I wrote a couple of posts ago about Jonathan Edwards' beliefs regarding the millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20. In my latest reading of George Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life, I learned more about this topic. Marsden refers to a work by Edwards entitled An Humble Attempt that addresses the millennium. Marsden discusses Edwards' beliefs regarding the millennium on pages 335-336.
to Marsden, Edwards thought that the millennium would be a time in
which there would be a massive population explosion of redeemed people.
The population explosion would be due to people's health and harmony
with nature and with each other, which mean that they'll live a long
time and have lots of babies. And "Virtually everyone in the millennium
would be regenerate" (Marsden's words on page 335), for the
millennium would be a time when Christ would draw all people unto
himself, in accordance with John 12:32. Because there would be such a
population explosion of redeemed people, the saved would vastly
outnumber the lost. Edwards' ally, Joseph Bellamy, estimated
that "the ratio of saved to lost would be more than 17,000 to 1"
(Marsden's words on page 336).
This reminds me of a conversation
that I had over a year ago with a Christian Reconstructionist, who was
also a Calvinist. This guy, unlike Edwards, was not a premillennialist,
but he was postmillennial. Whereas Edwards believed that Christ would
come back and then establish a paradisaical millennium, this guy
maintained that the church would convert masses of people and establish a
Christian society, and then Christ would come back. When I was
complaining to him that Calvinism held that most of humanity was burning
in hell, which (in my mind) did not portray God as particularly loving,
his response was that he believed that there would be vastly more
people in heaven than in hell. His reason? Because the church would
convert a lot of people between now and the time that Christ comes back
(which, in his eyes, would be a long time). The guy then told me that
he's an optimist!
This is interesting. I don't think that it
eliminates the problem of hell, since there are so many people burning
there according to prominent strands of Christianity, but I found what
this guy and Edwards said to be interesting.
But I still have
nagging questions about Edwards' belief regarding the millennium. Where
do the people who live on earth during the millennium come from? We
have those who worship the Beast, which is everyone whose name is not
written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We have the resurrected saints, who
rule with Christ during the thousand years. Then there is the rest of
the dead, which is not resurrected until after the millennium. And
then we have a bunch of people who come to Christ during the time of
the millennium (I'm presuming), and they reproduce. Who are these
people? I'm assuming that they're not the resurrected saints, for I
doubt that the resurrected saints will be engaging in sexuality, or
marrying (Mark 12:25). So who are they? Are they people who once
worshiped the Beast? Are they people who converted in the Great
Awakening soon before the Second Coming of Christ?