i have lots of pet peeves. one of them is using terms interchangeably that should not be used interchangeably. all week long, it was broadcast in the media that today was forecast to be the end of the world by religious broadcaster and nutjob harold camping, but that simply isn’t true, whatever you may or may not believe about the rapture ever happening. i don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but theologically, the rapture and the end of the world are two separate and distinct events. camping’s prediction was that the rapture was to happen today, with the end of the world several months down the line, the end basically being the result of god beating up on those of us who were left behind. what follows is a little bit of what i was previously taught regarding the timetable of the end times. not that anyone from the media will read this, but it’ll make me feel a little better…
the end of the world has been part of the doctrine in most religions for millennia, but the idea of a ‘rapture of believers’ wasn’t a part of christian theology until after 1830. in 1830 a young girl had a vision about the return of jesus and the taking up of believers. this was gradually adopted by various fundamentalist denominations, who have interpreted bible verses in 2 thessalonians to mean that this is the event spoken of. as i was taught, this event was to take place at the beginning of the great tribulation, a time in which the anti-christ has taken control over the entire planet, and all sorts of disasters, natural and man-made, take place. however, the verses (as i was taught and understood them while a resident of the christian ghetto) refer to the second coming of jesus, which is to supposed to occur at the end of the great tribulation.
…and i’m about to digress here, because a lot depends upon whether you believe in a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture. i do know people who believe we are currently in the great tribulation and have been since september 2005, which could give some credence to camping’s prediction for mid-trib believers (if you choose to believe such a thing, which i don’t, by the way). pre-trib simply means that the rapture occurs before the 7 year tribulation, mid-trib, during the tribulation, and post-trib… well you get the idea. apparently camping’s group were late mid-trib adherents.
the thing is that, at the end of the tribulation the 1000-year reign of jesus is supposed to begin. jesus himself will be the ruler over the entire planet (assisted by believers taken up in the rapture, who return to earth with new bodies), according to a literal reading of revelation 20 as i was taught. at the end of the 1000 year reign is the great white throne judgment, which will, for all intents and purposes, be the end of the world, as the book of life will then reveal who spends eternity in heaven and who ends up in the lake of fire, and off we go to our permanent destinations. so if this all is true (and i’m not saying it is or isn’t; it’s just what i was taught as a born-again believer), may 21, 2011 could hardly be called the end of the world, if it had actually happened today. *if* the rapture had occurred, it would not have been the end. at worst, it would have been the beginning of a new level of chaos (or perhaps your death if you had been a passenger in a vehicle being driven by someone who was taken up). but, since, according to camping, the rapture was supposed to have occurred at 6 pm local time in each time zone, you would have had time to get prepared (unless you were in new zealand). if you had heard about believers in new zealand disappearing out of the blue around that time, you would have been able to either ask jesus into your heart so you weren’t left behind when the rapture came to your time zone, or you could have hung out in front of the houses of people you know are christians so that when they were called away, you had first dibs on their possessions. i, of course, had plans to do the latter. 😉