Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Getting Serious ... Maybe

Well, we're down to 26 DAYS!  Maybe.

That means the all of Christendom will be waiting!   Maybe.

Surely at least those Christians who expect the Second Coming to occur will be waiting!  Maybe.

Okay, what's with all of the 'maybe's? Is May 21 the date of the "rapture" or not?

The ambivalence is not my invention. It is a reflection of a Pew Research Center survey that was originally taken in 2006. ( In that survey, which was distributed among people who profess Christianity and not to the public at large, the following tension occurred: In answer to the question, "Do you believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?" 79% of the respondents said, "Yes." But, in response to the question, "Do you believe that Jesus will return to earth in your lifetime?" only 20% said, "Yes."

It's the gap between the 79% and the 20% that constitutes the 'maybe.' And, frankly, if the survey had phrased some questions in terms of the "rapture," the numbers would be even more disparate. The "Second Coming" has been a part of Christian confessional standards since at least the Apostle's Creed and was articulated way earlier than that in the simple phrase, "Come, Lord Jesus."

The "rapture," on the other hand, is a fairly new wrinkle on the understanding of the Second Coming. It seems to me that the idea of the "rapture" is an attempt to make some literal sense of the kinds of visions found in Daniel, I Thessalonians, Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 22, and Revelation. Since I don't think any of those texts are intended to be taken literally - much less accumulated together into a 'timeline,' I would be among the  folks in the gap between "Yes" and not "Yes." I guess I'll be content standing alongside of Jesus, who didn't even know the times or the season!


  1. Love your blog Mark. I have always felt that we should live each day as if Jesus was coming back that day. Live a life of no regrets so that we won't have to fear if Jesus comes back at any moment. I also have marveled at the people who think they can predict when Jesus is coming back since Jesus himself said he did not know the day or the hour. What audacity to think that we could know more than our Lord!

  2. Linda,
    The only reservation I have about living each day as if it is our last is that we also ought to live each day as if the next 1,000 generations depend on it. Of course, I'm referring to living sustainably and not leaving future generations with our mess to suffer.
    Outside of that small caveat, I agree with your sentiment.


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