Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jesus Was Just as Wrong about the Rapture as Quack Harold Camping

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

     Fundamentalist Christian and multi-millionaire Harold Camping's doomsday prophecy was wrong.  Again.

     We're still here. As if there was any doubt.

     Robert Fitzpatrick, a retired transportation agency worker in New York, said he had spent more than $140,000 (£86,000) of his savings on advertisements in the run-up to 21 May to publicise the prediction. After 1800 passed and nothing had happened, he said: "I do not understand why... I do not understand why nothing has happened. I can't tell you what I feel right now. Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here." 
     "I had some scepticism but I was trying to push the scepticism away because I believe in God," said Keith Bauer, who travelled 4,830km (3,000 miles), from Maryland to California, where Mr Camping's Family Radio is based, for the Rapture. "I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this Earth," said Mr Bauer, a tractor-trailer driver, who took the week off work for the voyage. 
     Other followers said the delay was a further test from God to persevere in their faith. 
     [Camping] has predicted an apocalypse once before, in 1994, though followers now say that only referred to an intermediary stage.
     How did other "mainstream" Christians respond?  According to the BBC, "Many Christian groups however dismissed Mr Camping's ideas, with some describing him as a 'false prophet.'"

     Here's the thing.  The "god is testing our faith" and "false prophet" arguments have been used by Christians for two-thousand years to justify the delay of the parousia -- $140,000 word for "the rapture," ArmageddonApocalypse Now (and Later), Judgement Day, the end of the world, eschatology or whatever you want to call it. 

     Mainstream Christians--you know, like Catholics--much like some of Camping's followers, believe that the world is in an "intermediary" stage.  But the Catholic Church has a fancy two-thousand-year-old "Tradition" to pimp up its explanation with "accepted" and "scholarly" theology.  

     Catholics believe in an "already, not yet" realization of their god's "Kingdom" here on earth.  Let me dust off my Master of Divinity from the oldest Catholic seminary in the United States to explain this.

     Jesus, his disciples, and Paul believed that the end of the world was going to happen in their lifetimes.  They instructed people to leave their jobs and families, to stop marrying and having children, and to give away all possessions.  This is in the scriptures --"the Kingdom of God [sic] is at hand," "Anyone who does not leave father, mother, sister and brother behind has no place in my Kingdom," and so on.  Harold Camping's doomsday claims were a time-tested Christian incentive to trick vulnerable people into draining their bank accounts and children's college funds or to leave their fishing boats rotting on the shores.

     Early Christians believed that the world would end within a generation of Jesus' death.  But, when it didn't, they had to revamp their eschatology.  The shock and fear of this realization is evident in the New Testament, as "believers" struggle to understand and accept the not-so-immanent coming of the "Kingdom."  Over the centuries the Catholic Church developed it's "already, not yet" understanding of the coming of the "Kingdom." When Jesus died and "rose" from the dead, the "Kingdom" was made known in the world, but was not yet fully realized.  That will happen when Jesus "comes again" and the end of the world.  

     There will be "false prophets" who will predict the end of the world, but believers should not give into the temptation to believe them.  (It seems the Church learned from the mistakes of its founders.)  All of this is one big "god is testing our faith" argument.  

     But today's mainstream Christians call Camping crazy.  They are revolted by these modern day quacks who predict the end of the world.   They need to take the "Kingdom come" plank out of their own eyes and look at the failed predictions of their Jesus and saints.

     Christianity has been wrong for two millennia about the end of the world.  One reason that Harold Camping made headlines is to justify the denial that Christians have about the inconstancies, fallacies, and failure of their own scriptures and savior.  If Harold Camping is a quack, then so was Jesus of Nazareth.

     I feel sorry not for the adults that were scammed by Camping, but for their children.  Frightening your children into believing the world will end, now that's child abuse.


     Perhaps instead of Harold Camping and his saved followers disappearing, it's time that the world's many gods disappeared.