Is Doomsday Inherent to Christianity?

Nearly everyone, Christian or not, believes that the 5-21’ers, Harold Camping’s group that believes Jesus will be literally coming down from Heaven and kicking some ass on May 21, 2011, are off their rockers. But, do other Christians have a right to sneer at them?

True, the “equation” Camping used to predict the specific date is so ridiculous it makes rodeo clowns look like rocket scientists, but divine revelation is touch stone in Christianity. So, no Christian can completely discredit the source of his knowledge without discrediting their own beliefs.

As far as early Christians were concerned, the world was coming to an end. And soon. Jesus said so. 2,000 years ago. As the religion progressed into the 2nd century, talk of an imminent end was down played, the time frame becoming much more vague. But, when we look at the earliest Christian documents, the urgency of preparing for the End of the World can be seen.

  • Pauline Epistles, 50-65 CE
  • Gospel of Mark, 70 CE
  • Revelation of Jesus Christ, 69-95 CE

Hints about the coming end are all over Paul’s letters, but he’s quite up front about the timing in his letter to the Thessalonians. The inclusive “we” lets us know that Paul himself believed he would be alive for the end.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

-1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

The first gospel writer (we know him only as “Mark”) did more than his fair share to spread the doom and gloom. Once again, he insists that the end will be within the life time of the reader:

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
-Mark 9:1

And, after remarking that the sun will go dark and the stars will fall from the sky:

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished.
-Mark 13:30

Finally, the Book of Revelation, supposedly inspired by a direct revelation from God (why a god need to make literary allusions to the 200 year old Book of Daniel?) really lays on the disaster mongering.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass, and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John…
-Revelation 1:1 –

Next follows page after page of wars, plagues, angels dressed in clouds, women dressed in the sun, men dressed in sackcloths, guys eating books that taste like honey, a dragon with 7 heads eating star babies, and all kinds of general wackiness (I certainly hope this book doesn’t “make sense” to Christians, either).

“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm

-Revelation 11:18-19

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
-Revelation 22:20

Yep, the end is coming. And soon. Or, so thought every generation for the last two thousand years. Funny thing for a god to do: create a world then make it’s inhabitants do nothing but prepare for it to end.

Explore posts in the same categories: Superstition in the Modern World

9 Comments on “Is Doomsday Inherent to Christianity?”

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