Apocalyptic Prophets: Christianity’s Embarrassing Relatives
After spending millions on a false apocalyptic claim due to some math error, everyone is still here on God’s creation, earth. Many times some of the most pious, while in such a hurry to leave, forget the house keeping job they were given. And after so many times at failure, such episodes still continue to happen. It almost makes one wish there were no heaven or hell, for if such was the case we might be able to concentrate on our current existence, constantly persueing righteousnesses and virtue, without heaven being a selfish desire. Any person who bribes with heaven, or fear mongers using hell to lure or scare people into the fold are nothing more then the worst of crooks. The millions that, the apocalyptic Camping and his harpies spent on the billboards could have gone to the poor, and those believers so devout, have now gone away sorrowful. Why religious groups still bury their talents in the ground of apocycalypticsm maybe unknown but here are a few reasons I came up with while brainstorming for Christian evangelicalism.
One reason why some become followers of crooks like Harold Camping is because of a lack of sound education in the area of eschatology and apocalypticism. We are all happy sitting in our Sunday school classes with our elementary grade lessons, rather then doing the hard work of doing serious studies on what, why and how your particular denomination views eschatology and apocalypticism. What is eschatology and apocalypticism? How did it develop? How do other belief systems view the topics? What constitutes a false prophet? What is alike and what is different between the views of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam concerning eschatology and apocalypticism? How are the Christian denominational views alike? How are they different? What were the claims of the past? I do suppose that to get through these tough questions without someone falling a sleep in the pew, or checking their watch every five minutes would cause apocalyptic event itself. However, if believers can not come to a conclusion on something as basic as the theology of eternal life, maybe such a study on the end of times would be far to much to take on.
I believe Chirst wanted people working and investing in the here and now. Many of the parables discuss such themes. Heaven is a payment for doing the work. Salvation is a job offer. Mainstream minister fall asleep at the wheel by not educating their congregations on these topics. So not only is brother Jim dozing off in the third pew back each Sunday, it has become the norm of the minister to shy away from more advance theological topics because of the preconceived notion that those of the flock only can bear a third grade, thirty minuet, sermon. And heaven forbid if a “bible study” on Wednesday nights actually took on the very thing the name implies. And it would be heretical to study apocalyptic texts such as what led to the temple destruction by the Romans in Josephus or read the text of Enoch or the War scroll from the Dead sea community. For it is with in these very texts where modern eschatology and apocalypticism started, even influencing the overly analysed Revelation.
You can choose your friends but not your relatives, and so Christianity tolerates The Uncle Falwells and Harold Campings at the Thanksgiving dinner of fellowship, and I believe that is the issue. We buy their “Inspirational Material”, their texts of prophecy flies off the bookstore shelves. “Left Behind” rakes in millions. Many times Christians tell mainstream Islam to speak out against the extremists, but we have our own escapees, having slipped their straight jackets running wildly necked through God’s wheat field. Maybe there is such a thing as the lying spirit of the Lord. I think the devil might be innocent on this one. We may have to blame no one else but ourselves.