A 2017 item came up in my online feed yesterday morning, and because I initially failed to notice the date I chased it up because I have an abiding interest in the stupid stuff the religious say. It was conspiracy theorist David Meade, who suggested that Nibiru (aka Planet X) will crash into Earth and this will be heralded by a ‘sign’ on September 23rd, 2017, six years ago last week. The Christianity Today news site opined that Meade’s ‘story was “Making Christians look silly”. They added: “The Bible is clear in Matthew 24:36 that Jesus is going to return as he promised, but no one except God the Father knows when; therefore, trying to use our finite, earthly means to speculate is, quite frankly, a waste of time”. It seems that Meade has some significant assistance in making Christians “look silly”1.
Some time ago, I wrote an article about the numerous second comings and raptures that didn’t happen. Christians have been predicting these for millennia and, given that I am writing this, none have eventuated2.
There are still a few assorted Christians who believe the rapture is imminent, as they have done for thousands of years. While many of them have learned that predicting a date is ‘silly’, many of them seem to assert that it will be sooner than their readers think. As religious nutter Sheila Alewine says: “Will we ever know for sure when the Rapture will take place? Well, yes! When it happens!”3 However, one of Alewine’s correspondents could not control themselves and stated, in upper case (I have brought it back to sentence case): “I firmly believe that the rapture will come in 2023, because this is the last year before the tribulation period of 7 years begins. A bible teacher told me that Isreal [sic] was was [sic] a nation 1n [sic] 1949, ( not 1948), as I and almost everyone believes. So from 1949 + 80 years, the last year of this rapture generation, according to the bible is 2029. Subject [sic] 7 years, that takes us to 2023, our present year, so the rapture must come this year guaranteed!!!!!!!!!! Am I right true prophets of god?”3
Where this person’s bible teacher obtained the 1949 date for the creation of the state of Israel is unclear, given that David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel on May 14th, 19484. However, the armistices with various participants in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war was not signed until February to July 19495. The Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, first met in 1949 after the first election which was held in January 1949. Prior to that, the nation was governed by a provisional government which was formed when the state of Israel was proclaimed6.
While Alewine’s correspondent did not give a date, unmangling the arithmetic (2029-7 = 2022) indicates, using this numerological drivel, that the rapture should have happened in 2022. Whoops! Looking silly again. If the real date of the proclamation of Israel is included in the calculations, then the date of the rapture should have happened in 2021.
Some Christians are now starting to twig that setting dates can be dangerous, mostly to the credibility of their religion, so they are starting to disparage fruitcakes such as Harold Camping7, who set date after date only for his followers to be disappointed time and again2.
Currently, most of the debate about the rapture is between Christians who state that it will be pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation. The great tribulation is a long or short time of great hardship before the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world8.
The rapture, constantly harped on by so many evangelical churches has led to what is termed ‘rapture anxiety’, where people, constantly being told that it is imminent spend their lives panic-stricken lest they sin just before it all kicks off. Rapture anxiety is recognised by some mental health professionals as a type of trauma. The CEO of the Global Center for Religious Research has said: “It’s a chronic problem … This is a new area of study, but in general, our research has revealed that religious trauma leads to an increase of anxiety, depression, paranoia and even some OCD-like behaviours” and sufferers believe they need to say a prayer of salvation many times or need to confess their sins often. Some suffer anxiety because they believe that their pets or their relatives will be left behind9, when they are sucked up into the clouds.
The stuff that some people believe is astonishing. You’d expect that because so many predictions of the date of the rapture have come and gone without Christians being launched into the clouds, they all would have twigged it is all bovine ordure. Some clearly have, but some seem so attached to the concept and its timing that they seem incapable of seeing sense, and some are being driven to depression and anxiety because of it.