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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Misguided evangelicals

Yet another prediction of the Rapture has come and gone. Fascination among some Christians with the Rapture, Second Coming, Second Advent, Millenialism, etc became prominent in the 1800s with advocates like William Miller. It has persisted to this day, yesterday being the most recent target of Harold Camping -- and not his first, incidentally.

These folks who become preoccupied with Christian eschatology are misguided, although energetic and skilled in the art of drawing attention to themselves. They have far too much time on their hands, and they let their imaginations run away with them. Unfortunately they bring Christianity into ridicule, at a time when serious and intelligent people are trying to demythologize Christianity and synthesize a new theology and praxis that are faithful to an understanding of God and God's ongoing relationship with the Creation.

I hope that there are still people born after, say, 1985 who are open to true Christianity. I can see, however, why they might reject all Christianity after exposure to the ridiculous notions of Harold Camping and others like him. Those of us who hold to the Christian faith but consider Camping a scandal have a responsibility to tell our friends and neighbors what we think and believe. If we don't, we allow Camping's portrayal of Christianity to be accepted by the public at large.

One of my main hobbies in teenage years was shortwave listening. In its heyday there were hundreds of stations on shortwave from virtually every country on the globe. The Internet has rendered shortwave broadcasts irrevelant in most of the developed world, although they are still a primary source of information in lesser developed countries. About one shortwave broadcast in ten was religious, inevitably presenting an extremely fundamental and literally biblical presentation of Christianity. Their interpretations of the Bible were jarring to my ears then and remain so today. They are little different from the extremely fundamental Islamists whom they hate -- and who convey true Islam no more than these evangelists convey true Christianity.

Some of these evangelical shortwave broadcasters, including Camping's Family Radio and even the edgy Roman Catholic EWTN, continue to broadcast on shortwave as well as other media. I wonder how many people have, in fact, been "saved" (their preferred scorecard) into a lifetime and eternity of God's grace by their broadcasts. I'd like to think that some well-rounded Christians have resulted from these broadcasts, but perhaps that's just my optimistic nature. The reality is that severely evangelical broadcasters have inadvertently helped to de-Christianize the western world... the opposite outcome of their intentions.