I’d been looking forward to being able to say that Harold Camping had done the manly and Christian thing by boldly facing his arrogant mistake. He presumed to know the mind of God, when Christ clearly describes the time and date of the End Times as concealed from man and known only by the Father (Mt. 24:36). Much of what Camping does is good, so if he could get back on his feet after this, he could actually end up helping the Kingdom of God. Instead, we got this:
Now, Camping’s old timeline was:
- May 21, 2011: Judgment Day. Massive Earthquakes, the saved are raptured up to Heaven.
- May 22 – October 20, 2011: Hell on Earth. Nobody can be saved.
- October 21, 2011: The End of the World.
- May 21, 2011: Judgment Day. Now we know, Camping says, that it was just Invisible.
- May 22 – October 20, 2011: Plain Ol’ Earth.
- October 21, 2011: End of the World. The rapture has been rescheduled.
- It’s arrogant. It presumes to know the mind of God, and it boldly charges into the one area He makes clear is off-limits, making the same mistake of Adam and Eve.
- It’s not really Scriptural. That is, it tries to use Scripture just as a history book so it can run some calculations off of a few eschatological prophesies. Every one of the failed Doomsday Prophets does this. They assign specific year to Biblical events (even though the Bible doesn’t actually give us that level of detail), and then decide how long the world will last, before coming to a date that always happens to be in the near future. So they’re not really reading the Bible to come to better know Christ, but to just figure out when some events occurred to put into their mathematical model. Scripture serves virtually no purpose apart from a history text, and it can be used interchangably with, say, the writings of Josephus.
- It makes Christianity look stupid. The media, and particularly professional atheists, like to treat this fringe as if it were what Christianity is all about. Christians feel compelled to side with either nasty secularists or clearly-wrong Rapture believers.
- It’s a spiritual hazard. The reason God doesn’t provide us with the end date is that we could die at any time. Each year, roughly 57 million people die. To put this in context: Camping claimed that only three percent of the world would be raptured, about 200 million people. His first false prediction (Judgment Day in 1994) dates back to 1992. That means that since Camping started falsely predicting that 200 million people would be raptured, approximately 1.08 billion (with a B) people have left the Earth the old-fashioned way. That’s the equivalent of roughly one out of six people currently living, and it surely includes a good chunk of Camping’s flock. While they were eating, drinking, and being merry in preparation for the May 21 Rapture, many of them, and those around them were dying. Read Luke 12:16-21, and tell me whether you think God wants us to speculate as to the End Times, or just be ready to go whenever it happens.
The fact that Camping’s speaking of an Invisible Judgment Day is ominous. This was how Jehovah’s Witnesses rationalized Charles Taze Russell’s false prophesy that the Second Coming and the end of the Age of the Gentiles would come be on October 1, 1914. After they moved the date a few times (up through 1935), they eventually declared that the End Times actually began in 1914. But invisibly. They point to World War I as a turning point in human history, because there were wars and famines… but the Great War started months before the all-important October 1 date, and the most notorious elements of industrialized warfare preceded that war by decades (there were Gatling guns in the Civil War, and concentration camps in the Second Boer War). As for famines, the Chalisa famine killed 11 million people… back in the 1700s.
Something else bothers us about the media mockery of Harold Camping, as justifiable as it may be. Why are only religious doomsday cultists subjected to such ridicule? Reuters notes that “Camping previously made a failed prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994.” Ha ha, you can’t believe anything this guy says! But who jeered at the U.N.’s false prediction that there would be 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010? We did, but not Reuters.
I’d add to the list of environmental doomsday prophets the Population Bomb theorists, like Paul Ehrlich, who famously predicted that throughout the 1970s and 80s “hundreds of millions” of people would starve to death, and that, “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” In fact, virtually every prediction Ehrlich made was proven false, as I describe here. What happened to this absurd false prophet? He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award for promoting “greater public understanding of environmental problems” in 1990, after nearly all of his prophesies had already been debunked. Like Camping and the UN’s chicken-little wing, whenever a doomsdate date would come and go, Ehrlich would claim he just needed to tinker with a model, but the Big Doom was coming… and soon!