AOMin_Banner SermonAudio_Banner RYM_Banner DesiringGod_Banner

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gaffin on the Millennium

Dr. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary (where I would love to attend some day...but who knows), wrote an article about some of the problems he sees with a certain variety of postmillennialism (a variety which he sees as being a majority even today, and even among those who hold to a similar structure of timing to amillennarians—unlike the older, Puritan, futuristic postmillennial view of the millennium). The main point of his article is to highlight some tensions between some aspects of that view and the eschatological perspective of the New Testament. Many of his points there are valid. However, Gaffin also argues (both in footnotes and even many places in the body of the text) against preterism and against the general kind of optimism postmillennialists have in regard to pre-consummate visible gospel progress in the world. Acknowledging the strength of some of Gaffin's arguments against the notion of a pre-consummate future “golden age” that is categorically and prophetically distinct from this present millennial age, I want to give a few of my responses to some of the major points of his piece.

I will very briefly summarize each of his main points to which I am responding; I hope to represent him well. I will place a link to his paper at the end of my response here.

Point 1

Gaffin: Since the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 is part of the unified complex of events tied up with Christ's First Advent, it is inappropriate to read passages like the Olivet Discourse and Revelation as exclusively or even largely having reference to AD 70, rather than having reference to significant eschatological events in the future of today's Church. Also, If postmillennialists posit a still entirely future eschatological golden age that is the final 'fulfilment' of the millennium, that essentially forfeits the eschatological character of Christ's First Advent and the present age clearly taught in the NT.

My response: I would say that in just the same way that Gaffin says that a kind of postmillennialism that posits a distinct future stage or “fulfilment” of the millennium diminishes the eschatological character of the First Advent and the present age (with which I, as a postmillennialist, would agree), holding to a Great Tribulation still in our future diminishes the eschatological character of the First Advent and the events directly following it in Jerusalem's destruction. Of course, Gaffin rightly holds to a duality of eschatological stages in a basically inaugurated-kingdom structure (such that the “age to come” has been inaugurated by Christ already, but will consummated at—and only at—His bodily return). So Gaffin would simply want to justify the appropriateness of his Tribulational futurism in terms of it being closely related to the final eschatological event—the Second Advent and consummation—so that it doesn't compromise the truly inaugurated eschatological nature of the present age. At this point, I would need to argue in detail against the prophetic idealism and excessive recapitulation he (and others, like Kistemaker) would see in Revelation, and show that amillennial idealists have a really hard time explaining why (even in Revelation's dramatically schematized layout of history) the Beast and false prophet seem clearly to have already been thrown in the “lake of fire” at the beginning of Christ's millennial reign.

I think preterists have also pretty convincingly argued that the Olivet Discourse itself lays no grounds whatsoever for Tribulational futurism, but rather limits at least its description of the “Great Tribulation” to first century events soon to come to pass from the reference point of the original hearers. It takes either importing something from another passage, or the presupposition of prophetic idealism, to get a Tribulation still in our future from the Olivet Discourse passages.

Point 2

Gaffin: Against the charge of historical staticism, we should think of this present millennial age as being characterized by the “staticism of eschatological dynamism.” This means the kingly permanence of the exalted Christ is manifested in various unpredictable ways throughout this age. Christ's inaugurated reign is more basic and constitutive than any progress being made.

My response: The... “staticism of eschatological dynamism?” Really? What does that mean? So it means “unpredictable” manifestations of Christ's permanent Messianic reign? The manifestations would, indeed, possibly be “unpredictable” if we didn't have dozens of passages from the Prophets that state exactly what the Messianic kingdom entails: nothing less than the salvation of the nations as a whole (see the paradigmatic Isaiah 2). And why limit fulfillments of those prophecies to the eternal state? The nations of the eternal state don't need saving from anything. The consistent scriptural pattern of salvation, whether individual or corporate, is: definitive, progressive, and consummative. The Israelites were saved from Egypt, then progressively drove out the Canaanites, and then inhabited the promised land. Christians are born again of the Spirit, progressively sanctified, and will be glorified on the Last Day. The world has been claimed by Christ's ascension and session at God's right hand, is (and has been) being transformed by the gospel, and will eventually be totally overtaken and brought into the eternal state by Christ's return (despite intense, final, Satanic attempts to thwart the kingdom).

Point 3

Gaffin: To the question, Is the millennial victory only a future one, or a present one as well?, postmillennialists seem to have consistently answered by affirming the former. But they need to either 1) give up their hope of a categorically distinct future age of dominion before the Second Advent, or 2) effectively give up the past and present kingship of the exalted Christ as anything more than (largely unrealized) potential.

My response: I don't know about postmillennialists historically for sure, but I would personally want to say that the millennial victory is present in a sense as well as future. I would set it in terms of definitive, progressive, and consummate stages...the definitive aspect being brought with the First Advent, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ; the progressive stage being the present state of the Church in the world; and the consummate stage being the eternal state at the Second Advent of Christ (without a static “Golden Age” interim, as Gaffin argues against well). I would also say that, while I can't remember specific wording, I seem to remember reading Dr. Kenneth Gentry as also explicitly affirming at least some kind of present aspect of the millennial victory. Anyway, I agree with Gaffin that postmillennialists should give up 1) in his dilemma, however, I don't see why postmillennialists who would disagree would necessarily have to consider the present kingship of Christ as nothing but “largely unrealized” potential. Look at the progress of the gospel in the world since the first century! They would see that as important progress leading eventually to their “Golden Age,” even if it's not their ultimate or even pen-ultimate eschatological hope. In other words, the progress is prophetically significant.

Point 4

Gaffin: Differences between some postmillennialists and him might be small if it's just exegetical details about optimism about the progress of gospel; he may have different definitions of "optimism" and "success" than them. Also, the eschatological-conversion-of-the-Jews interpretation of Romans 11 is “unlikely.”

My response: There will be more to say about definitions of gospel progress and the victory of the kingdom later on; but what kind of optimism could we expect Gaffin, an idealist-amillennialist, to espouse, that wouldn't have a docetistic ring to it? Also, does the ironic nature of "victory" and "overcoming" in Revelation and its paradigm of martyrdom (which amillennialists rightly point out so well) totally preclude the ideas of generational cultural blessing and visible cultural progress in the world?

Also, I would say the usual postmillennial interpretation of Romans 11 is not “unlikely,” but more like, “very, very likely.” Let's take a look at the passage.

Excursus on Romans 11

First let's just look at a very rough outline of the main thrust of the relevant verses:

v. 1 Has God rejected His people? (ethnic Jews, clearly, based on end of ch.10)
-FOR Paul is an (ethnic, indiv.) Jew (remnant principle)

vv.4-5 remnant theme reinforced

vv. 5-6 election by grace, not works

v. 7 Israel failed (ethnic, corporate); elect obtained it, rest *hardened*

v. 11 Israel (ethnic, corporate) *stumble* in order to *fall*?
-RATHER, through Israel (ethn./corp.) trespass, Gent. saved
-Gentiles saved to make Israel (ethn.) Jealous

v. 12 if Israel (ethn/corp) trespass = riches for world (salv. to Gent.), then how much more their "full inclusion?" (ethn., corp.!)

v. 13 speaking to Gentiles, focus of Paul's ministry

v. 14 magnify ministry to Gent. to make Jews (ethn.) jealous and save *some* of them (remnant principle)

v. 15 FOR if their (ethn./corp.!) rejection means reconciliation of world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

v.16 if root holy, so are branches

vv.17-19 Jewish (ethn.) root negates Gent. pride

vv.20-22 warning to Gent.

vv.23-24 ease of re-inclusion of Jews (ethn.) because of natural connection

v.25 partial hardening on Israel (ethn./corp.) *until full # of Gent.*

vv.26-27 "in this way" all Israel (?) will be saved, as written (OT quot. for promise of restoration of Jews (ethn./corp.)
Deliverer will banish ungodliness from *Jacob*

v.28 enemies of God in regard to gospel, but electingly beloved for sake of forefathers (Jews, ethn./corp..)

v.29 FOR gifts and calling of God irrevocable

v.30 FOR you (Gent.) were disob., now received mercy

v.31 they (Jews, ethn./corp..) also have now been disob. so they may also receive mercy

v.32 God has consigned all to disob., to have mercy on all

Now for some explanation of why the usual postmillennial view makes the most sense out of this chapter.

The whole chapter is basically answering the question raised in v. 1: has God rejected His people, the Jews (obviously, ethnic Jews are being referred to in this verse), forever? Paul gives a negative answer, and explicates the details of why this is not the case.

His first answer focuses on the remnant theme, which is a principle that emerges very clearly and consistently from the Prophets. After all, Paul says, he himself is an Israelite, and has embraced Jesus as the Messiah. Paul talks about how election works according to God's gracious purposes, and says that Israel (obviously ethnic, corporate Israel) has been hardened, while the elect (from among the Gentiles, and of the remnant of Israel) obtained the blessings of the Messiah, through faith (v. 7).

Then he raises the question in v. 11: Did Israel (obviously corporate, ethnic) stumble (over the Messiah) in order to fall (be utterly cut off from God forever)? Paul gives a negative answer here as well, and says that the reason they stumbled, was rather that salvation would come to the Gentiles. In turn, the salvation of the Gentiles would make Israel (necessarily still corporate, ethnic Israel) jealous.

V. 12 is key now. If corporate, ethnic Israel's “trespass”/stumbling meant life for the world (of the Gentiles), how much more will their “full inclusion” be good for the world?

In vv.13-14 Paul says that he magnifies his ministry to the Gentiles, because he knows that salvation of Gentiles leads to Jewish jealousy which leads to Jewish inclusion in Christ. Paul says he does this that he might “save some of them” (the remnant).

Gaffin interprets these last few verses as Paul basically explaining that the Jews' “full inclusion” just points to the remnant of Jews throughout the rest of world history being included in God's covenant blessings when they are provoked to jealousy and then faith in Christ. He does not see the necessity for an eschatological salvation of corporate, ethnic Israel.

But the rest of the passage, as well as the preceding context, seems to require an eschatological hope for the salvation of the majority of Jews in the eschaton. Notice how the question Paul has been trying to answer is in regard to corporate, ethnic Israel, even in v. 11. Has God totally rejected them forever, and was the purpose of their stumbling that they (corporate ethnic Israel!) would “fall” and be lost forever? No; 1) there's a remnant even in Paul's day; 2) they were hardened for a time in order that salvation be brought to the Gentiles; and 3) when they (the same “they” we've been talking about!) are fully included one day, how much more blessing will that bring to the world!

In vv. 17-22, Paul talks about how the Jewish “root” of redemptive history should negate Gentile pride. He also warns Gentiles that just like the Israelites, they could also be broken off of the “tree” through unbelief.

Vv. 23-24 declare the ease by which the broken-off branches could be re-included, since they are of the same natural kind as the “roots.” It is natural that God's original covenant people would return one day.

In v. 25, Paul says that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. The hardening is “partial” because of the elect remnant. The “Israel” here is, once again, clearly corporate, ethnic Israel. Also, the partial hardening of Israel is here described as temporary. Once the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, Jewish jealousy will be provoked to critical height, and will result in their eschatological salvation.

In vv. 26-27 Paul says that in this way, “all Israel will be saved.” And he quotes from the OT prophets about how ungodliness will one day be removed from “Jacob.” The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on the interpretation of the preceding context and the last couple of verses in the chapter.

V. 28 says that the Jews are “enemies of God in regard to the gospel” (clearly this must be corporate, ethnic Israel, once again), but “beloved” as regards election, for the sake of the forefathers. For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (v. 29).

Vv. 30-31 set up a parallel: just as the Gentiles (corporately) were once disobedient, and have now received mercy, so they (Israel, as a whole, except for the remnant!) have now been disobedient, so that they would one day again receive mercy.

V. 32 summarizes powerfully: God has consigned all to disobedience, in order to have mercy on all. If corporate, ethnic Israel has been consigned to disobedience, this verse teaches that the ultimate telos of that hard providence is mercy and salvation for corporate, ethnic Israel.

The only way to get Gaffin's interpretation of vv. 11-14 is to let the remnant theme and argument of vv. 1-7 overrun the entire rest of the passage, and totally ignore the consistent reference Paul gives to ethnic Israel corporately, as a whole. If the “they” of the actual text of v. 11 is corporate (as it must necessarily be, since corporate Israel stumbled over the Messiah), then Paul's negative answer to the question of whether their stumbling was for the ultimate purpose of “falling” precludes Gaffin's view. It will not do, either, to limit Paul's negation here to a kind of relative negation that says essentially, “No, they didn't so much stumble so as to fall (although they mostly will fall), but rather so that mercy would come to the Gentiles.” For Paul goes on, especially in vv. 25-26, to declare the temporary character of the hardening that has come upon corporate Israel. This is an essential second part of his answer to the question raised in v. 11. If Gaffin wants to say the “temporary” aspect of Israel's hardening just means that Israel will be hardened “until” the Last Day, but then they won't be corporately saved, vv. 25-26 would seem rather superfluous and irrelevant to the flow of his argument (the main point of which is supposed to be that “No” is the correct answer to v. 11).

The end of the chapter, especially v. 31, is just as clear to me, at least. In v. 30, the Gentiles (corporately) were disobedient in God's providence, and then received mercy. In v. 31, the same pattern is now to become true of (corporate) Israel! The elect remnant of Israel is not the disobedient group, but corporate Israel is. Israel has now been “disobedient” in rejecting the Messiah, but that's not so that they would fall; it's not only so that salvation would come to the Gentiles, but also that they would one day again receive mercy. Gentiles disobeyed, then received mercy. Israel has now disobeyed, and will again receive mercy! The right answer to v. 11 is an unqualified (if complicated) “No!”

To be clear, I no more than Gaffin am any kind of dispensationalist who believes Israel will come into covenant with God again in the future as a covenant entity distinct from the Church. Rather, in finally receiving Jesus as the Messiah, they will join His one people, His Bride, the Church. All who exercise the faith of Abraham are his children; the locus of the promises of God which must be received by such Abrahamic faith is Christ, and there is now no more theological dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (see Rom. 4, Gal. 3, Eph. 2, etc.). The land promise has been expanded to the whole world (Rom. 4:13), and ALL the promises of God are “yes and amen” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Nevertheless, there is no reason we can't affirm, within a Christ-centered and New Testament-controlled covenantal hermeneutic, the eschatological conversion of the majority of ethnic Jews. I believe Romans 11 actually demands affirming such a hope.

Point 5

Gaffin: If amillennialists can be called "defeatist" about the entire millennium (the interadvental period), then postmillennialists should be called "defeatist" with regard to what has turned out so far to be a substantial part of the millennium.

My response: Once again granting Gaffin's point about the problems with conceiving of a categorically distinct "golden age" in the Church's future as a kind of “subset” of the millennial age, postmillenialists do not conceive of the present state of gospel progress as characterized by defeat, but rather as simply being somewhere in the middle of a gradual process of gospel victory, on an overall upward trend (with many peaks and valleys on the way to consummation). The Church is working out progressively in the world what was definitively accomplished in Christ's exaltation.

Point 6

Gaffin: What will give the church optimism in its present calling is not a promise of future dominion pre-Second Advent but of the real victory it already possesses in the exalted Christ.

My response: I agree the Church needs to base its optimism on the victory it already possesses; however, it is bordering on a kind of gnostic docetism to try and work out that victory missiologically in totally “spiritual,” non-earthly, “invisible” terms. After all, Christ's declaration of His present eschatological authority includes “all authority in heaven and on earth!” (Matt. 28:18).

Point 7

Gaffin: According to the NT, suffering characterizes the Church's experience throughout the entire interadvental age; postmillennialists implicitly deny this by positing a golden age when the suffering of the Church will be largely ameliorated.

My response: Granting Gaffin's structural point about a “golden age” once again, it is necessary to reaffirm (with the most responsible postmillennial exegetes) the necessity of gospel victory through suffering. Gospel victory is cruciform; it's the Christus Victor theme that needs to be played up in a healthy postmillennial view. N. T. Wright actually does a great job of emphasizing this, whether or not he would want to call himself “postmillennial” in the modern sense.

I should also point out, though, that even if there is going to be a long “golden age” of gospel prosperity in the whole world, the Church's mission would not be over. After having finished pressing totally “outward” to the ends of the earth, it would need to continue pressing “downward,” discipling and establishing people more deeply in the faith in all areas of life. The Great Commission, after all, included teaching the nations to obey all that Jesus had commanded. With the task of “Evangelism” proper being done, will the Great Commission be finished? Not hardly. And it won't automatically make the Church's task easy or free of intense suffering.

Consider an analogy. Once a couple has been married for 40 years, and has largely come to understand, in at least a basic way, the biggest communication and various other relational issues that have come up over and over again in the marriage, does growing to love each other and grow even deeper as a couple become easier necessarily, in the sense of not involving as much suffering? The suffering might be of a different kind, but it certainly can be just as intense.

Another analogy could be the individual Christian life. Perhaps a man who has known the Lord for over 50 years has overcome a great many sins in his life to a great extent, through the process of sanctification, by the power of the Spirit. But how much more keenly aware is that man of his sin when it surfaces! How much more do the subtle stains of selfishness and idolatry remaining in his heart distress him, now that he has come to know so deeply the true light of the holiness of God! The suffering is of a different kind than that which he experienced early on in his Christian life, but it is no less real. So it would be with the Church in a prosperous “golden age” at the end of the millennium, even if such a view of New Testament eschatology has other legitimate problems we should consider carefully from Gaffin's pen.

Point 8

Gaffin: If we believe in a future demonstrable reduction of creation's cursed frustration and the Church's suffering before the Second Advent, that trivializes present suffering and our ultimate future hope. Also, the Church is always “one step behind” its Lord--His exaltation means the Church's (privileged) humiliation now, and His return will mean the Church's exaltation.

My response: By Gaffin's logic, turning again to the analogy of the Christian life, belief in a future state of great victory over sin in our lives before glorification “trivializes” both our present sinfulness and our ultimate hope of resurrection. Clearly something is wrong here. Again granting Gaffin's structural point against “golden age” postmillennialism, perhaps in the Christian life we also shouldn't conceive of there being a static future stage of great victory over sin before the Second Advent that is categorically distinct from our present Christian life (which would actually be akin to Charismatic “second-work-of-grace dogma), but why should that preclude our hope of gradual progress resulting in greater and greater victory before the Last Day? I hope, in 20 years, to be far more sanctified than I am today. Likewise, I hope that in 5,000 years (if it takes that long) the gospel will have much wider and deeper influence throughout the world than it does now. And I don't believe that trivializes the power of the exalted Christ and His gospel today; nor does it trivialize the Blessed Hope of the Last Day I still have. The wonderful has come; more and more of the wonderful will appear progressively; and the most wonderful will one day cataclysmically appear. I think postmillennialists can set their hope “fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:13) without abandoning hope for visible gospel progress in the world before that last redemptive revelation.

I also want to point out that Gaffin would be wrong to make very much out of his idea that the Church will only be exalted at Christ's return. Just like every aspect of the age to come (even New Creation! See 2 Cor 5:17) has been inaugurated by Christ's First Advent/death/resurrection/exaltation, the exaltation of the Church has also been inaugurated. Ephesians 2 spells this out powerfully.

Point 9

Gaffin: The Church “wins” by “losing” in this age.

My response: If he means that the Church gains the victory of the visible spread of gospel influence by martyrdom, then ok. But if he means that the Church gains...some other kind of victory...? an invisible one? martyrdom...what does that even mean or look like? Is the victory reduced to Christians going to heaven until the Second Advent? Again, it sounds quasi-docetic.

Point 10

Gaffin: The way the New Testament interprets the Old Testament makes the postmillennial interpretation of passages like Isaiah 65 and Isaiah 2 implausible.

My response: The New Testament use of the Old is indeed Christ-centered and results in what some people would call “spiritualizing” approaches to some passages, but this kind of language is misleading, and tends, once again, toward docetic missiology and eschatology. Why think that the physical-blessings-charged Isaiah 65 has no fulfillment whatsoever until the Second Advent? Does the inauguration of Messianic blessing happen on a spiritual-and-only-then-physical “installment plan?” Also: how does an invisible kingdom bring terror to the Caesars of the world? Also: when we pray the Lord's prayer, are we only praying for the kingdom to come on earth at the Last Day? Or are we praying for things to come right now that are only “invisible,” “heavenly” things? Although I certainly pray the most intensely for people's conversion and sanctification, I also pray for visible, earthly, physical things, and I pray for them in Christ's name, and because of His reign. I will be voting in Christ's name. And I know people who are concerned with giving people throughout the world cleaner water, in Christ's name. Have these things nothing to do with the kingdom? Are they not, if only in small ways, beginning fulfillments of Isaiah 65?

Point 11

Gaffin: The New Testament presents the Second Advent as imminent; postmillennialists cannot affirm its imminence.

My response: The verses Gaffin points to in his writing could almost all easily be seen as having reference to the events leading up to and including the fall of Jerusalem in the first century, rather than the Second Advent. Also, 2 Pet 3 seems to indicate that it is very possible that Christ's bodily return could be a very long time in coming (compare parables of second half of Matt. 24 and then Matt. 25). Nevertheless, postmillennialists are not trapped into affirming that the Second Advent is definitely still a long way away, because they cannot say for sure how powerfully and quickly the Spirit will work to fulfill the postmillennial hope in the coming months and years, especially in view of increasing globalization and communication technology. Perhaps gospel progress will accelerate with massive, surprisingly powerful revival. Postmillennialism doesn't have to put Christ's return in any more of a box than any other orthodox view.

Point 12

Gaffin: Paul conceived of gospel already having gone to all nations in a prophetic sense in his day; therefore the Second Advent is imminent.

My response: Apart from the arguments I made above about how postmillennialists don't necessarily have to affirm the opposite of imminence, although they cannot hold definitely to an imminent Second Advent (which is fine if the NT can be interpreted consistently partial-preteristically), Gaffin sounds here almost like some hyperpreterists sound today! Let me be clear: Gaffin is NO hyperpreterist. As we have seen, he's no friend of even orthodox preterism. However, if he thinks that the definitive conversion of many Gentiles of the Roman empire in the first century exhausts the eschatological import of the relevant prophecies, he trivializes the Great Commission's applicability for today. Yes, there are passages where Paul says things like “the gospel has [already] been proclaimed in all the world.” However, how did Paul end most of his letters, including those which contain such statements? Consistently, it was by exhortations to faithful Christian living, and requests for financial support of missionary activity, that would only be commensurate with a continuing application of the Great Commission and a hope for continued gospel progress in the world on the basis of Jesus' exaltation and Messianic authority! Postmillennialists rightly conceive of the Church's mission today and its expected future result as prophetically significant, rather than as some kind of continuing “after-thought” to the fast progress the gospel made in the first century.

Point 13

Gaffin: [Here's a fascinating direct quote from his article]: “That mandate, then, is bound to have a robust, leavening impact—one that will redirect every area of life and will transform not only individuals but, through them corporately (as the church), their cultures; it already has done so and will continue to do so, until Jesus comes.”

My response: What a concession! Transformation of cultures until Jesus comes...what would Gaffin say about the extent to which we can expect such transformation, in light of verses like 1 Cor. 15:25?! He must reign until all His enemies are put under His feet, save the last enemy, death.

Point 14

Gaffin: Christians are strangers, aliens, and pilgrims on this earth, in the “wilderness” as it were (see Hebrews). They are looking for the “city to come,” and do “not yet see everything subject to” Christ.

My response: Even if we are pilgrims here, and look for an enduring city unlike this one, why can't we expect to begin seeing everything subject to Him, visibly (isn't this what happens in successful discipleship?) Shouldn't we seek to see (and doesn't Gaffin himself expect in some ways to see, based on the above) social justice according to biblical standards carried out on this earth?

Is the point of Hebrews' wilderness generation analogy to deny that the Church is also like the generation which drove out the Canaanites, in the sense that we are seeking gospel victory over evil and unbelief in every place?

Does the fact that suffering is a reality of the entire millennial interadvental age preclude the possibility that certain kinds of suffering will be dramatically alleviated through gospel prosperity throughout the world?

Does hope in visible gospel progress (so long as it acknowledges the great eschatological significance of the past and present reign of Christ) necessarily trivialize the greatness of the consummation, or the tragedy of present sin and suffering leftover from the “old age” of things passing away?

To these last several questions, I answer, “No.” But I appreciate the way in which Dr. Gaffin has enabled me to refine some of my thinking about the structure of my eschatology, especially with regard to the question of a future “golden age.”

(Although I need to continue thinking about that issue, since in the course of writing this response, I have realized that even “golden age” postmillennialists can answer the suffering objection fairly well from a number of angles).

Here's Gaffin's article: Gaffin Eschatology