COMMENTARY · 19th May 2011
When I received the card in my car door after leaving church one Sunday about 2 months ago I thought it was rather strange. The others from my church picked their cards clinging to their vehicles. It said Christ to come on May 21, 2011. We kind of all joked as we drove away “look we know when the end is coming!”
I found this card kind of odd and didn’t know what to make of the message. I did notice it was of high quality and thought some local zealot had gotten some kind of message he needed everyone to know about and had at least done some good graphic art to tell everyone about it. It was later that I found out this campaign was being carried out from Oakland California by a minister named Harold Camping founder of Family Radio ministries. Camping who in 1994 had already predicted the world would end was now saying he had “miscalculated” back in 1994 and had picked the new date of May 21, 2011.
It was about 2 weeks ago and coming out of the Terrace court house I found another card in my car. Then I heard from friends in Thornhill they had received posters in the front doors of their homes about the date. It seems Camping has some supporters in the Terrace area.
I also have learned that Camping’s message was now on 5,500 billboards around the world along with the cards you may have found in your car door or mail box made me consider the amount of resources ($$$$) being expended on behalf on this message. I myself am a Christian who will tell people about my faith and can understand investing money into causes to proclaim the message of the Gospel as supporting missionaries and churches is something I agree with. So I didn’t take offense at someone putting their money into matters of faith, I did start to wonder if this money could have been better used to do some real on the ground Church building, poor mouth feeding, Bible translating work that is needed in many parts of the world. What could the millions spent on Billboards and high gloss business cards and posters have done in Sudan, or North Korea?
Now Camping is not the first one to come along and make these claims in the Christian or Christian Cult community in the last 100 years, nor will he be the last but his message is certainly well advertised. So well advertised that the mainstream media has started paying attention and As Camping told New York magazine: “God has given sooo much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutely going to happen without any question at all. There’s nothing in the Bible that God has ever prophesied — there’s many things that he prophesied would happen and they always have happened — but there’s nothing in the Bible that holds a candle to the amount of information to this tremendous truth of the end of the world. I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question.”
When I write this I am not against freedom of speech as the people spreading the May 21 message seem at first glance to be hurting no one but I believe I have the freedom to disagree with his message for several reasons.
My first reason is the harm these predictions do. They make other Christian’s appear foolish when these self proclaimed prophets make these claims which don’t come true. I think we know the issue here is credibility. Camping will certainly look foolish on May 22 won’t he? And when men like Camping use the same Bible I use, they make my message look foolish and less credible and then the sane Christians are left having to explain why someone would make such a false claim. That people outside the church are left not wanting to look like a religious wing nut so they don’t come to Church and I think some Christians shy away from identifying themselves with the Christian Church to avoid looking like wing nuts to the outside world. This is understandable.
There is also the broken hearts, wallets and promises of Camping’s followers come May 22 who have invested their time, money and emotion into this message. Many will no doubt leave disenchanted and feeling embarrassed for having fallen for this message.
The second reason I disagree with the message of proclaiming a date for Christ’s return is the fact that Christ told his followers “But about that day or hour no one knows… except my father in heaven” and that Jesus also said to his disciples regarding his return “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
That Christ said he would return but left us with no specific calendar date. I know this may not be good enough for some people and keeps the world in perpetual suspense and leaves us wondering if he ever will return but this is what we are told.
The third and final reason I disagree with publicizing a date is that this is not inline with the message of Christ. He didn’t say try and figure out when I am coming, he said he would come “like a thief in the night”. He said to “keep watch”. That we should expect Him to come (at some point) and that he does not want to find us like ones standing with our luggage waiting for Him as if we were waiting for a plane to arrive. No, he wants to find us like wise servants expecting the master home at any minute and most importantly doing the work of the master so that when he arrives he can say “good and faithful servant”. This is like when you were a teenager your parents go away on vacation and for the first time they ask you to watch the home. You ask when will they be home and maybe they arrive 2 hrs early and you didn’t have time to clean up the mess from the house party. Christ’s arrival is sort of like that, Like mom and dad he’s not expecting to find you had a big party, he’s expecting the “house to be clean” and isn’t giving us a time line.
So there is a final question I want to address and it has to do with prophesies in the Bible surrounding all the world events that are supposed to take place prior to Christ returning. The question is: why are all those events mentioned if they aren’t there to point us to a date. Well there is a theme when ever these events are mentioned. Now events in the Bible I am referring to are wars, earthquakes, famines, disease and general fun stuff. So the theme that goes along with these events in the Bible is a message of “do not be afraid” when these things happen. There is also a theme of “overcoming” and “standing firm” during these things. That we are told about these future calamities that may befall us for the primary reason of being aware of them and not being afraid and that that Christ asks us to be overcomers and to stand firm in these things. That God is in control.
When we consider the wild fires in Alberta, the floods in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec and even the recent Tsunami in Japan as Christians we can stare these things in the face and say “God is in control”. This may seem difficult and pose some hard questions regarding why God does what he does that I can’t answer at this time. Lets just remember God wants to us to have an attitude that these disasters can be used for good whether our houses are lost so we are less consumed with our material goods or that we take a part in helping those in need, in reaching out to them in material need, in praying for them. That God is in control. That we can be overcomers, and not afraid. So please, lets stop picking dates in the future that serve no purpose and lets keep focused on making sure whenever Christ does return he says to you and I “good and faithful servant”.
Please feel free to email me with comments at dave_dave123d,,,hotmail.com
The end is always near...
Comment by MaggieJo on 23rd May 2011
We don't need Camping to tell us the "end is near". We know it is, cuz it's all around us!
But, what IS the end? The "end" could mean different things to different people.
The neighbour up the street was just diagnosed with a most serious cancer. The 16 yr old in Kispiox was killed in an ATV accident, while my son was consoling her cousin in the interim. My other son is complaining of most severe headaches for a few consequtive weeks now.
We're all merely...well..human. Yes. We're just mere humans. We're ALL gonna die at some point or other - some at 16 yrs old...some at 2 days old...some at 87 yrs, some in the womb, some in MVA's, some in ATV accidents, some in drowning incidents, some in murders, some in suicides.
Let's just keep in mind that our end is always "very near", as we never know the date, time nor hour of our own deaths...so in the interim...let's do the best we can to be the best people we can be - while we're still alive and well.
All I know is...
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 21st May 2011
I'm still alive... the world didn't end... although my back is KILLING me from sleeping in a 1973 tent trailer with original matresses...
does that count?
Comment by RP on 21st May 2011
I did not take it out of context, there is simply no reasonable way to view it as anything other than Jesus talking to his disciples and those gathered around him at the time, how would they have understood what it is that he said. A reasonable person would have to assume that Jesus was meaning that it would happen in their generation as the language used does not give any indication of a distant future occurrence. There are literally dozens and dozens of places where the authors seem to think that the "great tribulation" was to occur within their lifetime.
As far as bibles go, I prefer the TNIV for simple ease of reading, if I am doing any in-depth studying I use either a Greek text, or the NASB as it matches fairly close in a phrase for phrase basis. I have read it many times, and will never use a "study bible" as I wish to hear the authors words not some one else interpretation of what they thing the author meant to say, as if they know better. The bible is an interesting book, the problem is that we all try and make it say something that it really is not saying, always ask the question, "How would the original audience have understood it." Answer this question and then you can glean principles which you can then apply to our context and our lives. The bible is an accident of history, it was never written with the intention that people two thousand years latter would argue over it. You have a multitude of authors written to a particular people, addressing a particular problem - not us. So let us get over this silly futuristic nonsense.
We are still here, imagine that.
To Eshatological Nut
Comment by Rick McDaniel on 21st May 2011
Hi RP, I read your comments and agree in principle about religious nuts who do not read their own Bible, but I also take issue with people using scripture out of context to discredit the Bible...so..here is the scripture you quoted in context with those that surround it:
Matthew Chapter 24
21"For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
22"Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
23"Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him.
24"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
25"Behold, I have told you in advance.
26"So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.
27"For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
28"Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
29"But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.
31"And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
32"Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;
33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
34"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
35"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
So if you read the passage as a whole you will see that Jesus is clearly talking of a future event in verses 21 through 31. Then he gives one of the shortest parables in the Bible, he really liked parables by the way, and then he says in verse 34 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." and is in this verse clearly referring to the generation alive at the future time of verse 21. Verse 35 in fact reports the importance of the longevity of this scripture, that it will be true until the very end, whenever that is. These verse are a warning that when this happens it will happen very quickly, so we must be ready, and not trying to clean our lives up like teenagers cleaning up the party when Mom and Dad are pulling in the driveway.
The Bible is full of riddles and these verses are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have never read the bible, you should, I recommend either a NKJ version or an NASB and spend the extra few dollars and get a study version. I did two and half years ago and it changed my life. If you want to drop in to my office some time I'll buy you a coffee and we can talk about it.
Oh and don't worry if you can't make it before midnight tonight, I'm sure we'll have time LOL.
Thx for the head's up...
Comment by MaggieJo on 20th May 2011
Only a fool might discredit what Jesus himself said...that not even HE knows the date/hour of the end of the world..but only God the Father does. Hmmm...Jesus keeps his nose in his own business. Good lesson for us busy bodies, heh?
Camping's followers may have been experiencing despair in their lives and may have been frantically looking for "hope" or "meaning". Unfortunately, they barked up the wrong tree. It's quite sad, actually and it's rude to mock them in their weakness.
This write-up reminds us all to be the best people we can be - whether one is Christian or not. We can look internally and change the things that need changing...and enhance the good aspects of our lives in the interim.
Where can I start, you might ask? Well, looking internally, I have a lot of things I need to change. I also have alot of good in my life that I can enhance to make this world a better place for all of us - even before the world ends tomorrow.
Comment by Clark on 20th May 2011
It is refreshing to see the Terrace Daily is open to articles expressing different points of view on spiritual issues. I too deplore the Harold Camping May 21st message for all the same reasons mentioned. Additionally this kind of message not only turns people off Christianity........but it can cause Christians and perhaps even agnostics (who just want to be on the winning side), to focus on trying to get themselves ready....to be a good person, to clean up their acts, in a last minute flurry of activity that they hope will change God's mind about where they will spend eternity. Kind of like the teenager who's parents are coming home in 2 hours frantically trying to clean up the party mess, as in your example. That self focus takes people's attention off of Jesus Christ who is the only way to Heaven. There is no possibility of being good enough, the idea of doing a few more good deeds to outweigh our bad deeds to open Heaven's door is not Biblical. The mess our sins have created cannot be cleaned up by us no matter how long Harold Camping gives us. And that is the problem with his message.....it does not focus on the real issue which is accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to this earth to pay for our sins. Christians are exhorted in Scripture to proclaim the Gospel of Good News.....and not to partake in foolish controversies (like predicting the end times).
Comment by Steve Smyth on 19th May 2011
It figures that the Canucks would be heading into the Cup finals as favourites right before the flippin' world ends. Thats the ultimate Lucy Van Pelt pulling that football away at the last minute.
Apparentlty, we're not all Canucks after all
Comment by RP on 19th May 2011
The problem with these religious nuts is that they do not read their own bible, for if they did they would not swallow this crap. Matthew 24:34 "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." We either have some very, very old people in this world or Jesus' "end times" speech to his disciples has already occur, or Jesus lied - take your pick.
The other point in you article about God being in control, what are you on? All I have to do is turn on the 6 O'clock news to know that can not be a true statement, and if it is true, I do not want to know that God for he is more demon than anything else.
End of the World
Comment by CT on 19th May 2011