Adam has been convinced by Harold Camping, head of Family Radio, that the long awaited rapture of the church is going to happen this Saturday. Camping claims it will all begin with a cataclysmic earthquake. He believes the events should kick off around 6 P.M. that day. Honestly, I haven’t wanted to address this issue because the whole thing is so foolish, but I finally decided after speaking with a friend that I should probably make some comments about it. I do not want to ridicule Mr. Camping, but I think the best description of his theory is the currently popular expression, Epic Fail!
I read things like this in utter amazement. I have heard people making jokes about the date of Jesus’ return and their intentionally farcical calculations made more sense than this. First, the date of Jesus’ crucifixion is not known. We know roughly the time frame, but that’s as close as we can get. Perhaps on Sunday Mr. Camping will appeal to this reality to explain the epic failure of his prediction and will come up with a new date. Second, Mr. Camping is the only person I have ever heard of who claims the numbers 5, 10 and 17 are holy numbers. So you can knock the props out of his argument right there. But just to be thorough, even if those were special numbers, why would you multiply them together? What part of Scripture suggests such a thing? Having done so, where in Scripture does it suggest that you take that number as the number of days between the crucifixion and the rapture? If you wish to look for the passage that teaches that you are going to have a very long and fruitless search. And, oh by the way, did someone happen to fail to read Matthew 24:36 where Jesus said of his coming, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”? So Mr. Camping has figured out what neither angels nor Jesus himself know? Yikes.
Such absurdity would not even be worthy of comment except there are people who have, to my total astonishment, bought into this. Some have burned through their life savings on the premise that they will not need money after Saturday. And, of course, there are those like the aforementioned Mr. Larsen who have dedicated themselves to spreading the news. That is terribly sad, and I fear that Mr. Camping is going to have to answer for his false teaching. Make no mistake, his message is false. This is the same man who predicted that Jesus would return in September of 1994. He claims that prediction was the result of preliminary studies and that even at the time he saw indications that 2011 might be the correct date. He was wrong then, and he is wrong now. Camping also claims that we have actually been in what theologians call the Great Tribulation and part of that is the apostasy of the church. He wrote, “we may safely equate the stinking fruit of the church age with the high places of Old Testament Israel.” Those high places were, he claims, the cause of Israel’s judgment. So he encourages Christians to have no more to do with the church and says that God is now only working through other organizations such as Family Radio (his organization). Enough said.
It saddens me that Mr. Camping has received considerable publicity. His foolishness will provide more fodder for those who wish to paint Christians as unintelligent rubes. Fortunately there is good news in all this. The good news is that God is much bigger than Camping and his ridiculous ideas. The Gospel will continue to grow throughout world. The church will still thrive. And our God, in his wisdom, power and grace, will continue to use “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27).