A recent poll by Pew Research reports that 39% of Americans believe that we have now entered the end times, Lifeway Research reports.
But the survey also revealed the theological divide in Christianity regarding the last days
Pew pointed out that there were essentially two basic views represented in the group who believe we are in the end times.
This included 14% who believed that Jesus’ return is imminent, and that the world will worsen until the Lord’s second coming. The remaining 25% are described as all other end times believers.
There are basically three views of the end times among Christians, and they all center on the Millennium or the 1,000-year reign of Christ recorded in Revelation 20:2-7, when Christ will rule the earth.
During this 1,000-year reign, governments will submit to Christ’s rule. And this combined with Satan being bound will result in an unparalleled time of peace and economic prosperity.
At the end of this age, Satan will be released and dealt with once and for all by God and the angels.
When it comes to the millennium, however, there are basically three different positions which are described as premillennialism, amillennialism and postmillennialism.
Lifeway reports that according to a survey of pastors that it conducted in 2016:
- 48% hold a premillennial eschatology,
- 31% are amillennial, and
- 11% postmillennial
What exactly do these different positions believe?
Pre-millennialism holds that the world will continue to grow worse until Christ’s return. They hold that after Jesus’s second coming, the Lord will start His literal 1,000-year reign. At the end of this period, Satan will be released and will finally be dealt with.
Postmillennials holds that Christ’s second coming will occur after the Millennium. Despite Revelation 20 stating several times that it is a literal thousand-year period, they also consider the number to be figurative, referring to it as an extended period of time. Neither do they believe this is referring to Christ literally ruling on earth, but rather it’s a reflection that the world will continue to get better until Christ’s second coming? They refer to it as the ‘golden age’ of humanity, as the world embraces Christian culture.
They do not believe in a literal, 1,000-year millennium. Those holding this position, believe the Millennium actually started after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, which resulted in Satan being bound. Since nearly 2,000 years have passed since Christ’s resurrection, it can’t be a literal 1,000-year reign. They do not hold that the world will necessarily be Christianized, but that the church needs to live according to the word of God. They believe Christ will return after the millennial period is up and end sin.
Though the Pew survey found overall that nearly 40% of Americans believe we are in the end times, the belief was most prevalent among religious groups, with 76% of Black Protestants and 63% of evangelicals holding this opinion.
Among the mainline protestants or liberal churches only 31% believed that we are in the end times and surprisingly, at 27%, Roman Catholics were the least likely of those considered Christian to believe we are in the end times.