Post-millennialism is the interpretation of the Book of Revelation that holds that the Church, empowered by Christ, will bring about God’s Kingdom on Earth, after which Christ will return to a world already fitted for his reign. The main alternative views are pre-millennialism, in which Christ returns climactically to a world in chaos and establishes an earthly kingdom for a thousand years before the new creation; and a-millennialism, which interprets the “thousand years” as the “already but not yet” rule of Christ in the Church Age, prior to the Great Rebellion and his triumphant return to transform the cosmos.
For full disclosure, I must tell you that I came to the last view through reading the Scriptures, before realising that St Augustine taught the same thing.
Overall, post-millennialism has been the least prevalent view in Church History. There was a notable strand of it in seventeenth century Puritanism in its ascendant stage of seeming to be able to transform the whole of society to a pure church. These hopes were dashed by the Restoration and its consequences, which helps explain the collapse of Evangelicalism’s confidence at that time. The hopes lasted a little longer in the American colonies until human nature set in.
But you also find post-millennialism in the literature of the modern Charismatic Movement, with songs about marching to reclaim the nation and so on. This reached its zenith in Britain at the Festival of Light in the early 1970s, but continues, grossly distorted, in the “Hypercharismatic” Latter Rain Movement, with its ever more grandiose, and ever more embarrassing, claims to divine authority (you really ought to watch the videos of Kenneth Copeland’s ranting at the Coronavirus, if in any doubt). The Festival of Light was nearly fifty years ago, and the western church has continued to weaken ever since. There are fewer triumphalistic songs nowadays, and inward feelings are now the preferred subject matter.
But now I perceive that a new flavour of post-millennialism is emerging in the Evangelical Church, and this one is unique, in that the Millennial Kingdom appears to be coming in not because of the Gospel, but apart from it, and Christians are being called simply to catch on to its secular coat tails and get on-message.
Yesterday I saw a “lockdown” video produced bt TEAR Fund, the largest UK Evangelical relief NGO. It pointed to statistics that a majority of people don’t want to return to the status quo before lockdown, and then went on to talk about the opportunities for Christians of the coming “Reboot,” which is likely (it said) to bring a more just and neighbourly society rather than returning to the old racism and consumerism, and to a greener and less-greedy carbon-free world. In fact, the supposed beneficial effects of the last catastrophic months, which they anticipate, appear to match entirely the agenda and hopes of globalists of the left, of the monopolist capitalists, of the ideological NGOs and of the trans-national organisations, official and clandestine, which provide a revolving door of jobs for all of them. The world got there before us!
This indeed would be a “new thing” for God’s Spirit to be doing, since the power of false ideologies, big governments and rapacious merchants is, in Scripture, more usually seen as the opposition to Christ’s Kingdom, not its exemplar.
Now don’t get me wrong: Coronavirus, and its effects, is ultimately under the control of Christ, the unsealer of history’s scroll. And so it undoubtedly offers new opportunities for the work of the Kingdom, whether that be in outreach via streamed services and Alpha Courses, new initiatives for the unemployed or a newly-starving (and no longer “developing”) world or whatever. But it is one thing to say that the Russian Revolution or the rise of Hitler provided very special opportunities for sacrificial Christian witness, and quite another to say that either was a “new normal” to be celebrated and welcomed.
Consider, for a moment, who originated the idea of society “re-booting” because of COVID-19 before the Christians got in step, and why nobody was thinking that way back in the biggest recession in living memory back in 2007. Who has been pushing for fundamental changes in society since before Coronavirus, and what changes might they be?
We could start with the Communist ideologues of the Frankfurt School, and their disciples of the “New Left” following the 1968 student unrest, whose ideas have been slowly working through the institutions of society. Their aim was the abolition of capitalism, an end to convention “bourgeois” ties of family and marriage, and behind it all the destruction of Christianity, the only “ideology” that exposed the hollowness of their utopia and offered something more substantial.
Foremost amongst the infiltrated institutions was academia, so that all the Post-modern themes of anti-capitalism, revisionist history, the divorce of sex and gender from nature, white privilege and so on gained traction there, are taught to privileged but unread students, and spread from there to the power-institutions of society.
These include the Press, and even many ordinary folk have now become aware of the bias of the BBC both in presenting COVID information, and in the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over race. Over 80% of Britons no longer trust the BBC as an impartial news source. But I’ll bet you Brits heard about the “New Normal” and “Rebooting Society” there first, and soon adopted the neologism yourself. (On the other hand, “kick-starting the economy” seems to be Boris’s own invention, designed to disguise the fact that allowing some shops to open with social-distancing and borrowing trillions from future tax-payers is more turning over the engine on a flat battery than kick-starting it). Church people seem to be the biggest remaining fans of BBC “truth.”
Also promoting a new world order of sustainable development, fairness for all, central control of everything from speech to digital identity and a halving of the world population are the global capitalists, paradigmatically exemplified by those like Bill Gates and George Soros. It is interesting to wonder why the founders of Microsoft, Google or Amazon, which grew to world dominance by cut-throat elimination of competition that would have done credit to John D Rockefeller (whose family they still scheme with), should wish to do away with the evil of capitalism.
The key is to realise that when you are rich and powerful enough to provide a substantial proportion of the funding for governments, universities, the BBC, NGOs like WWF or supranational organisations like the WHO and the UN, then once capitalism is abolished you will be exempt, and even more powerful with the destruction of the opposition.
I’ve pointed out before (as have others) that the courting of Communist China by the big corporations, matching equivalent job losses in the western world, makes complete sense, since a command and control economy which your money maintains gives you near-infinite power, and profit. Bill Gates admits to 100% financial return on his altruistic investment in vaccination, Maurice Strong built a hotel on a nature reserve, Al Gore’s massive fuel bills are paid by the profits from his climate alarmism.
It’s the old dope peddlar
Doing well by doing good
Such magnates also control the “green industrial complex,” which is able to sell the message of cheap and clean energy for all through the NGOS, government and press it owns whilst making money hand-over-fist from government subsidies, and ever-higher energy prices, whilst their companies have solar panels built in China at low financial, but high environmental, cost. They can even profit from their stake, direct or indirect, in fossil fuels, whilst joining public condemnation of them – it doesn’t affect their bottom line.
Meanwhile, it’s easy for these corporations to wave the flag for Black Lives Matter, and support the finger-pointing at the Atlantic slave-trade and colonialism, because it points the same finger away from the fact that the boss of Amazon makes more in a day than a slave-child digging for cobalt for smart-speakers in the Congo would earn in 700,000 years.
9.2 million people are currently estimated to be slaves in Black Africa, which is within flogging distance of the total number transported across the Atlantic in the entire three centuries before Britain abolished the trade and sought to eradicate it worldwide. But there are millions more slave-labourers across the world, who are seldom mentioned in our press or pulpits. Apart from those digging minerals for our smart-phones in Africa, 14 million are sewing our “End Racism” T-shirts in India, 3 million are producing cheap goods in China – and an unknown number providing pornography and other sexual services, or selling drugs to the middle-class woke, in Europe and America.
Now, I don’t see anything in the present situation that looks likely to change these things, because they are not where we – and that includes the churches – are having our attention directed. Zoom is a helpful substitute for real meetings – but the real profit goes to its owner Eric Yuan, whose $7 billion dollar stake will have multiplied, despite Zoom’s co-operation with the CCP in closing the accounts of Hong Kong dissidents. We still don’t mind eating the sugar from the cruel plantations, though we’re happy to condemn our poorer ancestors for doing so.
Tearing down statues of Edward Colston or Thomas Jefferson will do nothing for those enslaved in Africa today. It won’t do anything for race-relations in Britain either, the more people realise that their heritage is being shut-down by a mob with a simplistic understanding of history and a stated policy of destroying commerce and the family, and no concept of historical closure except class destruction.
The looming economic depression is several times deeper than the crash of 2007: huge numbers look like being unemployed, benefits will undoubtedly be cut or lose their value from inflation, and it doesn’t seem likely that those who (though no fault of their own) have done OK by the shutdown will be regarded in increasingly neighbourly ways by those who (though no fault of their own) are impoverished.
On the international scale, we have not been well-informed about the steady increase in living standards in the poorer countries over the last decades: check out the actual stats yourself. We are still fed a picture of rich westerners and starving masses, but that is false, which is why the equally false projections of exponential population increase are wrong: increased standards of living have caused a levelling off of population growth. That is, until now: a world slump will hit the poorer nations hardest, and stop their growth even more than the present refusal of world financiers to allow fossil energy projects that would decrease their poverty.
It’s no use talking about increased help towards such nations – the very reason for their new poverty will be the collapse of the western economies that could provide such relief. And that western poverty, too, will be exacerbated if nations like ours insist on pursuing the expensive renewable energy solutions that, according to proper economic analyses, will actually increase the cost of power in direct proportion to their future share of generating capacity.
Now, however pessimistic such assessments are, whether economically or politically, the Church was created for such an hour. If our eyes are open to truth, we will be able to bring love where there is hatred, generosity where there is fear of starvation, absolution where there is guilt, and hope where there is despair and anger.
But that won’t happen by swallowing secular goals and ideological commitments, or rather swallowing the trite “motherhood and apple pie” aspirations that mask the perennial crooked ways of a world in darkness. The current tendency to dewy-eyed optimism about society reminds me of those people who saw Tony Blair as a kind of new messiah, because his spin doctors were smart. Perhaps the same can be said of Barak Obama’s arrival as America’s president.
When will we learn the truth of what it means to be living in a propaganda culture? When will we stop recycling the secular slogans fed to us by the media machine – and now by Evangelical aid agencies? When will we stop looking where the conjuror is directing our eyes, and begin to ask what is really up his sleeve?
Or, as the man said, when will we learn to be both as shrewd as snakes and harmless a doves? Maybe it will be when we realise Jesus has sent us out as sheep amongst wolves, and not amongst Decent Chaps.