Tomorrow, May 21, in the year of our Lord 2011, the rapture will occur. According to the calculations of radio preacher Harold Camping, all true Christians will be taken up into Heaven at 6:00 p.m., when that hour comes in all time zones. I suppose if we hear about strange disappearances in other parts of the world earlier in the day, we will know that this is happening and we can prepare ourselves when our time comes. (The earlier version of this post said 3:00 p.m., but I have learned, as some of you have said, that it’s 6:00 p.m. You’ll have three more hours.)
Tomorrow will not be the End of the World. That will happen, according to Camping, six months later, on October 21. You’ll want to put that down on your calendar too. Tomorrow will be the rapture of the Church. Then will come some pretty intense tribulations until Jesus shows up in October.
To see how Camping came up with these dates–including links to some of his own writings as well as those of his critics–see this post from Justin Taylor: Judgment Day: May 21, 2011? – Justin Taylor.
Now I don’t believe this will happen, but if it does, it will at least clear up some important questions. We get into all kinds of theological discussions on this blog, and some of them get pretty intense and personal. If Camping’s prediction comes to pass, at last we will have solid empirical evidence for who is right.
Now Lutherans don’t believe in a rapture like this at all. I don’t believe in it, though, is a pre-requisite for it happening to a person. It may well be that all Lutherans will vanish on Saturday afternoon. Or maybe Roman Catholics are right after all and they will be gone. Or the Eastern Orthodox. Or the Reformed. Or Arminians. Or Baptists. Or Pentecostals. Or non-denominationalists. Or it may well be that there are true believers in all of these traditions. Those who show up in Church this Sunday may be the apostates, and those who don’t may have a good excuse.
Camping himself is a hyper-Calvinist, though not an orthodox Calvinist. He says it won’t do any good to repent at the last minute and no one can really do anything about whether they are raptured or not. God will take his elect and that’s that. But Camping teaches his listeners that ALL churches today are apostate and that real Christians shouldn’t go to church at all anymore. They should instead just listen to his radio program. So if he is completely right, church services will go on as normal this Sunday, since church members of every denomination will get left behind. Instead, the elect is to be found among those who do NOT go to church. I wonder if the number of the elect may be so small that no one will notice whether they have been raptured or not.
At any rate, we will know some things for sure on Saturday afternoon, if only that Camping’s theology is disproven. Be sure to tune into this blog on Monday if you are here and if I am here. We will do a roll-call to see if anyone is missing.
So if the end is coming on Saturday evening, what should you do in the meantime? Plant a tree?