Sunday, June 12, 2011

May 21: What if you threw a rapture and nobody disappeared? Oops!!

If you're reading this, then obviously, you weren't caught up in the rapture on May 21st. But then again, neither was anybody else. I feel bad for misguided saints like Robert Fitzpatrick who sunk $140,000 of his entire life savings into purchasing ads, placards on NYC buses and subways to warn New Yorkers of the end times. Another one of Harold Camping's followers, 27-yr old Adrienne Martinez told NPR that "knowing the date of the end of the world changes all your future plans." Instead of going to medical school, she and her husband, Joel, moved to Orlando , spending all their savings to pass out tracts to warn everyone of the
coming rapture on May 21st.

Harold Camping is an unrepentant, misguided false prophet. He now says that he got the date wrong and the rapture will happen on Oct. 21, 2011. But don't hold your breath, quit your job or empty your life savings. Camping has been wrong more than once. In 1992, he published a book declaring that the rapture would take place on Oct. 28, 1992.

Living in New Hampshire at the time,  telephone and light poles were plastered with posters announcing the rapture. Even today, almost 20 yrs. later, these posters are still in evidence, resisting New England winters. They are indestructible, a monument to Camping's folly and heretical teaching which continues to lead some saints astray and providing fodder for late night comedians. Harold Camping is really a self-deluded man, teaching heresy with no real understanding of the Good News that the Apostles proclaimed. They did not proclaim the rapture, but Jesus who is risen from the dead and is the "way, the truth and the life."

Around 1969, I sat with about 100+ college students in a Christian frat house at UCLA listening to Hal Lindsey teach his pop version of the rapture which would appear a year of so later in book form, "The Late Great Planet Earth." It would become a mega-bestseller. I bought into the rapture, hook, line and sinker. I was brainwashed by Hal Lindsey and Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel). I remember trying to talk a friend out of going to medical school at the Univ. of Vermont. I told him that the rapture would come before he even finished his studies, and he would've wasted all that time studying when he could've been telling people about Jesus and preparing them for the rapture. Good thing he didn't listen to me. He's a cardiologist today at a teaching hospital and if he had given up his medical career, I would be carrying a load of guilt to this day!

In my '67 VW bug, I had a bumper sticker on my dash which read, "In case of rapture, this car is unmanned." I thought I was so cool and that I was warning my friends and preparing them for the coming disappearance of all the saints. But then, something the Prodigal Son who had an epiphany and came to himself while eating pig slop, I too had an awakening while eating and buying all this nonsense. God woke me up. He began to show me the foolishness and bad fruit of the rapture teaching. I saw young couples rushing to get married before the rapture. I saw others running up credit cards and not bothering to pay bills because none of this mattered if we were going to be raptured sometime in the next few months. Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa personally taught that Jesus would come back before 1974, and thousands of us as young believers were caught up in trying to warn our friends, family and strangers that there would be a great disappearance of the saints, and then the end would come.

I began to see that the rapture fit our drug-induced escapist culture. We didn't want to endure pain or suffering. We had sworn off drugs, so now we had adopted a new drug, the rapture, which will deliver us from this evil, wicked world and all our problems. It was easier to be caught up in the air than to live here on earth, holding down a job, paying bills, taking care of our families, enduring the sinful behavior of others as well as facing the hypocrisy of our own sinful behavior and unbelief. So much easier to fly away with Jesus than to allow Him to purify us through trials and suffering, refining us as pure gold.

Everywhere I looked, the only saw bad fruit coming from the teaching of the rapture. We were not being told to persevere and endure for His name's sake. We were the generation that wanted instant gratification. We wanted Christian perfection and we wanted it now--none of this suffering for Jesus and being conformed into His image by trials and persecution. We wanted to leave all behind and just go be with Jesus which was much easier than walking with Jesus daily, trusting Him to help us to endure our daily afflictions, trials, sinful temptations and sinful behavior.

What about you? Are awaiting the rapture? Do you believe that Jesus can come at any moment, even today? Do you think I've become a Christian cynic? In my next post, I will let you in on my current understanding of the rapture from scripture. I still believe in the rapture, but not as it's taught by Tim LaHaye (Left Behind series). BTW, if I'm ever visiting you, please do me a favor and hide your "Left Behind" series of books. Don't proudly display them as evidence of your Christian spirituality. They won't win you any brownie points with me or with God. They are a poorly written Christian fiction and bad theology--a waste of your time, but certainly not for Tim LaHaye who has become a multi-millionaire writing these books that are held in esteem by some believers almost next to the Bible. In fact, if I have already offended you, then you are taking the Left Behind series TOO seriously. It's FICTION! We spend time reading this poorly written foolishness and feel like we're getting closer to Jesus. We really are dumb sheep and that's why we need a Savior to save us from ourselves, our sins, our stupid ways, from the Left Behind series and The Late Great Planet Earth! I'll continue this in my next post.....stay tuned.


  1. Hey Dale. You state briefly that you do believe in a rapture. Could you elaborate? I think many people are deluded into thinking that they can know the exact time that the rapture will occur however Jesus said that no one knows the time but the Father. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 says "But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. for this we DECLARE to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command (shout!), with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (rapture), and so we will ALWAYS be with the Lord. Therefore ENCOURAGE one another with these words. ESV emphasis and parenthesis mine.

    It is pretty hard to ignore the meaning of this scripture. Yes the Lahaye/Jenkins books are poorly written fiction at best. I met Tim Lahaye on more than one occasion and I always thought he was a bit odd. He has counseled with thousands of believers regarding their marriage and Christian walk though and because of his testimony, many have been brought into the Kingdom.

    I think we try to apply our understanding to the concept of rapture to make it fit our timetable. Whether that has to do with a drug induced culture or not is debatable but nonetheless, pointed as I think our nature as humans lends to escaping things that are uncomfortable. I would like to see your take on the rapture and what you have learned. Thank you for this interesting and engaging post.

    Mark Atwood

  2. Mark, I definitely have thoughts and hopefully some God-given insight on the rapture especially regarding Matthew 24, and I will share them in my next post.

  3. Great post, honey. See, I knew you'd have a lot to say about a lot of things!

  4. Act 1:10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?

    Enough said!

  5. Great post Dale! Looking forward to your follow up post. Glad to be able to hear your thoughts again... I've missed it.

  6. Love your post. Made me think, off and on, all day. A feat? Ha ha. Escapism. Is it informing my practical theology? How? Looking forward to next post. I like your literary voice quite a bit, if I may say so.