How to talk about the rapture that didn't happen?

May 23, 2011

So, the rapture didn't happen over the weekend. CCblogger David Henson argues that "mockery and ridicule is the best
way to respond to such theology because it is ridiculous." He then offers a
roundup of funny church-sign messages real and imagined.

But Tiffany Stanley is weary of jokes at end-timers' (May
21-focused or otherwise) expense, calling the whole affair
"a small story." I appreciate her uneasiness with the open mockery flying
around the web. Still, I think Daniel Burke's response is the right one:

The Camping Crowd spent hundreds of thousands on billboards and
paraded around town squares nationwide, telling one and all that the Rapture was
coming on May 21 (in part because of gains in gay rights) and that everyone
outside their angelic band was going to hell. All on the word of an 89-year-old
civil engineer with a Bible and an abacus.

In fact, a good case could be made that the May 21
stories should have been tougher. A
California woman
tried to slit her daughters' throats on Friday
because she feared the Tribulation was coming. A man killed himself in 1994 after another of Camping's failed prophecies. Bank accounts have been drained, reputations ruined and families torn asunder. Point is, Camping's
ideas have human costs, and thus deserve fair but incisive coverage.

What do you think?


It will take a long time to

It will take a long time to overcome the influence of rapture promoters, but we do need to make the effort. I would suggest that all pastors read The Rapture Exposed by Barbara Rossing, and then have the courage to teach their congregations.

I believe that the best

I believe that the best response to this sad debacle is compassion. We all need to remember that many people have paid a great price for believing a false teaching. Mockery and ridicule don't show themselves in the definition of mercy - or grace. I also believe that we need to find a way to make this man accountable for the damage he has done - and the money he has ultimately gained from others' loss. Isn't that the justice that God calls us to seek and to share?

Mockery, no, but . . .

Strong criticism of this cockeyed use of Scripture, especially because so many innocent people were financial victims. Correct not just the 'date setting' but the entire dispensationalist program, rapture included.

Camping and End of the World

The fact that a 100 mil was spent on signage and other assorted media mystifies me - from whence does this kind of money come? But more than this, the human cost as noted in the article. Camping capitalized on the mystique of end-times prophecies. Folks desperate to escape, and folks eager to show their spiritual superiority line up for this junk, and junk it is. 

As always, the church needs to have a strong educational dimension to it's preaching. N.T. Wright's work on this is extremely helpful.

If Camping had been selling stocks and bonds, he'd be arrested for fraud and imprisoned. He's no different than Madoff, who likely believed in what he was doing, too, and thought he was a pretty good guy. But a crook is a crook - whether it be a Wall Street Dandy stealing money, or a wolf in sheep's clothing stealing faith and hope.

The Rapture that wasn't

I am more concerned that millions of Americans believe the same way Camping's followers do but without setting a date. Those who do not believe there will be a future insist upon governing our country as though there is no tomorrow.

Sometimes I wish the church

Sometimes I wish the church would rediscover the gift of satire as a method of bursting dangerous, controlling superstitions. Erasmus provides us with an excellent example of the power of satirizing and mocking something deeply flawed and dangerous that exploits the people.

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