Top Ten Rapture Excuses

May 18, 2011

Western Ave., near the Hollywood Freeway, in Los Angeles.

Crazy as it seems, there are people sincerely buying into the (alleged) biblical prediction that this Saturday, May 21st will usher in the rapture - the taking up to heaven of God's selected devotees. The rapture will be followed by months of apocalyptic battles that will culminate in the destruction of the earth. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (What's for dinner?)

I spoke to one believer recently who was in L.A. on Hollywood Blvd near the Chinese Theater giving out literature warning of the impending holocaust.

In my best non-accusatory tone, I asked what made her think that the rapture would happen.

Rapture Lady: The bible says it will happen... so it will.

Me: So you're convinced the bible is 100% accurate?

RL: Of course. It's the word of God. It's infallible.

Me: How do you explain the many contradictions in the bible?

RL: There are no contradictions in the bible.

Me: Have you ever read the bible?

RL: Parts of it...

Whoa. Here's a person holding a poster warning people of the Bible-predicted end-of-the-world at one of the most visited spots in the state of California, and she hasn't actually read that bible?

Me: Did you read the Gospel parts where there are all kinds of discrepancies between the authors about what happened at the tomb... among other things?

RL: I don't believe you.

Me: I wouldn't expect you to. You'll see if you read the stories when you get home.

RL: Why do you want to take that away from me?

Me: I didn't write the book. You said the bible was 100% accurate. I'm just asking how it could be 100% accurate and disagree with itself.

At that point, some other Christians approached and started accusing her of being a false prophet. That was my cue to exit, but before I left, I asked her what she was going to do if nothing happened on Saturday, May 21st.

RL: I guess I'll have to reexamine my life as to why I wasn't taken.

Me: What I mean is, what are you going to do if nothing at all happens... to anyone?

RL: That's impossible.

Me: I guess we'll see...

We'll see excuses like we saw from the Millerites, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the never-ending supply of doomsayers who all share being wrong in common. But the rapture folks ought to say something after spending tens of thousands of dollars on billboards. (CBS outdoor advertising told me that the billboard a mile from CFI-LA costs $3000-$5000 per 4 week cycle and that the display itself can cost between $500 -$1000 to have made.)

Before this Saturday ends and the excuses start to fly as to why the long-awaited rapture didn't happen, here are my official predictions for what the good believers will say after midnight:


                    Underdown's Top Ten Excuses 
                   Why the Rapture Didn't Happen

10. Slipped God's mind. (He does have a universe to run!)
9. God decided he didn't want all those Christians up there with him after all.
8. NBA and NHL playoffs are still going.
7. Bible authors took public school math - got the date wrong
6. Satan too busy with Bin Laden arrival
5. Rapture billboard invoice still not paid off yet
4. Christians apprehensive about naked flight skyward
3. The mere THREAT of the Rapture turned the entire world virtuous
2. Huh? Rapture? OMG, what the hell were we thinking?!
1. What God really meant was that he May start the Rapture on the 21st

See you Sunday!

 

Comments:

#1 Ryan (Guest) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 at 6:35pm

Haha! Love it. It’s amazing how many “christians” you can find who have never actually read their own fairytale cover to cover. I’m sorry but if I chose to base my entire being and reason for living on this earth on just one book…...I would take the time to read the damn thing! The whole notion boils down to just pure lunacy! If I went out and started a club and said “Hey I have this club. If you don’t join then you will drown for eternity.” then people would rightfully think me insane. They never just step back and realize they are all delusional….and never will. I guess when enough people share an illness…they think it’s everyone else that’s diseased.

#2 Louis (Guest) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 at 8:09pm

Crazy… Did you know that the Bible says that no one will know the day of his return? I’ve actually read the book cover-to-cover in a few different versions. I have to take issue with the contradiction claim though. Properly understood, the Bible is a compilation by about 40 different authors who wrote about their “personal” experiences with God.  If you have ever listened to eye-witness testimony of a crime scene, you’ll probably note some discrepancies and if you’ve ever asked a few dozen people to describe another person, you will probably find some significant variations as well. This doesn’t mean that the witnesses are lying; simply focused in on different aspects of the same event and filtering their experiences through their own “life experiences” and points of view. Each author also has his own writing style, some are more poetic, other read like a history book. I think these discrepancies actually add credibility; if they all told the same exact version, I’d suspect that they had all gotten together to create the story.  What I have found in my reading of the Bible is an underlying theme which is very consistent. The message is that despite our weaknesses, God loves us and desires to be in fellowship with us. As far as the Bible being the “word of God,” I think that we should understand that it is a record of what God has revealed to the individual authors.

#3 Pau (Guest) on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 7:18am

In which calendary was the date of May 21 expressed in the bible?

#4 Ross (Guest) on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 12:28pm

Pau, you can read Harold Camping’s tortured logic here:

#5 rossblocher on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 12:30pm

Oops… had to log in to post a URL. Paul, you can read Harold Camping’s tortured logic here: http://www.familyradio.com/graphical/literature/proof/proof.html

#6 charles maynes (Guest) on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 5:15pm

so who is buying into this? seriously…. Crazy people say crazy things all the time- the only thing that makes this unique is that somebody wasted money to put it up on billboards…. the fact that Richard Dawkins would feel compelled to even comment on it is actually pretty humorous…

#7 rossblocher on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 6:00pm

Harold Camping’s Family Radio owns 166 radio stations in the US (ranked 19th largest in 2006) and their materials get translated into 40 languages. They had net assets of $122 million in 2007. If you don’t realize how many people in the US think the rapture is going to happen anyminutenow, you’re just out of touch. A Newsweek poll found that 55% of Americans believe in the Rapture. A completely mythical, fairy-tale belief, and over half the population believes it will happen at some point in the future.

#8 charles maynes (Guest) on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 6:10pm

Ross, but how many of those believe it is going to happen on the 21st of May 2011? . I can say I know zero people who believe it. I do get around, and I talk with people pretty much from around the world everyday. the only time it has come up is as a point of jest. So in that, I would say anyone, especially anyone who is not a Christian would be pretty foolish to take it at all seriously. No more than say, expecting Jupiter to hit the earth at least….

#9 rossblocher on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 6:35pm

Sure, admitted. There’s probably only thousands who believe in the May 21st date, as opposed to millions. But how many people do you know who believe Jesus is actually returning? That number is much higher. This is a great opportunity to remind everyone of all the failed predictions in the past, and of the fact that Jesus promised to return quickly, even within the lifetime of the people who were listening to him, and… never did. So it’s useful to make fun of someone who picks a date to remind everyone that we need to solve our problems now and live like there IS a tomorrow, because no one’s coming to fix things for us or sort out the good and the evil. See? It’s a larger conversation with wide-ranging implications.

#10 rossblocher on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 10:21pm

Here’s a great article on the New York Times about some individuals who believe in the May 21st prediction: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/us/20rapture.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1

Just consider: we should consider anyone who anticipates Jesus’s return at any time to be just as divorced from reality.

#11 charles maynes (Guest) on Thursday May 19, 2011 at 11:07pm

Ross, well technically that would be proving negatives wouldnt it? I was under the impression that was logically impossible…. beyond that, if the second coming is to come like a thief in the night, I fail to see how it would be on a given timetable. Personally, I will be concerned if Stevie Wonder is MIA on Saturday….

#12 rossblocher on Friday May 20, 2011 at 2:58am

Proving negatives… seriously? I hope you’re kidding. If Jesus said he was returning “soon” (Rev. 22:7), or that some of his contemporaries would see his return (Matt 16:27-28, Mark 13:29-30, Luke 21:32), then it disproves a positive claim when he does not return within 1,978 years.

And while you can’t completely disprove a negative, you can demonstrate it to be exceedingly unlikely. The chances of Jesus returning at any time are as good as a giant purple dragon destroying Burbank. They are equally impossible to disprove, and equally unlikely to occur. Once again you are forgetting the distinction between philosophical doubt/uncertainty and practical doubt/uncertainty. Let’s not pretend that it’s anything other than delusion to believe Jesus is returning, and we should view anyone who holds that belief with the same regard we would afford to one of Camping’s followers.

#13 Pau (Guest) on Friday May 20, 2011 at 4:21am

Thank you Ross, it is almos all clear now. But my inquisitve mind tells me that May 21, starts at different moments in different longitudes. ¿ Should I take GMT oras the starting point or shoul I wait until a complete revolution so that all points on earth get a chance to be May 21?
Perhaps it will go on progressively, as the sun advances
(I think we should assume also, according to the times, that the sun turns around the earth), so, as rthe sun advances so will the rapture. Those living East from me will go sooner than I.
I want to be prepared!

#14 charles maynes (Guest) on Friday May 20, 2011 at 7:16am

Revelation was written by John, after Jesus’ death Ross. I am sure you know that, becuse most Bibles actually color the words attributed directly to Jesus.

the thing about this issue that is very interesting is that mainstream Theologians consider a non-event. I am surprised so many would ignore the fact that say, the Catholic Church- which is the largest contigent of Bible believers, has no comment on the event whatsoever… only a few thousand fringe dwellers…. And somehow- this becomes a fantastic vehicle for the inquisitive…

perhaps finding those giant purple dragons in Burbank might be more likely…. and as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said- A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol. If that were the case, I would seriously doubt his elect would be such a small minority in the time of His return….

#15 Ben Radford on Friday May 20, 2011 at 7:31am

Great piece, Jim! I have similar conversations, and usually they start to falter when they say “It says in the Bible…” and I stop them and ask WHICH Bible they’re using, and explain that there are several different Christian Bibles (not to mention different versions of the Ten Commandments)....

#16 rossblocher on Friday May 20, 2011 at 10:58pm

@Pau - Ha ha! While it’s not my problem to solve, I’ve heard Camping admit that he doesn’t know exactly how the time zone thing will work out. He just says that God is mighty enough to work it all out.

@Ben - I wish people would falter when I point that out to them. My friends always keep on going. Speaking of which…

@Charles - ALL the New Testament was written after Jesus’ death. The gospels were written about 40 years later. The earliest writings were Paul’s, and he never knew Jesus (nor does Paul give us biographical details about him). The “John” who wrote Revelation was not the same John who wrote the gospel (as any serious scholar will tell you) - the writing styles are not remotely similar.

The rapture is not mentioned in Revelation. As you know, the word “rapture” is not even in the Bible, but the belief comes from two sources: 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Both books are attributed to Paul. This is mixed with Jesus’s own teaching in the Olivet Discourse, which is in all three of the synoptic gospels. Eschatology is inextricably embedded in the New Testament.

It is core Christian doctrine that Jesus will return. The Presbyterians affirm it in their creed, as do the other major branches of Christianity. Anyone who has made a claim about WHEN he’s supposed to return, from Jesus himself to the Millerites to Hal Lindsey to Harold Camping, has been proven to be wrong when the time comes and passes. To make an open-ended, unfalsifiable claim that Jesus will return eventually is a clever trick, but not a strong or intellectually defensible position to take.

#17 charles maynes (Guest) on Friday May 20, 2011 at 11:26pm

yes, indeed Ross- ALL of the New Testament was written after Jesus death. That being said, if we consider the time scale of the various points in the full work- especially the creation story and the ultra elongated, and for the most part quite unnatural life spans people like Moses, I would think we have little absolute notion of how all that might work out against a given calender…. at any rate, there are certainly no indications that Campings claims are legitimate- which I would question the veracity of anyone who would really consider them to be that way- However I have to say it was great to have such little traffic on the 10 Fwy this evening….  So perhaps you were right about such a number of people actually believing… perhaps I am just too cynical about things like that…

#18 Nathan (Guest) on Saturday May 21, 2011 at 7:54am

You know, calling all the people who think the rapture will happen today insane and crazy is well and good.  However, the reality is that all the other crazy and insane people who think the rapture will happen at any point are no different.  The belief in this nonsense is ridiculous and makes the person believing it nuts whether they believe it will happen today, sometime in the near future, sometime in the distant future or 1,000,000 years from now.

#19 wbthacker on Monday May 23, 2011 at 11:37am

If Harold Camping says May 21 was the date set for the Rapture it must be true. He *is* a Bible scholar, you know, and no Christian could lie about that.  So why were we spared?

On May 20, Randy “Macho Man” Savage died of a heart attack while driving his car.  That’s what the secular doctors say. “Just a coincidence.”  But God spoke to me in a vision last night and explained that Savage *chose* to die, so he could speak to God and change his mind about the Rapture.  Like Jacob, he wrestled with God; and like Abraham he bargained for our cities and lives.

Randy Savage gave his life that we might live.  Who but the Christ would do that?  God wants me to tell you all that the life of Randall Mario Poffo, aka Randy Savage, the Macho Man, WAS the Second Coming of Christ.  He ministered to us and died for our sins.  He ascended to Heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God, whom he holdeth in a half nelson.

Though he was on television, and even told us to call him “Macho King”, nobody suspected Savage was the Messiah.  We should have known.  We saw him persecuted by the ringside announcers and scourged by the referees (the word no doubt derives from “pharisees”).  He was betrayed by his tag-team partners and falsely accused of using foreign objects.  When Vince McMahon asked the multitude to choose its hero, the people cried, “Give us Hulk Hogan!”

We never deserved him.  He was too gentle for this world.  He showed us the way.

Randy Savage took meat and blessed it. He broke the meat, giving it to his disciples, and said “Snap into a Slim Jim, oooooh yeah!”

This do in remembrance of him.

#20 unclegravy (Guest) on Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:40pm

9/10

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.