Why Predicting Christ’s Return Makes a Mockery of Christianity


Thousands participated in the mockery of Christianity Saturday, May 21st 2011. Harold Camping, President of Family Radio, predicted that Christ would return this last Saturday— “We know without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen.” While thousands were selling all they owned, giving their savings, retirements, and possessions to spread Camping’s message, millions of others, at the same time, plotted some well-mannered frivolity to mock Camping and his followers. One needs only peruse Facebook or various images on the web to find some of the jokes in which people participated. Thousands of outfits were laid about in yards, pants and clothes were propped up in chairs, and various articles of clothing absent bodies to fill them were left in precarious positions amidst regular activities. Some of the more humorous displays were the boxers left by some holy saint raptured while on the toilet, the skateboarder taken to heaven in the middle of a skate session, and the lone leashed dog on a walk with his now missing master.

The mockery was easy to participate in. Thousands of Christians joined this “post-rapture looting”— the Facebook group created to document such funny jokes about the rapture. I was swept into the jokes, as no doubt many Christians were as well.

The joking took a deeper and darker turn early Saturday morning. After noticing that several friends had joined the “Post-Rapture Looting” group, I decided to check it out. I found various collections of humorous photos coupled with outright mockery and hateful drivel about Christians, God, the idea of Christ’s return, and the rapture in general.

This mockery was no longer (if it had ever been) about Harold Camping and his predictions about Christ’s return. It was about rapture, the return of Christ, and Christianity in general.

While hundreds of believers gathered around the Family Radio Station Saturday evening at 6:00 P.M. in anticipation of Christ’s return, huge “Rapture Parties” were held as well. Ed Holmes, known as Bishop Joey in the satirical group First Church of the Last Laugh, led several revelers in a pre-apocalyptic bash in front of the radio station. They drank beer, danced and released helium balloons with blow-up dolls attached at 6:00 P.M.

This sort of mockery of the rapture was not isolated to just this group. The American Atheists hosted Rapture Parties across the country and thousands of people on Craigslist offered to buy expectant rapturees’ property for a modicum of it’s true value. Some even advertised pet care for those raptured, so that, while owners may be in the presence of God, they can rest assured that their pets which they left behind were well taken care of.

This mockery is not of Harold Camping, it is of Christianity.

While numerous Christians do not believe in Dispensational theology, that Christ will return, a rapture will occur, and judgement will fall upon the earth before God’s kingdom is established on Earth, many still do.

Regardless, the notion that a God exists, Christ is his physical expression, and He will return one day is a ridiculous fairytale to many atheists, agnostics, and cynics.

Whatever your eschatology, it is a mocking point to those who joked and partied on Saturday.

And while numerous Christians cited the Matthew passage in response to Campings predictions, that “no man knows the day or hour” (Matt. 24:36), these same Christians often make predictions themselves—less precise to be sure, but predictions nonetheless.

As a young Christian raised in an evangelical non-denominational church in the 80’s, I was taught that Christ would return at any point. All the prophecies had been fulfilled. We should expect Him within the next ten years!

Those ten years are long gone.

These words even came out of my mouth. “It will happen soon, certainly before 2005. But without a doubt within my lifetime.” These are predictions, and they have been made for thousands of years. Christians believed Christ was returning in 100 AD, 1000 AD, 1666 AD, and 2000 AD. This is nothing new. And every time the threshold of what was predicted is reached, disappointed and despondent Christians walked away thinking that the scripture and the promise of Christ’s return is a load of crap.

Predicting Christ’s return, in whatever breed or form, will ultimately lead to mockery.

We ought to leave Christ’s return in the category in which He left it—a mystery in which He didn’t even know the time and would be like an unseen thief in the night.

How have you reacted to this whole “doomsday” business? Did the rapture prediction make you change any behavior or cause any new thoughts or questions?

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  • What makes me sad about this whole thing is that the people that are following this stuff are not stupid.  We are equipping them incorrectly.  We have made it easy for a person to blindly follow someone on the basis of their “authority.”  We have not trained people to challenge and think about what people are saying, and compare it to the Word of God.  

    Read this quote from the Yahoo article today on the new Oct 21st date:

    “Follower Jeff Hopkins said he spent a good deal of his own retirement savings on gas money to power his car so people would see its ominous lighted sign showcasing Camping’s May 21 warning. As the appointed day drew nearer, Hopkins started making the 100-mile round trip from Long Island to New York City twice a day, spending at least $15 on gas each trip.”I’ve been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I’ve been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car,” said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, NY. ‘I was doing what I’ve been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I’ve been stymied. It’s like getting slapped in the face.’ “Whose fault is that?  I think it is our fault.  Maybe not with Jeff Hopkins, but there are people like this in our life everyday that we have an opportunity to spend time with and talk about Jesus with them.  Not only talk about it, but take time to talk about the Bible and what it says to us.

  • Very true indeed. But from this situation, it has given many people the chance to explore and rethink what we believe about the coming of Christ, the rapture, and eschatology. Let’s teach people the truth according to the scripture—not human fashioned time-tables to the apocalypse. 

  • Mike Lardi

    …don’t have much time to discuss the details here, but, I had some TREMENDOUS conversations with my bar customers when they asked me if I knew anything about this last week. Joking aside, we had a great time sharing in the bigger issue: the absurdity of the rapture to meet Jesus Christ at His 2nd coming (and the believer’s willful belief in the certainty of this prophetic event)!

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