Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hey, It's May 22!

Gotta write about May 21, “Judgment Day.” It was incredible how widely spread the awareness of the prediction of the end of the world was. From talk on national media to a full-page newspaper ad to signs in remote corn fields… the prediction of 89 year-old radio preacher Harold Camping got out. In church yesterday, the pastor started off with, “First of all, I just want to say that today is May 22.” There was dumb silence until we realized what he meant.

A few thoughts on Judgment.

Although few people took the prediction seriously, it did create fear. The time mentioned was so specific and assertive. Until 6 pm on the 21st it was not certain what would happen. While watching one sporting event, the announcer said, “I plan on being here at the ballpark tomorrow.” And then, almost under his breath he said, “I hope,” as if there was doubt. There was. That was the fear of uncertainty that many felt.

Second, most Christians I talked to held to the Scriptural teaching that “Heaven and earth will pass away ... No one knows about that day or hour not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”1 So those I spoke to had serious doubts.

Third, Camping’s prediction makes Christians in general look like idiots. He was convinced he had some inside information from God. He was wrong. It was not God, but his own sense of importance or desire for the limelight or whatever. One Alameda Pastor commented, “He is self-deluded.”2 This episode reinforced the stereotype that Christians are extreme. I am amazed that God continuously allows His name to be drug through the mud – by us!

Fourth, I hope that Camping will now stop predicting the end of the world. It is true that we see signs of the end, such as wars and earthquakes, as Jesus said. Most Christians believe that. But since Camping also predicted the end in September of 1994, it would be refreshing if he would just stop. Will his ego or his entrenched theological beliefs allow him to? Hope so.

Finally, it’s not altogether bad that, as Christians, we should live in the light of the certainty that the final day will come. Christ will return. This life will end. World census information from 2008 indicates that 155,000 people3 (roughly the size of Salem, Oregon), die every day. For 155,000 people it was the end of the world on May 21.

But I am glad to be here still, and that this world is still intact. There is much good to be done. Things like the horrible tornado in Joplin make us aware that we have a world to love. No time to make end-of-the-world predictions!

1 - Matthew 24:35-36, New American Standard Bible
2 - “Despite Careful Calculations the World Does Not End,” Jesse McKinley, New York Times, May 21, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/us/22doomsday.html?_r=1
3 - “How Many People Die a Day,” Shane Birley, January 23, 2008 http://www.shanesworld.ca/how-many-people-die-day

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Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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