Episode: Another Denomination Changes Its End Times Doctrine

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Another Denomination Changes Its End Times Doctrine

The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) has changed its position on end times doctrine. The denomination recently voted to drop the word “premillennial” from its statement of faith.

So what prompted the change?

“We say that we ‘major on the majors and minor on the minors,” the EFCA said in an internal document.

The denomination noted that they did not take a stance on the Reformed v. Arminian view of conversion, the age of the earth, infant v. adult baptism, and whether the gifts of the spirit had ceased or were still active.

In light of that, “we believe there is a significant inconsistency in continuing to include premillennialism as a required theological position when it is clear that the nature of the millennium is one of those doctrines over which theologians, equally knowledgeable, equally committed to the Bible, and equally Evangelical, have disagreed through the history of the church,” the document stated.

The church has held multiple positions on the End Times held by the Early Church fathers, says Daniel Hummel, a historian of US religion and foreign relations.

“But in more recent evangelical history, postmillennialism dominated in the early part of American history and colonial history,” said Hummel. “People like Jonathan Edwards saw revivals as inaugurating the millennium, as bringing in this deeply Christian era that would last a thousand years and then conclude with Jesus personally returning.”

Then, after the carnage of the Civil War, Americans became more pessimistic, which, in turn, affected their eschatological views.

“Premillennialism become sort of the main tradition and the air that a lot of evangelicals breathe throughout the 20th century,” said Hummel.

Hummel joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the rise and fall of premillennialism, the influence of Left Behind, and the significance of the EFCA’s decision.

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