The previous article noted that two major kinds of
Postmillennialism developed. It described the first kind,
conservative Postmillennialism, that began in the
The second kind of Postmillennialism that developed could
be called liberal Postmillennialism. It was very prevalent
during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In common with conservative Postmillennialism, it shared
great optimism concerning the upward progress of history.
It too was convinced that a future golden age (the Kingdom
of God) would be established on earth.1
In spite of this common bond, liberal Postmillennialism
differed radically from conservative Postmillennialism in
several areas. It rejected the idea of the sinfulness of
mankind and asserted that mankind is inherently good (not
perfect, but good). It was convinced that mankind is
perfectible and that human perfection will be attained
through proper education, the improvement of mankindís
environment, and the natural process of evolution. Liberal
Postmillennialism had total confidence in the ability of
mankind and science to correct all problems through the
course of time.
This form of Postmillennialism rejected the deity of Jesus
Christ. It declared that He was the greatest human being
who ever lived, perhaps even the first perfect man, but
certainly not God incarnated in human flesh. According to
liberalism, Jesus was the example which all humans should
follow in their move toward perfection.
Liberal Postmillennialism rejected the substitutionary
atonement of Jesus Christ. Based on its assumption that
mankind is not sinful by nature, it concluded that mankind
does not need a substitute to pay its penalty for sin.
According to this view, instead of Jesus being a Savior
from sin, He was the greatest teacher and example of
ethics who ever lived.
Because liberalism rejected the substitutionary atonement
of Christ, it also rejected the gospel of personal
redemption from sin. In place of this gospel, which is
revealed in the Bible, it substituted another message
which it called the social gospel.2
According to this message, personal redemption from sin
has nothing to do with the establishment of the
Millennium. The social gospel declared that the total
mission of the Church is the redemption of society from
all of its social evils (such as war, poverty, racism,
injustice, disease, inequality, etc.). The Church is to do
this by bringing society into conformity with the ethical
teachings of Christ by teaching the universal Fatherhood
of God and universal brotherhood of mankind and by
cooperating with science and the governmental,
educational, charitable, labor, and other institutions of
Contrary to conservative Postmillennialism, which taught
that society will be transformed primarily through the
efforts of the Church spreading the gospel of personal
redemption from sin in the power of the Holy Spirit,
liberal Postmillennialism asserted that the Kingdom of God
will be established on earth through the Church and other
human institutions using totally natural, humanly devised
Prominent advocates of the liberal postmillennial view in
America were Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), a German
Baptist minister who served as Professor of New Testament
and Professor of Church History at Rochester Theological
Seminary and wrote such books as Christianizing the
Social Order and The Theology for the Social Gospel,
and Shirley Jackson Case (1872-1947), an American Baptist
theologian who held the positions of Professor of New
Testament Interpretation, Professor of History of Early
Christianity, and Dean of the Divinity School at the
University of Chicago and authored such books as The
Millennial Hope and The Christian Philosophy of
The gift of the
Statue of Liberty to the United States in 1886 was, in
essence, an expression of liberal Postmillennialism. The
men of the Third Republic of France who conceived,
designed, built, and presented the statue were liberal in
their political outlook. They were convinced of several
things: that the monarchies of Europe had oppressed their
peoples for many centuries, that the American and French
Revolutions were indicators that this oppressive yoke was
about to be thrown off by the peoples of many nations,
that personal liberty through governments of democracy was
the wave of the future, and that America in particular was
leading the rest of the world toward the future golden age
of liberty through democracy. The fact that they were
convinced that personal liberty was the wave of the future
is indicated by the full title which they assigned to the
statue: Liberty Enlightening The World. The fact that they
determined to give the statue to the United States is
evidence that they considered America to be the leader of
the rest of the world toward the age of liberty through
The next article will examine the popularity and decline
1 John F.
Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Findlay, Ohio:
Dunham Publishing Company, 1959), p. 23.
2 Ernest R.
Sandeen, "Millennialism," The Encyclopaedia
Britannica, Fifteenth Edition (Chicago:
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1974), pp. 12, 203.
The Millennial Kingdom, p. 23.
p. 24; Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through The
Centuries (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
1954), p. 463; Elgin Moyer and Earle E. Cairns,
Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), p. 79.
5 "Our Fair
Lady: The Statue of Liberty," Readerís Digest,
July, 1986, pp. 53, 193-194, 197, 203.
Copyright 2006, Ankerberg Theological Research Institute