Okay, Harold Camping. First, your doomsaying convinced some to order post-rapture pet care. Then you tried to look half as sad as the guy who spent six figures advertising your prediction. Now, you’re saying that you weren’t wrong, you were just wrong.
Camping’s May 21st prediction of the end was apparently a prediction of the spiritual end. He told the UK’s Daily Mail that the conclusion will occur on October 21st. The Mail story has lots of wonderful quotes from Camping, particularly if you weren’t among the
damned fooled. The meat of his backpedaling extravaganza:
The finish five months from now – we’re not changing the date, we’re just learning we have to look at this more spiritually. The Bible clearly teaches on October 21 that the world will be destroyed, but it will be very quick. When you study the Bible, you’re always learning. We had all of our dates correct.
Just so we’re clear, the date of the rapture on May 21, 2011 wasn’t wrong, it just wasn’t the right date. Or it happened and we just didn’t notice. Or he was wrong to predict a physical event such as an earthquake.
Camping’s rapture, which he predicted would include an earthquake and roll around the earth starting in the first time zone to hit 6:00 on the evening of May 21st, was apparently a quiet, spiritual rapture. It was not the angry face of an infuriated parent, daintily plucking the faithful from the crumbling surface of a world left to the wicked. Instead, it was the disappointed face of a parent more hurt than mad, slowly shaking their head from side to side while extolling the virtue and promise of a younger you.
I will admit that I’m a little confused by Mr. Camping’s narrative, so I was excited to see a passage in the Mail article where he sought to provide some clarification.
On May 21, 2011 at that time again judgement and salvation is in view. The fact is on May 21, 1988 judgement came upon the churches. On September 7, 1994 the judgement continued on the churches, but in the world God lifted that and salvation began again outside the churches.
On May 21, 2011 we didn’t feel or see any difference in the world but we know from the Bible that God brought judgement day to bear on the whole world – and it will continue right up until October 21, 2011 when the whole world will be destroyed.
So much for clarification. A series of judgments led up to May 21, 2011, when the rapture began in earnest despite, you know, its having not begun.
Of course anyone who has read a bible (for the record, I read it twice, cover to cover) knows it’s unlikely that any prediction will be correct. After all, those religious enough to believe in the eventuality of the rapture have probably read Matthew 24:36, which says very clearly that humans can’t predict the end.
Camping now claims the end everyone was preparing for or mocking, depending on
how gullible they were which side of the issue they took will actually occur on October 21, 2011. That date will mark the absolute end of the world, as opposed to the recently-passed date, which was to mark the beginning of God’s harvest of saved souls.
Obviously advertisements will need revision, and Armageddon party invitations will need to be updated.
On a serious note though, please don’t rely on Camping’s claims to make any serious, life-changing decisions. Enough people have already been bilked, whether directly by donating to Family Radio or indirectly by spending their own money in support of those claims. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s clear that he is at least a little bit … crazy.
And, to be honest, the whole thing has me feeling a little bit … preachy. While Camping is dealing with the fallout of a media circus he carefully crafted for himself, the citizens of Joplin, Missouri are dealing with a very real disaster. Over 100 people died in a vicious storm that saw a tornado rip through, and rip apart, the city. It’s generally good advice that if you believe in a benevolent god and want to help that god out, you should focus on helping other people. And not by proclaiming with billboards that they should repent or be damned, but maybe by donating or volunteering to offer immediate help.
The destruction of Joplin isn’t alone among places in desperate need of help. However, against the backdrop of Camping’s zealotry it serves as a stark reminder that someone, somewhere, is dealing with tribulation every day. And as a millionaire backpedals away from his lunatic theories, people are suffering real pain and real loss. Some of his bewildered followers are penniless in the wake of his failed prediction, and many others are likely to be dealing with a crisis of faith. Those who lost loved ones and those among the at least 500 injured in Joplin have had to face their own reckoning of sorts. Camping’s media-whoring belittles the reality of their tragedy.
So we’ll check back in on Camping’s lunacy on October 21, 2011. It’s a post I could probably draft today and publish in October without any updates.
Image from ChristReturns2011′s Flickr