I was interviewed by Madison Matthews about the "rapture" in today's Johnson City Press, Going...Going...Gone?
While the Rev. John Shuck, pastor of First Presbyterian of Elizabethton, considers the doomsday prediction to be silly, that doesn’t keep him from being concerned about the people who have fully bought into Camping’s ideology.I didn't tell Madison that the real reason I didn't think the Rapture was happening today is because I am Jesus' secretary and he told me via special revelation.
“I’m kind of worried about it, to tell you the truth. I’m worried that people will take this seriously. I think that this illusion has really kind of hooked a lot of people into it,” he said.
The reaction from most Christians to Camping’s prediction has been a sort of collective scoff, but a large number of people — especially in larger cities — have latched onto the belief that when the clock strikes 6 p.m., the world as we know it will come to an end.
“This guy is incredibly fringe. Most evangelicals and those who even embrace the idea of the Rapture wouldn’t go with this guy. I think those people are even embarrassed,” Shuck said. “It certainly makes Christianity look foolish, but a lot of things do.”
The Rapture — the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise prior to a period of tribulation on earth that precedes the end of time — is a relatively new notion compared to Christianity itself, and most Christians don’t believe in it. And even believers rarely attempt to set a date for the event.
Shuck said he’s not surprised by the religious fervor caused by an impending Rapture scenario. He said a belief like this — which features an exact date and time — might come as a quick fix for people, especially in the wake of an economic downturn and other events taking place across the globe.
“An escape to heaven may seem attractive for some,” he said. “I think people like certainty. If there’s difficult times, people like the idea that there’s another place. The idea of being beamed up to heaven and not having to deal with the stuff on earth is attractive during uncertain times.”
But Camping is the latest in a long string of “Apocalypse Now”-minded preachers, a style of preaching that Shuck said is really a remnant of 19th century theology.
“It’s a rather kind of destructive notion with the idea that all the supposed saved ones escape rather than deal with the problems on earth and make it a better place, so that notion of escapism, I can’t see is helpful for society or for Christianity,” he said. Read more
Remember? He won't be back until 2525. Here are Jesus' parting words when he missed the last Rapture on 7/7/07:
Dear Earth Friends,
I know you are disappointed. I am as well. My secretary, John, of 9B8 gamma sector, will fill you in on the details. He is a mensch, I tell you. A little flighty, but he has a good heart. No one is more disappointed than he is about the delay. I have to be where I am needed. A star in Andromeda is about to go supernova much earlier than I expected so I have to rapture those folks first. My job seems to be all about responding to one emergency after another!
Speaking of emergencies, I know that you think that times are perilous on Earth, with global warming, energy concerns, increasing population, Paris Hilton misbehaving and so forth. I tell you the truth, these problems are not as large as you think. You humans have been endowed with reason, compassion, creativity, imagination, and opposable thumbs! You can do it! I have complete confidence in you!
You just need to believe in yourselves! You don't need me to rescue you. You have everything you need within and among you! Even though I am going to be physically out of reach for the next 500 years, I am with you in Spirit! For inspiration, my Sermon on the Mount, is still an award winner. Also, you might want to read some of Tom Robbins's novels. He cracks me up! And what he says is so true!
Here are three things to remember:
And be lighthearted! Don't you think it is amazing that you even exist??!! Look around you! Enjoy life! You can do it! I have complete faith in you.
- Clean up after yourselves.
- Don't take more than your share.
- Leave Earth in good repair for future generations.
The Buddha, Krishna, Muhammed, Pan, Moses, Sophia, Ma'at, Zeus, and all the goddesses, gods, prophets, and demiurges send their love and good wishes. With much admiration...
Your Friend, Lord 'n' Savior,
Now, of course, Jesus is on another errand and won't return for 500 years.
But perhaps al-Mahdi will visit?