John Owen, the Postmillennialist … The Nationalist … The Believer In Christendom

On John Owen

He sounds postmillenialistic here, as he speaks of the Christian faith being importantly upheld by the rulers of his nation. He also calls the rulers of the “fathers” of his people, suggesting that the nation must be seen indeed as a family:

“If once it comes to that, that you shall say you have nothing to do with religion as rulers of the nation, God will quickly manifest that he hath nothing to do with you as rulers of the nation. The great promise of Christ is, that in these latter days of the world he will lay the nations in a subserviency to him, — the kingdoms of the world shall become his; that is, act as kingdoms and governments no longer against him, but for him. Surely those promises will scarcely be accomplished in bringing commonwealths of men professing his name to be of Gallio’s frame, — to take care for none of those things: or as the Turk, — in an absolute indifferency what any profess; I mean, that are not his own, for in respect of them he changes not his God. Not that I would you should go and set up forms of government to compel men to come under the line of them, or to thrust in your sword to cut the lesser differences of brethren; not that I think truth ever the more the truth, or to have any thing the more of authority upon the conscience, for having the stamp of your authority annexed to it, for its allowance to pass in these nations. Nor do I speak a word of what is, may, or may not be incumbent on you in respect of the most profligate opposers of the truths of the gospel, but only this, that, not being such as are always learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth, but being fully persuaded in your own minds, certainly it is incumbent on you to take care that the faith which you have received, which was once delivered to the saints, in all the necessary concernments of it, may be protected, preserved, propagated to and among the people which God hath set you over. If a father, as a father, is bound to do what answers this in his family unto his children; a master, as a master, to his servants; if you will justify yourselves as fathers or rulers of your country, you will find in your account this to be incumbent on you.

Owen, John (2012-01-07). The Essential Works Of John Owen (Kindle Locations 116471-116479). . Kindle Edition.

Matthew Henry’s Progressive Postmillennialism

“David rose gradually; he was first anointed king in reversion, then in possession of one tribe only, and at last of all the tribes. Thus the Kingdom of the Messiah, the Son of David, is set up by degrees; he is Lord of all by divine designation, but we see not yet all things put under Him (Hebrews 2:8).”

Matthew Henry
Commentary II Samuel, Chapter 2:1-7

And as a throw in this wonderful gem from Henry

“Divine providence serves its own purposes by the stupidity of men at sometimes.”

Machen, The Postmillennialist — Part II

“But this is not the first period of decadence through which the world has passed, as it is not the first period of desperate conflict in the Church. God still rules, and in the midst of darkness there will come in His good time the shining of a clearer light. There will come a great revival of the Christian religion; and with it will come, we believe a revival of true learning: The new Reformation for which we long for and pray may well be accompanied by a new Renaissance.”

J. Gresham Machen
The Modern Use of the Bible
Princeton Theological Review, 23 (1925), p. 81

Machen would have never countenanced the current militant amillennialism as found in R2K. Any representation of Machen that he was no culture warrior — that he was a man uninterested in the Transformation of age — is just idiocy on stilts.

Machen, the Postmillennialist

“At present we are inarticulate; we know the riches of the gospel; we wonder at those who have it already at hand and yet are content instead with the weak and beggarly elements. When will God raise us the man of His choice to give His message powerfully to the world? We cannot say. But the truth is not dead, and God has not deserted His Church. Behind all the darkness and perplexity of the present time we can discern, on the basis of the promises of God, the dawn of a better day. There may come a time, sooner than we can tell, when again we cry in the Church, as every redeemed soul cries even now: ‘The old things are passed away; behold they are become new.”

J. Gresham Machen
God Transcendent, pg. 51

It is funny how R2K claims Machen for its own and yet Machen’s postmillennialism would have found him aghast at the R2K fighting as hard for their pessimism as he was fighting for the PCUSA. It was Machen’s postmillennial optimism that kept him in the fight when all was dark about him. It seems, at times, the only optimism and hope that the R2K advocates have is the optimism and hope that they will defeat the optimism and hope of the postmillennialists and the optimistic amillennialists.

Beale & McAtee on the unity of Scripture

Matthew 21:41 They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”

41 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?[j]

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

Some commentators have rightly noticed that this second statement about a stone also has an OT background, this time from Daniel 2:34-35: “A stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue … and crushed [it],” and it “became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away.” The statue in Daniel represented the evil world empires that oppress God’s people, and the stone symbolized God’s Kingdom of Israel that would destroy and judge these unbelieving Kingdoms. Now, unbelieving Israel as become identified with pagan Kingdoms and is portrayed as being judged along with them by also being ‘broken to pieces’ and ‘scattered like dust.’

Thus Jesus sees Israel as becoming indistinguishable from the ungodly nations and accordingly judged in the very same way. That is, Israel as a nation will no longer exist as God’s true covenant people, just as the pagan nations to be judged at the eschaton will no loner exist. Remember also that the ‘stone’ of Daniel, after smashing the colossus, representing the evil kingdoms, ‘became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.’ Jesus identifies himself with Daniel’s stone that smashes the ungodly nations, which also includes here Israel, which is seen as being allied with these nations. That an aspect of the new form of the kingdom in this passage is the temple, centered in both Jesus and a new ‘people producing fruit,’ is further indicated by the fact that the parable of the vineyard in Is. 57, to which Jesus alludes in the directly preceding context, was interpreted by early Judaism to represent Israel’s temple.

That Jesus identifies himself with the cornerstone of the new temple is pointed to further by how in Dan. 2 the stone that struck the statue and then ‘filled the earth’ represented the foundation stone of the temple. That foundation stone grew and grew until it expanded to cover the entire the earth. A further indication that Israel identified itself with the nations instead of God’s true Israel, Jesus, is seen in Pilate’s question to the Jews, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ to which the chief priests responded, ‘We have no King but Caesar’ [John 19:15]. This develops the earlier statement by the Jewish crowd addressing Pilate, ‘if you release this man [Jesus], you are no friend of Caesar’ (John 19:12). In the parallel in Mt. 27:25 the Jews responded to Caesar saying, ‘ His blood be on us and our children,’ another radical expression of disassociating themselves from Jesus as the center of the newly emerging Israel, kingdom, and temple.

G. K. Beale
A New Testament Theology — 682

How can Beale remain amillennial and write material like this? Like Vos before him, Beale recognizes the “now, not yet” hermeneutic and constantly properly refers to the distinction between the Kingdom inaugurated and the Kingdom consummated. Yet, for Beale, again, like Vos before him always tends to front load the “not yet” in his hermeneutic over the “now.” I think this amillennial front loading of the “now” over the “not yet” is a Redemptive historical mistake. It was in the Old Testament where we find the front loading of the “not yet” over the “now,” in the coming of the Kingdom. However, with the coming of Christ who Himself is the Kingdom, the Redemptive-Historical anticipation has been realized so that with the new and better covenant the “now” of the “already, now, not-yet” Redemptive-Historical hermeneutic is front-loaded so that we anticipate that the inaugurated Kingdom that came with Christ goes from nowness unto nowness. This is the hermeneutical basis for postmillennialism. The front loading of the “not yet” has passed with the coming of Christ and with Christ’s victory we read the Scripture with the “now,” not consummated but indeed front loaded.

Also note that geo-political Israel is of no eschatological import to God as it has been overthrown, never to rise again. Geo-political Israel has absolutely zero claims to God’s promises of the OT. God has crushed Israel, divorced Israel, and served Israel divorce papers in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Indeed, I might go so far as to say that those who see Israel as remaining God’s chosen people, are trying to reverse God’s judgment and so are enemies of God and His people.