Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Tomorrow (May 21) Judgment Day?

Judgment Day  May 21 was the emblazoned message on the billboard I saw the other day driving down I-70. Such pronouncements have appeared on billboards and elsewhere across the country for several months now.
Harold Camping (b. 1921), president of Family Radio, is the main one who has caused the stir (in some circles) about May 21 being Judgment Day. According to his interpretation of the Bible, the Rapture will also start tomorrow, which will be the beginning of five months of tribulation that will culminate with the End of the World on October 21.
Here is my prediction: Judgment Day (and the Rapture) will not be tomorrow (May 21). By Sunday morning (May 22) I guess we will know which prediction was correct.
Camping is just the latest in a long line of Christians who have (foolishly) set dates for the end times on the basis of “biblical prophecy.” Obviously, those who have predicted the end for past dates have all been wrong. And I am predicting that will be the case with Camping’s 5/21/11 prediction also.
There are others who talk about this being the end times, but don’t set a date. Still, they think the end is definitely near. One such person is Joel C. Rosenberg (b. 1967), who is a bestselling author of six novels about terrorism and how it relates to Bible prophecy. One of those books, The Ezekiel Option, was the 2006 Christian Book Award winner for fiction.
Recently I was talking with an intelligent Christian who was reading Rosenberg’s latest book, The Twelfth Imam (Oct. 2010). She had been impressed with how a number of Rosenberg’s predictions have come true, and she seemed to think that he was probably right in saying we are now living in the end times. She mentioned that his predictions were based partly on Ezekiel.
“He probably referred to Gog and Magog,” I said, not having read any of Rosenberg’s books or his website. She said, “Yes, I had never heard of that before!” But, as I told her, I heard revival preachers talking about Gog and Magog in the 1950s. They declared that the prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39 was a clear reference to Russia (the Soviet Union). Thus, it was quite certain, they proclaimed, that the end of the world was at hand.
But, alas, the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union broke up, and here it is nearly sixty years later and the end has not yet come. So Gog and Magog had to be reinterpreted, just as they have been for more than two millennia. Some early Christians thought “Gog from the country of Magog” surely referred to someone in the Roman Empire. They were wrong. Next, and for a long time, Magog was identified with the Goths. That and subsequent identifications also proved to be erroneous.
Here’s the advice I gave to the Christian woman I was talking with about Rosenberg: whenever you hear someone prophesying the imminent end of the world on the basis of Bible prophecy, assume they are wrong. They all have been up until now, and there is no good reason to think that current prophecies will be any more accurate.
So, go ahead and make your weekend plans. Judgment Day is not going to be tomorrow, and we Christians have more important things to do than to become entangled in spurious prophecies.

Note: This posting has just been included in today's e-mail from


  1. Thanks : )))

    M alZekri

  2. Touche'.

    Predicting the future is an interesting business, as is the art of interpreting prophecies. Views on eschatology or even conspiracy theories are interesting to think on, even if one does not buy the premise. As a good Baptist pastor friend said of his end-time views - "I hold to the pan-tribulation/ pan-millennium view - it will all pan out in the end with God in control."

    In the mean time we can focus on what Issa al Maseh said: Love GOD, love your neighbor, love your enemy, love one another.


  3. The following was posted, probably mistakenly, as a comment on the previous (5/15)posting, so I am copying it here:

    "With a brief moment available at the end of our quarterly business conference on Wednesday night – I shared this prediction with our folks and was surprised at the number of persons who had not heard of it. My intent was to smirk at it & joked with them about seeing them all in church on Sunday. Our guest preacher was sitting with us at a nearby table and I told them even he would be there to greet them with a Christian sermon. He pondered out loud, 'What if I’m the only one there?' I read to them the convoluted formula upon which Harold Camping’s prediction is made – a mathematical calculation foreign to the Bible itself (an argument in itself that shows just how nutty it is and certainly not 'the Bible guarantees it' as he advertises on the billboards).

    "On Sunday Wanda and I plan to take a vacation day and drive out to Lawrence for our son’s graduation from KU. I’ll be ticked if that great day is disrupted after all he’s done to get there (26 years old, dropped out of HS and got his GED, worked in numerous restaurants as a server and paid his own way … finally got back to JUCO and now graduating near the top of his class … beginning law school in the fall). See what I mean?"

  4. A dear Canadian friend wrote (by e-mail):

    "Perhaps a reminder that none of the apostles, nor Jesus himself, knew when the end would come – no one but God the Father – would also be in order."

  5. Dr. Seat...excellent post, as usual. You might be interested in a debate I have been engaged in on regarding this very issue. It seems the variations of what folks believe about the Second Coming of Jesus runs a very broad gamut. Here's the link to my debate with a preterist. Keep up the good work brother...I will go ahead and make my weekend plans!

  6. While it is easy to simply laugh at the transparent self-delusion in a biblical doomsday calculation, it is also a good time to stop and realize we all do this kind of rationalization on a regular basis. Most of us do it on subjects which are not quite so easily falsifiable, but we do it nonetheless.

    How many politician's wives have decided to "stand by her man," even as the whole world sees through him? How many American voters refuse to raise taxes to match spending, or to reduce spending to match taxes? How many of us grin when our doctors mention "diet and exercise," while not doing much about it? (OK, my hand is up on that one!)

    It always amazes me to read the literature of one cult bashing another cult, sounding for all the world like a bunch of secular humanists. Yet, somehow, the analysis never continues far enough to look in the mirror. Indeed, scientists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that belief systems are almost immune to falsification. So here is my prediction: Somehow, Harold Camping and his followers will rationalize their way around this one, and leave the rest of us scratching our heads. It's happened before!

  7. I appreciate Craig's usual perceptive comments. His last paragraph reminded me of these equally perceptive words by Stanley Hauerwas:

    "What so often makes us liars is not what we do, but the justification we offer for what we do" ("Hannah's Child," p. 159).

  8. Here is a part of an e-mail received a few hours ago from a Thinking Friend who is a bit older than I:

    "Years ago when I was eleven or twelve some folk in east Tennessee predicted Jesus’ return then hid in a cave on the proposed date. Even at that young age I wondered why they would hide. Wouldn’t you want to be out where He could see you if the Lord was returning? God save us from believer buffoons."

  9. Well, it turns out the rapture was a "spiritual" event, so we did not actually see the judgment. But it happened, and the world will be destroyed October 21, 2011. Just you wait and see!

    And Harold Camping goes marching on!