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Edgar Whisenant (1932–2001) is best known as the author of 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. One in a long line of failed rapture predictions before and since, this booklet was all the rage in Christian bookstores and on the Trinity Broadcasting Network during August and early September, 1988. The booklet was bound together with another essay, On Borrowed Time. This cheap $2 staple-bound booklet published by the World Bible Society had a sudden rise on the Christian book market best-seller lists, even threatening to knock that
mighty fortress of Gospel writing conspiracy nutter Texe Marrs out of the #1 spot, and just as rapid a fall once the fateful weekend came and went. To drum up further publicity, the publisher mailed some 300,000 copies free to ministers and churches.
Needless to say, the author's prediction of the Second Coming sometime between September 11 and 13, 1988 failed to materialize. However it was an exciting weekend in many other respects: Hurricane Gilbert slammed across the Caribbean that very weekend causing massive destruction in its wake, raining cats and dogs in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic etc., while Yellowstone got an early out of season snow just a few days after the burning park had its worst week of fire with the entire park all but evacuated, proving once again that you can try and try but the park will still fry, but nature bats last. All this has nothing to do of course with Edgar Whisenant's idiotic date-setting nor with Jesus, although plenty of true believers at the time thought the congruence of Hurricane Gilbert and the Yellowstone conflagration was a sign from God that maybe Whisenant was on to something. In other news Stryper's new album In God We Trust was DOA upon release and The Last Temptation of Christ bombed most heinously in theaters everywhere, so maybe it just wasn't Jesus' time to come back yet.
The so-stupid-it-hurts award may well go to the Trinity Broadcasting Network, who preempted their regular programming over those three days to run "what to do if you just missed the rapture" spots.
Anyhooo...Whisenant struck back by claiming he got a number wrong, slightly revising his math, and issuing The Final Shout: Rapture Report (original proposed title, we kid you not: 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1989). By then of course nobody was listening anymore, and turned their attention instead to the teen Satanism epidemic and Geraldo Rivera's TV exposé of same.
Whisenant tried setting several more dates for the rapture, until the Lord, probably embarrassed at this boy crying wolf too many times, called him home in 2001. Some more of this genius' booklets include:
- 23 Reasons Why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture Looks Like It Will Occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993
- And Now the Earth's Destruction by Fire, Nuclear Bomb Fire: In World War III, World War IV and World War V at Armageddon
- 75% of the Bible is Future as of 21 November 1995: These 5600 Original Pages in 21 Books as of About 300 Pages Each Prove It
- and the more elegantly titled 1997