"Holy Rapture, Batman!"It’s very easy to laugh at Harold Camping’s recent rapture prediction and his subsequent explanations for why said rapture failed to materialize. But while we can fault his theology, Christians should be at least a bit more hesitant in their wholesale criticisms of his ideas.

Let me be clear: I think Camping is dead wrong in trying to predict when end-times events will occur. Scripture is clear on the matter: “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36; cf. 24:42,50; 25:13; and Mark 13:32, 35). Nor am I a fan of his eschatology (the rapture, as popularly understood, is too new an interpretation for me, being popularized only in the 19th century ). But what Camping is right about, and what most Christians have failed to affirm during the recent media brouhaha is this: Christ is coming back again.

In his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne articulates a scientific (if fictional) theory of how space exploration might be accomplished. Some of his predictions proved accurate: for example, the location of American launch sites for lunar missions (as near the equator as possible, Verne suggested, to minimize distance between the earth and moon; the Apollo missions followed suit). But others are laughably wrong. The idea of using a gigantic canon to launch space exploration vehicles never materialized… and a good thing too, as the Gs generated by such a cannon would entirely squash the astronauts.

Still, for all his errors, Verne was right about the idea of space exploration – the idea that engineering could conquer the seemingly insurmountable challenge of escaping earth’s gravity.

During the intense media scrutiny of Camping, it was easy to get caught up (no pun intended) in the humour of it all. I myself laughed heartily over an “End of the World Garage Sale” sign I saw the day of the supposed rapture. But we as Christians should step back for a moment to consider the following: we laughed with the world around us over the silliness of Camping’s prediction; but was the world similarly laughing with us or was it – without our realizing it – laughing at us?

As out-there as Camping’s ideas are, Christians of all stripes and sizes agree with him that there will be a Second Coming. To the world around us, that’s just more nonsense of the Camping variety, more 2012-style lunacy. Sure, we might not set a date, but our end-of-the-world ideas are just as much “foolishness” to the world at large as any other crackpot’s.

"The Last Judgement" by Jean CousinWhile we laughed with the world, they laughed at the Church, at simple-minded Christians who against all logic continue to believe in old fairy tales about a God who made the world, died for the world, and is coming again to create a new world. They weren’t just laughing at Camping alone; they were laughing at the very idea of the Second Coming.

The Second Coming has been the belief of the Church since the very beginning. It’s all through the Scriptures. It’s affirmed in the early creeds. And we still confess that faith every Sunday (at least in my church): “He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead.” We need to reject nonsense (like Camping’s) that distorts that truth, just as we would reject Verne’s nonsense about canon-launched space vehicles. But the general idea? It’s sound Christian doctrine. Let’s not downplay that fact in our efforts to distance ourselves from errant interpretations of it.