According to news reports (and what I’m able to find on the internet) Christian radio host Harold Camping is once again predicting the second coming of Jesus Christ for a specific time–tomorrow, May 21, 2011. Those old enough and with sufficient memory may remember his book 1994? in which he predicted the return of Christ (rapture) in 1994. It didn’t happen. That doesn’t seem to deter him from doing it again and with even greater specificity.
I wonder how he responds to Matthew 24 and Jesus’ statement that no one, not even the Son of Man, knows the day or the hour of his return?
Those with greater age and memory may recall Edgar Whisenant’s book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture May Be in 1988. I was a new theology professor teaching undergraduates in a Christian college then and I vividly recall the near hysteria (both fearful and funny) that broke out over that book!
Of course, I wasn’t around in 1843 when William Miller predicted the return of Christ and thousands of his followers flocked to a place in New England to wait for the great event which instead turned into “the Great Disappointment” after Christ failed to return as Miller predicted in 1843 and then in 1844.
When will people stop this nonsense of attempting to set the date of the return of Christ? It damages Christian credibility. It makes evangelicals look silly. The media tends to play these things up and make fun of all biblically serious Christians just because some oddball publishes a book or gives a radio talk predicting the exact date of the return of Christ.
Somewhere Luther responded to a question about what he would do if he knew Christ would return tomorrow (something Luther thought very possible) by saying he would plant a tree today. In other words, carry on as always. Continue to care for the creation as God has commanded.
So what do people like Camping and his followers (however many there are) want people to do with this prediction? Repent, I suppose. But shouldn’t that be our call and response always–whether the return of Christ is tomorrow or next week or next month or next year? After all, no one knows the hour or day of their own death. That is for them the day of reckoning whether it’s the day Christ returns to earth or not.