Varieties of end-times believers

May 20, 2011

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
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.


Rapture and Second Coming

In your second last paragraph you seem to equate (confuse?) the Rapture with the Second Coming. They are not the same thing. The Rapture had its doctrinal origins in the 18th-19th centuries. It is a fairly recent doctrinal development. The belief in Christ's Second Coming has been around as long as Christianity has been around.

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