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A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to "Left Behind" Eschatology [Paperback]

By Craig L. Blomberg (Editor) & Sung Wook Chung (Editor)
Our Price $ 26.50  
Item Number 281482  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   184
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.11" Width: 6.01" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2009
Publisher   Baker Academic
ISBN  0801035961  
EAN  9780801035968  

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Item Description...
Twentieth- and twenty-first-century American evangelicalism, particularly at the popular level, has been virtually saturated with the eschatology of dispensational premillennialism. The distinctive teachings of that system, in particular its affirmation of the pretribulation rapture of the church, have become so pervasive that many evangelicals would be hard pressed to identify an alternative approach. Popular novels that disseminate dispensationalism to a wider readership have only furthered that trend. The contributors to this volume provide a thoughtful alternative. They present compelling arguments for historic or classic premillennialism--a position widely held throughout church history (and popularly advanced in the writings of George Eldon Ladd). An introductory chapter examines the differences within premillennial eschatology and considers reasons for the widespread popularity of dispensationalism in the twentieth century. This is followed by biblical, theological, historical, and missiological studies that reexamine classic premillennialism, particularly with regard to its understanding of the return of Christ. The authors, all respected scholars in their fields, present arguments for a return to an eschatological theology that was widely held for many centuries. Their engaging studies should be of great interest to evangelical readers--both within the academy and in the church.

Publishers Description
Many evangelical readers who have learned the basics of eschatology from popular authors and more recently from novelists assume that dispensational premillennialism, with its distinctive teachings about the pretribulation rapture of the church, is the only reliable view of the end times and the return of Christ.
This volume, however, offers a compelling case for an alternative perspective--one that was widely prevalent throughout church history. The contributors, all respected scholars in their respective fields, suggest that classic premillennialism offers believers a more coherent and viable approach to understanding eschatology.
Their studies, which examine eschatology from biblical, theological, historical, and missiological approaches, provide a broadly accessible argument for returning to the perspectives of historic premillennial eschatology.

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More About Craig L. Blomberg & Sung Wook Chung

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Craig L. Blomberg (PhD, Aberdeen University) is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including The Historical Reliability of the Gospels and Interpreting the Parables. Sung Wook Chung (DPhil, Oxford University) is associate professor of Christian theology at Denver Seminary. He is the author of Admiration and Challenge: Karl Barth's Theological Relationship with John Calvin and editor of Christ the One and Only: A Global Affirmation of the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

Craig L. Blomberg currently resides in the state of Colorado.

Craig L. Blomberg has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 3 Crucial Questions
  2. Biblical Theology for Life
  3. Comentarios Biblicos Con Aplicacion NVI
  4. New American Commentary New Testament
  5. New Studies in Biblical Theology
  6. NIV Application Commentary
  7. Perspectives (B&H Publishing)
  8. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on New Testament

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Has been "Left Behind", really left behind?  Dec 30, 2009
I used to be a Scofield-Dispensationalist and every other eschatological position was mistaken. When I left the Dispensational camp, I thought Historic Premill was the right choice. The works of George Eldon Ladd were so compelling that I thought this was it. His critique of Dispensational eschatology in his little book: "The Blessed Hope" and his "New Testament Theology" almost convinced me that finally my journey will end there. It wasn't. I came acquainted with the book of Anthony Hoekema "The Bible and the Future" were he built a very STRONG case for Amillenialism. I then saw some of the painful shortcomings of Premillenialism. And I realized that in eschatological matters nothing was yet settled.

I thought Amillenialism was the perfect eschatological system. It wasn't. I became aware of other heavy weighted works on eschatology that you just cannot ignore. I am talking about the works of those Bible expositors like Kenneth Gentry, R. C. Sproul, Keith Mathison, James Kennedy, etc., which they espouse another eschatological view. Finally, the eschatological puzzle was taking form. None of the Historic Premills or the Amills have been more effective in criticizing the Dispensational tenets as the Postmill guys. Their critiques are really devastating for the Dispensational position.

The Book edited by Craig and Chung is a very good try to refute Dispensational eschatology. But it is not strong enough, in my opinion. Even though both systems are very different, they are also built on the same kind of presuppositions. It really does not matter when the rapture is going to happen if your presuppositions are not correct. For instance, both systems believe in the literal 1,000 years reign of Christ after His Second coming. This teaching alone brings a lot of trouble for Historic Premils. But at least, Historic Premil is free of the high speculative end times fiction that has plagued the Dispensational world for years. This is the commendable part of the book that Bloomberg and Chung edited. I really enjoyed the chapter by Timothy P. Weber "Dispensational and Historic Premilenialism as popular Millenialist Movements".

Weber has written another interesting book criticizing the Dispensational movement: "On the Road to Armageddon" where he expands what he says in this brief chapter. Even though I don't agree with Weber on the eschatological conclusions, nonetheless his familiarity with history is highly valuable in this case. And he gives us a taste of this in the chapter he wrote. His objectivity is really attractive. I think Weber did the most important contribution in this book because he sets the background for understanding the rest. If this was not done, we wouldn't be able to put things in their right perspective. His chapter is like the foundation upon the whole book rests. If you omit this chapter you will missing the important facts that deals with origin and spread of old and new Dispensationalism.

Because I am not a Premill, I read this material not to build my case on their premises but to be familiar with their arguments defending Historic Premillenialism. I am still think that the best case for Historic Premillenialism was made by George Eldon Ladd.

Daviel D'Paz
Good essays, especially Blomberg's, but not enough interaction with dispensationalists  Aug 31, 2009
I am not aware of many books that are devoted to a defense of classical premillennialism. Usually, you have to wade through a large systematic theology text or read about it from those who are trying to compare it unfavorably to their own pet millennial view. So this book is already a text of some distinction.

The articles are informative and solid. The case for premillenialism is subtitled "Leaving Left Behind Theology Behind," so one eye is on a defense of historic premillennialism, the other eye is on a repudiation of classic dispensational premillenialism.

Timothy Weber's article is a history of premillenialism in Europe and America, and nicely compresses and updates his earlier text on the subject. Oscar Campos has a nice closing article on how classic premillennial and progressive dispensationalism has helped evangelicals preach a more holistic gospel that does not ignore physical needs in favor of the spiritual.

But the meat and potatoes of this book is Craig Blomberg's exegetical defense of premillennial posttribulationism. He explains how he feels that 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 fits better into a posttrib scenario. He contends that the word apantesis (meeting) refers to the imperial concept of people meeting the returning emperor outside the city, and then returning with him to his hometown.

But in the case of Christ, wouldn't his hometown be heaven? Wouldn't it be possible to escort the King back to His own place? Also, what to make of the Jewish imagery of a bridegroom taking his bride and escorting her back to his place? Is that at all in the background here or in Matt 25:1-11? Maybe, maybe not.

What about John 14:1-4? Blomberg says that this teaches that Christ will come to take us to be with Him in His Father's temple (The New Jerusalem) at the end of the millennium. But this is assuming that the same author wrote both John and Revelation. Moreover, how comforting would it be to the disciples for Jesus to say "Don't worry. I''ll come back at the end of the millennium to get you after you're long dead." Also, Jesus says "I'll take you to be WITH ME." Where is Jesus going? Heaven!

Here's a better interpretation: Jesus is saying "I will come back and take you to be with me either at the moment of your death or at the rapture, whichever comes first." With regard to Peter, the writer of John tips his hand by indicating that Peter will die and that his death will bring glory to God, so apparently, Jesus comes for Peter at his death.

Also, Blomberg does what so many others have done by assuming that dispensationalists teach that Matt 24:41-42 is about the rapture when in fact this is a straw man. The top classic and progressive dispensationalists do not teach this (Barbara Rossing does the same thing in her recent book, see my review).

This leads to the other main criticism I have about this volume. By and large, the contributors do not interact with the top classic and progressive dispensationalists! This is a weakness in almost every recent polemic against the pre-trib view. Why doesn't the Denver symposium interact with the writings of John Walvoord (The Rapture Question, The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook), J.D Pentecost (Things to Come), Alva J Mcclain (The Greatness of the Kingdom), etc. And why do the contributors ignore the recent exegetical defense of pretribulationism by Renald Showers? Incidentally, I had the same criticism for Witherington's Problem of Evangelical Theology and Rossing's book about the Rapture.

I am glad that some of the authors dialogued with Charles Ryrie, but never with respect to the rapture question. There are a few mentions of Blaising and Bock's books, but no solid interaction.

Also, I am not persuaded by Blomberg's suggestion that we separate imminence from immediacy. Luke 12:40 and James 5:10 sound pretty imminent as well as immediate. With regard to Luke 12:40, why would Jesus tell us to be ready today if He couldn't possibly come back today?

Am I a dispensationalist? I used to be. (I do not believe that there are eternally two peoples of God. I could be a progressive). Am I pretrib? I don't know. Once I was, then I wasn't, then I was, now I wonder. But one thing that seems absolutely clear to me is that Christ can come back at any time and throw our eschatological calendars out the window.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but not interacting with dispensationalism's most learned theologians and exegetes is to me a slap in the face of these scholars as well as to those who still hold to Left Behind theology. When I was trying to decide whether or not I was pre-trib, I made a decision to enter the dispensational world. I hung out with the top Dallas Seminary and Grace Seminary big wigs (through their writings). That's why I appreciate guys like Vern Poythress, who spent a numbers of years in the dispensational study group of ETS. I read this book, and I do not get the impression that these authors spent the kind of time dialoguing with dispensationalists the way Dr. Poythress did.

Having said that, I have the highest regard and respect for Dr. Blomberg. His Jesus and the Gospels is one of the best NT book studies ever and I love his Matthew commentary and his book on preaching the parables and his historical defense of the gospels and John. He is one of my favorite NT scholars. And in spite of my criticism, I think his essay was probably the best in the book. I did like the one which showed that Irenaeus had a chiliastic outlook and an "evangelical" take on Daniel 9:24-27. This book is recommended.

An earlier reviewer is disappointed that the preterist view was ignored, but the subtitle of this book makes it clear that the focus was definitely on a rebuttal to dispensational theology.

Weak  Apr 26, 2009
Most of the effort here goes into refuting pre-tribulationalism. That's the easy part, because the idea is just goofy. But the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the new partial preterist view of New Testament apocalyptic, championed by as diverse figures as N.T. Wright and Hank Hanegraaff. This is the future and the arguments here are just as weak on that score as they have ever been.
Opinions, Not Facts..  Apr 23, 2009
A Case for Historic Premillenialism is just that: a few people's opinion on one specific brand of eschatology. I was disappointed in this book, but it is partially my fault. I ignored the title, and thought that this would be a series of essays on the history of premillenialist thought. Instead it is a series of essays by professors who seemed to be in love with the sound of their own voice.

The contents covered sound great: Dispensational and Historic Premillenialism as Popular Millenialist movements, Judaism and the World to Come, The Post Tribulation of the New Testament: Leaving "Left Behind" Behind.

The problem is that the content of these essays just doesn't hold up. There are historical notes thrown in from time to time, and those are very informative. The nature of the book is great, too. All the topics you would want covered in an eschatological treatise are there. It's just that the writers of the various essays seem to just argue in circles and be cheerleaders for their respective mentors. I agree with much of their reasoning; I just wished there was more objectivity.

If you're interested in a point of view other than Tim Lahaye's you might check this book for some references, but I don't recommend spending the cash for this one.
A Scholarly Critique of "Left Behind" Theology  Feb 1, 2009

Since terms used in eschatology(the doctrine of the last things) are lengthy and difficult to spell and pronounce I will construct a table of abbreviations that will be used in this review.

abbr.= "will be abbreviated as"

A Case for Historic Premillennialism abbr. CHP
Historic Premillennialism, Historic Premillennialists abbr. PreMil
Dispensational Premillennialism, Dispensationalism, Dispensationalists abbr. Dispens.
Non-Dispensationalists abbr. Non-Dispens. (Includes PreMil)
Amillennialism abbr. AMil
Postmillennialism abbr. PostMil
Amillennialism & Postmillennialism abbr. Non-PreMil
Old Testament OT
New Testament NT

PostMil & Amil share the same "end-time" chronology which makes for many similarities. PostMil & Amil are generally Reformed in theology largely due to tradition. Modern day PreMil has many in the Reformed camp as well.

CHP contains essays from 8 different theologians. I will summarize each by chapter.

Chap. 1 traces the history of PreMil from the 1700's. Special notice is given to the rise of Dispens in the 1800's and its popularity in the 20th century. P. 13 states that "dispensationalism was the key to understanding the whole bible, not just prophecy, and it was a bulwark against liberalism and the guarantee of orthodoxy. Other premillennialists argued that Darby's view of the rapture was not explicitly taught in the Bible and was merely an inference based on other mistaken notions. " CHP notes that Dispens became a master with the media and their success was linked with its ability to link prophecy with current events and to further adjust prophetic references according to the changes occurring in the world. No other millennialist movement has been as successful.
By the 1950s Dispens was facing academic challenge from G.E. Ladd. Ladd is considered to be the primary theologian for the PreMil that has been rising in prominence ever since. In the 1950s debates, Ladd was clearly the underdog to Dispens. In my opinion, in recent times , Ladd has emerged as the winner.

Chap. 2 deals with the relationship of the OT to a future Millennium. CHP argues for a physical temple in a future millennium as envisioned in Ezek. 40-48. The millennium is "an ideal time in which many of the prophecies that occur elsewhere in the OT will find their fulfillment." (p 35). Contrary to this opinion, I believe that many PreMils hold that the OT prophecies will find their fulfillment both in the church and in the New Heavens New Earth, similar to Non PreMils.

Chap 3 deals with Judaism and the world to come. Although Judaism focuses more on the present that the future, the Jewish literature reflects an eschatology that is more similar to PreMil than to any other millennial view. (p 42)

Chap 4 is a critique of "Left Behind Theology" . CHP defends the assertion that "premillennialism does best justice to God's determination to vindicate his purposes in creating this universe as originally perfectly good, despite the corruption that sin introduced, yet without introducing the unrealistic expectation that Christians can produce this millennium[as in PostMil] apart from God's supernatural intervention" (p 69). A detailed study of the word "tribulation" is offered later. CHP calls in to question the prevailing definition that the "tribulation must refer to a short but intense and unprecedented period of suffering during the days just before the parousia." [Christ's return] Based on an analysis of Matt. 24, the conclusion of CHP is that the "great tribulation beginning just prior to AD 70 will in some way continue until his [Christ's] second coming". Later in the chapter, a 6-page critique is leveled against the PreTrib rapture. CHP concludes by saying "it is well past time to leave `Left Behind' behind."

Chapter 5 offers the Theological Method of PreMil. CHP points out flaws in the Dispens approach and favors an approach that is similar to what Ladd's writings advocate. The basic difference is that PreMil see the NT as the interpretive lens for the OT, and vice-versa for Dispens. (p 95). This chapter demonstrates that the primary difference lies between Dispens and Non-Dispens which includes both PreMil and Non-Premil. The surprise is that both PreMil and Dispens share the same word "premillennialsim" in their full names.

Chapter 6 examines the millennial views of the early church. CHP offers documentation to show that premillennilism was the primary view prior to the 3rd century. This was due in part to an influence from Judiasm. The early brand of PreMil showed characteristics of both Dispens and PreMil. In the 3rd century there was a reaction away from this influence of Judiasm in Christianity which led, in part, to the church moving away from PreMil until the millennial revivals of the 1700s. CHP notes other influences from Greek philosophy and church-state structures. CHP goes on to argue that the Dispens interpretation of scripture would be totally foreign to the early church(p 119). The views of the early church would have also favored a post- tribulational rapture combined with a "preterist" view that the church was already in the tribulation and that was to be a normal expectation as opposed to escaping the tribulation, as is the view of Pre-Trib.

Chapter 7 offers a critique of covenant and reformed theology. Connections are shown between conditions in Gen. 1 & 2 with a future millennium as in Rev. 20.

Chapter 8 shows PreMil tension in Latin American evangelization. In the early 20th century Dispens was very dominant in missions. CHP points out that this has changed in more recent decades. Both Progressive Dispens and PreMil are becoming more common. The PreMil hope of the second coming and the new kingdom He [Christ] will establish on earth lent a strong, almost desperate urgency to gospel proclamation.

Next I will offer theological responses for those who are interested and who are familiar with the debate.


1. PreMil teaches that deceased unbelievers will not be resurrected at Christ's return. This implies that millions of deceased unbelievers will "sleep" through the most cataclysmic event in the future of the world. This seems to counter a well-known statement in the Apostle's Creed; "I believe that Christ will return to judge both the living and the dead". In PreMil only a small percent of unbelievers are judged at Christ's return. Of those who are living at Christ's return, only those who persecute Christians are "killed" at Christ's return. Unbelievers who have not taken the mark of the beast will live on in their mortal bodies into the future 1000 year kingdom. Apparently, there are two classes of unbelievers. (As in Osborne's commentary on Revelation)
2. For the believer, the millennium serves as an interruption between the intermediate state and the eternal state. If a believer dies before the return of Christ, he will be with the Lord in an eternal sense of time in heaven where there is no sin, tribulation, or devil. It will be a blissful state just missing two elements that come at the consummation; the resurrection of the body and the resurrection of the earth, called "The New Heavens and the New Earth". For PreMils, there is an interruption after the intermediate state. Believers receive their resurrected bodies but they leave eternal time and return to earthly time where they mingle with mortals with a sin nature who enter into marriage and have children.
3. PreMil states that a satanic revolt will occur after the 1000 years. In statement #2 above, believers who have previously enjoyed the blessings of heaven will be exposed not only to sin for 1000 years but also a satanic revolt after the 1000 years. How can mortals actually revolt? Can they find guns and do any real harm to believers in their resurrected bodies? This revolt is like a second humiliation for the Christ who returned "in glory" 1000 years previously. Christ's Millennial Kingdom has actually failed and needs a "fire rescue" from heaven.(Rev. 20:9)
4. John 5:28-29 states "a time" is coming when that ALL will hear the voice of Jesus and come out(be resurrected). PreMil denies that ALL will hear Christ's voice at "a time". They imply that Christ will voice a command to believers before the 1000 years and voice another command to unbelievers after the 1000 years.
5. PreMil asserts that Revelation 20 follows chronologically and sequentially after Revelation 19. CHP gives a few reasons for this on p.67. In response to this, Greg Beale's commentary on Revelation p.974-983 offers 9 reasons why Rev. 20 is another flashback or recapitulation. If Christ defeats all his opponents[unbelievers] at his return, then how can opponents show up again in Rev. 20? A flashback here makes good sense. (See Osborne for other possibilities) Rev. 20: 8 uses the phrase "gathered them for THE war" (referring to Satan). Rev. 19:20 and 16:17 also use the same phrase. (the article THE is in the Greek text). THE war normally means ONE war, rather that two. PreMils teach that Christ does not finish the war at his return. But 1 Cor. 15: 12-28 states that the final enemy of death will be defeated by the resurrection at Christ's return. PreMils state that in the war in Rev 19 , Christ will only defeat those who follow the beast and the false prophet. Those not in this war will live on into the Millennium.
6. A future Millennial Kingdom is not unique to orthodox Christianity. Mormons are PreMil as well. They believe that Christ will have a seat of rule near Kansas City, Missouri and that they will be the privileged ones to rule with Christ.
7. PreMils hold that the PreMil message spurs the gospel mission. Non-PreMils can respond with the message of 2 Peter 3 that our future hope is "a New Heaven and a New Earth". Our hope is the resurrection the body where we will dwell with the risen Christ in His resurrected body in a physically and spiritually perfect New Creation.
8. In response to the popularity of Dispens, I've seen a significant shift away from Dispens in the past 20 years in evangelical seminaries, colleges, pastors, churches and individuals. I believe Disps will continue just in certain regions of the US in a few denominations. Recent study bibles have also shifted away from Dispens.
9. In response to Chap 7 which connects Gen. 1 & 2 with Rev. 20 , I would point out that the paradise conditions in Genesis 1 & 2 do not appear in Rev. 20. Rev. 20 rather, pictures Christians being killed by the beast. Paradise restored appears in Rev. 21-22 which seems to be a better connection with Gen 1 & 2. The same could be said in response to Chap 2. "Wolves lying down with lambs" (Isaiah 11) do not appear in Rev. 20. (For more, see Beale's "The Temple and the Church's Mission". )

More responses could be made, but even if that were so, it would still add up to little difference in the overall interpretation of the Bible between PreMil and Non-PreMil. CHP quotes Ladd as saying that he could have been an amillennialist if it were not for Revelation 20.(p. 67) I believe that for many PreMils today, the difference could be that small.

I offer 4 stars for a scholarly presentation. The empty star is for lack of defense against Non-PreMil.

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