The Millenial Maze – Book Review
The Millennial Maze is a great introduction to the different perspectives on the millennium. I had very little knowledge of the differences in the perspectives on the millennium before reading this book, and came away with a greater understanding of each. For this type of book, Mr. Grenz has a very commendable tone when it comes to perspectives other than his own (amillennialism.) He starts off the book with a call for understanding, and successfully carries the tone through the rest of the book.
“Rather, because there are deeper issues at stake in this debate, we must strive to see clearly the world view represented by each of the major positions. And having done so, we can then listen intently to what the Spirit is saying to the church through each.”
The book starts off with an introduction to the millennial perspectives and the Bible, followed by an account of millennial views throughout church history. The church history portion is especially interesting and could serve as a good starting point for a more thorough examination of the subject. Fascinating to see how much church history and world history seems to influence the dominant millennial view for any specific era. For example, American was largely postmillennial in the early yeas of democracy when it seemed as if the entire nation would be Christianized. Contrast that with the America of today dominated by dispensational premillennialism, a perspective that does hold to the optimism that the postmillennial perspective does.
Each of the four perspectives then gets its own chapter, including an introduction to the perspective, history behind the perspective, and, finally, a brief analysis of each one’s strengths and weaknesses.
Postmillennial: Widely misunderstood as “liberal,” this minority view was treated fairly in the book. One thing to note that I did know before- Jonathan Edwards, my favorite American theologian, was postmillennial.
Premillennial (Dispensational): While Grenz did a great job explaining this position, I would have liked to see more of the arguments for this position. Some of the tenants of the position were presented as little more than straw men, and I’m sure that the arguments for this perspective are better than presented here. The reader will be able to tell that Grenz finds himself farthest from this position. In any book attempting to interact with multiple perspectives, this is to be expected. Grenz does an admirable job and rightly highlights some of the major differences. The explanation of the doctrine of the rapture and the dispensational perspective on the separation of the church and Israel were the highlights of this chapter. Dispensationalism is the only perspective that strictly divides the church and Israel.
Premillennial (Historic): Very good account of this history of this view and a brief explanation of where it falls on the millennial spectrum. The shortest chapter of the different views, but very helpful.
Amillennial: Grenz does a nice job with this view and presents a compelling case for perspective, which is distinguished as the only view that does not expect an early millennium. The chapter is well done and a great introduction to this perspective.
Finally, Grenz wraps up the book by again calling for unity and pointing out that the church has much to gain from each of these perspectives. His continued pursuit of unity among evangelicals is refreshing.
The book is highly recommended and a great start for millennial studies. As Grenz says on the back cover . . . “On this issue evangelicals are all united: Jesus is coming back!”