It’s NOT the Final Countdown… or Why May 21st Will Be Another Pleasant Saturday

So, initially I wasn’t going to really talk about this whole “end of the world” thing… It’s just another end times prediction that has been perpetuated by a fringe preacher with a small, but hyper-frantic following. This one is different and has caused people to take notice because this preacher is on the radio, and the social networks have gone into over-drive with Twitter trending topics like #iftheworldendsonsaturday, Harold Camping, and #endoftheworldconfessions. People on Facebook have waxed and waned between veiled-anxiety (as though it might actually be true) and outright face-palming at the stupidity of it all.

First, it should be noted that Harold Camping (the octogenarian brain-child behind the May 21, 2011 theory) is not affiliated with any church or denomination. He’s a millionaire radio station owner, who is a self-taught Bible teacher. This is all stuff you can find out on any of the number articles written by CNN, the LA Times Blog, or his wikipedia page.

Second, Camping’s reading of the Bible is totally based on English readings, modern calendaring, and taking every number quite literally. There are a lot things that I could talk about here, but let’s look at the one simple passage from the Bible Camping claims to be teaching from.

Matthew 24 – Jesus talks extensively about the destruction of the Temple and the signs of the end of the age… Now, there are several complexities about this passage, but the only thing I want to point out is verse 36,

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Now, Camping and other’s like him try to sweep this under the rug, saying that it’s a distraction from the from the point. Which I guess he means is the fuzzy “Bible math” he uses to come up with his dates… yes this isn’t the first time he or others like him have claimed to “know the day and the hour.” You see, Jesus taught that when the end of this age comes and the next begins… That’s not the point. The point is to be ready at all times by being what God called us to be – a light to the world, a servant and blessing to the nations. It’s simple. Throughout Matthew 24 Jesus tells his disciples to simply prepare… not by stock-piling food or hitting the streets with signs, but by caring for the world Jesus came to redeem.

It’s sad that Christians consistently get cast in the shadow of the fringe figures… guys burning books, or “churches” protesting at the funerals of military heroes, or men calling people to leave their families to tell people about the end of the world. It’s shaming because that is certainly not the story of most Christians. There are so many who do give their lives and their days by being the servants Christ called us all to be, and for them the tragedy of all this is the stigma that we now bare… I think Dr. Chuck DeGroat, a former professor of mine said it best on his blog at – “we’re all a little embarrassed that, once again, Christians look like freaks living for another world rather than loving and renewing the world God created and called good.”

Good words – we need to remember.

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