Get ready for the Rapture… again

By Rebecca Davis 6 October 2011

Remember Harold Camping, the eccentric Christian broadcaster who told everyone Jesus was coming for them on 21 May? He's back, and urges you to diarise 21 October, the revised date of the Rapture. By REBECCA DAVIS.

In some modern theological traditions, the Rapture is an eschatological concept referring to an event when Jesus Christ will return to Earth and take all “good” Christians back to Heaven. If you’re not a Christian, you might think this doesn’t concern you much. But be careful: after the Rapture comes the Tribulation, in which nonbelievers and, presumably, not-so-good Christians start to meet their comeuppances, and that culminates in the Battle of Armageddon, where everyone from the not-quite-good-enough to outright heathens perish. So there’s quite a lot at stake for all of us.

Camping (and the scores of like-minded “prophets” through the ages) was, of course, wrong the last time. That didn’t stop thousands of people – including many South Africans – selling their worldly possessions and preparing for their ascent to heaven. When 22 May came and went, and it became clear that something had gone horribly wrong for Camping’s prediction too, his get-out-of-jail-free card was to claim that a “non-visible spiritual judgement” had indeed taken place, but that the next one would be the real deal. And that date is a mere two weeks away.

Camping has suffered a stroke between the last non-Rapture and this one. (Please don’t be so churlish as to make any cracks about divine retribution.) The incident seems to have softened the old man, since he now says that the Rapture will be quick and quiet, and non-believers will suffer “no pain”. If you choose to wager that Camping is right this time, you’re up against the fact that he has now been wrong a total of three times. In the early 1990s he said the world would end in 1994, and penned a book entitled ‘1994?’ At least he had the sense to add the question mark. DM

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