So says Harold E. Camping.
How near? Well, pretty shoe-shaking near. Mr. Camping and his followers believe that the world is going to end tomorrow, Saturday, May 21, 2011, somewhere around 6:00 pm.
In an interview with New York Magazine this past week, Camping states that he is “absolutely, 100% positive” that his biblical calculations are accurate. According to Camping, a massive earthquake will begin tomorrow afternoon in the Pacific Ocean. He predicts that this cataclysm will sweep around the planet laying waste to human civilization. Those on God’s good side will escape this tumult by being “raptured”—whisked away to heaven—right before the chaos is unleashed.
The rest of humanity…?
They better get busy, say Camping’s supporters, because “there’s not much time left to get right with God.”
For months his followers have been buying billboard space asking people to “Save the Date! May 21, 2011.” This past week, a retired MTA employee, Robert Fitzgerald, announced that he spent his life savings ($140,000) buying provocative subway advertisements in an effort to warn New Yorkers about the impending disaster. Mr. Fitzgerald firmly believes that tomorrow is Judgment Day.
As long as our faith has existed, there have been Christians who have been willing to predict the end of the world. Yes it’s true, other traditions have produced apocalyptic prophecies, but we Christians seem especially eager to grab poster boards and parade around Times Square.
Some say our scriptures lead us in this direction. The Old Testament book of Daniel and the New Testament book of Revelation (primary sources for people like Camping) were both written during times when the religious community was being violently persecuted. Both of these books picture the end of the world in vivid terms.
Others point to the fact that the Bible counsels against making end-of-the-world predictions. As Jesus said, ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’ Matthew 24:36
Still others say that human beings latch on to end-of-the-world predictions because we are psychologically worried about our own end, and our egos have trouble imagining the world going on without us.
What do you think? Why are human beings fascinated with predictions that profess “The End is Near!”? If you have an answer, I would love for you to post it here.
This Sunday (assuming that we have worship!), I plan on preaching about end-of-the-world prophesies, and the relevance (Did I really just say “relevance”?) they have for our faith and our lives.
In the meantime, my advice to you (to quote my very funny friend, Nick) is “Don’t get carried away!” 😉