Posts Tagged “rapture”

Teachings of Jesus 38 of 40. the rapture. one in the field. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer BibleAs I’ve blogged so many times, religionists love to use any and all disasters to promote their dour metaphysics. Everything that happens is, for them, an object lesson and/or a warning that proves them correct. Earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, droughts, famines, wars, accidents, etc. are all useful to them in this regard. It makes no difference what sort of awful thing happened … religionists are mercenary enough to just go ahead and use it.

The latest example of this involves the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (which has gripped the mass media like nothing else over the last couple weeks). And it comes from Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the famous evangelical preacher Billy Graham; to her, the plane’s disappearance is a harbinger of something to come (WebCite cached article):

The pictures of grieving friends and family members of those who are missing are heart-wrenching. I have prayed for God’s peace and comfort for them, as well as God’s direction of the search and rescue teams who are desperately looking for clues that will solve the mystery. But the unanswered questions seem to intensify the horror…

How could a modern airliner drop out of sight so quickly and completely? …

Bottom line: Where are all the people?

The answers don’t seem to be forthcoming as I write this. But as I have prayerfully pondered all of the above, I can’t help but wonder…Is this worldwide sense of shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief, a glimpse of things to come? Is this a small snapshot of what the entire world will experience the day after the rapture of the church? Because the Bible is clear. There is coming a moment in time when Jesus will come back to gather to Himself all those—dead and alive–who have put their trust in Him. And on that day, the world will be asking, Where have all the people gone? Not just 239 of us, but millions of us.

On that day, with millions of people directly impacted by their own missing friends and family members…in the midst of overwhelming shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief…when the world searches for clues, how easily will they find The Answer in what I leave behind? Instead of an oil slick, will there be traces of His grace and glory and truth?

The day Lotz mentions, when “millions” of Christians will supposedly vanish spontaneously, is a reference to what evangelical Christians like her call “the Rapture.” This eschatological legend is based upon Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It describes how “the faithful” will be sucked up into the sky (the dead first, the living after them) to meet Jesus as he descends to earth during his Second Coming. Now, that by itself isn’t a lot to go on. Paul’s remarks about Jesus’ return doesn’t contain much narrative, and although Jesus says quite a bit about “the End,” he doesn’t say much about the Rapture moment, either. Taken as they are, these passages seem to be a sequence of events that comes in rapid order; first, Jesus and his heavenly host begin their descent (Mt 24:30 & 1 Th 4:16); the deceased “faithful” go up to meet him, then the living “faithful” (1 Th 4:17 & Mt 24:31), and after that, “destruction” will befall the earth, and presumably those who remain on it (1 Th 5:3). What evangelicals have done with the “rapture” verse is to couple it with other scriptural passages elsewhere that describe “the End” in greater detail.

As one might expect of such an exercise in creative reinterpretation, they’ve come up with a variety of ways to wedge it into their “End Times” mythology. In this regard it’s interlocked with another Christian legend, the Great Tribulation, a coming time of cataclysm and torment, described among other places in Revelation 9:1-21. Some evangelicals believe the Rapture will come at the end of the Tribulation; others believe it will happen somewhere in the middle of it; and the most popular belief — conveniently for them! — is that it will happen before the Tribulation begins. Each of these scenarios has what appears to be definitive and often exclusive scriptural support … all of which just demonstrates the folly of this kind of interpretation game. (Full disclosure: During my own fundie days, I was a “mid-tribber.”)

In any event, the notion that their Jesus will vacuum them off the earth at some point triggers a lot of fantasies in the minds of fundamentalist Christians. They imagine those who’re left behind will be horrified by the fact that so many people suddenly went missing, and they revel in this (“Hah, you insolent Jesus-haters! We’ll be up in heaven with our precious Jesus, while the rest of you will wallow in torment down on earth, terrified by our sudden departure — and then you’ll see we were right, after all!”). The famous and lucrative “Left Behind” publishing and media empire is built upon this schadenfreude.

This sort of giddy fantasy, based on suppositions built on suppositions, and capped by diatribes like Lotz’s, is all very irrational. It reveals a lot about evangelical Christians’ character … and it’s not flattering.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Christian Post.

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The Bible Guarantees It ... except when it doesn't! (Based on photo of Family Radio billboard.)The Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping finally came out of hiding after the failure of his Second Coming & Rapture prediction this past Saturday. He addressed his failure on his own Family Radio network of radio stations, according to the (UK) Daily Mail (WebCite cached article):

The preacher who predicted the end of the world has taken to the airwaves to reveal why we are all still here.

Harold Camping, 89, who became a figure of national ridicule after his warning of the apocalypse, said last night he was ‘astounded’ when May 21 came and went without the Rapture.

But he is already examining new theories… including the possibility that God did not want mankind to suffer for five months, and so will end the world all at once on October 21 instead.

And while the cadaverous crank admits the Rapture didn’t occur, he’s not conceding the Second Coming didn’t:

He also claimed that God did visit Earth on May 21 — but that he did so ‘spiritually’.

It was one of his faithful listeners, Camping claimed, who “revealed” why the Almighty changed his mind about the scheme he’d previously revealed to Camping:

He explained by saying he’d received a letter from a ‘listener’ who offered a very interesting theory he wanted to read.

He quoted: ‘The great earthquake and rapture and the universe melting in fervent heat will be happening on the last day — October 21 2011.’

‘It’s all going to happen on the last day.

‘The great earthquake didn’t happen on May 21 because no-one will be able to survive it for more than a few days or let alone five months to suffer God’s wrath because everything will be levelled and destroyed after that earthquake and there will be no food or water to keep everyone alive.

Aha. There, you see? God couldn’t impose five months of violent tribulation on post-Rapture humanity, because they’d never survive it. This only makes one wonder why the Almighty would have created this scenario in the first place, if he’d known all along that it was unworkable (and yes, the Almighty had to have known this in advance, due to his omniscience). This “explanation,” while it sounds sensible, only further reveals the irrationality of predictions like this, and it undermines the notion that God is implacable and once he makes a plan, he sticks to it forever (as he did, supposedly, in his covenant with Noah). If God can change his mind, then everything he ever said becomes questionable, and all of his promises, become useless.

What’s more, Camping based his prediction — which included a worldwide earthquake that was to have occurred at 6pm in each time zone during the day of May 21, 2011 — on (his reading of) the Bible, and one of Family Radio’s slogans, used in their ads, said, “The Bible guarantees it!” Camping thus admits the Bible’s “guarantee” is actually no “guarantee” at all.

Lastly, Camping’s claim that Jesus Christ did return on May 21, 2011, but he did so only “spiritually” or invisibly reflects what both the Millerites and Jehovah’s Witnesses did, when their own “End of the World” predictions fizzled in 1843/44 and 1914 respectively. Since the Millerites’ “Great Disappointment,” the Bahá’is have latched onto it, claiming that Jesus Christ did, in fact, return as predicted in 1844, when their proto-prophet, known as “the Báb,” began his mission.

Go figure.

The reason Camping, William Miller, Charles Taze Russell (of the JW’s), and so many others have managed to get away with this kind of stunt is because it’s all based on metaphysics. As such, their predictions are fuzzy and malleable, and there is no way either to confirm or refute them, even after they prove false … since people just cook up more metaphysics in order to explain the failure of the original metaphysics.

The bottom line is that anyone can make a doomsday prediction, any time s/he wants … but being correct about one, is damned near impossible.

Photo credit: Based on photo of billboard via Stuckinlondon.

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Judgment Day: May 21, 2011As I type this, it’s just after 6pm EDT where I am. Harold Camping’s promised May 21, 2011 Second Coming & Rapture — which he had said would occur at 6 pm in each time zone around the world (WebCite cached article) — has gone by, but without Jesus Christ reappearing, and with no discernible ill effects. The same time (i.e. 6 pm) has previously gone by, in — what? — 17 time zones around the world already, but likewise with no Jesus showing up, and no ill effects. And all the Christians are still here … no one, again as far as I know, has been vacuumed up into the sky to meet Jesus.

It would be easy for me to say something like, “I told you so!” or “I knew it!”, but honestly, that’s too easy. Anyone with half a functioning brain knew it wasn’t going to happen. For millennia, so-called prophets have claimed to know when “the End of the World” would come (cached), only to be proven wrong later, when the world managed, somehow, not to get exterminated at the appointed time.

For the record, the universe is also not going to end on December 21, 2012 … the so-called “Mayan Apocalypse” … either. The Maya did not actually predict any such thing, but even if they had, their credibility would be limited by the fact that they didn’t foresee the collapse of their own civilization around 900 CE.

I must, however, congratulate Camping and his sheep at Family Radio for diligently promoting this false prediction. The (failed) prophet was interviewed by many media outlets over the last few months, but never once conceded he might be wrong, and consistently refused even to entertain the question of what he would do if his Rapture never came.

That said, I’m still laughing at the cadaverous Bible scholar religionist crank, and at the morons and idiots who actually believed his nutty scenario. What do you fucking clowns think now that your “Bible-guaranteed” Second Coming never took place!?

Photo credit: JonDissed.

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The End is Near sign at Sweet Melissa's, SavannahI’ve blogged a number of times about Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping of Family Radio and his wingnut prophecy that Jesus is going to return on May 21, 2011 (this Saturday! hallelujah!) and that the world will end five months later, in October. It’s obvious the guy’s theories are whacked. But what I find amusing are all the other Christians out there who are trying to angle away from Camping and his sheep. Just one example of this is Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who penned a whine for the CNN Belief blog about how Camping makes Christianity look bad (WebCite cached article):

What harm is there in an 89-year-old preacher making prognostications about the end of the world?

First, such predictions give non-Christians one more reason to discount the Bible.

There are plenty more examples I could cite, but this one is enough to make the point that a lot of evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians are tripping over themselves trying to get away from the lunatic Camping and his “prediction.” The problem is that their religion is inherently predisposed to such predictions! Christians through the millennia have repeatedly predicted death, doom and destruction, based on any number of suppositions and extrapolations, only to be proven wrong eventually (cached). In fact, the founder of Christianity — none other than Jesus Christ himself! — made some very clear and explicit “End of the World” predictions, which likewise failed to come true:

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28)

“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27)

Those are not the only such predictions Jesus made, but they’re enough to make the point: No Christian can really be a Christian without believing in a Doomsday, and without believing in Doomsday predictions. To condemn Camping for making such a prediction, and triangulate away from him because he did so, is laughable. Selectively veering away from the more ridiculous aspects of their religion only makes Christians look like “fair weather” believers … eager to trumpet their metaphysics when they think it makes them look good to do so, but equally eager to get out of the way of the follies which are part and parcel of Christianity.

In case anyone isn’t already clear on the matter … all Biblical prophecy is bullshit. All of it. All the time. Forever and ever.

Photo credit: mmwm.

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Repent The End Is NearAre you excited? I’m sure the idiotic sheep from Family Radio who follow Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping are. They’ve been roaming the country lately, telling everyone they meet that Jesus Christ is returning in less than a week to suck up all the Christians and leave the planet to wallow in misery and torment, until the End of the World arrives, six months from now.

I eagerly await Camping’s prediction going bust, but cringe to think what sort of twisted rationale he’ll cook up to explain why it was wrong. The last time he made such a prediction, back in 1993, that September 6, 1994 would be “the End of the World,” he later said he’d made “an arithmetic error.”

I leave you with a link to a Salon article about Camping and his latest prediction, which ends thusly (WebCite cached article):

What will the Nostradamus and Mayan Calendar people say if the apocalypse doesn’t come in 2012? And how about the Family Radio believers and other Christian Adventists, with their appointed dates for Armageddon?

Well, the current predictions may prove false, but the doomsayers need not worry. The numbers can always be crunched again — and again and again.

Photo credit: Robert Bejil Photography.

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Snapshot of Washington Post video of Harold Camping, his followers, and their Project CaravanI’ve already blogged about Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping, who predicts that Jesus Christ will return — and vacuum all the Christians off the face of the earth — on May 21, 2011. With that date now less than two weeks away, he and his followers are now traipsing around the country in their “Project Caravan,” trying to scare the country into believing his insane apocalyptic drivel. The Washington Post reports on their (largely unsuccessful) attempt to get the nation’s capitol to buy into the bullshit (WebCite cached article):

The unexpected and potentially rotten news that the world will end on May 21 rolled into the District on Thursday morning, plastered on a caravan of five recreational vehicles that parked near the Washington Monument. …

As if the message weren’t scary enough, the dozen or so occupants of the RVs — vanguard of a national campaign funded by a fundamentalist Christian radio network and fueled by bus ads and Internet buzz [cached] — wore highlighter-bright yellow shirts that said “Earthquake So Mighty, So Great.” They offered pedestrians handouts saying there was “marvelous proof” that “Holy God will bring judgment day on May 21, 2011.”

Note that the Post gets Camping’s scenario slightly wrong. Camping does predict Christ’s return on May 21, but he doesn’t claim that will be when “the world will end.” Camping claims that will happen on October 21, 2011, after the non-Christian remnant left on the earth endures 6 months of horrific “tribulation.”

Also of note is the glee with which Camping and his followers embrace this disastrous scenario:

“Have you heard the awesome news?” the side of the RVs asked, in big bold letters. “The End of the World is Almost Here!”

Their elation at what they believe will be other people’s suffering reminds me of the Puritanical Church Father Tertullian, who described in detail how he plans to revel in the eternal torment of non-Christians, in his De spectaculis, chapter XXX (you can read this wonderful and enlightening passage in full, in my post on this Great Christian).

At any rate, the Post has video of Camping’s crew and their admitted failure to reach everyone they meet:

How pathetic. Maybe we should give these people real jobs, so they have don’t have time to roam the country trying to scare people into thinking oblivion is on its way.

And … as I always do with any post dealing with “Biblical prophecy,” I’m closing this post with a link to my page explaining how and why all “Biblical prophecy” — whether Camping’s or anyone else’s — was, is, and always will be total bullshit.

Photo credit: Snapshot from Washington Post video.

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Futurama, end of the world panicJesus will return, exactly one month from today … according to Bible scholar religionist crank Harold Camping. I’ve already blogged about this wingnut and his apocalyptic claim that Jesus plans to return on May 21, 2011, and upon his arrival vacuum up the world’s Christians in an event known to “End Timers” as “the Rapture.”

The sad part about all of this is that, when May 21, 2011 comes and goes, neither Camping nor his sheep will admit he was wrong. They’ll just spew out ridiculous excuses such as he made an arithmetic error. Then they’ll listen closely when he announces yet another date for “the Rapture,” and look forward to that.

Oh yeah, did I mention, Camping has been down this road before? Yep. He pulled this same bullshit stunt back in 1994 (cached). His followers appear not to have given a crap that he was full of shit back then, so I don’t expect they’ll care that he’s wrong, now.

The basic truth about any kind of Biblical prophecy — whether it comes from Harold Camping or anyone else — is that it’s all complete, unmitigated, unfiltered bullshit. Plain and simple. That’s all it is, and it’s all it ever will be. Period.

Photo credit: io9.com.

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