Before we permanently assign Harold Camping to the theological kook bin, we might want to consider what made his prophecy so compelling to so many people, including, or maybe mostly, those who dismissed or ridiculed it.
Camping’s true believers are not of much interest to me. But I am interested in what made the media fall all over themselves to cover the story, and what inspired such interest in it from the religious establishment, annoyed atheists, and amused onlookers.
My guess is this. Camping touched a nerve that triggered a certain anxious fear that maybe there is some truth in all this last judgment stuff. However much one may boldly proclaim that God does not exist, Camping exposed the raw underside of nervous doubt about that. The jokes, ridicule and party planning sounded more than a little like so much whistling in the dark against the hobgoblins in which one claims not to believe. I suspect that on Saturday night a large number of people who have claimed to be spiritual but not religious seriously intended to go to church on Sunday morning. I wonder if they did?
What I think is demonstrated by all this is an underlying hunger for spiritual truth gnawing at the souls of all people, and especially those who have never heard the good news proclaimed in any helpful way. I’m not sure what to do about that except to say that I think it’s time that we quit moaning over the decline of main line Christianity and begin proclaiming that Good News with pride and confidence. I’d like to hear more about what you might think about it.