The Ultimate Form of Pessimism

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Christian Reconstructionists believe that God will steadily transform this world ethically, as He brings people to Himself in grace. Given the depravity of man, He is the only One who can transform this world. But how does He do this? Through demons? No. Through fallen men who are on the side of demons in their rebellion against God? No. So, what is God's historic means of making the world better? The preaching of the gospel! This is what postmillennialist have always taught. And the comprehensive success of the gospel in history is what postmillennialism's critics have always denied. The critics categorically deny that the gospel of Christ will ever change most men's hearts at any future point in history. The gospel in this view is a means primarily of condemning gospel-rejecting people to hell, not a program leading to the victory of Christ's people in history. The gospel cannot transform the world, they insist.

Pessimism regarding the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in history is what best defines pessimism. There is no pessimism in the history of man that is more pessimistic than this pessimism regarding the power of the gospel in history. The universal destruction of mankind by nuclear war— a myth, by the way1+ — is downright optimistic compared to pessimism with regard to the transforming power of the gospel in history. This pessimism testifies that the incorrigible human heart is more powerful than God in history, that Satan's defeat of Adam in the garden is more powerful in history than Christ's defeat of Satan at Calvary. It denies Paul's doctrine of triumphant grace in history: 'Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rem. 5:20;KJV). Does grace struggle so that sin might more abound in history?

Deliberately Deceiving the Faithful?

What do pessimists say in response? They denounce anyone who proclaims eschatological optimism as a heretical preacher of

14. Arthur Robinson and Gary North, Fighting Chance: Ten Feet to Survival (Ft. Worth, TX: American Bureau of Economic Research, 1986).

utopia. Dave Hunt writes: "A perfect Edenic environment where all ecological, economic, sociological, and political problems are solved fails to perfect mankind. So much for the theories of psychology and sociology and Utopian dreams." 15 Here is the key word used again and again by pessimists to dismiss postmillen-nialism: Utopia. ("Utopia": ou = no, topos = place. ) In short, they regard as totally mythological the idea that God's Word, God's Spirit, God's law, and God's Church can change the hearts of most people sometime in the future. They assume (without any clear biblical support) that Revelation 20:7-10 describes a final rebellion in which most people on earth rebel, despite the fact that only one-third of the angels ("stars") rebelled with Satan, and only one-third of the earth is symbolically brought under God's wrath in the Book of Revelation's judgment passages (Rev. 8:7-12; 9:15, 18).

Confidence in Man?

Over and over, pessimists accuse postmillennialists of having too much confidence in man. This is really astounding, when you think about it, because all the primary defenders of modern post-millennialism have been Calvinists and usually followers of Cornelius Van Til. Normally, nobody accuses Calvinists of having too elevated a view of man, what with the Calvinists' doctrine of man's total depravity and fallen man's inability to respond in faith to the gospel without God's predestinating irresistible grace to force conversions.

Postmillennialists never argue for confidence in 'mankind as such." They only argue for the increasing long-term influence in history of regenerate, covenantally faith iful people compared to unregen-erate, covenantally rebellious people. What the pessimists argue is the opposite: 1) the steadily increasing long-term authority in history of unregenerate, covenantally rebellious people, and 2) the declining cultural influence of regenerate, covenantally faithful

15. Beyond Seduction, p. 251.

people. It is not "confidence in man" that is the basis of postmillen-nial optimism; it is confidence in the covenantalfaithfulness of God in rewarding covenant-keepers (Deut. 28:1-14) and punishing covenant-breakers (Deut. 28:15-68). 16 Listen to the words of Professor Thomas Sproull over a century ago regarding the coming period of millennial blessings:

In order to accomplish this, the presence of the humanity of Christ is not necessary. The destruction of the kingdom of Satan cannot be done by a nature, but by a person. It is the work not of humanity, but of divinity. That kingdom extends over the whole world, and requires for its overthrow an omnipresent power. It received its death-blow when our Lord by his resurrection was "declared to be the Son of God."- Rom l:14r. In his ascension "he spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly."— Col. 2:15. His manifestation in the flesh was necessary, that he might make atonement for sin; but by his incarnation he received no increase in strength, for vanquishing his enemies. It is indeed the God-man that gains the victory; not by human, but by divine power. 17

How much plainer could he be? The basis of millennial blessings in history is the power of God in history, not the power of man in history. Yet our opponents for over a century have boldly and unconscionably distorted the postmillennialist' explanation of the millennium. These leaders have not been ignorant men; they have been able to read. They have simply and deliberately preferred to mislead their followers. It is not an intellectual defect on their part; it is a moral defect.

Dave Hunt has gone one step beyond. He not only rejects postmillennial optimism, he even implies that to hold such a view of the future is to give aid to the New Age Movement.

16. Ray R. Sutton, ThatYou May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987), chapter 4.

17. Rev. Thomas Sproull,PrelectionsonTheology (Pittsburgh, PA: Myers, Shinkle, & Co., 1882), p. 411.

Dominion Theology and the New Age Movement?

Christianity is the source of the idea of progress in the history of mankind. Other groups have stolen this vision and have reworked it along anti-Christian lines, from the Enlightenment18 to the Social Gospel movement to the New Age Movement, but this does not mean that postmillennial optimism is the cause of the thefts. It only means that Satan recognizes the motivating power of orthodox Christian theology. It surely does not mean that escha-tological pessimism is in any way an effective shield against humanism, New Age philosophy, or socialism. New Age social theorist Jeremy Rifkin is proof enough. He is a pessimist who appeals for support to eschatological pessimists within the Christian community. 19

What is even more galling is that Dave Hunt has tried to link the Christian Reconstntction movement with the New Age Movement, simply because Christian Reconstructionists, as dominion theologians, proclaim the legitimacy of social action along biblical lines.20 What angers traditional premillennialist is that Reconstructionists say that the world is not going to hell in a handbasket. Satan's world is going there, but not the kingdom of God, which does have manifestations on earth.

I wrote the first Christian book exposing the theology of the

18. Robert A. Nisbet, 'The Year 2000 and AU That,"Commentary (June 1968).

19. Jeremy Rifkin (with Ted Howard), Entropy: A NewWorldView (TVewYork: Bantam New Age Books, [ 1980] 1981) and The Emerging Order: God in the Age of Scarcity (New York: Ballantine, 1979). For a refutation of Rifkin, see my book, Is the World Running Down? Crisis in the ChristianWorldview (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1988).

20. "Closely related in belief are several other groups: the Reconstructionists such as Gary North etal, as well as Christian socialists such as Jim Wallis (of Sojourners), Tom Sine et al whose major focus is upon cleaning up the earth ecological y, politically, economically, sociologically etc. They imagine that the main function of the Church is to restore the Edenic state— hardly helpful, since Eden is where sin began. Many groups are beginning to work together who disagree on some points but share with the New Agers a desire to cleanup the earth and establish the Kingdom."Dave Hunt, CIB Bulletin (Feb. 1987), front page.

New Age Movement in 1976, None Dare Call It Witchcraft,21 years before Dave Hunt wrote anything about it. Yet the cassette tape-buying public is tantalized by the Omega-Letter advertising piece for its three-tape interview with Hunt, in which the copywriter asks some legally safe but preposterous leading questions:

Is Dominion Theology placing the church in allegiance with the New Age and Globalist groups who are trying to build a New World Order of peace and prosperity?

Does Dominion Theology represent a rejection of the finished work of the cross?

Dave Hunt, citing 2 Peter 3:11 (and erroneously attributing to Peter the words of Isaiah 34:4), states categorically that theological optimism toward the gospel's power to transform this earth is a stepping stone to humanism. Instead, we should turn totally from this earth. Hunt separates heaven from earth so completely that the earth must show no signs in history of God's healing power. This is an explicit, self-conscious defense of the theology that undergirds that old line, "He is so totally spiritual that he's no earthly good." Hunt implicitly denies Jesus' required prayer: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven"

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