I’ve been reading the The Fundamentals, the essays that form the backbone of the fundamentalist movement, (incidentally at the same time as I read the Complete Writings of Menno Simons for some interesting contrast) and was surprised to read the answer to question: Will the World Be Destroyed at Jesus’ Return? The short answer: No. A bit longer reason why not? Because the millennial reign requires an earth. Read the quotes below from essay 85 on “The Return of Christ” by Charles R. Erdman, D. D. (Princeton Theological Seminary): He first outlines the problem:
The great objection to the Pre-Millennial position is the apparent prediction of 2 Peter 3, that at the coming of Christ, in “the day of the Lord,” the earth will be destroyed; there could then be no place for a millennium. 18212
Notice that pre-millennial Erdman notes that “the earth shall be burned with fervent heat” is not literal:
The predictions of fiery judgments and consequent “new heavens and new earth” must be read in connection with Isaiah 65 and 66, from which Peter is quoting. It will then be seen that these expressions are in-so-far figurative that the earth still continues with its life, its nations, its progress, after these judgments are over. Terrific convulsions, and governmental, social and cosmic changes, only introduce a new and better age. 18218
Other passages indicate the world is still here, the Nile is flowing, etc.
So, too, “the day of the Lord” is a familiar phrase, and as we read Zechariah 14 we see that while, in that day, the Lord comes amidst appalling portents, His coming and the day itself are followed by a scene of great blessedness on this same earth; the Nile is still flowing in its course and the nations are going up to Jerusalem to worship. (Note also that in 2Pe 3:10 the most ancient manuscripts do not read “burned up” but “discovered.”) 18221
And this one is quoteable:
According to our Lord Himself His return is to bring “the regeneration,” not the destruction of the world (Mat 19:28; Luk 22:28-30). 18231
According to Peter, “seasons of refreshing” and “the restitution of all things,” not annihilation of the globe, will come with the return of Christ (Act 3:19-21). 18233
Even so Come, Lord Jesus!