Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
Guys and girls, we’re living in the last days of humanity. And I’m not talking about some crazy Mayan calendar voodoo that claims we’re all out of here at the end of 2012. We don’t even have that long, I’m afraid.
See, according to a bunch of billboards you may have seen while traveling during the long weekend, Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. In other words, less than a month from now.
The prediction comes from Harold Camping, leader of Family Radio Worldwide, which is a Christian organization that apparently has a lot of influence over certain radio waves. Camping’s followers have taken his word as gospel, preaching the message that the end is nigh and we should all repent now before it’s too late.
Some followers, like Allison Warden, go the extra mile. As an MSNBC story reports, Warden has helped organize a campaign that has invested quite a bit of money on things like billboards and postcards in an effort to spread the word.
Despite most Christians and Bible scholars easily agreeing no man can know the hour of Christ’s return (signaling the end of Earth), Camping and co. believe they CAN know, and say as much with their website,www.WeCanKnow.com.
Camping has used a lot of so-called evidence he just recently discovered in the Bible in order to predict Christ’s return on May 21, followed by a five-month period of pain and suffering for the non-believers left behind. And on Oct. 21, our world will be done for good.
Now, there are quite a few problems with all this that many of you could probably point out, but I don’t think Camping or his followers necessarily have their hearts in the wrong place. They really do believe what they’re saying, and they just want to save as many souls as possible before it happens.
But one pretty major problem? Camping has predicted the end of the world before. And he’s been wrong. He originally predicted Jesus would come back Sept. 6, 1994. He says now that he hadn’t studied the Bible all that well before, but this time he’s done his research properly.
Another problem is Camping’s website claims these dates are “100 percent accurate without dispute.” Another May 21 prediction website claims, “I am not even including May 21, 2011, in the category of prediction, but in the realm of absolute fact,” citing “so much evidence and proof” as the reason.
And Camping is, of course, not the first person to try (and fail) to predict the end of the world. The infamous “Great Disappointment” of early American history (Oct. 22, 1844) was an incident very much like this one might be.
The sad thing is, the people who have fully bought into Camping’s logic feel like they’re only going to be here on Earth for a short time longer. So many have quit their jobs and left their homes, mostly to spread the word of the coming apocalypse, but also because money and jobs just won’t matter if the world really does end next month.
As a Christian, I do think their cause is noble, if extremely distorted. But think of all the good that money could have done in better hands. Rather than buy billboards that will almost certainly prove to be worthless, why not donate the money to people who really need it? There’s no shortage of such people right now.
With the world seemingly falling apart today, particularly after tragedies like the recent earthquakes in Japan, it’s understandable to want to think there’s a reason for it all. It’s comforting, in some strange way, to be able to think, “Yes, everything is going to hell, but that’s just because God is about to bring heaven here.”
In some ways, the idea of “living like Christ is returning tomorrow” might be a good thing from a religious point of view. It’s like the mantra to “live like you’re dying,” only hopefully with more emphasis on helping others as opposed to crossing things off your personal bucket list.
It makes me wonder how many of these people might lose faith in the Bible after this end time’s prediction doesn’t come true.
Some, like the aforementioned Warden, say, “If May 21 passes and I’m still here, that means I wasn’t saved. Does that mean God’s word is inaccurate or untrue? Not at all.” That’s sad, to me. I wonder if, when nobody disappears on May 21, such believers will decide no human on the planet was actually saved. What a bleak outlook on God and the future.
Hopefully, believers in May 21 will be let down easy when the date passes. I’m personally praying we don’t see any suicides or anything from people who believe they simply weren’t spared from the mass destruction that’s on its way.
As for the rest of us, it’s probably a bad thing for me to be so anxious to see how believers respond to the disappointment that’s on its way, but I just can’t help it. I don’t expect fire from heaven, but I expect to see some kind of car wreck.