Relates to the
Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
Many New Light Calvinist ministers thought the mass conversions of the Presbyterian Camp Meetings of the Second Great Awakening were proof that the end of the millennium was approaching and Christ would soon appear.
The postmillennialist believes that the millennium is an era (not necessarily a literal thousand years) during which Christ will reign over the earth, not from a literal and earthly throne, but through the gradual increase of the Gospel and its power to change lives. After this gradual Christianization of the world, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked. This is called postmillennialism because, by its view, Christ will return after the millennium.
Most New Light Calvinists believed their new methods and the subsequent increase in conversions were the result of God pouring out his Spirit before the return of Christ. They thought they were experiencing the final days of the millennium, which accounted for the great advancements in every human endeavor, including science. The animosity between science and religion did not exist for most of the nineteenth century. Ministers saw science as the handmaiden of the Lord. It was only after the Civil War when Darwinism was used to challenge the validity of the Bible that open hostility began. At that point, liberals like Henry Ward Beecher abandoned the Bible as truth and selected parts of it for moral object lessons without reference to the supernatural. This was the time when many ministers abandoned the belief that Jesus Christ is God and the belief in Hell and the belief in the miracles of the Bible, including regeneration as a supernatural change of nature with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This was the time of the Downgrade that Spurgeon fought until finally he left his Baptist association because they would not subscribe to a statement of orthodoxy.
Protestants expected at the end of the millennium, the vast majority of men living would be saved. It was thought that faith, righteousness, peace, and prosperity would prevail in the affairs of men and nations. When these conditions were met, Jesus Christ would return visibly, bodily, and gloriously, to end history with the general resurrection and the final judgment. They were wrong. The increase of Christianity in the nineteenth century did not continue, and with the rise of materialism, socialism, humanism and psychology as an alternative explanation for the workings of the soul of man, the return of Christ was left for another age.