Have you ever been out somewhere, perhaps at a party with someone who makes a complete fool of their self? You want to back out the door. You want to deny knowing that person. At the very least you want to approach everyone and say, “Hey, I made a drastic mistake. I am here with that guy, but his actions and opinions don’t reflect my own.” Maybe you can recall a time as a teenager when your mom tried to be ‘cool’ in front of your friends. You just want to hide in those moments right? Well, I’m having one of those moments now as Harold Camping and his friends at Family Radio are again predicting Christ’s return, drawing ridicule not just for himself, but also those who call themselves Christians.
You would think that when he whiffed on his end times prediction in 1994, that he would have just hidden out somewhere until the end really did occur, but no he’s still at it. You’d also think that any audience the man had acquired would completely disappear, but you’d be wrong again. He has supporters. His listener supported radio network had assets of approximately $122 million in 2007. This obvious lack of rational thought from segments of the Christian population paints a huge target on the faith. Hey, let’s be honest, to most of secular society the idea that Jesus is one day returning to set things right is goofy enough. Wrap that up in the words of a failed prophet and you end up with justifiable mockery.
I think that Camping and Company should be charged with aiding and abetting atheistic and agnostic thinking. I sure don’t see any evidence that his grandiose date setting has caused anyone to turn to faith. What side is this guy on anyway?
It’s not even good theology. I’ve skimmed over his “reasoning” for how he can give a date. Apparently God let him in on the big secret. “Pssst, Harold. It’s going to be May 21st, but don’t tell anyone ok?” Oops, the cat’s out of the bag.
Matthew chapter 24 states that no one, not angels, not Jesus himself can know the day or the hour of his return, but that only God the Father knows. Based on that no one can tell you when it will happen, but I can tell you for sure when it won’t happen. Beyond a shadow of a doubt it won’t happen on any date circled in Mr. Camping’s appointment book.
The book of Revelation as well as the other books containing end times prophecy are filled with grand imagery. Imagery that’s perhaps rarely literal. Christians wait for a big entrance, a Hollywood ending with special effects and fireworks. For me the last couple of times reading through Revelation, I’ve looked at the foretold events described as though there will be logical, rational explanations for each of them. A “rapture” would be pretty solid evidence that God is real. The world I now see and see described in scripture will have ever increasing reasons for not believing in a deity.
My thinking on just when Christ will remove his followers from the planet has changed. I now believe that won’t happen until most of the other events unfold, but what do I know right? Unlike our Christian books and movies I don’t think it will happen with Kirk Cameron disappearing on an airplane, leaving behind only his clothes and jewelry. I think it will happen at a time when life on earth is so desperate that the rest of humanity will have bigger fish to fry than wonder whatever became of us.
Anyway you look at it, whether you are a devout Christian or a diehard atheist, the return of Christ written of in the scripture does not allow for speculation for a time and date. It just simply doesn’t. That little factoid would prove that Harold Camping has some pretty crappy theology. On the other hand as far as marketing his radio network and website goes, at least in the short term, he’s brilliant.