Originally turned into Dr. Madison Grace for SYST 3073 OX at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
June 20, 2022
Blaising, Craig A., Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., and Robert B. Strimple. 1999. Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond. Edited by Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Bock. Zondervan Counterpoints Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 339 pp. $18
Biographical Sketch of the Author(s)
Kenneth Gentry JR is a research Professor of New Testament and retired Presbyterian Minister. He has a rather remarkable testimony in that his switch from premillennial dispensationalism to Postmillennialism occurred as a result of researching passages in the New Testament and ultimately transferring from Grace Theological Seminary to Reformed Theological Seminary where his foundation for both Postmillennialism and Theonomy were developed and strengthened under the tutelage of Dr. Greg Bahnsen. Given that Gentry was previously a premillennial dispensationalist He is an exemplary choice to contribute an articulation of postmillennialism for any volume like Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond.
Robert Strimple has had an immensely rich and rigorous intellectual life and faith. Between continuing formal education as a professor, helping found a branch campus of Westminster Theological Seminary, and giving great insight and clarity into several difficult and complex topics in the modern era. Strimple is an exquisite candidate for participating in a project like Three Views on the Millennium because of his vast and committed history to serving God’s kingdom in both the academy and the church. Strimple articulates the Amillennial position, and his scholarly breadth shows in his presentation and response to the other contributors
Craig Blaising is a current faculty member at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he is a major voice in various current scholastic conversations and a proponent of a new direction for premillennial dispensationalism. Blaising is an excellent candidate for participating in the Three Views on the Millennium not only because of his scholastic efforts within premillennial circles but also because of his education at Dallas Theological Seminary which is largely viewed as the flagship school for dispensational thought. Blaising has written numerous works and participated in a second project like the Three Views on the Millennium.
Darrel Bock serves as the general editor and provides the summary essay within the Three Views book. He is a Research Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and leads the Hendricks center for cultural engagement. Eschatology is a topic that can bring extreme controversy and difficulty to the life of the church much like the topic of Predestination, given its importance though the project of the Three Views of the Millennium is necessary, and the coherent thought articulated in the summary essay proves the value of Block’s inclusion to the volume.
Summary of Contents
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond presents an exquisite introduction and argument for the three classical stances on the meaning and significance of the Book of Revelation, Postmillennial, Premillennial, and Amillennial, alongside responses from the Author’s to each other’s entries in the volume, and finally a summary essay from the editor addressing general themes of the topic. The Postmillennial entry authored by Kenneth Gentry Jr. is a fourfold approach emphasizing history, scripture, theology, and redemptive history. The responses to the postmillennial contribution come from Dr. Strimple and Dr. Blaising, and both highlight issues with Gentry’s usage of scripture, theology, and history highlighting a misuse or issue of clarity involving his arguments. Even though both responses are thought provoking neither is extensive, as Blaising notes, “because of editorial constraints, my remarks must be brief and selective.”
The Amillennial position is presented by Dr. Robert Strimple and is a threefold approach emphasizing scriptures foundational hermeneutical lens as being Christ. Strimple primarily engages scripture but does not neglect history or theology in his work. Gentry’s primary response is that “he stops short of what I believe to be logical conclusions.” The Premillennial argument offered by Craig Blaising covers the largest amount of terrain conceptually dealing in depth with specific hermeneutical perspectives tracing the history of premillennialism and dispensationalism, alongside key scriptural considerations, and theological developments. The responses to Blaising are encouraging of his forging a new path a view for premillennial perspectives which come into some more common ground with the other two classic perspectives. In the Summary Essay Dr. Bock acknowledges the necessity of remembering the vast and numerous points of agreement between the perspectives offered and walks through the hermeneutical difficulties and perspectives before concluding with a survey of implications that follow from one’s structure of theology.
Reading through the Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond there appeared to be three basic debates involved with the subject, Millennialism vs. Amillennialism, Covenantal vs. Dispensational Theology and a sub argument within Millennialism between premillennialism and postmillennialism. Of the three debates the most important for Three Views on the Millennium are Millennialism vs. Amillennialism and Premillennialism vs postmillennialism. The discussion of Covenantal vs Dispensational theology is perhaps best shown within the premillennial vs postmillennial debate. Given the spatial limitations of this review it is prudent to recognize that it cannot be exhaustive but will focus on one or two major points from each debate outlined above.
Millennialism is generally understood as a reference to the debates about the reign of Christ in Revelation 20:1-8. Amillennialism is distinguished from the other two perspectives advanced in the volume because it does not advocate nor perceive a literal reign of Christ in the manner that Pre and Postmillennial position argue. It is this specific aspect of Amillennialism that Dr. Robert Strimple advocates most effectively his commentary on Revelation 20:1-10 in the final portion of his essay. Wherein he notes that Archibald Hughes remarked on the inappropriateness to take Revelation 20:1-10 in a perceived extreme literality when it is part of an apocalyptic text full of symbols and rich figurative language, and to then proceed to build an entire theological structure upon such a hermeneutical and exegetical maneuver which seems unfounded and nonsensical in Strimple’s analysis. Strimple is very clear in stating that: “I suggest that is a false approach to the interpretation of biblical prophecy.” Where Strimple somewhat faulters across the board is that his essay contains relatively little direct engagement with the Postmillennial position though his response to Dr. Kenneth Gentry’s entry is informative on that end.
Setting Strimple’s comments aside, a review of this book would be woefully incomplete if one did not wade into the discussion of Pre and Postmillennial similarities and differences. For the sake of brevity and coherence one similarity and one difference will at least show points of major intersection and divergence between the two millennial perspectives which stand opposed to Amillennialism and each other. One of the most significant differences between pre and postmillennial theology is that of postmillennialism’s preterist approach to the book of Revelation. Blaising notes an entire section of his response to Gentry over the significant difficulties with taking a preterist approach to passages in Revelation which signify the coming of a final Day of the Lord which will mark the beginning of the final judgement. This difficulty for the preterist approach undermines the general postmillennial perspective because it prevents the in-time fulfillment of the things necessary for the world to be fully redeemed.
Looking to the question of similarities the largest one is of course the one which sets both pre and postmillennial theology against amillennial theology which is the shared belief in a literal reign of Christ whereas Amillennial thought argues that Revelation 20:1-10 is focused on the inter-advental period between the comings of Christ. Setting the Millennial reign aside one of the major points of agreement which is new for premillennialism to hold alongside both amillennialism and postmillennialism is that of Christ’s present kingly reign and while it is not perhaps held to in the same way it must be observed that Gentry recognizes it as a “pioneering work in the ongoing restructuring of dispensationalism.”
Blaising, Craig A., Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., and Robert B. Strimple. 1999. Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond. Edited by Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Block. Zondervan Counterpoints Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
“Biographical Notes about Dr. Kenneth Gentry.” n.d. Chalcedon. Accessed June 20, 2022. https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/biographical-notes-about-dr-kenneth-gentry-1.
“Craig A. Blaising – SWBTS”. SWBTS, Last modified 2022. https://swbts.edu/staff/craig-a-blaising/
Darrell L. Bock. Dallas Theological Seminary. (2022, April 1). Retrieved June 22, 2022, from https://www.dts.edu/employee/darrell-bock/
Grenz, Stanley, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling. 1999. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
“Westminster Seminary California – Faculty – Dr. Robert B. Strimple.” n.d. Www.wscal.edu. Accessed June 20, 2022. https://www.wscal.edu/academics/faculty/robert-b-strimple.
 “Biographical Notes about Dr. Kenneth Gentry.” n.d. Chalcedon.
 Craig A. Blaising, “A Premillennial Response to Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Block, Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 72.
 Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., “A Postmillennial Response to Robert B. Strimple,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Block, Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 130.
 Robert B. Strimple, “Amillennialism,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Block, Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 120.
 Craig A. Blaising, “A Premillennial Response to Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Block, Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 74.
 Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., “A Postmillennial Response to Craig A. Blaising,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Stan N. Gundry and Darrell L. Block, Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 228.