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Monday Morning Quarterback: Breaking Down The Rapture That Never Was

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By HVnews on May 23, 2011

So, yeah, The Rapture never happened. It’s entirely possible that Randy “Macho Man” Savage really did die to prevent this tragedy from taking place.

The lack of rapturing was totally awkward for a few people and laughably funny for many more.

FamilyRadio’s Harold Camping essentially yelled “Fire!” in a crowded religious theater of people looking for an excuse to consider themselves special and probably won’t be held accountable for all the dumb stuff those people did in response.

Like the Haddad family, who stopped saving for their three children’s college education.

Or the woman who attempted to kill her children and then herself.

And though Camping can’t be immediately blamed or held responsible for the tragic death of Michigan teenager Anthony Thompson, it’s worth noting that Thompson’s death occurred because the teen was celebrating that the Rapture didn’t happen. Thompson jumped off a bridge into a river, and became overwhelmed by the water. He didn’t know how to swim.

It’s unclear if Thompson and his friends were believers or just looking to have a good-time at the expense of Camping’s false predictions. But try being one of Thompson’s parents and having to come to terms with the manner in which your son tragically died.

What’s particularly troubling about this latest game of “Fingers Crossed for the Rapture” is that Camping previously pulled the same stunt in 1994 to the same predictable results and yet, in 2011, people were more than willing to look the other way and ignore this fact. It’s no big thing for Camping who, at 89, probably won’t live to see another round of false proclamation.

But for the believers? The people who put so much stock into this latest round of predictions? “I don’t know where we went wrong other than that we obviously don’t understand the Scriptures in the way that we should,” Family Radio board member Tom Evans told NPR. Evans says now that the date has passed the station and Christians have to pick themselves up and carry on.

“I don’t know what the future holds for Family Radio or for any of us,” he said. “We just have to pray that God will be merciful.” As for the money the radio station took from believers? Yeah, he hopes the organization will repay those people, but “at this point he can’t guarantee it.”

Harold Camping finally resurfaced briefly after the Rapture no-show and said he was “flabbergasted” and that “it had been a really tough weekend.” Further, Camping said he would be looking for answers, which meant lots of prayer, and then will have more to say on his radio program today.

But it’s his followers, who put so much of their own faith into his predictions, that will probably need a healthy dose of solace and comfort.

“I’m not as disappointed as everyone since I didn’t fully believe him,” said one, who asked to remain anonymous Sunday because he worried he would be shunned for admitting he was “upset” with Camping.

The middle-aged Oakland resident said he’d been listening to Camping since 1993, when he said the world would end in 1994.

That was strike one, the man said. And this is strike two. Even so, he said, that doesn’t mean the message is wrong.

“I just know he’s biblically sound,” the man said. “I’ve never been one of these guys who think everything he says is true.

“I don’t think I am going to stop listening to him,” the man added, heaving a deep sigh before continuing: “I don’t know, I gotta listen to him on Monday, see what he says on the radio.”

Outside Camping’s compound near the Oakland airport, which was locked and dark on Sunday, a different religious group waited for dejected believers.

“I would encourage them not to lose their faith because they listened to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and Jesus said there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing,” said Jackie Alnor.

Alnor, a resident of Hayward who blogs about the rapture, said Camping had twisted the word of God by trying to predict the end. Only God knows when the world will end, she said.

“He’s in big trouble with God,” she said.

If that isn’t bad enough, she said, Camping’s false prophecy could have bigger impacts on religion.

“It’s given people who hate Christianity an excuse to hate it even more,” she said. “People can just paint with broad brush strokes.”

Still, Camping hasn’t officially released an official statement yet, but Timothy Dalrymple offers some suggestions for how Camping can handle the situation:

— He should not try to justify his prediction.  This will be very difficult, and it will tell me a lot about the state of his heart.  Human pride wants to explain, even though we were wrong, why we believed what we believed.  Even if our belief was false, we want to say, it was justified.  With all the mockery he has faced, before and after May 21, the temptation will be nigh-irresistible to explain why he was really quite reasonable in believing what he believed.  Yet this is not about him, and it’s not a time for pride.  It’s a time to focus on those who sacrificed their finances, their careers, their relationships because of their trust in him.  He needs the humility to take his lumps, end the circus, and simply bless those he harmed.

— So, right from the beginning he should ask for forgiveness.  He should confess not only that he was mistaken (which is obvious), but that he was wrong to enter the doomsday-prophecy business, that he should have listened to his brothers and sisters in Christ who warned him that his teaching was false and destructive, and that he let his pride get the better of him.  This is not about humiliating Harold Camping.  This is about making him whole, and making whole the people who suffered from the trust they placed in him.  They deserve a thoroughgoing apology and confession, and his restoration to the fold of the faithful will not be complete unless he repents.

His many other suggestions are sound advice for someone who, in their staunch beliefs, have done lots of good people wrong.

Luckily, members of Calvary Bible Church stood outside the Family Radio headquarters in Oakland, CA, offering counseling to Harold Camping’s followers in the wake of their leader’s false prediction.

BuzzFeed collected the 30 best “Rapture Bombs” like this:

To drive home the embarrassment even further, one enterprising person took out a billboard of his own along North Carolina’s I-40 highway near Greensboro.

Indeed it was.

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