"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes." (II Timothy 2:23 (KJV)
According to the latest available calculations the world as we know it will end on May 21, 2011, (U.S., Eastern Daylight Time, it is presumed). The exact authentication of this you may feel free to Google. It's on the Internet; and, as Homer Simpson reliably intones, "If it's on the Internet it must be true."
Given the events occurring around the world on any recent day, it is easy to see how a soon-coming return of Christ would be welcomed. However, with all due deference to brother Simpson, it is easily verifiable that innumerable such May 21 deadlines have come and gone without incident for 2,011 years. In fact, in America at least one denomination was built on such predicted end of time dates not materializing.
While I do look forward to all this, if this suggested date proves true it may be inconvenient to many. Personally was hopeful of seeing what Dec. 21, 2012, might bring. The latter has a certain degree of pseudo science attached thereto; the former prediction relies on yet another individual diagnosis of Holy Scripture.
Overall, I rather suspect we ain't seen nothing yet. "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24.7-8, KJV). But then I have not done any in-depth diagnosis.
The proposed May date, if I understand it at all, is actually the projected day for the legendary "rapture". I harbor certain reservations about the term "rapture" as it appears nowhere in any Biblical translation available to me. "Rapture" doctrine refers to a sudden taking away to heaven of the Elect lest they experience the great tribulation, which is to follow -- or so I understand it.
It is very possible the Elect are actually so comparatively few in relation to the whole population of earth that we may not note --or did not note -- their absence. As Jesus said, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18.8, KJV)
For the record, this specific word usage "rapture" is about 200 years old. It appeared in America about the time of the Pentecostal Revival of the early 1900s, and has become a very popular doctrine in Evangelical circles since the 1950's. Overall it is a teaching hard to sell in lands where Christians have come under intense persecution well shy of any escapist taking away into heaven.
There's an old story of some great saint of God who, while playing croquet, was asked what he'd do if he knew the world would end at sunset. His reported reply was "Finish my game." Point being, he was ready. Assuming the end of days is yet ahead of us, can't think of anything in my life I'll be wanting to change between now and May 21, 2011 -- Homer Simpson notwithstanding.
A follow-up blog to this is already written for posting next week -- If I'm here next week -- If there is a next week.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.