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Monday, April 18, 2011

May 21, the end of the world? I don't think so.

In the spring of 2011, I discovered that there is an enthusiastic, but misguided, group of Christians (I hope they are such) led by one Harold Camping, who proclaimed that the second coming of Christ was scheduled for May 21st of that year, on billboards, apparently throughout the country. The billboards said that the Bible predicted Christ's return at that time. That was wrong. Camping has since recanted, saying that his prediction was a sin. (This paragraph was redone in early in January 2013. The rest of the post is almost as it was originally published on April 2011, except for two editorial changes.)

Well, I don't think so. Or, if judgment day does happen on May 21st, it won't be because these predictions are accurate. Why do I say so? First, because Matthew 24:36 says that no one knows the day or the hour of Christ's return.

Second, because the calendar Camping presented is based on a number of assumptions, all of them questionable.

For example, they state that the Flood of Noah's time occurred in 4990 BC. (Ussher's chronology, which had its own set of dubious assumptions, but is still found in some Bibles, claimed that the creation of the earth was in 4004 BC.) They further state that Peter's statement, in 2 Peter3:8, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, is to be taken exactly literally. It seems more likely that Peter was simply saying that God's time is not the same as ours, not that one can substitute 1,000 years for a 24-hour period. But that's what they do. They further claim that, in Genesis 7, when God told Noah that in seven days it would rain on the earth, He also meant that in seven thousand years the judgment would occur. Huh? Really? But that's how they come up with the 2011 date. (There is, they say, a 1 year adjustment needed, because of the way a calendar was constructed. Allowing for that, 4990 + 2010 = 7000)

There are also assumptions about eschatology. Christians hold to a number of views about these matters, perhaps all of them at least partially incorrect. But two popular aspects of these views are a tribulation and a millennium. Since those who predict that judgment will be next month also claim that the earth will be destroyed in October, there doesn't seem to be room for either a tribulation or a millennium in their calendar.

Christ will return. I don't know when. I should be ready when He does, or when I die.

Why do people do these things?

Thanks for reading.


Tif, The Innocent Felon said...

It always totally amazes me how many Christians can get wrapped up in one of these 'end of the world' things. No one knows when it will happen, period.

It also annoys me when pastors preach on us living in the 'end times' because of whatever various social issue is in the news that week. Christians thought they were living in the 'end times' 1000 years ago. 1000 years from now people will think the same way.


Martin LaBar said...

Most likely. Although the end times are closer than they were 1,000 years ago.


Fred said...

Question: Is the concept of time that man has created God's system of telling time?

Martin LaBar said...

I don't think so, Fred, and my guess is that that is the point of 2 Peter 3:8.


Martin LaBar said...

It's my understanding that Mr. Camping has publicly repented for doing this. Good for him.