Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crying wolf . . . again

The rapture will take place today. That’s according to Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California. His followers, from Family Radio Worldwide, have preached that the end times will take place this year, and they have spent huge amounts of money on extensive advertising campaigns, bus tours and thousands of billboards.

As usual, many mainstream Christians have responded by saying that this is all bunk, that “no one knows the exact hour or day” of Jesus' return. This response is quite strange to me, as I've known many Christians who believe that Jesus will come back in their own lifetimes. In fact, I once attended a youth summer camp where one speaker was convinced that we were the “Joshua generation” and that we would be the ones to witness Jesus’ return. If it is hubris to name the exact time and date of Jesus’ second coming, as Camping has done, isn’t it just as arrogant to name the decade or even the century?

But I wonder if all this Armageddon stuff isn't getting a bit old. For 2000 years Christians have been crying wolf, each generation believing - sometimes with absolute certainty - that they were the ones who would witness Jesus’ return before their deaths. In fact, Jesus himself seems to imply in Matthew 24:34 that the end times would happen within the lifetime of his disciples. But the reality is that, even after all these years, nothing has happened. It goes to show that no matter how certain you are about a specific belief, it doesn't mean that that belief is true.

Life will just go on as usual tomorrow; there will be no rapture. Believers at Family Radio call people like me ‘scoffers’ for saying that, but the problem doesn't lie with me; the problem lies with reality: it has a way of not aligning itself to people's beliefs, no matter how certain those beliefs might be.