do if you want to “prove” your own point.
Actually, the Millennium is needed because God is going to fulfill a lot of the promises that He’s made to the nation of Israel, and He’s going to fulfill the promises that He made to the entire world.
But, there is another aspect to this. If there is no Millennium, then Satan wins and God loses. In the Garden of Eden everything was perfect. God says this is the way that I want it. When sin entered there came following a curse, and we are experiencing the consequences of that even today. But, there will be a time coming when Jesus is going to take back from the clutches of Satan that which He created.