Well, we survived another failed Rapture prediction. Harold Camping’s website is very quiet this May 22, 2011, the day after the Rapture of the Church was supposed to have taken place. This is his second miss. He predicted the Rapture once before in 1994. Mr. Camping is now 89 years old so I don’t really see him being able to generate any support for another date.
How much harm does a Harold Camping do? Most people are discerning enough to know that Camping did not speak for all Christians. His following is not that large. They became so well known because they spent a lot of money on their media campaign. At the same time, most Christians do believe that Jesus is coming back one day, we just don’t know when. The Second Coming of Christ is part of some of the oldest Christian Creeds.
Does anything good ever come from these date setters? Well, the jokes have been spectacular. Besides the jokes, however, I think that Camping’s false predictions did have a positive result. It served to once again get people talking about spiritual matters. People are asking questions and there are great opportunities for Christians to share their faith.
In the last couple of months Pastor Rob Bell has generated a tremendous amount of controversy with his book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. This book challenges the traditional Christian teaching about hell. The book caused such a furor among Christians and non-Christians alike that it landed Bell on Time Magazine’s 2011 Top 100 Most Influential People list.
The upside to the controversy that Bell created is that believers and non-believers are talking about heaven, hell, and having meaningful discussions. Harold Camping and Rob Bell are both creating incredible opportunities for Christians to clarify what the Bible actually says and what it doesn’t say. For many Christians, they are having to dig into their own faith a little deeper and find out what they actually believe.