Ford Prefect: Six pints of bitter and quickly please. The world’s about to end.
Barman: Oh yes sir nice weather for it. Going to watch the match this afternoon?
Ford Prefect: No, no point.
Barman: Foregone conclusion you reckon sir. Arsenal without a chance
Ford Prefect: No it’s just that the world’s going to end.
Barman: Ah yes you said. Lucky escape for Arsenal if it did.
Ford Prefect: No, not really
Barman: There you are sir, six pints.
Ford Prefect: Keep the change.
Barman: What from a fiver? Thank you sir!
Ford Prefect:You’ve got ten minutes left to spend it.
Douglas Adams The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
It’s just over three years since Harold Camping prediction of the rapture on May 21st 2011 proved as ill advised as January’s expedition to the Antarctic by climate change alarmists, but it seems that this isn’t enough to stop people from thinking Rapture:
Courson, senior pastor at First Church of God in Mitchell, Ind., uses empirical, scientific and biblical analysis of current world events throughout the 222-page paperback. He does a verse-by-verse analysis of Revelation, and compares them to modern events.
The “terminal generation” refers to anyone 65 and under — the Baby Boomers, hippies, yuppies, Generation X, and the Millennials. These people, he said, will be alive when “humanity’s greatest cataclysmic event sounds in our life time.”
Now in fairness to Mr. Courson he’s looking to sell his book and his basic advice “You may tie your shoes this morning, but the undertaker could untie them tonight.” is important to remember as none of us are promised the time it takes to finish reading this piece let alone tomorrow. but when you hear stuff like
“We’re not going to see the end of the world,” he said. But this generation will see the Rapture, which is the trigger point for end-time events.
you are heading for Camping territory.
There are several problems with this approach. Let’s look at three of them:
1. Oh woe are we
Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu Falls, Rock Around the Clock
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez
Billy Joel We didn’t Start the Fire 1989
Consider this interview with Billy Joel concerning how his song: We didn’t start the fire came about
Here’s the key exchange
21 year old: It’s a terrible time to be 21!
Billy Joel: Yeah, I remember when I was 21 — I thought it was an awful time and we had Vietnam, and y’know, drug problems, and civil rights problems and everything seemed to be awful.
21 yr old: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but it’s different for you. You were a kid in the fifties and everybody knows that nothing happened in the fifties.
Billy Joel: Wait a minute, didn’t you hear of the Korean War you know the Suez Canal Crisis?
The 21 year old from that interview is likely around 50 now but it seems that people haven’t learned the lesson that the songwriter is explaining.
Now I’ll readily concede that things are bad right now, particularly for Christians and likely to get worse in fact I’ve made that argument myself lately but as I’ve said to the stray Jehovah’s Witness’ who have come to the door that is all relative.
Try to tell a Jew born in Germany in 1930 that times are worse now than then. Or a black woman born on a plantation in 1830. Or to a resident of Deerfield Ma circa 1704 or to a European in the mid 14th century with the black death around him or a south American Indian after smallpox was introduced with the Spanish Conquistadors.
What would any of those people give to have the problems we have today?
The truth is the time we live in today always seem worse to us than the days of old because it’s not our ancestors who have to deal with them, it’s us. A lot of our cries about how bad things are is thinly disguised narcissism.
2. Do you know more than the Angels?
Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this, the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?”
The Second problem is that such a prediction while good for selling books it bad theology because Christ, while describing signs specifically says this:
But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
To be sure he prefaces this with a bunch of signs of the end, but the problem is it seems there is always a preacher who shoehorns his days events into those signs (see Billy Joel above).
But when it comes down to it Christ specifically says the date is not known, not by the angels and not even by him but only to the Father.
Is a man really making the case that he knows something that Christ and the angels do not?
The funny thing is when you make such a prediction particularly with such a long time spread you tend to attract not the people who need to learn the lessons of Christ but folks like this:
Then again as any climate change expert can tell you, a person can make a good living off of predicting doom sometime in the next 20-60 years.
There is a reason why William Miller & his followers stopped giving a date for the end of the world.
3. Give us this day or daily bread
There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them
C. S. Lewis The Screwtape letters $6
The worst thing about the whole end times business is it takes you out of the game. Consider this passage from Acts:
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
Like the disciples staring up at the clouds after Jesus’ ascension focusing on a future that we might not even be alive to see distracts us from the only time that we have to do anything, now! Our task is not to keep looking at the sky for Christ’s return, it’s to carry ourselves in this present day as one of his followers. The more we worry about a potential future that may not happen the more it distracts us from the now that we are living in and the tasks of today, even the ones that pertain to tomorrow.
Moreover it give an excuse for inaction. Why bother helping your neighbor who needs a favor if Christ is coming down tomorrow? Why make the case for Christianity in culture or protest abortion or even bother to give to a worthy cause when the tribulation is upon us? Take Jesus’ advice
But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
If we take care of piously seeking God and doing his will every day, then it doesn’t matter when the end times come. You’ll be ready for them. As Pope Francis said:
Piety is not mere outward religiosity; it is that genuine religious spirit which makes us turn to the Father as his children and to grow in our love for others, seeing them as our brothers and sisters, members of God’s family. Let us ask that, through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we may always be ready to offer a helping hand to others, in the joyful awareness of that solidarity which is born of our communion with God in the unity of Christ’s body, the Church.
And just remember if you really want to grow closer to the Lord daily Mass complete with the Gospel and the Eucharist is available every single day.