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Varieties of end-times believers

Everybody's making fun of Harold Camping--who says the rapture's happening tomorrow, for real this time--and with good reason.

But with all the rapture jokes and day-after parties and flow charts going around, it's worth remembering a basic distinction: there are people who believe in the rapture, and then there are those like Camping who think they can predict the date.

As a child I fell into the former category. I watched the Thief in the Night movies at youth group. If mom came home ten minutes later than I expected, I'd worry that maybe she wasn't at the store--maybe she was up in heaven without me. When she did come home I'd say an extra sinner's prayer, just to be on the safe side next time around.

But I never latched onto a particular date for the rapture, though various predictions popped up from time to time. The leaders at the church I grew up in had no use for such prognostications, because they understood them to be antibiblical.

I no longer believe in the rapture. Like CCblogger James McGrath, I'm convinced that it's long past time to stop talking about a literal second coming.

Still, it's worth keeping in mind that while Camping and his May 21 followers are pretty fringy, a whole lot of Christians believe that the rapture will happen at some point. I suspect they might not appreciate all the broadly anti-rapture humor bouncing around this week--because most of them join the rest of us in thinking that Camping's way off base.

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Rapture and Second Coming

In your second last paragraph you seem to equate (confuse?) the Rapture with the Second Coming. They are not the same thing. The Rapture had its doctrinal origins in the 18th-19th centuries. It is a fairly recent doctrinal development. The belief in Christ's Second Coming has been around as long as Christianity has been around.


To me, the bigger issue in the short-term is how these theories profoundly effect American discourse. I have a blog up detailing the reaction to Obama's speech touching on Israel where I highlight the rapture types outrage at Obama based on what they claim the Bible says about Israel/end times.


nice blog

agreed, it doesn't feel right to mock people who have different beliefs.

here's a link to an article I wrote that does rather deep with all of this:



That's essentially what I was

That's essentially what I was trying to say in this interview for the International Business Times, though I admit that the headline sounds a little bit like I was joining the throngs of scoffers. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/148686/20110519/judment-day-harold-camping-may-21-doomsday-amy-frykholm.htm

Nice comments there. But yes,

Nice comments there. But yes, that's a doozy of a headline.

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