In the wake of the infamous Train family’s shooting of police officers in Queensland, there have been articles written and broadcasts made about “Premillenial extremists” and “Christian terrorists”. Perhaps it is timely to look at these terms and how they fit in context with the bible, the commands of Jesus, His example and that of the Apostles.
Firstly we need to understand there are three different eschatological (end time) viewpoints: Pre -Millennial, Post-Millennial and Amillennial. They all centre around a 1,000-year period of time mentioned in Revelation 20 and different opinions are held as to whether the timeframe is literal or figurative.
“Pre-Millenialism” is the belief that Jesus Christ will physically return to this world and establish a kingdom that will last for 1,000 years (millennium). So, simply put, pre-millennialism means that Jesus will return BEFORE ruling and reigning on earth for a thousand years.
This understanding of scripture also holds that there will be “great tribulation” before Jesus’ return. This is a widely held belief by Christians from all around the world and in many different denominations.
Post-millennialists believe that Jesus will return AFTER the “millennium” and that the earth will enjoy a time of great peace and prosperity before Christ’s return.
Finally, there is another group called Amillennialists who believe that the thousand years are entirely symbolic and run presently with this “Church Age”.
All of these viewpoints are as old as the original writings themselves and as none of these doctrines are essential to salvation therefore they should not cause division within the church family.
Jesus will eventually return as promised and time will prove that which is right. The most important thing is always that salvation comes by God’s grace through faith in the vicarious and atoning death of Jesus Christ upon the cross.
So, are Premillennialists “extremists” because of their worldview?
The answer is absolutely not. PreMils make up a significant percentage of those holding to the Christian faith. They are found amongst many protestant denominations including, Baptists, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals and others. There are literally millions of them worldwide.
The issue here is not so much whether we hang an extremist tag on any particular doctrinal position. Extremists can be found in every religion, race, political persuasion or community. The issue is whether the actions of the Train family were consistent with the teachings of the bible and the fact is that they were clearly not. Christianity is never advanced or defended by the tip of a sword or the barrel of a gun, that sort of behaviour could only be referred to as “jihad” and that simply does not exist in the teaching of Jesus Christ or the Apostles.
The Bible clearly teaches that our “warfare” is spiritual, we do not “wrestle against flesh and blood” and that our “weapons” are not the weapons of this world. Our warfare is through prayer (Eph 6:12, 2 Cor 10:4).
When the mob led by Judas came to take Jesus from the garden Peter drew the sword and struck one of them and Jesus rebuked Peter for his actions. Our Lord miraculously healed the injured man and left us with the well-known verse “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword” (Jn 18:10, Luke 22:51, Matt 26:52-53).
All of the disciples except John were martyred for their faith and not one is recorded as having taken up arms to defend themselves. As Christ was led as sheep to the slaughter and was silent as a lamb before the shearer, they too conducted themselves in like fashion (Acts 8:32).
The Apostle Paul was beheaded for his faith, his attitude was that if he had done anything deserving of death, he did not refuse to die (Acts 25:11). Stephen even called for them stoning him to be forgiven by God (Acts 7:59).
In the Old Testament, we read of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel all facing death and none were in any way disposed to using lethal force to resist or defend themselves. (Dan. 3, 6).
Futuristically, during the great tribulation, it speaks od believers being taken into captivity and others being killed. Again, there is no call to arms (Rev. 13:10).
The problem we now face is that the police and media are promoting a concept that a “Pre-Millenialist” viewpoint plus “anti-vax” sentiments combined with a “distrust of the government” is the recipe for “Christian Terrorism”. Nothing could be further from the truth and this concept could indeed result in Christian persecution, which would be a terrible injustice.
When we look at the actions of the Train family, if the reports are accurate, there is nothing remotely Christlike about their conduct. There is not a single rightly divided verse in the Bible that could justify or excuse that type of behaviour.
I sincerely doubt whether they were Christian at all by Jesus’ own definition. He said “by their fruit, you shall know them” (Matt. 7:16). The fruit demonstrated was not in keeping with the commands of Christ at all. Who knows what madness drove them to their actions but it was certainly not the Word or the Spirit of God.
Originally posted on Maitland Christian Church Facebook page.