Date setting: A neurosis that will not die

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Acts 1:7, NIV

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, NIV

Christians engage in two types of date setting. Sometimes they assign an actual date to the second coming and other apocalyptic events. We’ll call this hard date setting. This always ends up in some degree of embarrassment for the person setting the date, and anyone who bought into their pitch. The most notable of these debacles is the ‘Great Disappointment,’ which eventually led to the formation of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Most of the time people engage in what I call soft date setting. Soft date setting takes several forms. In 2015, Michelle Bachmann spoke after returning from Israel, “We recognize the shortness of the hour,” she said, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, he’s coming soon.”

Ms. Bachmann was careful to not assign a specific date. There’s no call to be at any particular place or ready at any particular hour. Just, ‘soon.’ Of the two this soft date setting is the worst. It is the most subversive and pernicious. It places people in a constant expectant mindset, and at the end of the day, when there’s no trumpet sound or chorus of legions of angels in the sky, they go to bed a little disappointed, even if on an unconscious level. It’s a constant source of stress for many. I’ve even heard people testify that they had experienced stress effects from anticipating the rapture/second coming/end times eschatology.

Humans have caused all the problems we have today. We’re the problem, and we’re the solution. We don’t deserve a divine ass-wiping. It’s not needed. Pathological expectation of a heavenly revolution on earth happens in direct conflict with the Bible. It is neither healthy nor helpful. It leads to a depraved indifference to suffering, and has people on one level or another wanting their lives to be over. It was something I dealt with and chose to abandon.

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