Dearly Beloved Evangelicals

Now my dearly beloved Evangelical friends. Time for a bit of a response from you to this Rapture business. I see lots of people all over the internet going on an on about the prediction from the delightfully named Mr Camping in the USA that today is the day of the Rapture. He’s expecting all the true believers to be snatched away heavenwards and he’s predicting that based on calculations that he has made based on the Bible.

I’m betting my wellbeing today and my place in all eternity on the premise that Mr Camping is nuts.

But what do you say?

What is the Evangelical opinion on Mr Camping? Oh, I know the theology. I’ve been there. You can’t fool me. I’m not jumping on the bandwagon like all these naughty atheists and jonny-come-lately wishy-washy liberals. I know what Mr Camping is on about and so do you. Even though the defining doctrine of Evangelicals has become the extent to which one thinks that gay people’s private lives are unacceptable to the almighty, you and I both know that the Rapture matters.

So does heaven.

So does hell.

When you are not banging on about other people’s sex lives, you all know that this life is not about Graham Kendrick songs but really about salvation and that means you’ve got an opinon on this one and I’ve not heard it yet.

So, what’s your view?

  • Heck, Mr Camping might be right. Hope we’re all ready. Put on that Larry Norman track one more time.
  • What a charletan Mr Camping is, the Bible teaches us that no-one can know the date and time but it is coming one day, ready or not.
  • Oh, Mr Camping, you just can’t add up, can you, I know the date and time and it isnae today. But watch out people, it’s coming soon anyway.
  • Mr Camping and all that rapture theology is nuts, whoever believed it in the past and whoever might have believed it in the Bible.

I don’t think there are a huge number of other options are there? Correct me if I’m wrong.

Dearly beloved Evangelical friends, when you see the #rapture and #rapturefail hashtags flying by on twitter, when you see the snarky comments about the rapture on facebook, when you read about it in blogs and newspapers and hear about it on the Today programme, you know that people are taking the micky don’t you? And it’s not Mr Camping they are mocking, it’s you.

You’ll not mind that of course. You can always blame the devil or mutter to one another that a bit of persecution is not going to do the true faith any harm and that Jesus’s friends have always been made fun of and he went to cross so the least we can do is put up with a bit of banter. Oh yes, you can say that all day long today if you like.

However, that doesn’t get you out of making a judgement about Mr Camping and what he’s talking about, does it? You know that and though you may not like it, I know it too.

Now, what do you say?


  1. Noone knows. Noone knows. Noone knows. But perhaps the rapture happens every day & we can choose life through grace if we want to.

  2. Rosemary Hannah says

    I like Emma’s comment. From the beginning of a consciously Christian life, it was plain that it was going to involve different judgements and ways of living to a wholly secular life, if that is the right term. The longer I have lived it, the further away I have travelled.

    But the end of the world and what happens then? It seems mega unlikely God will save his own people any suffering. He is far more likely to plunge them deep deep into it, if the past is anything to go by.

    And an end for the world? One way or another, that will happen. Our star cools.

  3. Nicely put. I suspect the reality is that an increasing number of evangelicals are ready to distance themselves from this nonsense but are a bit vague about what the alternative is. Because obviously you can’t not know, can you? There has to be certainty…

  4. Yes Fraser, and there does seem to be a certain squeamishness about saying anything at all about it at all, doesn’t there?

    No known Evangelical brothers or sisters replying so far.

    (Sisters may only respond if wearing hats, obviously).

  5. Pointing the finger and taking the presumptive stance that you/we are right is what gets us into trouble on all sorts of issues.

    I am not interested in making a laughing stock of an old man who may well need compassion not ridicule in his dying years, and neither am I interested in arguing the toss over who’s ‘in’ or ‘out’, which none of us actually know, and what difference does it make anyway?

    The real question shouldn’t be one driven by fear of salvation. It should simply be, right here, right now, are you doing your life out of love or not? That’s the bottom line for me.

    I am interested in following a humble Jesus who loved people that everyone else judged, and looking for ways of shining a little light right here and now – surely the heaven we really want? And then I’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.

    And yes, it is exactly why I’m sad because thanks Kelvin, you’ve being as judgmental as the narrow band of people you’re mocking.

    • Yes Lizzie – I am making a judgement, you’re absolutely right. But it is not entirely about a vulnerable old man who needs compassion, is it? That’s a rather powerful old man with radio stations and a vast publicity machine at his hands, fully capable of creating misery for some of us and creating a world-wide storm of mockery of things that do really matter.

      I’m interested in following a humble Jesus but like it or not we’re taught that Jesus has something to do with exercising judgement and, as I’ve said before, what Jesus gets to do – heal, tend, nurture etc we all get to do in this life. That’s our vocation. If Jesus comes to be our judge, then making informed judgements between right and wrong, and between what is good for the world and what is downright harmful, is what we have to do too. That’s as much our calling as being nice.

      I’d say Mr Camping is culpable. And not just Mr Camping.

  6. I predict that evangelicals will seize on the opportunity (given their interest in being relevant) to produce sermons etc that will ultimately waffle wildly. I’d guess (given the four option) that a lot will believe c) but profess to believe b) – evangelical churches do make a real effort to appear relatively sane and normal these days. There are “Christian” Institute zealots and End Time conspiracy theorist tinfoil hat types in at least one west end evangelical church, but such people aren’t necessarily in the majority.

  7. Rosemary Hannah says

    While I do totally agree that one’s life should be driven by love, the Jesus I see is actually a combative figure – loving, welcoming but as tricky as a sackful of monkeys, and always up to challenge authority, and put a spanner in preconceptions.

  8. There may not be a huge number of other options, but there are other options – although I think my chosen view is about the antithesis of evangelical in this case: I observe how biblical writing about the end-times coincides with times of national depression for the Jews, and consider it a form of escapism for the sake of optimism at the expense of realism.

    While I don’t go around remembering cases of rapture-fuelled misplaced belief causing specific historical actions, I believe it contributes to reality-denying malaise, arguably an issue of mental health. Scripture deserves treated better than to be flung through the sieve of a pre/ill-conceived hypothesis; the time wasted on such activity could better be spent treating other people better here&now, too.

    Bl**dy Darby.

  9. David McCarthy says

    Good morning, Kelvin. Unsurprisingly, we’re all still here!

    Rising to your provocation, it’s head over the parapet time…

    I tend to go with Matthew 24, and the importance of getting on with the mission we’ve been given, living as God intends and enables us, and making a positive difference, “…..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

    I think you’ll find that a lot of the negative reaction about this prediction has come from evangelical Christians, most of whom still reckon that no one knows when Jesus will return. That’s a Biblical approach, isn’t it?

    And yes, I am concerned for Mr Camping this morning. I hope he’ll say something repenting of the error he made and the confusion he has caused. I doubt he will….

    Two thoughts on your sentence: “Even though the defining doctrine of Evangelicals has become the extent to which one thinks that gay people’s private lives are unacceptable to the almighty, you and I both know that the Rapture matters.”

    This might disappoint you, but “the defining doctrine of Evangelicals” would be the atoning death of Jesus and the transformation that makes possible. Not sure how much the rapture matters either, as it is a doctrine that has only really existed for a little over two hundred years. The second coming however, is another matter, as is the reality of judgement……….am I ready for all of that?

  10. What is thy bidding, my Master? 😉

    David, do you even need to believe in penal substitution to call oneself an evangelical these days? I’d say “no” meaning that it is legitimate to cite anti-gay (or “anti-gay” if you’d rather)preoccuptation , like tolerance/encouragement of creationism, as the sort of thing that is a feature of some kinds of evangelical churches but not mainstream orthodox ones. For example, many an evangelical site might say things on “the atoning death of Jesus and the transformation that makes possible” that liberals and Roman Catholics would agree with, whereas the likes of e.g. this :

    does give the game away in the manner Kelvin describes. Similarly, it’s understandable that a lot of evangelical reaction to Rev Camping is negative as it makes the Team look bad – again, this very much supports Kelvin’s points.
    “Liberals” proclaim Christ’s lordship, read the Bible, celebrate the Sacraments (with far more respect and dilligence than many an evangelical church, that tend to be prone to bump or truncate Holy Communion for more kiddie and/or alt-Kendrick hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don’t-care feelgood services!). Similarly, pointing out this “defining doctrine” is hardly an ad hom slam – you yourself have blogged publicly and frequently on the necessity (c.f. your posts on the Scott Rennie case, +Gene Robinson case, SEC Bishop’s statement on sex-sex relationships within clergy, border crossing in America, GAFCON etc etc etc etc) on maintaining what you regard as the biblical witness on homosexuality (although, frankly, I think Gagnon makes your team look worse, not better, so am curious why you recommend him so!). I don’t think it’s logical to simultaneously regard this issue as an Ich Kann Nicht Anders (sp) Hill to Die on whilst simultaneously denying that it’s a marker of your evangelical kind of Christianity!

  11. pax58 says

    Thanks Kevin for calling an ace an ace and a spade a spade
    “And the greatest of these (the commandments) is that you love one another as I have loved you’
    As someone with a childhood full of evangelicals who caused real pain and suffering to my family, I just wish they would follow that one thing Jesus said.
    I will admit my own brokeness “forgive those who persucute you” is definitley one Jesus will be asking me about someday. 🙂

  12. Rapture

    He comes to us a stranger
    He comes to us an outsider
    He comes to us at the end of his tether
    HE comes to us dishevelled and unkempt
    He comes to us unlovely and unloveable

    He comes to us hungry and thirsty
    He comes to us seeking clothing and shelter
    He comes to us an inconvenience
    He comes to us a bother a trouble

    He comes to us a danger

    He calls to us from his sick bed
    He calls to us from his prison
    He calls to us to go into the no go

    He comes to us every day
    He comes to us a lifetime before
    He comes to us in glory

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