Wave goodbye as you rise into the sky
I hear murmurings that the world is going to end a week from Saturday, but I’m not worried about it.
As a journalist, liberal Democrat, and Episcopalian, I already have the Mark of the Beast affixed to my forehead, and my doom is certain. But some of you among the un-Raptured may be concerned. You, too, can relax. If these latest neo-Millerites* are premillennial dispensationalists, they are queuing up for departure, but the rest of us will be around for a while.
Premillennial dispensationalism, as popularized in the Left Behind books, holds that first the saved will be carried up into heaven in a rapture is a dispensation from the trouble to follow, then the forces of the Antichrist will prevail on earth for an extended period of tribulation, and finally at the battle of Armageddon, Christ will return and establish a millennium of direct rule. Then, after those thousand years, will come judgment and eternity.
So the Parousia, the arrival of Jesus, and the eschaton, the end of time, will not, under that scheme, occur Saturday sennight.
Mind you, many Christians, including many Evangelicals, do not hold with this, recalling the texts that say that no human being will know when the time is at hand. In A.D. 381 the Council of Constantinople declared millennialism to be not only presumptuous but heretical. Nervous people in difficult times, however, get hold of the books of Daniel and Revelation, obscure and difficult texts which, like the prophecies of Nostradamus, are open to multiple interpretations, particularly to the credulous. (Origen was not fond of Revelation, and so many others were dubious about it that it barely squeaked into the canon in the fourth century.)
So while there may be a possibility that the godly will drop everything and ascend into the sky on May 21, I suspect that there is a much greater chance that we’ll all still be here Sunday morning, trying as before to make the best of it.
*Millerites were the followers of William Miller, who calculated that the Second Coming of Christ was due in 1843. Some of his followers sold everything in anticipation. Then the Day of Judgment had to be adjusted to 1844. Postponements have continued since. The business of predicting the return of Christ started with Montanus in the second century and has been luring gulls ever since.