it’s the end of the world as we know it, and i feel fine

It’s only hours before Jesus comes back, according to Harold Camping.  It’s prime time for tweeting crazy stuff about the rapture, and waiting anxiously for that first 6:00 deadline in Tonga.  In fact, I was hoping Fuller Seminary would fly Professor Daniel Kirk to Tonga to report from Rapture Ground Zero.  It’s all a lot of fun right now, in fact, particularly for those of us who don’t believe that this is how it’ll all go down in the end.  And, to be honest, we’re all a little embarrassed that, once again, Christians look like freaks living for another world rather than loving and renewing the world God created and called good.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic, though.  You see, Harold Camping is “Uncle Harold” to me.  That’s what my Dad called him, anyway.  30 years ago, I was being tucked into bed to the sounds of Family Radio.  Uncle Harold didn’t sound half as crazy back then.  For a young kid intrigued by the Bible, it was hearing a guru with all the answers.  And then there were the Bible readings they offered, and the stories from Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission, and the haunting hymn “O God our Help in Ages Past.”  It spoke of the “shelter from the stormy blast,” something that resonated with a fearful and sensitive little kid.

Family Radio put me to sleep every night.  Until I woke up to the craziness of Camping’s brand of Gnosticism around 13 or 14 years old, and switched the radio to REM.

As a therapist, my thoughts right now are with families that have been split over this, husbands who have left wives in feverish devotion to getting the word out, little kids who trusted their parents and will be heartbroken when May 21st comes and goes, for those who are gay and who’ve been further traumatized by Camping’s toxic talk about ‘Gay Pride and the End Times’, devoted followers of Camping who will wake up on May 22 confused and despairing, and others who will find some rationalization for Camping’s latest apocalyptic flop.  The media will have a field day with this.  But behind the cynicism will be despairing people, some who even wonder if they were ‘chosen.’

And so, it’s with some nostalgia and quite a bit of heartache that I watch all of this unfold, nevertheless thankful for the security I felt in God’s arms as I fell asleep each night, thanks to Family Radio, to Isaac Watts great hymn

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

That message, I can say with confidence, is enduring.


2 comments

  1. Though I agree with much of what you say here, Chuck, I do want to push back against your tone a little bit: If you don’t believe in the Rapture because you think it’s based on a bad interpretation of Scripture, that’s one thing.  (I myself am not sure what I believe about it… and I don’t think it matters all that much.)  But you come dangerously close to critiquing Camping’s beliefs simply *because* they sound “crazy” in the eyes of the world.  Though I don’t think that’s what you mean to say, it’s something to watch out for: After all, the idea of the Rapture isn’t any crazier than other things that you certainly do believe: Like that God could be incarnated in human form, that he could die for our sins, and that he could then be raised from the dead.  If we critique Camping, it should be because he has bad theology, not because he’s “crazy”.

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