Saturday, May 21, 2011

End of World Prediction for May 21, 2011

A pastor by the name of Harold Camping has predicted the world will end on March 21, 2011, and will happen sequentially from one time zone to the next, at 6pm local time. Here are some thoughts I had on this from a Catholic perspective, which I emailed to several friends today:

I heard about this pastor who is predicting the end of the world. He's not the first and won't be the last. I remember reading about the leader of a Christian sect and he predicted the end of the world sometime in the 1800s. He became very popular, but once the specific date he had predicted came and went, his popularity plummeted. However, I seem to remember he insisted there was some kind of error in his calculation and he basically tried again.

Anyway, in terms of the rapture, to be honest, it's not spoken of much if at all in Catholic churches. I've never heard a priest give a homily (sermon) on the rapture. I guess the idea is that the most important thing is our own relationship with God. And that you have to be always ready.

The whole idea of the rapture generally revolves around a couple of ideas. One is the reign of Jesus Christ over the world. Some people who tend to interpret the Bible very literally believe the reference to a "thousand year reign" means Jesus will be the literal king of the entire planet for one thousand years. The Catholic Church, and the historic interpretation (Augustine, e.g.) is that the reign of Christ is now, since his time on earth onward.

The other idea is the tribulation. That's a period of a lot of bad stuff. Again, some will look at more natural things like natural disasters, violence, etc. being expected during this time. The Catholic position is that this may be the case, but the most important thing about the tribulation is people falling away from faith in God, and moving toward self-gratification and worshiping themselves, and basically turning away from God.

The tribulation is also the time of the Antichrist. There is a singular Antichrist, but there's also the idea of plural antichrists, and this is in the Bible also. These would be people who are consciously working to destroy faith and things like that.

But like I said, Catholics don't usually talk about the rapture or the tribulation. We generally just talk about the Final Judgment. But I think much more emphasis is placed on Particular Judgment, which is after one individual dies, he is judged and then is either destined for heaven or hell. The Final Judgment would apply at the end of the world for those who are still living.

As I mentioned, the Bible keeps saying you know not the day nor the hour of the second coming. So I'm not sure how people can give specific dates.

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