Thursday, November 21, 2013

Slacktivist on Why Rapture Prophets Can't Celebrate 50th Anniversaries

What happens if you preside over a ministry devoted to the idea that the so-called "rapture" of the Christian church will occur at any moment, but your ministry is fifty years old or older?  Wouldn't it be a bad public relations move to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of such a ministry?  Fred Clark explores this idea in light of the fiftieth anniversary of an organization called The King is Coming Ministries founded by a preacher named Howard Estep.  Here is a taste of his post at Slacktivist:


The King Is Coming” ministries carries on Estep’s work, preaching that the Rapture is imminent and could occur at any moment, if not sooner. It’s now run by Ed Hindson, dean of the “Institute of Biblical Studies” at Liberty University. Hindson took over for Estep because, as the Gospel of Matthew says, “Two men will be grinding out a prophecy newsletter together; one will be taken and one will be left.”
The King Is Coming has a long, storied history as an organization. But celebrating that history is a bit awkward, given the content of the group’s message. They can’t do something like, for example, World Vision’s proud account of its 60+ years of work, with a timeline charting the growth and accomplishments of the organization throughout its long history.
What would such a timeline look like for a Rapture-prophecy “ministry” like TKIC?
1963: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1964: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1965: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1966: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1967: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1968: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1969: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1970: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1971: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1972: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong. …
1973: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong.
1974: Predicted the Rapture would happen very soon. We were wrong. …
That’s probably not a winning fund-raising strategy. It’s probably wiser just to fudge the group’s long history of premature extrapolation and to do their best to appear as though they haven’t been at this for as many decades as they have....
Clark also mentions the evangelical eschatological thriller A Thief in the Night and the very popular tract 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.