Just about a year ago, in one my favorite titles of 2010 (“I Like My Crazy With Extra Nuts”) I wrote about the doomsday cult of Harold Camping.
Camping, a self styled “Bible scholar”, purports to have calculated, through means of a Rube Goldbergesque algorithm, the date of our doom. May 21, 2011 (and not Sept. 6, 1994 as he originally predicted) in case you are interested.
Camping and his followers are back in the news as the prophesied date approaches. Here is an example of the thinking…
In August, Exley left her home in Colorado Springs, Colo., to work with Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio Worldwide, the independent Christian ministry whose leader, Harold Camping, has calculated the May 21 date based on his reading of the Bible.
She is organizing traveling columns of RVs carrying the message from city to city, a logistics challenge that her military experience has helped solve. The vehicles are scheduled to be in five North Carolina cities between now and the second week of January, but Exley will shortly be gone: overseas, where she hopes to eventually make it back to Iraq.
“I don’t really have plans to come back,” she said. “Time is short.”
Before you run up your credit cards in an end of the world frenzy, know this. Camping is wrong.
How can I know this? I mean the world will eventually end right?
There are a number of reasons why I know, you as a Catholic should know, that Camping is wrong.
First and foremost, Jesus said ““No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” So there is that.
But what else is there to let us know when the end might be approaching? The Bible and the Church actually has more to say. Simply, there are a number of things promised to happen before the end of the world that have not happened yet. What are they?
The preaching of the Gospel to the whole world. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Now while the Gospel has reached many parts of the world, I don’t think that anyone can make a solid case that it has been preached to all nations. There are still a billion or more people in the world who have never really heard the good news. Now the day in which this occurs may be in the not so distant future, but it isn’t so yet.
The conversion of the Jews. (CCC 674) “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus.” Well this certainly hasn’t happened yet.
The appearance of Antichrist. “Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) Even if there have been antichrists, make no mistake, there will be an Antichrist. (See CCC 675) The man of sin has not yet made his appearance, so the end can not yet be.
Those are but a few. Jesus said no one, and I am confident this includes Camping, knows the day. Beyond that, we need to read the signs of the times. You don’t need to be a ‘bible scholar’, like Camping (ahem), to know when the end approaches. God gave us these signs to look for, so we will know when the end is near.
There is one prophecy I know will come true. On May 22, 2011, Harold Camping will have some ‘splainin to do.