I’m into paradoximillennialism, which means paradoxical postmillennialism. That’s my particular variation on optimillennialism, which means optimistic postmillennialism. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were accused of pessimillennialism, which means pessimistic amillennialism, by another strain of optimillennialists.
So what do I mean?
The Alexander the Great mentality is one of the worst thing about postmillennialists in my opinion. This is where I come back to wondering about misguided desire preceding good doctrine, wondering if there’s a competitive hunger to be a winner that comes first and seeks out an eschatology to adopt, to even distort, and to validate itself. I’m suspicious about men who are inclined and tempted that way. Who don’t really want to suffer all that much, nothing more than a sweaty game on the field or the court to the roar of the crowd that ends with them being celebrated and getting the head cheerleader on their arm. A lot of public praise and recognition. Men who aren’t keen on dying to accomplish something, very possibly not even being recognized. Efforts where the right hand never knows what the left hand is doing and go unknown to all but God.
I’m not against postmillennialism per se. Nor am I against generalized optimism about the course of the Future and the victoriousness of the Kingdom that’s theologically valid and commendable. I’m personally more inclined to a form of postmillennialism that I’ve picked up from men like Peter Leithart. A form that stresses victory through defeat, life through death. One that the aforementioned Alexanders probably loathe and dismiss in their hearts. It’s a paradox of winning by losing. Life at every scale of measurement from the evenings and mornings of men to the dawnings and twilights of empires as rhythms of deaths and resurrections.
The Alexander strain of optimillennialism is stuck in a Conquest mindset. Well, for one thing, that just ain’t me in particular. In fact, it runs against my particular vocation. I’ve long suspected it was my lot in life to suffer and be a scapegoat for lots of crap within the church over and over again. It’s something I kept to myself. And then my pastor told me one Sunday that was exactly what he believed was true of me. That’s something I didn’t even tell him I believed about myself. It made me cry tears of relief at being understood so well by him. He told me I had a ministry of suffering for the life of the church. And he knew I’d understand that, because I knew his teaching (that he also picked up from men like Leithart) about the church having a ministry of suffering for the life of the world. So, I believe in the reality of the church’s suffering as the engine of her victory.
I’m someone who deeply understands my life through a template of sojourning and exile, weeping by Babylonian waters, abiding outside the camp and the city gate with the lepers and the other outcasts where Christ is. And I sense it much more some days than others. That’s the sort of calling I have. And it hitches up to an optimistic postmillennialism that understands the paradox of dying in order to live.
For me, nothing short of the Second Coming and the Resurrection will give me hope and refreshment. Fighting for some future Golden Age that won’t last doesn’t motivate me or mean much of anything. The Eschaton is where the Beatific Vision originates. So, I don’t get how some postmillennialists get so excited about what’s yet to come in this age while having so little to say about the eternal age to come that endures.