Against Postmillennialism’s Eschatological Feminism

No doubt many of you will think this is a sensationalist title, and that I’m just trying to aggravate and inflame emotions. Well, it is meant to pack a punch, but not without a good reason. The reason I aim to get your attention is to confront you bluntly with the perverseness of this doctrine, which I call Eschatological Feminism. What is Eschatological Feminism? It’s the usurpation of what properly belongs to Christ by His Bride, the Church, in much the same way as a feminist arrogates the privileges of her husband to herself. And if it’s perverse for a wife to steal the prerogatives of her husband in an earthly marriage – which is only meant to serve as a model of the heavenly one (Ephesians 5:22-33) – how much more perverse is it to distort the roles of that heavenly marriage itself?

This is the sin committed by the most popular forms of postmillennialism today. It hears God say to the Lord Jesus, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1) and somehow hears, “Sit thou at His right hand, until we make thine enemies thy footstool.” Instead of occupying till He comes, and waiting to rule with Him until He returns with the Kingdom (cf. Luke 19:15-27), they demand to reign now, to force His Kingdom down before His time, and to mix Christ’s Kingdom with Belial’s. And, as I will show, they have absolutely no Apostolic precedent for this affront.

But before I begin, I’d like to make clear that the title of this post is NOT Against Postmillennialism, but rather against its Eschatological Feminism which so often goes hand-in-hand with that perspective. I understand that there are pietistic forms of postmillennialism that make a clear distinction between Christ’s Kingdom and Caesar’s kingdom and do not propose mixing the two. Such postmillennialists do not advance the Kingdom by a theonomic takeover, but rather by faithfully using the means given to us by Jesus and the Apostles, which they use to gradually draw sinners out of Satan’s kingdoms and into the Lord’s. If that’s your view, brother or sister, you are a dear friend of mine, and we share the same end and means. Whatever differences we may otherwise have about eschatology, know that the harsh rhetoric is not aimed at you.

The Example of Jesus and the Apostles

The postmillennialists we speak of here are those who set their eyes on the present world, aiming to take it over via their own means and make a utopia for themselves. Rather than confess with Paul that “our conversation is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), they plainly identify as citizens of the earth, focusing a great deal of their energy in political and cultural “engagement” (usually the kind of engagement that ends in marriage). For this, there is no New Testament encouragement. The Lord Jesus instructs us to take our hearts off of an earthly inheritance, and to lay up our treasures in heaven, “where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20). So unconcerned are we to be with this present world, that we are not even to care about societal reform when its injustice affects us:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also

Matthew 5:39-40

If an Eschatological Feminist were taken to court unjustly, it’s hard not to imagine them organizing a protest, appealing to lawmakers, and doing all in their power to conform this world’s standards of justice to those of the Kingdom. But there is not the least hint of any of that here. On the contrary, the Christian is instructed to let the unjust prosecution take more than they asked for. Why? Because our heart is not here, and the Christian – when thinking rightly – knows that the rewards stored up for him in heaven far exceeds whatever he may lose in this life. His sojourning on earth is but the tiniest sliver of his existence, and so he’s not concerned with how he fares here. The Christian knows he’ll be home soon enough, with or without his cloak.

This sentiment is echoed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6. Far from engaging with the legal system of his day, Paul doesn’t want Christians to go to the law to resolve their problems with one another at all:

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

1 Corinthians 6:7

Again, undoubtedly taking cues from Jesus, Paul is utterly perplexed as to why believers would feel the need to go to court against one another. For starters, Christians are much better suited to judge their own affairs than the secular world, whom we will ourselves judge (v. 2). But beyond that, Paul doesn’t understand why believers would care about being wronged. This is an example of the principles laid out in the Sermon on the Mount put into practice, which causes us to ask: What thing of lasting value could they have lost? Are not their treasures laid up in heaven? Accordingly, if there is conflict among believers concerning things of this life, Paul advises us to “set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church” (v. 4). Far from desiring to create a perfect justice system to execute the decrees of heaven on earth, Paul doesn’t care if a judge of earthly matters is qualified at all. And if Paul is apathetic towards the earthly affairs of the saints, he is at least as blunt in the previous chapter about his indifference towards the rest of the world: “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? … them that are without God judgeth” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). How this is compatible with theonomic Christian Reconstructionism is beyond me.

These are just a few examples of what is simply the New Testament spirit. What may speak louder than these is the otherwise deafening silence about societal issues altogether. In an empire full of corruption and wicked practices, neither Jesus nor the Apostles speak once about reforming the institutions that practice them. Even those under the bondage of slavery are told to “care not for it” (1 Corinthians 7:21). Why? Because such a one is already the “Lord’s freeman” (v. 22). The only time an issue such as civic rights appears is when it would open the door for Paul to preach the Gospel (Acts 22:25). Other than that, there is nothing but indifference and silence on the part of the New Testament authors who looked for another world, not the present one.

A Passover People

We’re indifferent to the institutions of the world because we are a Passover people.

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us

1 Corinthians 5:7

The leaven we’re to purge from ourselves can represent many things (cf. v. 8), but the other evils it symbolizes stem from its root sin: worldliness. God established that this was the symbolic purpose of leaven when He first instituted the Passover feast. When the children of the Israelites would ask about the meaning of the feasts given to them, this is what God told their parents to say about it:

they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual

Exodus 12:39

Principally, the avoidance of leaven signifies that the Passover people are a sojourning people, who would not be around long enough to leaven their bread or have any other prepared food. For the Passover people to purge themselves of leaven is to purge themselves of any sense of permanence in this world. For us to be a Passover people is to confess – with the Passover people before us – that we are a sojourning people thrust out of Egypt, and who will be a sojourning people until we reach the Promised Land. It’s to confess that we are heirs of Abraham, Noah, and Abel, who likewise “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earthBut now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13, 16) [And make no mistake, the Epistle of the Hebrews says it’s God who is preparing the city for us, not ourselves]. To purge ourselves from leaven is to be risen with Christ, to set our affection on things above, not on things of the earth. It’s to be dead and have our lives hid with Him (Colossians 3:1-3). The dead tend not to be very concerned about societal reform.

Thy Kingdom Come

The Lord instructs us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). It’s a passive prayer; Jesus does not tell us to pray that the Father would give us strength to bring His Kingdom down to earth. We are to pray as beggars – as those who acknowledge their inability to accomplish His will, and who must entreat Him to cause it to come to earth. And come it will, and we shall see “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2), quite apart from any of our own efforts. It would be sin for us to try to construct a tower to reach her, as if God hadn’t already promised to bring her down and wasn’t perfectly capable of doing so Himself.

So, what is our job? It’s not to be lazy, as we anticipate an Eschatological Feminist may accuse us of being (which is exactly the same accusation real feminists lay at the feet of faithful women). Rather, our job is to follow the marching orders of our King: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Our Lord is our breadwinner, and we are not to compete with Him. We are simply to proclaim His Word and live in accord with His commandments, trusting that God will work through the means He’s given us to accomplish His purpose. We are not to be defiled by the world, but to “come out from among them” (2 Corinthians 6:17) in such a way that we remain separate even when living in their midst. We are not to merge our city with theirs, but to be “A city that is set on an hill” (Matthew 5:14), and therefore to be a city set apart from the rest. We are to purify ourselves that we may be without spot, blemish, or wrinkle, and manifest that holiness which is becoming for the Bride of Christ. God forbid that He returns to find His Church committing fornication with the world, trying to prop-up kingdoms and causes dedicated to idols. With the present world, all institutions around us “shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). Let’s not waste time polishing a sinking ship; the cities belonging the prince of the power of the air will not fit on the Ark of Christ, but will be washed away by the coming flood of fire. And to those who resist the Gospel preached to them, we will by no means mandate their obedience, but repeat to them the solemn words of the angel: “he which is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Revelation 22:11).

Closing Remarks/Anticipated Objections

If you’re among those this article is targeted at and have made it this far, you may think that I’ve made you out to be a heretic and an enemy of the Cross. So, now is a good time for me to say that I don’t think that’s the case for most of you. Let me be clear: this doctrine of yours is aberrant, and inverts the New Testament’s emphasis on detachment from this present age. However, salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and if you believe in that Gospel, you are my brother or sister regardless of your other views. It’s actually because I believe most of you are saved that I attack the doctrine as aggressively as I do. Partly, it’s because I hold you to a higher standard, but it’s also because – as members of the Church – when you defile yourselves with the world, you are actually entangling the genuine, born-again Church of God with its filth! This makes the error worthy of strong rebuke. And so, it’s with love that I implore you to cease from your worldly efforts, and focus your time following the example that Christ and the Apostles gave us.

Let me also stress what I’m not saying. I am not saying that it’s a sin to ever vote, or to engage in any behavior that might be classified as “political.” In fact, the confession I subscribe to says it’s even acceptable for a Christian to hold public office if that’s his vocation (LBCF 24.2). My chief concern is what the duty of Christ’s Church is, which on a corporate level is not to infiltrate and reform the institutions of Caesar, and on an individual level is not to have anxiety about the actions of the rulers over us or the quality of our earthly lives. Again, we can remind ourselves of the example of the Apostle Paul in Acts 22, which was briefly alluded to before. He raised his civic rights, but it was not for the sake of the rights or because he aimed to make the Roman government a better model of the heavenly one, but because it was a convenient thing for him to do for the furtherance of the Gospel. Similarly, there may be instances where it’s practical to represent the interests of the Church during a policy debate which could hinder the performance of her duties (such as the classification of her preaching as “hate speech,” or the forbidding of her assembling on account of a quarantine). However, even in these cases, it’s never permissible to view ourselves as anything but outsiders – as sojourners who politely ask to be left alone as we continue our journey home. While we’re here, we’ll be good neighbors – we’ll help wash your dishes, take out your trash, and invite you to join us as we head to a better world; but your affairs, O citizen of this world, are not our affairs. And while we mourn for the wickedness and injustices committed by your governments, we rebuke you as outsiders, not as your fellow-heirs. And when we rebuke, the remedy we offer is not a changed political system, but a changed heart through the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Bridegroom who invites us into His own Estate. Who ever heard of a bride building a home for her husband?

There’s one objection to what I’ve said which shouldn’t be raised by Bible-believers, but, because I’m sure someone will anyways, I’ll address it before I close. There will be those who will dismiss everything I’ve said because the passages that deter us from societal engagement were written before 70 AD. If you raise this, then I’m more worried about your view of Scripture than your eschatology. The Bible isn’t merely a compilation of authoritative spiritual teachings, but is the Spirit-breathed Book that God decreed should be the guide for the Church throughout her generations, and it’s sufficient for all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So, to say that the example of Christ and the Apostles doesn’t model how Christians should live today is to say that the Holy Spirit gave no example for post-70 AD Christian living. It’s also to say that huge portions of the New Testament have no practical relevance to any Christian who ever had a complete New Testament, which wasn’t assembled until after 70 AD! This is especially true for the Corinthian epistles, which are largely concerned with problems relating to the Church and her interaction with the world around them; is a huge chunk of their content irrelevant? Why did God see it fit to include those portions in a Bible given to the entire Church age? Maybe – just maybe – if your eschatology causes you to have a view of the New Testament more in line with hyper-dispensationalists than the rest of the orthodox Church, you’ve made a wrong turn somewhere.

Fix your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, be faithful to His Word, and wait patiently for His return. Leave everything else in God’s hands.

Shout out to Travis Rogers, who made a great post on the related topic of theonomy on this blog. You can read that here.

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