The recent and ongoing debacle regarding Harold Camping and co.’s rapture and Second Coming predictions have gotten me thinking about two polemic ways of going about Faith which I consider equally problematic if not altogether self-defeating. That is, evangelization, taken up and expressed using either of the following methods, actually hinders true conversion in the modern mindset, and instead solemnizes the act of Faith as a caricatured expression of the ego or the result of someone’s absurd scrupulosity.
It’s something I’m calling guru-hood and "god-fearing" (with a lowercase 'g'). Guru-hood I’m defining as a certain self-appointed “mastery” of Christian topics resulting in the kind of spiritual leadership where the only authority regarding Christianity and the Bible is oneself and one’s own interpretation of what Jesus said and did. God-fearing is similar, where personal conversion runs as deep as either fear or even personal guilt resulting therefore in someone or a group of people attaching themselves to whatever version of Christianity best appeases their sensibilities for God cleansing the repentant of sin and obliterating all who still recalcitrantly resist conversion.
Either way, the gurus consider themselves qualified to make predictions about the end of the world, and the god-fearers consider themselves qualified, if not overly qualified, to believe these predictions hook, line and sinker.
Of course it is the place of those that know better, the true “gurus” or masters of Christianity who are attempting with true humility to persevere under a higher Church authority, and thus demonstrate true God-fearing (which requires acquiescence to God’s will and not one’s own), to pray for Camping and his followers. Indeed anyone with any inklings of faith should hopefully be moved to pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ who are clearly struggling with well-meaning but misguided notions of God’s final justice. And many are praying for them, though they won’t advertise it on billboards.
Bottom line, calling the world to conversion in Christ is still most effective when done with reason and with one’s own personal witness of faith, not in setting date after date for the impending so called “rapture” or eschaton. One can only hope with the inevitable failure of the next October date that it becomes obvious who exactly is in charge here; hint: it isn’t a solely human “authority” and nor is it any community’s collective fear. My hope is that Camping and his followers will one day be able to find true consolation in that.