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My Question: Is amillenialism an ordinary (fallible) or extraordinary (infallible) teaching of the Catholic Church?

In other words, is it possible to be Catholic while believing in the Millenium Kingdom? As many Protestants teach today.

Examples of Catholics teaching the Millenium Kingdom in the past:

The fourth century church historian Eusebius considered Papias to be a primary source for the millennial views of early fathers. He wrote:

In these [Papias' accounts] he says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporeal reign of Christ on this very earth; which things he appears to have imagined, as if they were authorized by the apostolic narrations, not understanding correctly those matters which they propounded mystically in their representations. . . . yet he was the cause why most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion; as, for instance Irenaeus, or any other that adopted such sentiments.

The writer of the Epistle of Barnabas (cir. 117/132 AD ) held to the idea that after six thousand years of history that would correspond to six days of creation, there would be a seventh day “sabbath” rest which would last one thousand years. The following is from the Epistle of Barnabas:

Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming again, shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.

St. Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho (written cir. 155) describes the belief in a literal millennium as the orthodox doctrine, though admitting that some denied it. He sees the millennium centered in Jerusalem and predicted by Old Testament prophets. Justin wrote,

“But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.”

St. Justin Martyr did mention that, “many who belong to pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.” EVidently there were already others who did not believe in a literal millennium at that point in history, but Justin does not supply their names.

St. Hippolytus of Rome (cir. 170-236) wrote extensively about the end times, including, Commentary of Daniel. Hippolytus took up the idea of a day being one thousand years and applied it to history. He reasoned:

For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day “on which God rested from all His works.” For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they “shall reign with Christ,” when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse: for “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.” Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled. And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says: “five are fallen; one is,” that is, the sixth; “the other is not yet come.

St. Irenaeus discusses Biblical prophecy in Against Heresies (written from 180 to 199 AD12 ). He mentions the “seventh day” in regard to eschatological promises. He wrote,

“These [promises given by Christ] are to take place in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day, which has been sanctified, in which God rested from all the works which He created, which is the true Sabbath of the righteous, which they shall not be engaged in any earthly occupation; but shall have a table at hand prepared for them by God, supplying them with all sorts of dishes.”

St. Irenaeus considered the promise that Jesus made to His disciples at the last supper to one day drink the fruit of the vine again with them “in my Father's kingdom” to be proof of a future, earthly kingdom to be established after the resurrection.

Source of Quotes

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It would seem that the Catholic position is typically amillenialism, but every Catholic is not compelled to believe it. Augustine is credited with bringing the amillenial position to the forefront and Catholics tend to side with Augustine on this issue.

From Catholic.com:

As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been "amillennial" (as has been the majority Christian position in general, including that of the Protestant Reformers), though Catholics do not typically use this term.

Of concern, however, is that you take the premillenial position, which has been specifically condemned in CCC 676

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism [aka premillenialism].

That is to say, the Church believes explicitly that the Antichrist works and has worked throughout history, which is in contrast to premillennial eschatology. How and when she will be wrapped up in Christ at the time of the end is a mystery, but it does include a final trial, persecution, religious deception, and an Antichrist.

Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
CCC 675 ibid

  • Could you specify in your answer what the "modified forms' are in CCC 676? – Destynation Y Jul 4 '18 at 16:25
  • Why do you think that "millenarianism" in 676 refers only to premillenialism and not postmillenialism? – Nathaniel Jul 4 '18 at 22:08
  • @Nathaniel I can't say I'm sure it doesn't, but I was focusing primarily on a- and pre-. Post- is often neglected in these discussions, since so few hold that position. The wording of CCC 675 seems to exclude post-, but not necessarily, and CCC 676 doesn't quite include it. However, I'm realizing now that "modified forms" may mean anything other than a-, but I cannot find anything in the canon law requiring faithful Catholics being compelled to believe a- over anything else, which is the primary point of the question. – 3961 Jul 4 '18 at 22:39
  • @DestynationY I'm not sure. See my above comment. I'll dig a bit further later and see what comes up. I'm hesitant to delve into the Father's writings, as they sometimes conflict and it doesn't seem the church has placed a- as an "extraordinary (infallible) teaching". – 3961 Jul 4 '18 at 22:40
  • So the Church has infallibly excluded pre- but not infallibly standardized a-? Now that is interesting. I know that the CCC, at least in apperance, prohibits pre- but then again CCC 390 affirms that the fall of man is figurative, yet we know that in actuality there is no prohibition against taking the fall of man literally as do all Catholic creationists. And creationism was the official teaching of the Church until very very recently. Therefore in your answer you must distinguish between ordinary Magesterium(fallible) and extraordinary Magesterium(infallible). – Destynation Y Jul 4 '18 at 23:29

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