Dear Mr. Camping:
If I’m not around on May 22nd, it won’t be because Jesus came to rapture me. I fully expect to be alive and well, along with most of our planet’s occupants and the scattered, bewildered remnants of your followers. I also expect to witness another of the many failed date settings for the Second Coming of Jesus.
But, I am a Christian, in fact, a clergyperson in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and I reject, totally, all efforts such as yours to set dates for any future plans God may have for us earthlings.
Mr. Camping, you have succeeded in deluding yourself and perhaps thousands of your followers into believing the world as we know it will end on May 21st. Most onlookers merely laugh it off, as it is ripe for derision. However, for many people, the effects of such failures are catastrophic.
Remember another failed attempt, the “Jesus is coming on October 28, 1989” effort? Full page editorials ran in major newspapers, people all over the world on October 27th sold their property, left their businesses and jobs, and searched the night skies for their Savior. October 29th brought hysteria, abortions, suicides and loss of faith. The most regrettable part of this is how unnecessary it all was. And now we are about to witness another misguided attempt at date setting that will surely bring havoc to many in its wake.
For all you onlookers who view these proceedings with contempt, I understand. What you may not know is that there is a wholly different way, and in my view, a more responsible way of understanding God in our world. There are Christians, such as me, who don’t take the Bible literally, although we do take it seriously. Who don’t divide up the world into those whom God favors and everyone else. Who are less concerned with an eternal hell in the afterlife than with people living in hell on Earth right now. Who value the world’s religions as partners, not enemies. Who learn from science and are open to new insights from all the academic disciplines. Who see in Jesus, not a bringer of judgment and doom, but an exemplar of how to live authentically in our world; who, by showing us how God loves, we are to love as well. Come seek us out.
Mr. Camping, we are about to see just what kind of a Christian you are. What will you do on the 22nd?
Issue an apology?
Resign your position as God’s spokesperson?
Work to alleviate the harm you caused?
Disavow your preposterous mode of biblical interpretation?
Or retrench and recalculate (one more time)?
I know you believe what you teach. Please reconsider, in all humility, the ramifications of your failed pronouncement. I fully expect you to put as much energy into healing the wounds of your flock as you have in setting them up for failure. One way to do this is to urge your followers to go back to the churches you made them abandon. Or, better, encourage them to seek out a more open and grace-filled Christianity. They, and you, will be welcomed.
Reverend Steven F. Kindle
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)