In the World

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

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?

Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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