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 time around.
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.