In a recent obituary for Russell S. Doughten Jr., an “Iowa filmmaker who made post-rapture evangelical movie series,” the Associated Press attempts to explain the evangelical view on the End Times:
Evangelicals think true believers will ascend to heaven and those left behind will fight a war between Jesus and the Antichrist.
While it is true that some evangelicals believe that (sort of), that’s not the only – or even the historical – view held by evangelicals.
It’s hard to blame journalists for not understanding this doctrine since there are few areas of Christian theology more contentious or confusing than eschatology, the study of the end times. To help clear up some of the confusion — or at least show that it’s more confusing than most journalists realize — I’ve compiled a primer on the four general points of agreement and the four general perspectives on eschatology within evangelicalism.
The four points of agreement are:
1. Jesus Christ will physically return to earth one day.
2. There will be a bodily resurrection of all people who have ever lived.
3. Satan will be defeated and constrained forever.
4. There will be a final judgment in which believers join Christ for eternity while nonbelievers are separated from God’s presence.
How this occurs, though, is an issue of great debate. One of the central issues involves the millennium, the thousand-year period during which Christ is said to rule the world. (Revelation 20:1-10). The four most popular views in evangelicalism are dispensational premillenialism, historical premillenialism, amillenialism, and postmillennialism.