A Review of "Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative"
After reading The Meaning of the Millennium which outlines four differing views on the millennium (dispensational premillennialism, historical premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism), I wanted to dive deeper into the perspective I was most biblically and theologically drawn to: amillennialism.
At the recommendation of numerous people I chose to read Sam Storms's book Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative. I had high expectations for this book and it met every single one of them. I was blown away by the wide-reaching, comprehensive, detailed, thoughtful analysis and arguments that Storms put forward in Kingdom Come.
As much as it is a defense and argument for the amillennial viewpoint, it's fair to say Storms makes an all-out assault on dispensationalism (popularized by the Left Behind series) and he does a very good job at it. If you believe in the rapture, a literal 7 year great tribulation, a renewal of the ethnic Jewish nation and a reinstitution of the Old Testament sacrificial system, you will not walk away from reading Kingdom Come without seriously questioning, if not outright abandoning, the dispensational viewpoint.
However, his criticism should not be viewed as unfair or unwarranted. Storms does a good job of fairly and accurately summarizing other eschatological views without misrepresenting them. He heaps praises on George Eldon Ladd (historical premillennialist) and others with different views than him. In fact, the book is full of quotations and citations from men and women all over the eschatological map, as Storms seeks to affirm and critique various viewpoints in his case for amillennialism.
Kingdom Come consists of an introduction, seventeen chapters, and a conclusion. Each chapter is devoted to one specific area of eschatology or one section (usually a chapter or less) of Scripture. This makes the book an easy go-to if you'd like to reference it or simply dig into one specific topic or passage of Scripture. Storms covers hermeneutical and exegetical issues (interpretation and explanation of biblical texts), defines other eschatological and millennial viewpoints (mixed with affirmation and criticism), and even reflects on some church history. The book is carefully documented and cited, which makes for easy reference points and fact-checking.
Biblical texts ranging from Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Romans 11, 2 Thessalonians 2, and much of the book of Revelation are interpreted and explained by Storms. He digs into the Hebrew, Greek, symbols, and context of the time to carefully come to a conclusion about the meaning of each text and how they shape his views on eschatology and the millennium.
I found the book to be very convincing for amillennialism. If Storms's goal is to make a comprehensive, convincing case for the amillennial viewpoint, he succeeds. I love to second guess and question my beliefs (even the ones I hold dear), so I didn't read this book blindly. I read with a critical and even skeptical eye, and found Storm's arguments to be biblically informed, theologically sound, and altogether solid.
It's unfortunate that eschatology (particular events related to the Second Coming) gets such a bad rap that it often isn't spoken of in the church for fear of causing unnecessary division. But if we're honest, the Bible speaks a lot about what is to come. While we can't become preoccupied with "the end," this is a subject that is worthy of every Christian's thought and devotion; the end goal, of course, being the glory of God, the exaltation of Christ, and encouragement for believers in the here and now.
My rating for Kingdom Come: 5 stars.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Kingdom Come. Hopefully some of these will spark your interest and perhaps lead you to read the book for yourself.
"It would be an egregious expression of the worst imaginable redemptive regression to suggest that God would ever sanction the rebuilding of the temple. It would be tantamount to a denial that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It would constitute a repudiation of the Church as the temple of God and thus an affront to the explicit affirmation of Paul here in 2 Corinthians 6 and elsewhere." (p. 21)
"In sum, Jesus is himself the inspired interpreter of the Old Testament. [Jesus'] identity, life, and mission provide the framework within which we are to read and approach the Old Testament." (p. 30)
"We simply cannot escape the fact that metaphor is dominant in Scripture, especially in prophetic texts. This recognition does not undermine the authority or infallibility of the word. Evangelicals must stop their knee-jerk reaction to the word as if it is nothing more than the scholar's way of dismissing the historicity of the Bible. The concepts and principles communicated via figurative language are as true and real as those communicated via more 'literal' language. To say that a text or phrase is metaphorical does not mean it isn't true or that it is emptied of concrete reality. It simply means that ordinary, flat-footed literalism would fail to fully and properly communicate what God intended." (p. 34)
"Sound hermeneutical procedure would appear to demand that we interpret the singular and obscure in the light of the plural and explicit. To make the rest of the New Testament (not to mention the Old Testament) bend to the standard of one text in the most controversial, symbolic, and by scholarly consensus most difficult book in the Bible, is hardly commendable hermeneutical method. The first reason, therefore, for my theological shift to amillennialism is that I can in good conscience no longer allow the apocalyptic tale to wag the epistolary dog. I must not force the whole of Scripture to dance to the tune of Revelation 20." (p. 143)
"My conclusion is that when we examine what the New Testament says will occur at the time of the second coming/advent of Jesus Christ, there is no place for a 1,000 year earthly reign to follow. At the time of the second coming there will occur the final resurrection, the final judgment, the end of sin, the end of death, and the creation of the new heavens and new earth." (p. 165)
"If someone should object, as no doubt they will, that these Old Testament passages when read in their original context pertain to God's prophesied purpose for Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I happily concur. But again we cannot read, interpret, and apply such texts in isolation from the complete revelation in the New Testament concerning the identity of God's covenant people. As we'll see on several occasions, all believing Jews are included in these predictions. No one is replaced by a believing Gentile. But all those who are by faith in Christ, the true seed of Abraham, are now themselves 'one new man' and thus co-heirs with believing Jews of the promises made to the fathers. The Church is, therefore, the true Israel in and on behalf of whom all the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled. Thus, when we read about prophesied regatherings of Israel into their land, we are to see in them a type of the future gathering of believing men and women from all nations of the earth into the Christian community that we know as the church." (p. 199)
"Thus, Jesus saw the realization of Israel's true destiny in the circle of his disciples. They are not to be thought of, however, as a 'new' Israel, but as the 'true' Israel, the 'true people of God.'" (p. 343)
"The return of Christ at the close of history is a singular, unitary event. There is no such thing as a rapture or translation or catching up into heaven of the Church before the time known as the great tribulation, to be followed, at the tribulation's close, by yet another 'return' of Christ to judge and destroy his enemies. Jesus will descend from heaven but once, at which time he will rapture and resurrect his Church to be with him forever. But he will not then return into the clouds of heaven but will continue his descent and destroy his enemies, thereby bringing human history to its close, after which is the creation of the new heavens and new earth." (p. 522)
About Sam Storms
In 2008 Sam became Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of both Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam was recently elected to be Vice-President of the Evangelical Theological Society. Read more...