The Day the Earth Stood Still. . . And Laughed

After listening and watching the rising notice of Harold Camping’s Judgement Day prediction this week, I cannot fail to note that the world is more or less the same as it was two days ago.  Nobody was raptured, the dead didn’t rise, and Jesus didn’t come back.  Most of the world did pause as their various time zones reached the 6:00 p.m. doomsday marker and now some are facing this news with disappointment and confusion, others are mildly amused, and others are laughing gleefully.  Quite frankly, I’m angry.  I’m angry that this Camping fellow was able to make this outlandish claim that the he knew when Jesus was coming back, I’m angry that he was given so much media attention, and I’m angry that he created a false teaching under the title of Christianity.

Now, it’s pretty easy to understand why the rapture didn’t happen yesterday like Camping predicted.  First off, Lutheran doctrine doesn’t believe in a rapture of this sort.  We believe in one second coming, that will be Judgement Day and the beginning of the New Heaven and New Earth (okay, this is a pretty shoddy description of Lutheran end-times beliefs, go to http://cyberbrethren.com/2011/05/19/is-the-world-going-to-end-on-may-21-maybe-but-remain-calm-dont-panic-heres-why/ for a better explanation.  Better yet, go to the explanation of the Second Article of the Apostle’s Creed found in Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation).  Likewise, it’s pretty clearly stated in the Bible that nobody, including Camping, will know when this will happen (Matthew 24:36).  Ta-da, Camping’s prediction was biblically unsound.
However, the media attention given to Camping and his misguided followers certainly added momentum to this movement.  News stories, forum discussions, and even a mighty Facebook and Twitter following helped announce the May 21 End-of-the-World Theory.  Granted, I’m adding to the problem now by continuing the conversation, but I’m not a national news program.  
Both of this above issues are irritating in themselves, but then I read an online pamphlet produced by these folks at http://www.ebiblefellowship.com/outreach/tracts/may21/.  There are so many made up facts and half-truths in this tract that I don’t even want to point out every one of them.  However, I will bring up the fact that in this entire pamphlet they don’t point to Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins as the means of our salvation.  Nor do they point to Christ’s resurrection as the reason for our hope and joy of His second coming.  Instead, it is written to frighten us with talk of destruction, death, and damnation.  Now, I’m not here to say that rubbish about nobody going to Hell because God is too loving, but it is vital to remember where our hope lies–in Christ.  The Gospel reading from this morning was such a comfort, stating, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may also go,” (John 14:1-3).  That doesn’t sound like God wants us to fret and worry about the end times, it sounds like a comfort to me.  So, Mr. Camping, if you are to predict the end of the world again, use some other religion as your cover and lay off Christianity for awhile.     
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