Premillennialism is often derided for teaching a “pessimistic” eschatology (as if that makes it right or wrong). Opponents claim that premillennialism by virtue of its tenets cannot be concerned with social justice, the environment, even proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the world, blah, blah, blah.
This is a cliché that folks like Randal Rauser, Gary DeMar, and other anti-dispensationalists frequently spout.
When examined it is simply shallow argumentation and a non sequitur.
Steve Hays in his keen reply on Pessimillennialism turns the argument around on Rauser. Hays is amillennial, but comes to the defense of premillennnialism on this point. Here is a snippet, but I encourage you to read the whole article:
Let’s examine the premise: is premillennialism pessimistic? Let’s consider some of the pessimistic doctrines or implications of premillennialism. Premils believe Jesus is coming back. Is that pessimistic? Premils believe Jesus will inaugurate the millennium when he returns. Is that pessimistic? Premils believe Jesus will judge the wicked. Is that pessimistic? Premils believe Jesus will trounce the devil and his followers. Is that pessimistic? Premils believe Christians go to heaven when they die. Is that pessimistic? On the face of it, that all seems pretty optimistic to me. (Read more…)
I also want to append a couple of comments, namely on two conditions that will get “pessimistic” before it gets optimistic.
Jesus, in the context of what must happen before he returns, states explicitly that the world will morally get worse—not better: “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:12–13). And yet despite the increase in lawlessness, there is the promise for believers of being delivered at the end.
Only the person wearing anti-premillennial blinders will not allow these plain words of our Lord speak for themselves; this passage is sufficient to support the premillennial notion that the world’s depravity will reach a crescendo before the Lord returns.
Not only will the world at large increase in lawlessness, but there are good biblical reasons that the persecution of God’s people will increase. Scripture teaches on what will happen before the consummation of all things: God’s people will be persecuted before Jesus returns, which at that time he will vindicate his people by destroying his enemies:
“(9) When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. (10) They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (11) Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.” (Rev 6:9–11)
And yet despite the persecution of God’s people right up to the end of the age, the persecuted are given the hope of resurrection when it is all said and done.
The premillennial position ends—not on pessimism!—but on certain hope as we will join in full fellowship with the Lord: “…and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thess 4:17–18).
Premillennialism is a promised-hope and thus an optimistic eschatology.