Varieties of end-times believers
Everybody's making fun of
Harold Camping--who says the rapture's happening tomorrow, for real this time--and with good reason.
But with all the rapture jokes and day-after parties and flow charts going around, it's worth
remembering a basic distinction: there are people who believe in the rapture,
and then there are those like Camping who think they can predict the date.
As a child I fell into the
former category. I watched the Thief in the
Night movies at youth
group. If mom came home ten minutes later than I expected, I'd worry that maybe
she wasn't at the store--maybe she was up in heaven without me. When she did
come home I'd say an extra sinner's prayer, just to be on the safe side next
But I never latched onto a
particular date for the rapture, though various predictions popped up from time
to time. The leaders at the church I grew up in had no use for such
prognostications, because they understood them to be antibiblical.
I no longer believe in the
rapture. Like CCblogger James McGrath, I'm convinced
that it's long past time to stop talking about a literal second coming.
Still, it's worth keeping in
mind that while Camping and his May 21 followers are pretty fringy, a whole lot
of Christians believe that the rapture will happen at some point. I suspect
they might not appreciate all the broadly anti-rapture humor bouncing around
this week--because most of them join the rest of us in thinking that Camping's
way off base.