Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wrong As Usual

I was driving to an event around 6 o'clock Saturday night.  I took an extra minute while paused at a stop sign to take a look at the sky.  I didn't see any bodies being assumed into Heaven.  I rolled down the window.  No trumpet.  I rolled up the window and increased the volume on the radio. 

Harold Camping, a California radio evangelist, was wrong again.  The world did not end, contrary to the predictions that his ministry have relentlessly hyped for the past year or so.  The first I heard of any of this was as I was driving home from work back in March.  Purple vans festooned with "The World Will End on May 21, 2011!  The Bible Guarantees it!" were rolling through the State Capitol grounds.

I didn't give it a second thought until I started reading news stories about people divesting themselves of money to give to Camping's ministry in anticipation of the End Times.  People quit jobs.  Left college.  All in expectation of no longer being on this Vale of Tears on the 22nd.  Well, guess what?  We're all still here.  Sinner and Members of the Elect alike.  People were willing to act on faith or at least to suspend disbelief.  This despite the fact that as of the May 22, Harold was 0-2 in the prophecy game.

As I say at times like these, this is an opportunity to teach.  If any aspect of Christian doctrine has proven spectacularly elusive it is the belief that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.  Every prediction dealing with the Second Coming of Christ has been wrong.  Every single one.  The early Christians thought His coming was imminent within their lifetime.  Wrong.  American theologian Barton Ehrman has posited that Jesus himself got it wrong when He preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  Because it wasn't.  And if anybody might have had a clue, it would have been the Son of God.

Just because End Time theology has been a spectacular failure in human history doesn't mean that it still doesn't have its adherents.  When I was a kid, a man named Hal Lindsey wrote a book called "The Late Great Planet Earth" that had everybody stirred up.  Lindsey predicted that the Great Tribulation would occur in the late Eighties.  I also seem to recall that he tweaked that prediction to allow as how it would occur around 2000.  Last I looked he was wrong both times.  And if the latest fuss over Mr. Camping's latest busted attempt at sooth-saying was not proof enough, I give you Tim LaHaye who has made a fortune with the "Left Behind" book series.

But back to Camping who admitted to being flabbergasted when the world didn't go kablooey last Saturday.  He now says that the Second Coming did indeed occur as previously scheduled.  Only Christ returned long enough to place a "spiritual judgment" on the world and execution of same will actually occur on October 21.  Kinda like the filing of a Lis Pendens to tie up property you are foreclosing on.

Now I don't know if Harold Camping is a charlatan, a con artist or whether he actually believes this foolishness.  I know he hasn't gone broke in the radio ministry.  I also know his reckless claims of certitude regarding May 21 led gullible followers to make imprudent decisions.  So far, I don't think Mr. Camping has offered to help them in anyway.

My birthday is on October 24, assuming that, well, the world is still here and all.  My tightwad buddy Don is not going to send me a present this year just in case.  I think it's just an excuse not to spend money.

He might as well send it.  Because I am going to offer my own prediction.

On October 21, Harold Camping will be 0 for three.

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