The End is… Nearer

by Mike Duran · 18 comments

The “Bash the Church” Bandwagon made another round this weekend, courtesy of Harold Camping. His failed prophecy about the rapture resulted in a global yuckfest. It seemed like every other post, update, broadcast, or tweet, poked fun at the senile old “prophet.”

But I couldn’t help but feel that Christians, overall, were the biggest losers.

I know, I know. Camping is a nutter, a fringe fanatic at best. He doesn’t speak for me or any Christians I know. Nevertheless, he traffics in something the Christian Church has historically held stake in – The End. Whether it’s through rapture, Armageddon, or solar flame-out, we have always believed in The Great Reckoning.

Harold Camping’s false prophecy did nothing to change that. I mean, just because the world didn’t end, doesn’t mean it won’t.

And now I’m wondering if more people could really care less.

Call me paranoid, but the media is always primed to pounce on Christians. Any misstep, indiscretion, controversy, or blunder, is an opportunity to discredit or mock the Church. Realistically, the Secular Left has made as many failed doomsday predictions as the Religious Right. In the 60’s it was the promise of an approaching Ice Age. Then The Population Bomb foresaw planetary overpopulation. More recently, the swine flu “pandemic” and Global Warning spelled gloom and doom. For instance, six years ago the United Nations warned that by 2010 the world would have to cope with 50 million climate refugees. Um, so why did these “false prophets” get a pass?

No. This isn’t to justify Harold Camping or any other whackos that follow suit. What I’m saying is that something bigger and far more insidious occurs every time some preacher falsely predicts the End.

We get closer to believing there won’t be one.

While the Bible is certainly not cut-and-dried concerning the End Times, some things are pretty clear. One such non-negotiable is that things get worse. Wars, rumors of war, persecution, plague, cosmological catastrophes. It gets pretty bad, folks. But something else precedes all this: A Great Deception (Mt. 24:24). Some will cry “peace and safety” when there is none (I Thess. 5:3), and many will fall away and apostatize (II Thess. 2:3). In other words, the prelude to The End is a psychological climate of…  cynicism, nonchalance, and brash denial.

Sound familiar?

Okay. So my fundamentalist roots are kicking in. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. But after watching the unbridled mockery of Harold Camping, I couldn’t help but wonder if that climate isn’t already brewing. Failed prophecies harden us against real ones. Premature warnings about The End desensitize us against ANY warnings. We are so busy mocking Harold Camping, that we miss the One who is standing at the door (Rev. 22:12), the “thief in the night” (Rev. 16:15) who whisks in when we least expect Him.

Yes. Harold Camping was foolish. And continues to be so. He should be ignored. But I’m wondering: Is it those who say “The End is Near” who are most dangerous, or those who say “Peace and Safety?”

Jay May 25, 2011 at 5:22 AM

The Voltaire quote about having to invent God’s existence if there really isn’t one applies here. I’ve always taken that in a macro sense, as in humanity’s comprehensive search for metaphysical truth. But it also speaks to personal belief. If I don’t believe in a God then I have to create “Him” somewhere, whether it’s the universe, science, my spouse, my career, humanity itself, nature, the earth, the environment, love.

If we are “hard wired” to believe in God, even if that hard wiring came about by chance or evolution, then it makes perfect sense that in the privation of a formal, structured religious belief system we would have to find the apocalypse archetype in something, somewhere. Right?

Mike Duran May 25, 2011 at 6:39 AM

I suppose. But there is a difference between “invented” apocalypses and real ones.

Jay May 25, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Of course, but I think a scenario’s actual, future existence is irrelevant. I just mean to say that a non-believer’s search for a non-divine, secularized, surrogate apocalypse scenario is compulsory, as if we were meant to believe in one.

Matt May 25, 2011 at 8:54 AM

I guess this is in response to the discussion so far.
The problematic I see, when observing or listening to both, the Gore’s and the Robertson’s of these United States, is the attempt to interpret “cause” begging “effect”. Sadly the two camps are ideologically predisposed and have therefore little common potential, or so it seems. Perhaps their religious appeals hold jointly this: Bad ingredients make a poor dinner.
I am originally from Germany and have lived in this country (US) for some 35 years. Rarely I visit Germany, but when I do, it strikes me that Germans recycle everything and the US hardly anything. It seems to me, that this country is split right down the middle and the ideologues have usurped power by such a divide. I feel truly sorry for “the people” because the “people” have little say in this.
The two party system has produced an aristocracy that rides the tide of this division and most of the “people’ have resigned to disillusionment.
Now what does all this have to do with the issue at hand? Well, I see that the concern for what we are doing to this planet is by all means first and foremost a Christian concern. Continents of plastic forming in the oceans (I assume my audience to be knowledgeable on this) coincide in fact with dire prediction in the book of Revelation that “all life will die in the oceans”. I believe that the sad scenarios offered in Revelation and the dire predictions offered by modern day scientists are much more akin than not. Red algae predicting the collapse of certain marine environments off the coast of Japan and the doom of Revelation’s warnings asserting that the oceans will turn to blood and that these are just judgments because of human activity that is so robustly set against the divine intent of having humankind be gardeners of this beautiful planet. In Bangladesh live 164 million people. Incremental rise of the ocean waters are having detrimental effects on the country, displacing vast numbers from their natural habitat, with salt waters poisoning their ground water.
The more recent science of chaos advances into the cause and effect scenarios around the globe want to make us aware of the interconnectivity of all on God’s green earth and yet, yet Christendom in the US is dead set against any of such emerging understanding because “Tomorrow? Tomorrow? The Rapture!!!” I hear Jesus ask loud and clear: “Will I find faith when I come back?” Christendom as it is being orchestrated by the political ambitious in this country will hardly be the ones that are ready for a God who holds us responsible for over polluting this world with every imaginable chemical, destroying the seeds of old in the plants God created, being nolo contentere in our attitude when it comes to specie eradication. The Bible is by no means indifferent to any of this. So what kind of faith is God looking for, if not the kind that produces behavior consistent with His mandates? Christians are not supposed to come under scrutiny for indifference to injustices but rather for standing up against the same. Instead of being offended by the media, we ought to explain how the Bible affords sober mindedness as it instructs all believers to be on the alert and to “test every spirit” and to “keep the good and throw the bad out”.

Kay Johnson May 25, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Well said. As Postman said, we are “amusing ourselves to death,” and our comedic cynicism just may be the lotus blossom that does us in.

I am enjoying following your posts. You are a talented, (should I say it?) amusing, and insightful writer. I just might have to get your book!

Mike Duran May 25, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Thanks, Kay, for following and commenting. I really appreciate it!

Neil Larkins May 25, 2011 at 8:58 AM

I, too have nothing in common with Camping. I wouldn’t even call him a Christian, much less someone who believes in Christ. Jesus himself said that if we believe in him then we will hear and heed ALL his words. Camping is nothing more than a numerologist and cryptologist and not very good at either. He certainly doesn’t adhere to the words of Christ who said that no man would or could know the exact hour. That’s why we are to be prepared at all times. Jesus also knew people would become enured to his message because of these alarmists and false prophets. That’s one of the reasons a thief can take a person by surprise: people become hardened to repeated warnings and false alarms. Nothing happened all those last times; nothing’s going to happen now. Yet despite the knowledge of all that Jesus told his disciples to continue getting the word out because there’d always be some who would believe.

xdpaul May 25, 2011 at 9:56 AM

We miss an opportunity when false prophets rise up if our private conversations don’t include the phrase: “Yeah, he’s a joke. Everybody knows that’s not how the world _really_ ends…”

I did this when Al Gore made his science fiction slideshow.

Many, many good conversations and expressions of the Word ensued. I’m sorry I didn’t do it as much with this Camping thing.

Matt May 25, 2011 at 10:44 AM

I have just been responding to your posts and must say that this is the only internet environment in which I have commented.
Glad to have found this. I hope its ok to contribute. I am not a published person, other than my thesis from long ago I guess.
I am going personally through some rough times with respect to my faith and so its good to see people speaking their hearts at a level that is refreshing. i guess I am trying to say thanks for being out there and doing this. I have really loved reading all the posts so far and am glad to see someone like you to sponsor this.

Jessica Thomas May 25, 2011 at 12:21 PM

I poked fun at Camping on Twitter…and I wrote an short story about it. Hopefully the story will appear in one venue or another soon. I realize there’s a seriousness behind it. I can’t imagine being one of those who truly believed the world was going to end, and then…nothing… That’s the true damage in all this, I think.

Even though I poked fun, I wasn’t coming from a place of complacency. I actually thought it was a nice opportunity to side with non-believers, showing agreement that yes, this man is off his rocker and doesn’t represent Christianity.

Heck, I wish Camping had been right, it would have saved me a life of trouble. If God chose to end the world today, I’d be cool with it. If not, I will continue to go about being as dutiful as I can, not being surprised by signs that the end might be near…not fretting about it either.

Kevin Lucia May 25, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Heck, I wish Camping had been right, it would have saved me a life of trouble. If God chose to end the world today, I’d be cool with it.


Here’s where I risk getting punted, but so be it.

I HATE the above sentiment (not yours personally, Jessica; just in general).

It drives me insane.

Maybe it’s because I was raised in the baptist/evangelical culture, attended Bible College, went through the “Left Behind” phase until the books bored me out of my skull, and have heard more sermons on the “End” than I can count.

Do I disbelieve that heaven exists and is also better? Paradise, and inherently superior?

Of course not.

Do I understand that this world is hurting, in a bad way and won’t improve any time soon, and there are Christians and others suffering terribly everywhere, and that things are getting worse?

Obviously not.

Am I ready to jump on the escalator straight to heaven?

God forgive me. Call me selfish.

But no.

Things are not perfect in my life. And I’m not totally happy all the time, and I know Christ coming back means an end to suffering, pain, and death.

But I’m the father of a six and four year old. As much as I fear for them, I want to see them grow up. I want to watch them graduate. Walk my daughter down the aisle. See my son beat autism (with God’s blessing) See what they do.

I want to grow old with my wife. Even though that will mean future pain, miscommunication, mistakes, we’ll let each other down….but still.

Believe it or not…and this, I’ll gladly accept criticism for…I think of all the great books I haven’t read (by nonChristians). Of writing. Seeing what will happen with my career.

I’m sure it’s because I have a narrow view of heaven. Maybe I just can’t conceive of how awesome it really will be. And maybe I just haven’t suffered enough yet. I probably lack faith. But when people start talking in glowing terms with beatific expressions on their face about how they can’t wait to leave this bad old place….

Sorry. I just can’t get myself there.

Jessica Thomas May 25, 2011 at 3:03 PM

I come from a perspective of having gone through severe depression. Never attempted suicide, but it’s often felt like an inviting alternative. While I haven’t experience a lot of external suffering, I KNOW what internal suffering is, and I can tell you, I hate it. Break my leg any day. Maybe you’ve experience depression, I don’t know, but for me personally, even on days when it’s better…the experience…the memories of the depression are frightening and take a lot of luster off the here and now.

Also, I have kids too, but I try to remember, I only have them for today, if that. Everyday I have to give them back to God, and trust that even if I’m not here, they’ll be okay.

Heh heh, maybe I’m a terrible cynic, but this world has broken me…I can say that for sure…I don’t expect a whole lot from it. My challenge (and I think it’s an important one for me) is to rediscover what joy in the present means. That’s a path I might be on for awhile, unless Camping is right about his current prediction. 🙂

Kevin Lucia May 25, 2011 at 4:02 PM

And again, just so we’re clear – it’s not that I react to your case personally, Jessica – though I’ve struggled with my own bouts of depression, undiagnosed as they were, so I feel for you – it’s just the sentiment. One I’ve heard too many times. It makes me grind my teeth, and my eyes start glazing over when people harp on it. I figure the End is God’s domain, and it’s going to happen when it will. I’ve no desire to dwell on it.

No offense intended, of course.

Rebecca LuElla Miller May 25, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Great post, Mike.

As to your question, I’d say the peace, peace crowd may be do the most damage with their false teaching that there is no danger even when the end comes.

Of course there’s a third option — the crowd that says the end is coming unless WE save ourselves. By going greener, more organic, more prepared for the Big One, more willing to raise taxes, trust the government for our health care and safety laws , ad infinitum. Seriously, “the statistics are in. One out of one dies.” Even if people wanted to deny the end of the world, they can’t deny the end of their part in it. So this “save the planet” business is such a smokescreen giving purpose and hope where non exists by turning to people who can’t deliver themselves let alone the whole world.


Matt May 25, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Hi Rebecca,
Here are some scriptures that speak to who’s world this really is and how we should live in it.

1Cor. 10:26
“The earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.”

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Proverbs 3
19 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

Psalm 104:16
The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

Deuteronomy 20:19
When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?

Psalm 104
24 How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 65
9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

Psalm 24:1
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

Job 12:7-10
7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Numbers 35:33-34
33 “‘Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. 34 Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the LORD, dwell among the Israelites.’”

29But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on — 31and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.
We should treat all of His great and wonderful works with utmost love and respect.

After all, is this not our Father’s world?

Sally Apokedak May 25, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Great post. Thanks.

Jesse Koepke May 25, 2011 at 9:55 PM

I think your perspective on the incident is a good one, Mike. As the secular world and much of the Christian world mocked and joked about Harold, I kept thinking of the day we’ll actually say that Jesus is returning. And then the world will turn their mocking to us. A sobering thought….

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