May 21, 2011: Judgement Day? Open Discussion

 

 

**Update:  With only 7 days left until Camping’s “Rapture” date, I’ve written a follow up article that I’d love you to take a look at here: Helpful resources***

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz coming from a select but loud group of Evangelicals that God’s Judgement Day, including the Rapture, is GOING to happen on May 21, 2011.  In most cases, I don’t like to question the faith or beliefs of anyone.  Faith is a personal matter.  With that said, I am very concerned about the possible consequences of this particular movement, so I’m going to say my piece, and then I welcome everyone to enter the discussion in the comments section below.

chemistry lab report abstract examplesguantanamo bay essay is a radio evangelist that has the distinction of having hosted the longest running radio call-in show in the U.S.  For 50 years, Camping has inspired a devout audience to study the Bible, and to follow his lead in deciphering God’s intended message.

Aside from his controversial proclamation that the End Times begin on May 21, 2011, Camping has made other declarations that have turned heads.  For instance, he claims that all current churches are apostate.  God has left the Church, and that true believers should no longer attend services or maintain membership.  Apparently, God abandoned earthly churches when the so called “Church Age” ended in 1994, which is incidentally the date he previously claimed the world would end.  More on that later.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”—2nd Peter 2:1

It is interesting first to contemplate what the Bible declares with regard to false prophets.  Peter tells us to be wary of them.  That they will try to lead the flock astray. (I’d like to interrupt myself right here to say that I am no Biblical scholar, and this is not meant to be a Bible study.  I am discussing the things that I’ve gleaned from my life as a Reverend’s Granddaughter, and through my own study.  That said, I am not infallible. Clearly.)  So what makes a follower of Camping so certain, especially given his well documented failed prophesies, that HE is not a false prophet?

That’s tricky.  Faith is a marvelous thing… but in my view Faith, in anything at all, must be tempered with reason.  If you believe in God, then you believe he bestowed upon you the grey matter that resides in your skull, so you should use it, right?  But sadly, for many people Faith lies in the same bed with fear.  Fear that if they don’t get it just right, they’ll incur the wrath of their merciful God, and fall from his Grace.  So they cling to the things that they are told by those that they view as more learned than they, lest they be cast away by their God.  But is that Biblical?

“[W]hen a prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah has not spoken: the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him” (Dt. 18:22).

History if rife with examples of End Times predictions that never came to pass.  A few examples:

Saint Martin of Tours, a student of Hilary, was convinced that the end would happen sometime before 400 CE.

A Roman priest and theologian in the second and third centuries, predicted Christ would return in 500 CE, based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark.

January 1, 1000 was believed by many many Christians to be the End of Days.  It is said that in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, people were diligently doing good deeds.  I imagine the poor ate well in that last week.  Many Christians donated their belongings to the Church.  It is documented that after the first of the year in 1000 CE, many people who’d given away all of their money and possessions ended up committing suicide.  It is also well documented that the Church did not return the gracious gifts that followers had donated.

Pope Innocent III added 666 years onto the date the Islam was founded, and came up with 1284 CE as the date of Judgement.

The Old Believers in Russia believed that the end of the world would occur in 1669. 20 thousand burned themselves to death between 1669 and 1690 to protect themselves from the Antichrist.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, is quoted as saying “I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written–the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old.”  Well, Mr. Smith didn’t reach 85 years old, because he was killed by an angry mob many years before that… but he WOULD have been 85 in 1890.

William Miller, founder of the Millerite movement, began a trend of naming not only a year, but a specific date for Christ’s return.  According to Miller (who amassed a legion of followers, said the world would end on March 21, 1843.

March 21, 1843 came and went, so Miller revised his declaration (sound familiar?).  October 22, 1844 was the new date.  His devoted followers gave away their possessions in preparation for the End of Time, only to be again let down.  So many were the believers in this prophesy, it has gone down in History with the name The Great Disappointment . It is important to note that some took their own lives after the date passed.

In the 16th century, world renowned prophet Mother Shipton (who still has believers to this day) stated quite plainly, “…The world to an end shall come; in eighteen hundred and eighty-one.

One of the most notorious groups for predicting end time dates is The Jehovah’s Witnesses or Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Collectively under their leaders, they predicted the End Times for 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994.

Of course, who can forget the Apocalypse panic that arose as the year 2000 approached.

And now we have Harold Camping.  His initial prophesy of 1994 was immortalized in the following book: 1994? Click on the link and you can purchase it for as little as 29 cents as a souvenir.  Only use Super Saver Shipping if you’re ordering it before May.  Obvious reasons.  When asked about this book, you would think that there would be elaborate explanations from the Camping Camp, such as incorrect mathematics, but Camping claims that he was right, just that the date was referring to the end of the Church Age, not the world.

Others in his camp have a far more simplistic answer to the charge of false prophesy.  Chris McCann of Family Radio was recently on Coast to Coast Am with George Noory.  The interview was fascinating.  When asked about the 1994 prediction, McCann basically said, and I’m paraphrasing, “The book was published with a question mark.  The new date has an exclamation point.”   A snibbit of the show can be heard here… McCann’s above mentioned answer can be heard at about the 7:45 mark:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM1wNDPRqBc

Whenever we see people so incredibly certain about the impending Apocalypse, or the return of their savior on a specific date, or any other miraculous manifestation that has been prophesied by their leader, the resulting  aftermath of the failed prophesy and/or the false prophet tends to be quite grisly.   One only needs to look at Heaven’s Gate, Order of the Solar Temple, and People’s Temple (Jonestown) to know that people will do anything if the indoctrination is just right.  Including taking their own lives.  But people don’t only kill themselves to please God.  In this case, I’m more worried about people’s reactions if their prophesy in left unfulfilled.

Because their faith is so strong, and because leaders of the movement (Camping, McCann, et al) have said that the date is certain, I fear what will happen to the broken spirits of believers if the prediction doesn’t come to pass.  McCann says in the above interview, when asked how he will feel if the date doesn’t manifest a rapture of souls, that he will not even entertain such a notion, because it is an impossibility.  It WILL happen. No question.  Believe or perish.  Camping espouses the same all or nothing attitude when asked about a potential “day after”.  This is how he responds:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9acwNHKvoo

Dismissing the caller’s question as “Utter nonsense” and saying that “It IS going to happen!” in a defensive tone, is just the type of thing that feeds into the fears of the faithful.  Camping proclaims in his prophesy that those who are not saved will not be Raptured, and that there will be a worldwide earthquake the likes of which we’ve never seen, devastating the earth and resulting in a “horror story” for those left behind.  What choice do the “true believers” have but to give themselves over utterly to the notion that the question of the May 21 date is not up for debate.

The above clip brings up another disturbing question.  What will happen to all of those listeners who have donated large sums of money to the Camping ministry, in the belief that their money is meaningless as the end is nigh?  As pointed out in the preceding list of past failed end times prophesies, religious leaders aren’t generally quick to issue refunds to overzealous followers who donated their useless paper to the cause.

So, IF there is a day after, and no Rapture has occurred, effectively creating a new “Day of Disappointment” for modern times, will we see a rash of suicides or other such horrors from those who are filled with despair over their now uncertain future?  As we know, such things are not unprecedented.  Or will Camping subdue his flock with promises of a new date that is set in stone.

Ultimately, what we need to do is look to Camping’s provided evidence for his conclusions.  He claims that he pulled this date straight from scripture.  That the Bible has an internal calendar that, when studied properly, will lead one to May 21, 2011 as the Final Judgement.  Using the birth of Adam as the start date, and following a genealogical timeline, Camping says that the conclusion is without question.

But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. – Matthew 24:36

So how does Camping account for the above verse from Matthew?  He says that the Bible used to mean that, but that it no longer stands, based on the fact his interpretation of an “unsealing” of knowledge, that now negates some parts of the Bible, and opens the rest up to be understood for End Times date calculation.  He bases this on a passage from  Daniel 12:4 and 9:  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. And He said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

IF the above passage truly means that previously sealed knowledge from the Bible is now suddenly available to humanity (read: Harold Camping) and that with this new revelation many other parts of the Bible are effectively outdated, then why oh why did I find the following statement on FamilyRadio.com in Camping’s own words on The First Principles of Bible Study:

A conclusion that allows us to set aside certain passages because they seem to be associated with a cultural problem of long ago and therefore is said to have no application for our lives today, effectively, destroys the authority of the Bible…. The question at issue is: Are we ready to be obedient to the authority of the Bible? If we are not prepared to be obedient, we can destroy the authority of the Bible by such stratagems as the decision that a passage had meaning only for the culture of the day in which it was written. We must never lose sight of the fact that the whole Bible is the Word of God and is therefore to be obeyed.

It seems that Camping is contradicting himself here,does it not?  Because if he truly believes that the whole Bible is the Word of God and is therefore to be obeyed, then surely he must also believe the following is true:

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” Revelation 22:18

My hope for this article is to shed some light on the prophesy that seems to be sweeping the nation.  Just like in 1844, more and more people are being turned onto Family Radio’s prophesy of Doomsday.  And for those who are donating all that they have so that Camping and his cohorts can pepper the globe with billboards and advertisements, what if Doomsday never comes?  Family Radio has surely spent millions of dollars on this campaign.  McCann told George Noory that there are so many billboards, bus benches, etc accross the Nation that he cannot begin to fathom how many there are, and that there are over 50 countries that now have billboards.

Camping may be a decent man, or he may be a charlatan.  He may believe in his heart that these revelations are true, or he may be trying to keep his own ministry relevant and lucrative with these predictions.  That’s not really the point.  The point is that we should all be wary of anyone who conducts himself like a modern day oracle, and has a track record of 0 -1.  Be rational.  Use the functioning brain that God gave you, and while you try to decipher what God’s intent is during your Bible studies, perhaps it would be advisable to turn a bit of that discernment on to Camping himself.

Please share your insights in the comments section.  All opinions are welcome.

**Update:  With only 7 days left until Camping’s “Rapture” date, I’ve written a follow up article that I’d love you to take a look at here: Further Observations on Harold Camping and the May 21 Cult***

 


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