Tuesday, May 17, 2011

4 days and the end comes - again

Over the last number of months I have been considering the problem of apocalyptic annunciations, and their impact on society. I do not have an educated position on the impact of apocalyptic warnings, and I am not sure that I even have a sense of the negative impact of repeated warnings of impending doom. What I do know is this: apocalyptic warning is a bad habit of people from every walk of life. Scientists and preachers alike appear to be susceptible to sandwich board declarations.

Over-population did not end the human race in the 20th century. California never fell off the west coast into the ocean, and I am not a burnt potato chip because the ozone layer disappeared. Y2K did not end civilization as we know it, and global warming is still to be determined as far as the ultimate impact.

Jesus did not return in the 500's, 1260 AD, 1844, 1914, 1974, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1994, and God is not going to begin wiping out the world on May 21st - 4 days from now.

Yet, it is also unlikely that either scientists nor religious leaders are going to learn from these lessons, and it is unlikely that either group will see themselves in the face of the other.

On one hand it is natural for both scientists and religious people to point toward an apocalypse. Whether the evil of this world deserves judgment from "Holy God," or we finally die as the universe moves toward an inevitable heat death we should at least learn this: If indeed apocalyptic concerns are built into the system of this tenuous and short life we live Prophets and priests have led the way in declaring the fact that there is an end, and there should be some thought about this fact.

To this the scientist owes the priest a debt for having led the way in apocalyptic concern, and the priest owes a debt to the scientist/skeptic who will not settle (well, not usually) for numerology and voices from beyond to determine the time of the end.

At least for this declaration from Harold Camping about the coming of judgment, I am planning on having fun and throwing a party on May 22nd.

For more check out my song on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3j5-0ZxM58


Unknown said...

Well, have to work May 22, but I do not know what I will walk into. I was not here in 1994, so I have no idea what the fallout will be.

Hey, you said that you have the same birthday as Martin Luther. If that means something, then what does my sharing a birthday with John Piper mean?

Bruce said...

Hi Phil. I'm planning to play at the Amazing Things open mike Bob Dylan Tribute, by singing When He Returns, from the gospel albums. I'm expecting that week to be no more eventful than the preceeding weeks. But, in keeping with the Faith once handed down to the saints, I'm expecting, and anticipating, His soon return. MAYBE it will even be on the 22nd, just because God likes to surprise us. If Christ doesn't return by the 21st, I'm hopeful that He'll come on the 22nd.

Pastor Phil said...

HI Victoria,

At least the fallout should not be nuclear. Well, unfortunately for the Japanese it might be.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Bruce, not being a fan of pretribulational rapture theology I can't say that I am expecting the 22nd either.

Bruce said...

You *probably* misunderstand me, because I didn't get my rapture views from Scofield but from I Thessalonians 5:15-18, which, try as I may, I can't read it as being metaphorical. Or a later addition. Or that Paul was mistaken. Or any other such thing.

There's all kinds of things in the Bible that are inconvenient truths. Some of them are taught by people we don't like. Some of them gore our own oxen. And from time to time, some of them say nice and comforting things to the likes of you and me. If you ever want to go through them, well, bro, I'll pull up a bar stool and we can have at it. I'll bring my 50 pound black leather Bible if you want. LOL

Jarred said...

1 Thes 5:15-18:

See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Um, what does that have to do with the rapture?

Jarred said...

Oh, I'm guessing that you actually meant 1 Thes 4:15-18. Granted, I might start at verse 13, where Paul makes it clear that the main point he's trying to make in that passage is that those Christians who have died will not remain dead, but rise in Christ. Making it about the rapture, let alone any particular version (pre-, mid- or post-trib) of the rapture strikes me as missing the central point to argue some side issue. But that's just me.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Bruce,

I think you mean I Thess. 4 not 5, and those verses do talk about the resurrection and people living when it occurs, but as far as perceiving it in an immanent perspective, which you do assume above, that passage does not put it in immanent terms. Scofield and Darby would read them that way, but that particular passage does not say that, and I do not assume it there. And THAT was my point. I do not believe in an immanent rapture, and because of that dislike the term "rapture" quite a bit.

Pastor Phil said...


You have a great point here. The passage was used by Paul to persuade Christians that everything will be alright with those who have died - God will come for them too.

Today we use the passage to comfort one another - not about those who have passed on, but about ourselves. As if to reverse it and say that God will not only raise the dead, but also come for you who might be living when Christ returns.

I wonder if our concerns appear to be focused more on self-comforting theology than a theology based in a concern for others?

Bruce said...

Sorry I got the Bible chapter&verse wrong. The part I was pointing to were these words: "For with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven, and those who died in Christ will rise first. Afterward we, the living who remain, will be caught up along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall for ever be with the Lord." (Little green pocket sized translation, fake leather edition, I Thes 4:16, 17.)

Like I said, sometimes the Bible gives us comforting words, and I try to believe them just as much as I believe the stuff that disturb the peace. Yes, yes, that's not where people go usually.

Unknown said...

Hey, Phil, excellent article. I'm puzzled by two things: that so many believers think that spirituality and logic(reason) are mutually exclusive, and that logic is not taught. If those two things could be corrected, so much of the foolishness you underscore here would not be. And BTW, the lack of reasoning skills is not limited to people of faith. I'm amazed, sometimes, at how even scientists leave logical process behind when it's time to formulate personal beliefs.

Bruce, assuming you believe in a period of time known as the tribulation, the passage you noted says nothing about the timing of the rapture in relation to it. There are plenty of other ones that do. And to me they make it so plain, I'm baffled by the differences in beliefs about it. ut aside from these, the idea that God would remove all His followers from the earth so he could teach inflict vindictiveness on the evil people left behind portrays a sado-masochistic God. But that's just me.

Bruce said...

I don't know nuthin' 'bout the tribulation. Sorry.
But about God being vindictive, that's just misreading how bad we are when being when we break the first commandment, and second. And reject God more generally. Everybody gets it that terrorists and pedophiles are evil, but when everyone in a society is like that, --work with me here-- if everyone in a society were like that, would it be fair for God to bring disaster on that group? I mean, we're just talking about a human level point of view, not even the problems involved in dissing God Himself.