Friday, May 20, 2011

The World is Ending Tomorrow! Absolutely...definitely...maybe...well maybe not.

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but since everybody else is talking about it, I may as well. Harold Camping, who is president of the California-based (no comment) “Family Radio,” a Christian radio “ministry,” has caused quite a stir with his prediction that the “Rapture” will happen tomorrow, May 21, 2001, at 6:00 PM, Pacific time, I presume. There are billboards announcing the end of the world; people are putting their plans in order for their imminent departure; and those who hold Christianity and all things Christian in contempt are planning “Rapture Parties” for tomorrow to celebrate their having been “Left Behind.”

Let me say three things about it.
Rev. Camping’s credibility is not all that high since this is not the first time he has made such a prediction. Apparently, predicting the Rapture is not an “exact science.” In any case, the whole notion of the Rapture is not one on which all Christians agree. In point of fact, the New Testament passages that are typically used to make the case for a “Rapture theory” are few, not all that clear, and open to various interpretations.

Finally, and what is of most concern to me, the truly regrettable aspect of the current “Rapture mania” is that fact that all the silliness surrounding it merely serves to trivialize what is a central biblical affirmation; namely that God is Lord of history, and that some day, some way, at a time of His own choosing, God will bring the story we call human history to a fitting and appropriate end. As C. S. Lewis, with his typical British understatement, put it: “When the author walks on to the stage, the play is over” (Mere Christianity, “The Practical Conclusion”).

Meanwhile, there’s work to do. Will it happen tomorrow? I don’t know, and I don’t know who knows. I know this: When it does happen, it will be too late to feign righteousness and goodness and integrity if one hasn’t been practicing righteousness and goodness and integrity all along. There’s no point in trying to change sides and pretend, “I was with you all along,” when the flag is being run up in the square and there’s now no “side” to choose except His. The pious frauds will be apparent to all. About some we’ll say, “Oh no, not you!” About others, we’ll say: “Ahh, I knew it all along.”

Moreover, I also wonder if those who say they long for the Rapture to come really know what it is for which they’re longing. We have these idyllic and romantic and sentimental notions of what the end will be like when it comes, but I wonder….  Again, C. S. Lewis:

God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else – something it never entered your head to conceive – comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.

Meanwhile, for whatever “while” entails, there’s work to do – truths to tell; promises to keep; love to give and to receive; suffering for righteousness’ sake to be endured; the “peace which passes understanding” in which to live; and faith in what some dismiss and others deride to be believed. Perhaps, Lewis suggests, “God is holding back to give us that chance.”

But if it should come tomorrow, start the party without me. I don’t plan on being there…I hope.


Milton said...

Right on target Wayne! Milton Kliesch

Milton said...

Right on target Wayne! Milton Kliesch