Hal Lindsey is known for making future predictions in his popular work The Late Great Planet Earth. What he missed in his crystal ball was the reemergence of Postmillennialism (PM). The hope of a victorious future for the church within human history has made a tremendous comeback. In my opinion, the leading cause of its hindrance during all these years has been the misrepresentation of those who oppose it. Building the PM straw man has lead many away from discovering the scriptural support for this wonderful hope. Lindsey’s short critique of PM makes him the epitome of doctrinal misrepresentation. Lindsey describes PM in the book this way:
There used to be a group called “postmillennialists.” They believed that the Christians would root out the evil in the world, abolish godless rulers, and convert the world through ever increasing evangelism until they brought about the Kingdom of God on earth through their own efforts. Then after 1000 years of the institutional church reigning on earth with peace, equality, and righteousness, Christ would return and time would end. These people rejected much of Scripture as being literal and believed in the inherent goodness of man. World War I greatly disheartened this group and World War II virtually wiped out this viewpoint. No self-respecting scholar who looks at the world conditions and the accelerating decline of Christian influence today is a “postmillennialist” (Lindsey, 1973).
Lindsey’s first mistake is claiming that Postmillennialists believe that Christians would bring the Kingdom of God on earth through their own efforts. This is extremely misleading for the reason that it is incomplete information. Although Postmillennialists do believe God has called Christians to participate in expanding the kingdom, they also hold that our efforts are useless apart from the redeeming work of God. Psalm 110, one of the premier passages of PM gives triumphal credit to God alone: “The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” From a PM perspective, it is God who defeats Christ’s enemies. This has always been the PM motto. Lindsey’s statement misleads the reader into believing PM teaches that the kingdom-growth only requires the efforts of Christians apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.
His next mistake is claiming Postmillennialists believe in the “inherent goodness of man.” My first question to Lindsey would have to be, “which ones?” The vast majority of postmillennialists throughout history have been Calvinists. One of the main tenants of Calvinism is the depravity of man. This makes Lindsey’s statement utterly false. On the contrary, most postmillennialists believe in the total inability of mankind to do anything good apart from the Spirit of God.
The biggest mistake Lindsey makes is claiming that “no self-respecting scholar who looks at the world conditions and the accelerating decline of Christian influence today is a postmillennialist.” What is most alarming about this statement is it reveals Lindsay has chosen “news paper exegesis” as his method of interpreting prophetic literature. Postmillennialists make a conscious effort to interpret prophetic literature in harmony with the rest of Scripture and not in accordance with current events.
Furthermore, his proof of “accelerating decline of Christian influence” requires too little of a graph. At one point in the book he uses a period of eight years to demonstrate a declining correlation. If Lindsey were to broaden the increments of time to say 500 years, his correlation would show increase in Christian influence, particularly in cotenants such as Africa and South America.
If Hal Lindsey would have simply asked anyone who holds an authentic postmillennial position, his critique wouldn’t have been so inaccurate. Postmillennialists do not believe Christians bring the kingdom apart from the work of God or the inherent goodness of man. Neither can they be convinced through news paper exegesis. Misrepresenting other Christians is not a good way to persuade nor does it demonstrate dedication to the truth. Postmillennialism is a highly credible eschatology that is derived from Scripture and seeks to honor Christ as the victorious King of kings.
Lindsey, Hal, and Carole C. Carlson. The Late Great Planet Earth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970. Print.