The following is just a short excerpt from a longer article I wrote in 1993 called: Two Views of History
http://forerunner.com/forerunner/X0222_ ... story.html
Two Views of History
Briefly, we must now look at a subject which often bitterly divides Christians. Any Christian view of history must be completed by a view of the End Times and a scripturally based view about the events which will surround the Second Coming of Christ. Rather than name two dozen or more of the prominent eschatological viewpoints held by modern Christians, it should be sufficient to divide all of these views into two broad categories: Pre-Millennialism and Post-Millennialism.
The main points of the two views are as follows.
* The Millennium is thought to be a long period of time (it may or may not necessarily be a literal thousand years) in which the fulness of Christ's reign will come to the earth.
* A Pre-Millennialist believes that the actual, physical Second Coming of Christ must occur prior to the beginning of the Millennium. Before the Millennium commences the Antichrist will reign in the earth.
* A Post-Millennialist believes that Christ will physically return to the earth only after the Millennium is completed. Christ's reign over the earth from heaven increases during the Millennium as the Kingdom of God is continually advanced in the earth.
Much of the arguing between the two groups (and among factions within the groups) centers over the role of the Church during the End Times; the appearance of the Antichrist's one world government; and when the rapture is to occur. Without going into great detail, the following are the two views briefly stated:
Pre-Millennialism places the Church in a position of an "evangelism-only" role in the End Times (since Christ's Second Coming could be very near, it is necessary to save as many as possible while there is still time left); it places the appearance of the Antichrist's one-world-govern-ment somewhere during the last seven years of time; and it usually involves a Great Tribulation in the last seven years of time, during which the Church is to be raptured, or physically caught up to be in heaven with Jesus (there are several different views on when this event takes place). At the end of this Tribulation Period, the Second Coming occurs and the saints who were caught up to be in heaven for a period of time return to rule and reign with Jesus on the earth.
Post-Millennialism places the Church in a role, not only of evangelism, but of discipling the nations as well (not only will many be saved, but whole social structures will be transformed); the rule of the Antichrist is more loosely interpreted as the current world system of Satan which is being overthrown by the progressive, sovereign judgments of God; thus the Great Tribulation is viewed, not as a seven year time period, but as the sum total of all the judgments of God in history, and although the rapture is not usually focused on, it does occur at the very end of the Millennium when Jesus returns physically to the earth and the saints are simultaneously caught away to be with Jesus. Before the Second Coming, the Church's role is to rule with Christ, not in heaven, but on earth.7
It is easy to see which view of the End Times fits better to a Conspiratorial view of history; and which view fits better to a Providential view of history. To be fair, however, we must admit that there have been many Pre-Millennialists who have acted as though they believed in the Providence of God and have done great works to reform the nations (D.L. Moody and David Wilkerson come to mind). Likewise, there have been some Post-Millennialists who have held to wild conspiracy theories.
To promote a greater unity in the Church, eschatological differences should be put aside. The point to be made here is this: Your view of the End Times will affect how you view current events and it will even greater affect how you respond to the call of missions. If your worldview is dominated by conspiracy, then you need to change your thinking to allow the Providence of God to have full reign in the course of history and in your life.