The Day After
"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
As many know, Harold Camping, the founder of a Christian Radio broadcasting network, predicted that yesterday, Jesus would rapture away his church. He published this fact far and wide through radio, TV, USA Today, and various social networks. We can confirm that Mr. Camping was again, wrong in his prediction. It was not the first time that Mr. Camping errored, as he had made a similar prediction years ago, which he attributed to a mathematical error.
The fact that so many self-identifed Christians believed his predictions and sold property and quite jobs is not startling, but sad. Even more discouraging is the fact that some of Mr. Camping's adherents still believe even though his prophecies are not true (see article on yahoo).
Looking at the hoopla surrounding this event calls to attention the following:
1. Many self-identified Christians are Biblically Illiterate. This does not mean that Christians can't read, but that often we don't read the Bible. We need to know what the Bible, specifically what Jesus said in the Bible, about life, death, and eternity. This is a call for all churches to emphasize study of the Word.
2. The world is still fascinated with the apocolypse. Its interesting that Mr. Camping is not well known nor does he have traditional credentials as a theologian, but many media networks picked up his story and ran with it. This suggests an ongoing interest in the world regarding end times. There is a real sense of fear of judgment. The fear comes out in a need to mock it. This is a great opportunity to talk about Jesus' approach to judgement: Grace with Truth.
3. Its time for the authentic church to truly evaluate dispensational theology and the theology behind the "rapture". While this theological system is only about 120 years old, it has been a favorite of conservative evangelical churches, seminaries, and publishers for the past 40 years. Critical evaluation has shown that not only has this system not been favored by the church for most of its life, but that the teachings are somewhat speculative. A clear reading of scripture, beginning with what Jesus said about the end times, does not show a pattern of the church being removed from the Earth prior to worldwide tribulation. The church needs to wrestle with this.
4. Just because He didn't..... Jesus did promise to return and states that no person will know the date. Therefore, just because he didn't come on the 21st, doesn't mean he can't come today, or tomorrow, or the next day. One of the clear themes of New Testament scripture was the immediacy of the return of Christ. We are to live in that urgency.
5. Please do not mistake sincerity and truth. I admire Mr. Camping and his followers for their sincerity. It takes courage to speak with conviction when others are mocking you. Yet, it is possible to be sincerely wrong. The Bible calls this "being zealous without knowledge". I know many pastors who are sincere, zealous, and ambitious for God, but in ignorance, and sometimes arrogance, have led their followers astray. This is why ignorance is never bliss. What you don't know, will kill you. This is why I ask my congregation to check what I am saying against the Word of God. Let everyone be convinced by scripture, reason, tradition, and experience.
In the day after, I hope that you are blessed and still looking forward to the blessings of blessings, the real return of the King.
Pastor M Traylor