Archive | May 25, 2011

Seeing what we want to see

May 25, 2011


Question: What’s our take-away lesson from the recent wave of pointlessness? The answer: There’s a little Harold Camping in each of us.

We could dismiss the 89-year-old would-be prophet with phrases invoking sheets to the wind or top-floor elevators or loons or crackers or bonkers, but no publicly available evidence suggests he’s clinically crazy. Perhaps he’d pass the MMPI test with flying colors – and he’s got obvious skills: initiative, stick-to-itiveness, a laser-focus and an entrepreneurial spirit. The man is a great marketer and shows “gathering” potential. Sign him up as a church planter. Besides, what’s wrong with punching the calculator with biblical numbers in an attempt to time Christianity’s eschatological events? Isaac Newton did it. His statue still sits on the top shelf of our cultural pantheon.

Camping’s dilemma is not irrationality but his own grid through which he sees the universe. It’s a kind of rationality on steroids: The Bible is true; the Bible has numbers in it and, because the Bible is true, therefore the numbers are true; since the numbers are true, we’ll add them up and find the date of the so-called “rapture.” And since a physical rapture did not occur on May 21, 2011, it must have been “spiritual,” with the definitive finality scheduled for October.

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