Premillennialism is an “end times” doctrine based partly upon some interesting interpretations of Revelation 20 and the Old Testament apocryphal books (Daniel, Jeremiah, etc) which teaches that after a “rapture” and a seven year period of “tribulation”, Christians will reign with Christ for 1000 years of earthly bliss.
The purpose of this post is not to delve very deeply into this teaching. (If you would like a complete treatment of this doctrine then visit this site.) The purpose of this post is to discuss the strong premillennial tradition within the Churches of Christ.
From the very beginning of our Restoration Movement the doctrine of premillennialism was taught and embraced. None other than the “Father of the Restoration Movement”- Alexander Campbell- was a believer. (In post-millennialism- thanks BV- His second major periodical was not named the Millennial Harbinger for nothing!)
Later Restoration luminaries such as David Lipscomb and James A. Harding continued the premillennial tradition. This doctrine only increased in popularity among Churches of Christ in the early twentieth century thanks to the work of a prominent Nashville Bible School product, R. H. Boll and to J.N. Armstrong who was the first president of Harding College.
Eventually though this doctrine and those who taught it came under attack led by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. and H. Leo Boles. At one point the very future of Harding College hung in the premillennial wind. Ultimately the Wallace’s and Boles of our fellowship had their way and the “damnable doctrine” of premillennialism was pushed to the margins of our movement.
But it never completely went away. There are still pockets of premillennial Churches of Christ in south Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and other places.
Interestingly enough I once had an encounter with a sister who strongly held to this teaching. We were both guests at a luncheon on a Sunday at a south Mississippi church where I- still in college- had been the visiting speaker. Someone asked me if I knew anything about premillennialism and I was quick to share my knowledge. After I finished she complimented my presentation and added, “this is exactly what I believe.” After that words failed me! I did not know anyone in the Churches of Christ would believe this!
Even though I had already taken a class on the Restoration Movement- little did I know then!