Forgive me for not wading completely through the over two-hundred comments on THIS THREAD before I posted this. But I’m not sure this was even discussed over there.
In his article, How Many Points?, Richard Muller rightly argues that Calvinism=The Reformed Faith “as defined by the great Reformed confessions.” These confessions are listed as The Second Helvetic Confession, The Three Forms of Unity, and the Westminster Standards (he also mentions are the Geneva Catechism and the Scot’s Confession).
Of them Muller writes:
All of these documents, in addition to standing in substantial agreement on the so-called five points — total inability to attain one’s own salvation, unconditional grace, limited efficacy of Christ’s all-sufficient work of satisfaction, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints — also stand in substantial agreement on the issues of the baptism of infants, the identification of sacraments as means of grace, and the unity of the one covenant of grace from Abraham to the eschaton. They also — all of them — agree on the assumption that our assurance of the salvation, wrought by grace alone through the work of Christ and God’s Spirit in us, rests not on our outward deeds or personal claims but on our apprehension of Christ in faith and on our recognition of the inward work of the Spirit in us. Because this assurance is inward and cannot easily or definitively be externalized, all of these documents also agree that the church is both visible and invisible — that it is a covenanted people of God identified not by externalized indications of the work of God in individuals, such as adult conversion experiences but by the preaching of the word of God and the right administration of the sacraments. Finally, they all agree, either explicitly or implicitly, that the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is the kingdom of grace established by Christ at his first coming that extends until his Second Coming at the end of the world.
I’ve highlighted what I’d like to focus on. This sentence is a broad outline of the amillennial position, the view I hold. In the conclusion of his article Muller asserts that the amillennial view of the end of the world is in fact a “point” of Calvinism and the Reformed faith.
It’s easy to figure out that Dispensational Premillennialism counters the covenant theology of the Reformed confessions and is therefore a position that counters Calvinism. Muller explains:
The problem of multiple dispensations of salvation is clearly related to the problem of the millennium. Such a teaching assumes not only that salvation has been administered differently in various ages of the world but, contrary to the Reformed Confessions’ understanding of Scripture, also that one church has not existed “from the beginning of the world,” will not “last until the end,” and has not been universally “preserved by God against the rage of the world” (BC, XXVII). Does this approach to salvation indicate anything in relation to the five points? At very least, it implies that the perseverance of the saints and, above all, the understanding of that perseverance as the perseverance of God for his saints, is not a teaching universally applicable to the people of God. And, granting that a multiplication of covenants bars the way to a perseverance of the saints throughout the history of God’s people, it must also introduce conditions for the election of the chosen people in past dispensations. Entrance into these other covenantal arrangements rests on obedience or decision — rather than obedience resting on the covenant itself and on the unconditional election that is its foundation.
But by saying that the confessions teach that “the ‘thousand years’ of Revelation 20 is the kingdom of grace established by Christ at his first coming that extends until his Second Coming at the end of the world”, Muller also disqualifies from Calvinism all who believe in a yet-to-come millennial kingdom (a golden-age if you will) on the earth. He may have had postmillennialism in mind when he wrote:
Various forms of millennialism militate against the irresistible grace and the perseverance identified in the five points by placing the church into an interim condition before the fullness of the grace and lordship of Christ is revealed.
Here are some questions to consider and discuss:
Do the Reformed Confessions teach, explicitly or implicitly, the amillennial view of last things?
Is postmillennialism counter-confessional?
Can postmillenarians be called Calvinists or Reformed?
If we say that we are able to call postmillenarians Calvinists, then isn’t Muller wrong about the amillennial view being a “point” of Calvinism?
And for kicks and good measure consider the following section from Chapter XI of the Second Helvetic Confession:
We further condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth. For evangelical truth in Matt., chs. 24 and 25, and Luke, ch. 18, and apostolic teaching in II Thess., ch. 2, and II Tim., chs. 3 and 4, present something quite different.