Sam Storms Skillfully Skewers a Straw Man

I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under, but it was only today that my nephew referred me to a blog article written by Dr. Sam Storms waaaay back in 2006, entitled, “Problems with Premillennialism”. Now let it go on record that I admire, appreciate and respect Dr. Storms and his ministry. (After all, how cool must he be to have been Providentially blessed with the name, “Sam Storms”???) I hope that whoever might stumble across this little blog of mine in no way mistakes my criticism of his arguments against premillennialism as a criticism of Dr. Storms personally. 

Let me also go on record admitting right up front that Dr. Storms is a far more gifted scholar of the Bible than I am—I’m merely an avid student of Scripture. So it did come as a surprise to me to read his blog article on premillennialism and see what appears to me a classic case of setting up a “straw man” in order to more easily knock him down. Now I don’t pretend to think that’s what Dr. Storms has intentionally done. I prefer to believe that in his bias toward amillennialism he failed to see that his imaginary opponent was a superficial opponent with straw poking out from under his hat and from his sleeves.

Let me show you what I mean, with two goals in mind as I write this: First, that we might be more careful in how we exegete Scripture concerning controversial topics, in order to look for the strengths of our opponents arguments before we attempt to refute them. In Dr. Storms’ case, I’m sure he would agree that his premillennial “opponents” are for the most part brothers in Christ, on the same side of the Gospel. Surely our fellow soldiers, contending for the Gospel together as we anticipate the fullness of the Kingdom of God, deserve to be treated with respect and presumed “good exegetes” until proven otherwise? Second, that our knowledge of Scripture be strengthened. The question of whether the Scripture supports the ammillennial interpretation or the premillennial interpretation is of secondary importance to the Gospel. But nonetheless, this question is important. How we come at this debate could potentially have a significant impact on how we interpret the Bible in general. I think both sides would yield that point. So if one is to reject the premillennial interpretation, everything possible should be done to ensure that such a decision is made having considered the best biblical arguments for the “PM” view. This sort of effort will make for more thoroughly Bible-saturated amillennialists. But more importantly, this sort of effort by itself takes the Bible more seriously, regardless of the outcome for one’s own position.

With the above in mind, then, let me point out a few of Dr. Storms’ “straw-man” errors along with a few comments of my own.

“…further study of what the NT said would happen in conjunction with the second coming/advent of Christ led me to conclude that a post-Parousia millennial reign upon an earth still under the influence of sin, corruption, and death was impossible.”

No straw man here yet, I quote this just to show the context—what Dr. Storms is attempting to do is to demonstrate from an assortment of passages why he thinks there can be no rule of Christ on the Earth for a thousand years during which the Earth remains under sin and corruption and death. I think he has fairly accurately represented the PM interpretation in this above sentence.

This gap, says the PM, is the 1,000 year millennial kingdom which follows Christ’s return and precedes eternity.

The gap to which Dr. Storms refers is the “gap” between the “resurrection of believers at the second coming” (1 Cor 15:23b) and “the end” (v 24). The reason I see this as a “straw man” is that Dr. Storms calls it a “gap”. He writes, “The PM interpretation is as follows: In v. 23 Paul says that the resurrection of believers follows the resurrection of Christ. But 2,000 years have already elapsed between these two events. Thus we shouldn’t be surprised if there is a similar historical gap between [Christ’s second coming and the creation of the “New Heavens and New Earth” at the end of the thousand years]”.  PM interpreters, argues Dr. Storms, justify the thousand year “gap” on the basis of a perceived 2000-year “gap” between Jesus’ resurrection in the first century AD and the eventual resurrection of believers at the second coming of Christ. But I for one do not see the present age between Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of believers as a “gap”. In fact, when Paul’s words in 1 Cor 15 are considered a little more closely, no gap is to be found in his thought at all, but rather a cause-and-effect relationship between the two resurrection events: "22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ."  (1Co 15:22-23 ESV) As Adam’s death brought death to all, so Christ’s resurrection brings resurrection life to all who believe. So Christ’s resurrection is called, “the firstfuits” in verse 23. The picture is of a farmer walking into his field to pick a sample of his crop and test it to see if the crop is ready to harvest. The harvest is the general resurrection of believers; the resurrection of Christ is the first sample, indicating that everything necessary to produce the crop was now accomplished and ready. The plows are standing by and waiting instructions. To push the analogy a little further, the time between the two resurrections is not a gap, but rather a process of marking out the boundaries of the field. As Peter says in 2 Pe 3:9, God “ "is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2Pe 3:9 ESV) When each elect child of God has come to repentance and to salvation through the Gospel, then the plows will roll.

“…according to the PM, death will not be destroyed or defeated or abolished until the close of the millennium, that is to say, at "the end"… The PM insists that "the end" is the close or end of the millennial kingdom, 1,000 years after Christ has returned to earth. The AM [Amillennialist] insists that "the end" is the close or end of this present age, the age in which we now live.”

Working from 1 Cor 15:24, Dr. Storms concludes that premillennialists believe there is a 1000-year pause, or gap, between the second coming of Christ and any actions or events involving the destruction, defeat or abolition of death. But as with the relationship between Jesus’ resurrection (the “firstfuits”) and the resurrection of all believers (the harvest), I believe there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the second coming of Christ, the believers’ resurrection and the accomplishment of the death of death 1000 years later. This is indicated in Paul’s careful wording in 1 Cor 15:

" 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death."  (1Co 15:24-26 ESV)

The words, “after destroying every rule and every authority and power” logically include the destruction of death itself. Especially when verse 26 explicitly says that death is “the last enemy to be destroyed”. Death is not destroyed AFTER “every rule and every authority and power” is destroyed, but as part of that victory. I would argue from the text
that Jesus must assert His righteous rule over the world in order to take back and overthrow the dominion of death throughout Creation, and I would further suggest, on the basis of other passages, that He does this through His resurrected people (Dan 7:10, 14, 18, 22, 26-27). In other words, when Paul predicts that Jesus Christ will destroy death, he is not meaning to describe an instantaneous event any more than Ben-hadad conquered the cities of Israel in an instant (2 Chr 16:4) or any more than Nebuchadnezzar destroyed “every city” of Moab instantly (Jer 48:8). Although Jesus could destroy death and every enemy with nothing but a word, it appears He does not. Rather His victory will be won through His people more like a campaign of war than a sudden overthrow. So though the destruction of death is not finalized until 1000 years after Jesus’ second coming and the resurrection of His people, the destruction of death begins immediately with the coming of Christ. The first millennial event in the destruction of death is the resurrection of believers. The last event is the casting of Death and Hades into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

1 Cor 15:24 reads, “The comes the end” referring to the event, “when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father”. The destruction of death, the destruction of “every rule and every authority and power” are not the “end”. Because the text does not allow for a blurring of those events together. Verse 24 explicitly says that “the end” happens “after” Christ destroys death and every other enemy.  The other passages Dr. Storms cites, (1 Cor. 15:50-58; Eph 1:20-23) can be understood similarly to the above: the swallowing up of death in victory implies a victory that must be won (a victory achieved on the cross but applied progressively until the final culmination); the seating of Christ with all things under His feet has surely happened, though many enemies in fact under Christ’s authority, including death and “every rule and every authority and power”, so far do not submit to His authority. The Millennium, many PM interpreters have argued, is the final theatre of war in an ancient battle. What makes the Millennium unique is that a) Satan is bound and unable to interfere during that time, and b) believers in Christ are resurrected, revealed as “the sons of God” for whom Creation has been waiting (Rom 8:19) and “the saints of the Most High” who “receive and possess the kingdom” (Dan 7:18, 22, 27).

But the PM does not believe Christ will abolish death at his second coming. He insists that death will continue into the millennium (cf. Rev. 20:7-10). But how can this be true when Paul places the destruction of death at Christ’s second advent? The destruction of death at Christ’s second advent/coming does not leave room for a millennial age in which death persists in its power.

Dr. Storms’ summary here is apparently too simplistic. I for one, a PM, believe “Christ’s second advent/coming” is the inauguration of the abolition of death, the final accomplishment of which, as I’ve shown above, occupies the Thousand Years according to 1 Cor 15 and Rev 20. So “Paul places the [beginning of] the destruction of death at Christ’s second advent” and the “millennial age” therefore is the time during which death is being destroyed along with all enemies of Christ’s rule.

"flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (v. 50). Simply put, a corruptible and perishable nature can neither possess nor participate in an incorruptible and imperishable kingdom… Only those who have been gloriously transformed in body and spirit shall inherit the kingdom of God (cf. v. 53)… The "kingdom" in view, according to the PM, is the millennial kingdom. But how can that be? The PM argues that many believers will enter and inherit and enjoy the blessings of the millennial kingdom in their natural, unglorified, untransformed, "flesh and blood" bodies. But that is precisely what Paul denies could ever happen…

Working from the passage in 1 Cor 15:5f, Dr. Storms proposes a) the PM view is that Paul is referring to “the millennial kingdom” when he mentions “the kingdom” in those verses; b) that Paul specifically teaches that natural flesh cannot inherit this kingdom; c) that PM interpreters think “many believers” will enter the kingdom unresurrected and still natural; therefore, d) the PM view is wrong about the millennial kingdom.

Again this is a straw man argument. I interpret “the kingdom of God” of verse 50 to be the world that Christ has conquered after “he delivers the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Cor 15:24). This removes the problem which Dr. Storms sees in the PM argument at this point. A natural, unresurrected person could certainly enter the thousand years (it is a matter of some debate even among premillennialists whether anyone gets saved AFTER the resurrection of the saints—a position I do not hold), since it is during this period in which Christ rules until He has brought everything into subjection. Then, when He hands the Kingdom to God the Father, no one except resurrected, glorified saints will be able to enter the “Kingdom of God”, i.e., the “new heaven and new earth” (Rev 21:1), just as Paul teaches in 1 Cor 15:50f.

How can the creation be delivered from the crippling effects of sin and death when we are, namely, at Christ’s second coming, if during the millennium it must yet suffer the presence and perversity of its enemies?

With reference to Romans 8:18-23 Dr. Storms argues that the “revealing of the sons of God” for which Creation waits longingly (v 19) is when “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v 21). Therefore, how could Creation still endure sin and evil (cf. Rev 20:7f) when it will already have been “set free from its bondage to corruption” etc.?  The simple solution offered by at least this PM interpretation is that the “revealing of the sons of God” for which Creation now waits will be the beginning of the setting free of Creation from its bondage to corruption, as I’ve suggested above from 1 Cor 15.

We have a Christmas morning tradition in our family according to which kids are not allowed to get up, and no presents are opened, until a certain song by Tijuana Brass is blasted on the stereo, announcing the beginning of the day. But our kids do not merely long and wait for the Tijuana Brass music; they wait for the whole day which will be ushered in by those blaring trumpets. Likewise, Creation, when it longs for the “revealing of the sons of God” is anticipating the obtaining of the “freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v 21), a progressive liberation undoing Adam’s curse and establishing Christ’s blessing, having begun with the resurrection of Christ’s people, announced, like on Christmas at our house, by a trumpet blast! (1 Thess 4:16)

Where is there room in Peter’s scenario for an earthly millennium intervening between Christ’s second coming and the new heavens and new earth? On the contrary, the present heavens and earth will be judged at Christ’s return, at which time the new heavens and new earth (not a millennium) shall emerge as an eternal dwelling for God’s people.

Dr. Storms is referring here to 2 Peter 3:8-13. I agree with Dr. Storms that Peter specifies 3 ages: the antediluvian age, the present age and the future age of the “new heavens and new earth” (c.f. Rev 21:1). The dispensational variety of premillennialists would make a case for many more “ages” or “dispensations” than just these thr
ee. But classic premillennialism (i.e., both “ancient premillennialism”, a term coined by John D. Hannah in Our Legacy: The History of Christian Doctrine, and the common form of premillennialism prior to the influence of J. N. Darby and C. I. Scofield in the mid and late 19th century) has no such artificial system compartmentalizing history. So for the sake of Peter’s argument, the apostle can truthfully envision history unfolding under these three headings.

His question is, how can the PM interpretation fit “an earthly millennium” in between the second and last of these ages? I.e., how does a PM wedge a thousand year earthly reign of Christ in between this present age and the future new heavens and earth? To answer that, and show why this is a straw man argument, consider this sentence of Dr. Storms:

Peter tells us that it is on account of the coming of this "day of the Lord/God" (vv. 10,12), i.e., the second coming/advent of Christ, that the heavens will be destroyed.

First, in verse 10 Peter is not necessarily saying that the event of the destruction by fire of this present world will happen instantly upon the second coming of Christ. His argument is that there will be no opportunity for repentance for the scoffers in question (vv 3-4) AFTER the second coming of Christ. On this point, I agree with Dr. Storms, as I said above, that it does not appear according to Scripture that anyone will have the chance to get saved during the millennial period, i.e., after the return of Christ (as Dr. Storms would prefer to put it!). But notice how Dr. Storms merely asserts that “the day of the Lord/God” is simply identical to the day of “the second coming/advent of Christ”. If ever there was a place in the Bible where one could justify arguing that a “day” might refer to a period of time much longer than a literal day, this is it! Just two verses earlier, in 2 Pe 3:8, Peter writes, “…that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”(2Pe 3:8 ESV). So if I wanted to be a superficial kind of premillennialist exegete, I could make a pretty good case that in this instance, “the day of the Lord” is equivalent, on the basis of verse 8, to the “millennium” or “the thousand years of the Lord”. But strictly speaking, the phrase “the day of the Lord” in Scripture, I don’t believe, can be applied exclusively to either a 24-hour period at Christ’s return or specifically to The Thousand Years of Revelation 20.  This phrase occurs 24 times in the ESV. In Isaiah 13:6 and 9, “the day of the Lord” refers to the day of the Lord’s judgment upon Babylon at the hands of the Medes (c.f. verses 17 and 19). In Jeremiah 46:10, “the day of the Lord” refers to the judgment of Egypt at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (c.f. verse 13). All three occurrences in Zephaniah 1:7 and 14 refer primarily to the coming judgment of various nations at the hands of the Babylonians, and secondarily to the ultimate Judgment Day. The “day of the Lord” in Malachi 4:5 seems to refer to the first advent of Christ (since John the Baptist’s own advent is here predicted), but also seems to include events connected with the second advent of Christ (c.f. v 1). So Malachi’s “Day of the Lord” spans both advents of Christ. Is it unreasonable then to allow that Peter’s “day of the Lord” might span both the second advent of Christ with initiates the liberation of this world promised in Romans 8:19, and the culmination of that period which will usher in the re-creation of the heavens and earth? Not at all. In Acts 2:20, Peter refers to the prophet Joel’s prediction of the “day of the Lord” and says in verse 16 that this has now come to pass, or at least begun, in the first advent of Christ. Prophecies like 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:2 can be understood just as well to speak of the Day of the Lord as the 24-hour period in which Jesus comes again, or to the time beginning with Jesus’ second coming.

So “is there room in Peter’s scenario for an earthly millennium intervening between Christ’s second coming and the new heavens and new earth?” Sure, why not? Since this use of “the day of the Lord”, as a period of time inaugurated by the second advent of Christ and culminating in the new heavens and new earth is in keeping with other uses of this phrase in the Bible. It is unreasonable to insist, as Dr. Storms does here, that “the day of the Lord” could only be a literal 24-hour period when the rest of Scripture does not support that interpretation.

…The Great White Throne Judgment of Rev. 20:11-15 occurs after the millennial reign described in 20:1-10. But in Mt. 25 the judgment occurs at the time of Christ’s second coming/advent. Conclusion: the millennium of Rev. 20:1-10 is simultaneous with the present age; the millennium is now, preceding the second coming of Christ… The description in Mt. 25 of what happens when Christ returns simply doesn’t leave place or room for a 1,000 earthly reign in between the parousia and the eternal state.

By now most readers will see why this kind of argument is another straw man. Does Dr. Storms really imagine that PMs have no good explanation for how Matthew 25 might fit with the premillennial teaching of Revelation 21? A simple explanation is to point out that Matthew 25 is not a literal prediction but a prediction by way of a parable involving the use of the figures of sheep and goats representing the righteous and the wicked. The point of the parable is not the chronology of the predicted event of judgment, but the certainty of it. Likewise, one should not do violence to the genre of the parable by arguing that in Matthew 21:33-40, in the parable of the wicked tenants, that Jesus is teaching that all of the “servants” God sent to Israel to collect His “fruit” were sent during the same lifetime as those who crucified Jesus. Moreover, even if this was not a parable, it is well in keeping with progressive revelation in the Bible that events which in earlier prophecies look to be simultaneous, in later prophecies are revealed to be separated by some period of time. Thus the advent of the Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1) is separated by at least, so far, 2000 years from the age of peace predicted eight verses later in Isaiah 11:9. There are many examples like this in Scripture. The PM interpretation of Matthew 25 is that the judgment of the sheep and the goats is not a punctiliar event but a process or series of events, beginning, as I have already said, with the second advent of Christ and culminating in the destruction of the last enemy, death (c.f., Rev 20). By the close of the Thousand Years, Jesus will have separated, once and for all, the righteous from the wicked and, as Matthew 25 predicts, ushering the righteous into everlasting joy and the wicked into “eternal fire” (Mat 25:41).

The conclusions drawn from Mt. 25 are re-affirmed in 2 Thess. 1. This passage also indicates that it is at the time of Christ’s second coming/advent, not 1,000 years later, that the eternal punishment of the lost occurs… The climactic and final punishment of the lost is not reserved for a judgment 1,000 years after Christ’s return, but is simultaneous with it. And since this judgment is elsewhere said to follow the millennium (Rev. 20:11-15), the millennium itself must be coterminous with the present age.

Dr. Storms is here commenting on 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. This straw man is again seen for what it is once we understand the previous points: that “the day of the Lord” is not normally understood in Scripture as a punctiliar, 24 hour literal day, and that events predicted in Scripture that earlier look to be simultaneous are often revealed later a
s separated by some period of time. Moreover, it is stretching Paul’s intent too far to insist from this passage that the event of eternal damnation happens simultaneously with the second advent of Christ. Certainly this text alone allows for that interpretation, but also could just mean that the judgment of the wicked is decided at the second advent of Christ: there is no further opportunity for repentance. This raises a serious point against the AM (amillennial) view to which I’ll return in a moment.

An hour is coming when (lit., "in which") all who are in the tombs, i.e., the physically dead, whether believer or unbeliever, shall hear his voice and come forth in the resurrection…The PM, however, is unable to accept this straightforward declaration. He insists that a 1,000 year earthly reign of Christ must intervene between the resurrection of believers and the resurrection of unbelievers.

Dr. Storms cites Anthony Hoekema’s argument that although the PM will try to argue that the word “hour” in John 5:28-29 refers to the whole millennial age just as the word “hour” three verses earlier in John 5:25 refers to the whole present age, this cannot be since a) the ideas are not strictly parallel (people are continuously being born again in the present age but PMs argue not for a continuous resurrection but for two single yet distinct resurrections in the millennial age), and b) it is upon hearing the voice of Christ (Joh 5:28) that “all who are in the tombs”—both the righteous and the wicked—are resurrected: it does not seem likely that Jesus will be continuously yelling during the thousand years of the Millennium. Hoekema’s (and therefore, Dr. Storm’s as well) argument breaks down when we take notice that a) it is precisely the continuous announcement of the “voice” of Christ in His Word of the Gospel, which brings unregenerate to spiritual life during this present age (v 25), and b) it is not unreasonable then to allow either for a non-literal divine decree understood to span both resurrections, or to allow simply see that later prophecy has revealed that the reason the text so clearly distinguishes the resurrection of the righteous from the wicked is because the two events are actually distinct. Notice the text of John 5:28-29:

" 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice  29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."  (Joh 5:28-29 ESV)

It is not too forced a reading of this text to interpret it like this: “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out: an hour when those who have done good come out to the resurrection of life; an hour when those who have done evil come out to the resurrection of judgment.” This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that the resurrection of the wicked is described as the “resurrection of judgment”. If this is the same resurrection event as the resurrection of the good-doers, why is it distinctly named, “the resurrection of judgment”?

In showing the uncharacteristic superficiality of Dr. Storms’ arguments against premillennialism, I have not tried to argue against amillennialism (AM). But some of the logic which Dr. Storms attempted in his article can easily be leveled against the AM interpretation as well. For example, coming back to 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Dr. Storms writes,

The climactic and final punishment of the lost is not reserved for a judgment 1,000 years after Christ’s return, but is simultaneous with it. And since this judgment is elsewhere said to follow the millennium (Rev. 20:11-15), the millennium itself must be coterminous with the present age.

If the “millennium itself must be coterminous with the present age”, i.e., this present age and the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 end at the same time, then when does the resurrection of the righteous occur? The same logic would require that the resurrection of the righteous must then occur at the beginning of this present age, since the resurrection pictured in Revelation 20 happens at the end of the thousand years and since, according to Dr. Storms’ logic, the end of the thousand years and the end of the present age are simultaneous with the second coming of Christ. Now of course every AM exegete worth his salt has a good answer for this problem. Which only goes to show the superficiality of the argument raised in this point by Dr. Storms against premillennialism.

However, it has often seemed to me that most of the arguments employed in defense of AM are actually arguments against premillennialism—and most often against dispensational premillennialism at that! The arguments in favour of amillennialism seem inadequate to deal with the problem to the AM view presented by Revelation 20. Six times in Revelation 20:2-7, the phrase “the thousand years” is repeated with reference to specific events that are going to happen both a) for the duration of “the thousand years” and b) at the end of “the thousand years”. It is true that the number “thousand” could be symbolic, but even so then it must be symbolic of a real, historical time period. So if we substitute “thousand years” for “X years”, the AM is still left with the problem of making sense of the six specific events that are predicted to happened for the duration of X years or at the end of X years. In any case, “the thousand years” is not a symbol like the other symbols of John’s vision recorded in Revelation. The other symbols are drawn from usage in the Old Testament and readers are informed by something in connection with the Old Testament contexts of those symbols in order to aid in understanding what the symbols represent in the context of John’s vision. “The thousand years” is not a symbol found in the Old Testament (notwithstanding the two occurrences of the phrase in Psa 90:4 and Ecc 6:6).

E.B. Elliott, author of the massive Horae Apocalpyticae highly recommended by Spurgeon to his students, noted that if Augustine, the chief and earliest proponent of the AM theory, had lived to witness the subsequent 1400 years during which the papacy continued to dominate, persecute and deceive the elect and during which also Islam grew to become a long-standing empire, under the Ottomans, persecuting both Jews and Christians and for centuries trampling Jerusalem under foot, Augustine himself would have abandoned his AM theory:

Had Augustine himself lived to see this, I am well persuaded, considering his evangelical views of Christian doctrine, that he would have been the first to repudiate his own millennial theory, as that which had been falsified beyond dispute by plain matter of fact. For, though making the saints’ millennial reign to be spiritual, and in the hearts and lives of the faithful individually, yet his view supposed a multitude thus true and genuine to be living and energizing in the Church during the millennial period: insomuch that he considered Antichrist’s manifestation, Apocalyptically foreshown under the figures of Gog and Magog, and the consequent reduction of the true Church to a mere paucity, persecuted and oppressed, to mark the end of the millennium. Strange that any Protestant expositor, who verily believes Popery to be the Beast, should yet positively, and in despite of such belief, even now afresh propound the Augustinian theory as tenable! (E. B. Elliott, Horae Apolcaypticae, Vol. 4, Part 6, Chap. 3

In other words, Augustine foresaw that in the
spiritually triumphant period of the “millennium”, the Church would continue strong in its Gospel witness, with multitudes of faithful giving it strength, until the end of the Millennium at which time Antichrist would appear, persecute the saints for a very brief time (3 1/2 years) and then be destroyed by Christ’ second advent. The later Reformers who continued Augustine’s AM theory, most notably Luther, Calvin and the Westminster Divines, came to recognize the papacy (the office of the Popes of Rome) as the Antichrist, and Islam as the eastern deception predicted in Revelation 9:1-11. The papacy dominated and persecuted the Gospel witness of the elect for over 1200 years as a matter of historical fact. Had Augustine lived to see this, according to Elliott, he would have repudiated “his own millennial theory” since the history of the Christian Church has been a history of persecution far longer than it has been one of triumph and numerical strength.

I’ve heard some creative AM attempts to work around this problem in Augustine’s theory. But in my view, they fail to satisfy the problems raised by the vague predictions of an earthly reign of Christ (e.g. Dan 7), much less the explicit account of Revelation 20.