My last column
This is my last and final column.
Well, it might be.
It could be, that is, if Preacher Harold Camping is right.
The Rev’d Camping, leader of the Oakland, CA-based Family Radio World, an independent Christian ministry, has announced that, at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 21, 2011, the end of the world begins with a massive earthquake. Since that’s just a few hours away, I thought that you should know in case there’s anything you need to do to get ready.
Like the man in New York, for instance, who withdrew his entire life savings of $140,000 to buy ads to warn people that time is up, come May 21. Or like the 32-year-old
Army veteran of two deployments in Iraq — she has dedicated the last six months to helping “spread the word.” Or like the folks who have taken out full-page ads in national newspapers and have put billboards all over the country.
According to an Associated Press report, Camping, 89, believes the Bible essentially functions as a cosmic calendar explaining exactly when various prophecies will be fulfilled. The retired civil engineer said all his calculations come from close readings of the Bible, but that external events like the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 are signs confirming the date.
“Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment,” he said. The doctrine known as the Rapture teaches that believers will be taken up to heaven, while everyone else will remain on earth for a period of torment, concluding with the end of time. Camping believes that will happen in October.
“If May 21 passes and I’m still here, that means I wasn’t saved.” We shall see.
Camping isn’t the first, nor will he be the last, to set a date for the end of the world and the return of Christ. Back in the 1840s William Miller predicted that Christ would come during 1843 or 1844. According to Wikipedia, Jehovah’s Witnesses set the date for Christ’s return at 1914. They also predicted when 1914 didn’t work out, that Christ would come in 1918. Again, new dates were set for 1925, 1942, and 1975.
The Church teaches, of the return of Jesus Christ, that “he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end” (Nicene Creed).
However, Jesus himself, and the church throughout the centuries, has taught that no one, not even the angels in Heaven, know when this will occur.
Prior to the year 2000, predictions of the end of the world were so rampant that one Christian magazine referred to the phenomenon as “millennium madness.”
In the 1980s, Edgar C. Whisenant wrote a book, “88 Reasons why the Rapture Will be in 1988.” He wrote a revised edition re-predicting the return of Christ in 1989. And again in 1992. And yet again in 1995. Some people reading Whisenant’s book maxed out their credit cards believing they would never have to repay the debt. Other folks put their pets to sleep in anticipation of a 1988 Rapture.
I suppose Camping could be right and that he is not just one more false prophet deluding gullible people. Perhaps May 21 is the final curtain call and this will be my last column.
If he’s right, I don’t need to prepare a sermon for Sunday, I do need to figure out what to do with our two cats, and this will be my last column.
But, just in case, I’m keeping the cats, planning the Sunday sermon, and I’m already working on next week’s column.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Sharpsburg]