If I had to describe myself in a couple of ways I would say I’m a film buff, and more importantly, a Postmillennialist. I spend a lot of time during the week studying what the Bible has to say concerning the end times, and at the end of the week when movie night comes, to no surprise of my own I discover a similarity in what I’ve been studying and the block-buster film that was chosen to watch that night. Most recently, I found a connection with the zealotry of the Postmillennialist and the 1995 movie, Braveheart.
Braveheart is inspired by the story of William Wallace, a 14th century Scottish peasant who raises an army to fight against the tyrannical English king, Longshanks.
Wallace recognized that England’s governance over Scotland was illegitimate. The tyrannical King Longshanks may have occupied Wallace’s country and implemented his immoral laws (e.g. prima nocta) over the Scottish people, but Wallace was fully aware that Longshanks was a ruler that had no right to the land. Instead, he knew the Scots were free to rule as rightful owners of Scotland.
In the same way, the Postmillennialist knows who the rightful ruler of the world is, our Lord Jesus Christ. He rules the world because God the Father has given him that authority. This is revealed early on in the Bible when God in the second psalm says to the Son, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Psa 2:8). Jesus must have taken the Father up on His offer because later, in the Gospel of Matthew we see the second psalm’s fulfillment in the Great Commission, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…'” (Mat 28:18-19). Regarding who is currently ruling the world, the passage is clear – Jesus rules the world. That is why he has sent us into the world, not to fail, but to win over the nations for himself.
What about the rule of Satan? Doesn’t the Bible call him “ruler of this world” (John 12:31)? Satan’s rule of the earth is much like Longshank’s rule of Scotland, – without right and eventually rendered completely ineffective. Wallace refused to acknowledge Longshanks as king even through a torturous death at the end of the film (hope I didn’t ruin it for you).
The Postmillennialist also refuses to acknowledge the devil as the ruler of earth even when trials and tribulations are greatest. At first glance, the corruption and depravity that is seen everyday may appear as if evil forces are in charge, but this perception is often misguided by discouragement from back-slides in history, and skepticism in the triumphant progress of the Kingdom of God. Those who have given up the world to Satan are unimpressed with the power of the Holy Spirit to work through the gospel and bring forth change in the world. These pessimists are missing where Christ is and what he is doing. He is currently “sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Heb 10:12-13).
Another striking similarity between Wallace and the Postmillennialist is his struggle to convince his pears of their chance for victory over the enemy. Wallace knew the strength Scotland had against England when the country is unified and stands together, but the biggest obstacle was the Scottish noble’s cowardly pacifism that had been developed over decades of English oppression. They were so used to submitting to English power that they had given up all hope for victory. This is seen in the film when Wallace informs the Scottish council of his plans for invading England. The council doubts Wallace’s assertion and tells him that the task is impossible. Wallace responds by asking, “Why? Why is that impossible?” He continues, “You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s table that you’ve missed your God given right to something better.” For the Scottish nobles, victory meant acquiring some lands and titles offered by Longshanks and the hope that he wouldn’t cause too much violence and terror. But as for Wallace, victory meant something much more – freedom from the enemy’s tyranny.
The Postmillennialist finds himself in the same predicament. He knows that God has something much better in store for His church than merely squabbling for the scraps from the devil’s table. He knows the gospel will eventually permeate throughout every area of life, Jesus will restore everything that was lost in Adam, and the Church will be victorious in their mission to disciple the nations. And all this taking place before Christ comes back to consecrate his Kingdom.
This is what the Postmillennialist expects and strives for in obedience. But this ambition is sadly not shared among every Christian. There are those whose expectations of the last days on earth are utterly pessimistic. Their endeavors for the spread of the gospel only go as far as they think Satan, “the ruler of this world” will allow. Any talk of reforming culture and we are often told, “get real!” These same naysayers will settle for a corrupt world because revival on a large-scale, according to them, is impossible. It’s the attitude, “why try if it can’t be done?”
Along with these similarities come differences as well. First, our battle is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). The war Christians face is quite different than the one William Wallace had to fight. Ours is fought without weapons but with the sword of truth which is the Word of God. We are not to take over the world by coercion, but Christ will take over his world by the work of the Holy Spirit and through the preaching of the gospel.
Finally, although it was uncertain as to whether or not Wallace’s army would succeed in defeating King Longshanks, our victory is sure! It has been revealed to us in Scripture that Christ’s enemies would become a foot stool for his feet (Psa 110:1). We should have more courage than Wallace did in the sense that we know we are fighting a winning war.