Please don't read the title of this blog as

arrogant--my life is worth living because of something

much greater than me. While I have been richly blessed,

I am definitely not free of trouble, pain, or stress.

But I know through it all that life is still worth

living. Through this blog I hope to walk through

life with you... (and hopefully hone some book ideas.)

Thanks for joining in the journey!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it

So really, who doesn't love a little bit of old REM? I think it is safe to say that their old 80s tune has seen a bit of a Renaissance over the past week or so. If you've been trapped in a cave which you have somehow managed to escape for the sole purpose of hopping on a life worth living let me bring you up to speed. Some crazy old coot, Harold Camping, convinced a bunch of people that Christian believers would be raptured over this past weekend. Never mind the fact that the guy made a similar false prediction in the 90s. Also maybe avoid the words of Jesus from Matthew 24:36: "But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Those are just messy things to avoid. Who needs facts, right?

I'm not exactly sure what enrages me most about the whole thing... could it be the fact that the guy is raking in huge cash from naive sheeplike people? CNNMoney has reported that Camping's organization received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009 alone. Or is it that ridiculous self-aggrandizing 'prophecies' like this make a mockery of authentic Christianity, marginalizing followers of Christ as either (1) nutcases, or (2) snake-oil salesmen and women? Every part of this makes me physically angry.

People like Camping use a God-given (believe it or not) gift of charisma to manipulate people into revering them. They unabashedly put themselves in the place of adoration and worship that should be solely reserved for the very God they blaspheme. Rather than drawing near to God, many people flock to a cult of personality to provide their source of hope. On one hand I feel sorry for the people duped into following guys like Camping, they obviously want to believe in God's restoration and redemption. On the other hand I want to shake them and remind them of the words of Jesus, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16. Innocent? Clearly. Wise? Not so much.

I understand that we live in a world that needs redemption. Part of me would love to have Jesus return this afternoon so all the negative aspects of Creation could be immediately redeemed. But another part of me would be bummed if it happened this afternoon because of all of the people who have yet to come into an understanding of who Christ is. Do I want pain to end? You bet, but not if it means that those who could be transformed by an interaction with God don't get the chance because of a premature return of Jesus. There is no pain that we could experience that requires alleviation at that high cost.

Camping has now revised his prediction. Previously he marked May 21st as the date of the Rapture with a part two coming on October 21st. The October date marks the complete destruction of the Earth. Apparently he miscalculated and now claims that both events will be taking place in October. You know what is so crazy about all of this? He will more than likely bilk plenty more people of their hard-earned money over the next five months.

Here is the Good News... Jesus wins. In John 16:33 Christ says it like this, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world." It will not be all sunshine and rainbows moving forward, but when faced with every negative circumstance to come we need to remind ourselves that Jesus overcame it all... even shady false-prophets.


Anonymous said...

So do you think the dude's a snake or a crazy person?

Bloggy Bloggerstein said...

Good question...

Oh, side note--did you know that if you click Name/URL instead of Anonymous it will allow you to name yourself rather than having to stick with anonymity? Just a suggestion.

As for your question, it brings to my mind something CS Lewis once wrote about Jesus. He said either Jesus was who he claimed to be (Lord), he was a lunatic who honestly thought he was Lord but was crazy, or he was a liar who knew that he wasn't Lord but set himself out as such intentionally.

This guy: I don't know, I don't know him. I think we can rule out the authenticity of his claims based on his track record and our reading of Scripture. Could he be a snake, knowingly deceiving people for illicit gain? Could be. Or is he a nutjob who believes the nuttiness he is claiming? Could be. Or he could be some combination of both snake and crazy.

Whatever he is he isn't worthy of drawing a following. If Jesus was a lunatic then he didn't have the mental capacity to lead anyone. If Jesus was a liar then he didn't have the character to lead anyone. If we choose to follow Christ it is because we believe who he set himself out to be. If we choose to follow this Harold guy then it is because we believe him... which we don't.

So in a long answer to your short question, I don't know, but either identity destroys his credibility in my opinion.