Here are the broad stokes that generally differentiate the first 2 of 4 "millennial-oriented" views of eschatology that I referred to in my second post on this subject. I will outline the other 2, a-millennialism and post-millennialism, in a future post. (Note: There are many more differences within these views on specific sub-points that are beyond the purpose of my blog.)
Dispensational Premillennialism beliefs - God has two ongoing covenants in play: one for ethnic Jews and another for, primarily Gentile, believers in Jesus; the "kingdom of God" is not a present reality on the earth, but postponed to the next age (dispensation); after certain specific "end-time" prophecies are fulfilled (such as, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem being rebuilt; the rise of a revived Roman Empire), a sudden "rapture" into heaven of all true Christians will occur and spark the beginning of the "Great Tribulation" upon all that are left behind; these raptured believers will receive glorified physical bodies; the earthly graves of departed saints already in heaven will be opened and their souls will be united with their new glorified bodies; for 7 years after this rapture, global spiritual warfare will rage at unprecedented levels; the person called the Antichrist and his False Prophet will come to power ushering in a temporary false political and religious peace to the world; the cataclysmic judgments from God referred to in the book of Revelation will progressively fall upon the whole earth killing massive numbers of people; some people will come to faith in Jesus and be severely persecuted; there will be thousands of Jewish converts witnessing for Jesus; after these 7 years, Jesus will return in bodily form with armies of angels and saints to win the battle of Armageddon, kill the Antichrist, finally establish His visible kingdom out of Jerusalem, re-establish OT-type Temple worship and reign on the earth for 1,000 years; Satan will be "bound" for 1,000 years; glorified believers, non-glorified new believers who survived the judgments and non-Christian survivors will inhabit the nations of the earth; non-glorified people will reproduce, die physically and repopulate the planet during those 1,000 years; at the end of the millennium, Satan will be released from his "prison" and stir up a rebellion and final war against Christ's kingdom that will be quickly won by Jesus; then there will be a final judgment of all evil; Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire, the bodies of the unbelieving dead will be raised from their graves, reunited with their souls in an intermittent hell in order to be finally judged and also cast into the lake of fire. As I said in my previous critical post of this scheme that I referred to as "Pop Eschatology", it is quite complicated. It is also losing popularity among evangelical institutions, scholars and believers in our day. This view was not developed or articulated in Church history until the late 1800's.
Historic Premillennial beliefs - God has only one, and now new (renewed), covenant with His people through Jesus Christ; Jesus fulfilled God's original covenant with Abraham and it includes and applies equally to all ethnic Jews and Gentiles who put their faith in Jesus as the Messiah; the kingdom of God was inaugurated and is present on earth through the First Coming of Jesus, is primarily invisible in nature and will not be substantially manifested in the visible world until the Second Coming of Christ and the 1,000 millennial reign of Christ is established in Jerusalem (These first 3 beliefs distinguish this second view as a quite different system of eschatology than the first.); there will not be a "rapture" of believers until Christ returns at the end of the 7 year Great Tribulation during which the warfare and Divine judgments of the book of Revelation take place; the rest of the "last days" beliefs about the 2 resurrections, the nature of the millennium, the unbinding of Satan, the final war and judgment significantly mirror the Dispensational view above (usually minus the Temple sacrifices during the millennium). This view was referred to in the early centuries of Church history by some Church leaders and movements, hence the "historic" tag. More to come....
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