The Rapture Trap

Monday, May 23, AD 2011

Well it’s Monday and it looks like we’re all still here.  The predicted Rapture event failed to occur, and now Harold Camping is scrambling to come up with an excuse.  While it’s tempting to revel in this man’s exposure as a con artist, we should temper our enthusiasm just a little bit.

For one thing, though we all knew that the rapture would not be occurring because, well, there won‘t be a rapture (also see Carl Olson’s excellent book on the topic), there will be a final day of judgment.  It could very well have happened on Saturday, and it may happen next week.  Or next year.  Or a billion years from now.  We simply don’t know when the final hour will be at hand, and if nothing else maybe this story can remind us to live our lives in anticipation for Christ’s second coming.

Moreover, though Camping deserves much of the scorn heaped upon him, we should remember that there are people who were taken in by this fraudster and who gave up everything because they truly believed that the end was nigh.  Writing at The New Republic, Tiffany Stanley explains why we should not be overly gleeful about this past weekend’s non event.

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22 Responses to The Rapture Trap

  • “The Founders for the most part emphasized the teachings of Jesus, not His divinity.”

    Actually no, most of the Founders were conventional Christians. Mr. Ward’s comment was as ignorant on American history as it was on Christianity. Jefferson was attacked as an infidel in the 1800 election because his adversaries realized that was an effective line of attack with the American people although not effective enough to re-elect the dour and charismaless John Adams. Jefferson took care throughout his administration to attend the religious services held each Sunday in the House of Representatives as a result, and kept his religious opinions private while he was President.

  • The Rapture happened all right. Just that no one was up to snuff.

  • It’s funny watching progressive Christians strain mightily to distinguish themselves from those embarrassing orthodox types they refuse to call brethren. You see it a lot over at the Reporter, with one confused columnist insisting on jettisoning the empty tomb to avoid being confused with an evangelical artist who had painted a mural of the Resurrection.

    “Please understand, Fellow Liberal Peers Whose Esteem I Value More Than Faith Itself–I’m not like those folks. I don’t believe in that s–t.”

    Given the rest of his letter, I’m sure [W]ayward’s take on Jesus’ divinity is equally…interesting.

  • Re: “… there won‘t be a rapture …”

    The coming of the Son of man, as referred to in Matthew 24:30, will not be a coming as a thief, as referred to in Revelation 16:15, because of all of the preceding signs in Matthew 24:5-29.

    The “rapture” is mostly defined as referring to 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. Is Paul Zummo claiming that 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 will not occur?

  • Face it, for 2,000 years, no one has been able to decipher Revelation, much less the rest of the cryptic passages in the Bible, many filled with ambiguity or mis-translated. The Bible: An old fiddle on which to play any tune. This rapture nonsense, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib and fun and games with eschatology is further undermining Christianity, which needs no further undermining.

    The Church (Catholic and otherwise) can’t stand too many more bad headlines. Agnostics like me would like to see you guys win one once in awhile. Tell the truth, I was disappointed the rapture, if there is one to be, didn’t occur. It’s time for a do-over.

  • Face it, for 2,000 years, no one has been able to decipher Revelation,

    Actually many smart biblical scholars have been able to offer meaningful insights into Revelation. You just have to read them.

    The Church (Catholic and otherwise) can’t stand too many more bad headline

    Since the Church had nothing to do with this ridiculous tomfoolery, and has been pretty consistent for 2,000 years on its end time theology, I don’t really see why it should be lumped in with people like Camping.

  • “Agnostics like me would like to see you guys win one once in awhile.”

    The victory was won a very long time ago Joe on the cross. As for your agnosticism, a hot house plant historically speaking, derived from the Enlightenment skepticism in Western Europe in the 18th Century, get back to us after it has been around for 2000 years like the Church.

  • Don, I still have hope you believers are right. Here’s what Evelyn Waugh wrote, which haunts me every day:

    “The Roman Catholic Church has the unique power of keeping remote control over human souls which have once been part of her. G.K. Chesterton has compared this to the fisherman’s line, which allows the fish the illusion of free play in the water and yet has him by the hook; in his own time the fisherman by a ‘twitch upon the thread’ draws the fish to land.”

  • Since the Church had nothing to do with this ridiculous tomfoolery, and has been pretty consistent for 2,000 years on its end time theology, I don’t really see why it should be lumped in with people like Camping.
    Paul, I realize Catholics in the main have nothing to do with Camping and his ilk. I was referring in a larger sense to the sex scandals and other internecine feuds harming the Church’s image in recent decades. I agree with Don that any institution that survives for 2,000 years must have some cred, and that the Founder remains the centerpiece of much of the human race is in itself a miracle.

  • Once a Catholic always a Catholic Joe. The late comedian Jackie Gleason when asked his religion would always say “Bad Catholic”. He once stunned the audience in a light-hearted talk show in the Seventies by responding to the question what he wanted more than anything else by saying “Eternal Salvation”. The host was taken aback by this and asked him, “Really?” Gleason said he couldn’t understand anyone wanting anything more than that. Gleason and most of the Ten Commandments were not on friendly terms during his life, to say the least, but he received the Last Rites on his deathbed, and I am sure he got what he wanted more than anything else.

  • Don, I still watch Bishop Sheen on EWTN regularly and have most of his old tapes and he was on the other night talking about “the ages of man.” He talked about how everything in the world has a purpose or goal, except that man sometimes cannot figure out what his is. He told a parable, which he was so good at, at seeing a worm in the mud and a bird with a broken wing in the mud. He said he didn’t feel sorry for the worm because that was its destiny; but for the bird, he felt sorry because the bird’s purpose in life is to fly. This struck me as quite profound.

    One thing that I keep going back to is Jesus washing the feet of his disciple as an act of humility. How is it that the God of the universe could stoop so low? To me this is the most profound act in all of history, and I ponder it constantly without understanding.

  • Joe,

    The answer is Love.

    Stop trying to figure out mysteries and simply talk to the Author Himself and ask Him for understanding.

    The end of the world is coming so get ready. Soon, whether alone or with the whole world we will face our Judge. It is better to beg for His Mercy now, tomorrow may not come. That is about all anyone needs to know about the end.

  • Knight, I have but get no answers after nearly 70 years of asking. My last words, if I get a chance to say them, will be: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

  • I have to say that among the non-religious I have encountered on the internet, Joe is the most sincere in seeking to find God. My prayer is that you find Him, Joe.

  • Joe,
    Every night as I lay down to sleep I recite the Act of Contrition — short version. “Jesus, mercy.”

  • Thanks, Paul. I appreciate support from any and all quarters.

  • I feel very sad for these people.

    I suspect that those who are nourished, whose relationships are good, whose career is satisfying, whose spiritual life is alive and genuine, who have enough money to pay the bills with a bit left over for modest treats and charities, did not fall for this snake oil.

    Life is hard for many. When someone like Camping promises that soon the suffering flock will be lifted into heaven to be forever with The Lord, leaving all that other crap behind, the lure is too tempting.

    And now they also must live with disappointment. Pray for them.

  • Author: Joe Green
    Knight, I have but get no answers after nearly 70 years of asking. My last words, if I get a chance to say them, will be: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

    Joe, you are wiser and closer to the Truth than you know. God always answers, even when He is silent. The miscommunication is ours, not His. I know where you are – I was there for a very long time. I thought God did not exist and that Jesus was a nice, social reformer. Yet Jesus was always attractive and one day I asked Who He really was and He told me – I AM. I began to realize that He talks, I don’t listen. The problem is knowing how to listen to Jesus, to actually hear God speak to your heart. Even when I came back to the Church, I came to understand so that I can believe. Jesus told me just as He told St. Thomas, blessed are those who believe without seeing.

    Once I gave Him my assent of faith, He began to give me understanding, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I used to think, in materialist temporal mode, that understanding preceded belief. In reality, faith precedes understanding. Even now, my understanding is limited, but when I allow the Spirit to speak to me, I gain more understanding. The scales do not fall from us in an instant, God works with us, where we are – He is patient and will not give us or ask from us more than we can handle. He is Mercy.

    Before I realized that I was Catholic, I was fascinated with the Apocalypse and became enthralled with the cutesy, superstitious end times ideas of evangelicals. The Book of Apocalypse was especially fascinating. Kind of odd for an unbeliever. Now that I look back, I realized that God was speaking to me where I was and drew me forth. Now I understand that the Apocalypse describes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, among other things. I went from thinking it was comic book about the end of the world, to knowing that it is the rubrics of the highest form of human worship of the Almighty. God is speaking to you now, try to listen to Him and open your heart so He can fill you.

    I am sure you are in all of our prayers.

  • Joe,

    I suspected it all along. You are a better man than I.

    That includes everyone else here. I have more cause for contrition than any one of you.

    I have until next Wednesday to do my Easter Duty.

  • Knight, Shaw & All Catholics: I’m glad that God has answered your prayers and that you have found peace and certainty. I cannot yet find that place though, Lord knows, I have tried.

    Remembering the Parable of the Sower, Who dropped seed on the path and it fell on rocky, thorny ground (me) and not the good earth (you) where it grows and yields much fruit. Because I cannot “truly understand,” the seed will not take hold.

    Now, also recalling Pascal’s Wager, I will bet there is a God, having a 50-50 chance, which at this point is the extent of my “faith.” A poor substitute for the real thing, but it’s at least something to cling to.

  • Joe that is a pretty big mustard seed you’ve got there.