I realize this is my third post in a row on this thread, but since no one else is posting here, I would like to go ahead and offer a critique of Dispensationalism and give you the highlights of what I think the Orthodox position on eschatology is. If I make any errors, please excuse me. Perhaps those who are more knowledgeable than I will correct them.
Chiliasm, which is the belief in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (also known by the Latin term millenialism
), was rejected by the Church at the Second General Council, at Constantinople, in A.D. 381. That is the same council that completed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (The Symbol of Faith).
Thus chiliasm or millenialism, in whatever form it takes, is not an option for Orthodox Christians.
The current popular craze among Evangelical Protestants is Premillenialism, especially in its Dispensationalist form. Dispensationalism is a system of theology that was invented in the early-to-mid-19th century by the English lawyer John Nelson Darby, who later became an Anglican clergyman and then a leader in the Plymouth Brethren denomination (which is still strongly Dispensationalist). Darby's theories were popularized by the Congregationalist Minister C.I. Scofield in the notes of his Scofield Reference Bible
and by other writers and speakers such as D.L. Moody.
Darby's errors have been perpetuated and spread in recent days by Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, and a whole host of other would-be soothsayers. There are a number of "Bible colleges" and seminaries that also teach Darbyism as truth, particularly Dallas Theological Seminary, the "Vatican" of such stuff.
Darby taught that God has divided history into seven different ages or "dispensations," each with a slightly different plan or method of salvation.
He also taught that God has two kingdoms and two peoples: literal, fleshly Israel (the Jews), and the Church. The former Darby believed comprise the "kingdom of heaven," the latter the "kingdom of God," this despite the fact that the Scripture uses the two terms interchangeably (see Matt. 10:7 and Luke 9:2; Matt. 4:17 and Mark 1:15-15; Matt. 19:23-24).
Darby taught that the Church (by which he meant the invisible phantom church of all "true believers") will be caught up ("raptured") to meet Christ in the air just before a 7-year period of terrible suffering called the "Great Tribulation," during which the Antichrist reigns on earth.
During this Tribulation some will become Christians, including 144,000 Jews, and will suffer persecution under the Antichrist.
Just as it looks as though the Antichrist will triumph, the Lord Jesus returns, catching up the remaining believers in the air, and destroying the Antichrist and his followers. He casts the Antichrist and his henchman, the False Prophet, in the Lake of Fire, and binds Satan for a thousand years.
A judgment and a literal one-thousand-year reign of Christ upon a literal throne of David in Jerusalem follows.
During that time believers who were not dead when Christ returned will be procreating in the usual way, since they were allowed to into the millenial kingdom in their unglorified, physical bodies. Children born to them will be born in a state of Original Sin, with all that implies.
Ultimately some of their descendants will chafe under the Lord's "rod of iron."
Satan is loosed from his imprisonment and leads in a revolt against our Lord the rebellious humans who were born during the millenium.
The rebellion is, of course, suppressed.
The unrighteous dead are raised at that time and a final judgment is conducted. Eternity then ensues.
As I am sure you can see, there are many many problems with this scenario. To make it work, there must be at least three resurrections, three Second Comings, three Last Judgments. All of that is ridiculous.
The Orthodox position is that the millenium represents an indeterminate period of time that is occurring now
, between the first and second advents of the Lord.
The "first resurrection," spoken of in Rev. 20:4-6, is the new birth, as experienced in holy baptism (see John 5:24-25; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 2:1, 4-6; Col. 2:11-13, 3:1).
In Rev. 20 the millenium is said to occur after the first resurrection, during which time the saints will reign as kings and priests.
Well, Rev. 1:6 declares that we are already
kings and priests, and Eph. 2:4-6 indicates that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Rev. 20, the only
place in the Bible where the thousand year period is mentioned by name, says that Satan is bound at the start of the millenium.
At His first advent, our Lord and Savior bound Satan (see Matt. 12:28-29; John 12:31-33; Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; 2 Peter 2:4; and Jude 6).
As Rev. 20 indicates, Satan was bound with respect to his ability to deceive the nations (v. 1-3) and not necessarily totally restricted.
During the indeterminate period represented by the figure of one thousand years (10X10X10 years), the Gospel is preached in the world and the Church grows like the Mustard Seed in Jesus' parable (Matt. 13:31-32).
Near the end of the period, a ferocious persecutor of Christians, the Antichrist, arises, claiming to be the true Messiah, God Himself (2 Thess.2:3-12). He will try to destroy the Church and will nearly succeed. Many will be martyred during that time.
In the end, however, our dear Lord Jesus Christ will return in glory with His saints and angels. A general resurrection will occur: the dead in Christ will rise first, then those Christians who are alive when the Lord comes will be caught up in the air to meet Him, being transformed instantaneously (1 Thess. 4:15-17). The Lord will destroy the world by fire (2 Peter 3:7, 10; 2 Thess. 1:
. The unrighteous dead will also then be raised.
The Lord will sit on His throne and judge all who ever lived (Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15). Those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life are rewarded with eternal life in the presence of God. Those whose names are not found in the Book are cast into the Lake of Fire (hell).
There is ONE Second Coming, ONE Resurrection, and ONE final Judgment.
Jesus said He would raise up all those who believe in Him on the LAST Day (John 6:39-40, 44, 54), NOT 1,007 years BEFORE the Last Day.
I could go into greater detail, but I am afraid this post is already too long, and it is time for me to bid the computer "good night."
I hope all this has helped somewhat.