Well, we’re still here despite doomsday evangelist Harold Camping’s warning of the end of the world on Saturday, May 21 at 6 p.m.
But wait. Camping says we’re not out of the woods. He announced this week that “spiritual” doom occurred May 21, and that physical destruction of the world will happen on Oct. 21. If he still has any acolytes after this, it will give new meaning to the term “credulous.”
Here’s his spin: “We didn't see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed.”
Well, I won’t argue with Mr. Camping that God can’t be pleased with the way America is abandoning its Judeo-Christian moorings. Lady Gaga’s pansexual “Born This Way” video alone is ample evidence that we’re no longer slouching toward Gomorrah but have entered its gates.
But what Mr. Camping is doing is serious mischief. He is conjuring with the Bible. Does he really think that Jesus did not know what He was talking about? In Mark 13:32, Jesus says of Judgment Day, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Doomsday prophets come and go. In 1988, Edgar C. Whisenant released a slim book, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” It was full of mathematical formulas ending in a September doomsday prediction. It got a lot of play all over the U.S., but especially in Southern California, where people are used to living on the edge waiting for the Big One. Mr. Whisenant, a former NASA engineer, went on to pen more books predicting later dates, but he never achieved the megasales that “88 Reasons” garnered. He died in 2001.
Mr. Camping’s earlier ventures included a book entitled simply “1994?” that at least included the question mark. With age, he seems to have grown less humble about his seer abilities.
About the worst thing that happened is that a number of Camping’s followers sold everything, leaving them high and dry. That’s serious, but it’s nothing compared to the damage inflicted by the Hale-Bopp comet cult Heaven’s Gate back in the ’90s. Thirty-nine of their members committed suicide in March 1997 in order to escape the imminent cosmic “recycling” of the earth.
With cameras planted on Camping’s doorstep on May 21, the media had a field day mocking his apocalyptic failure. But I would wager that 99 percent of serious Christians took it all with a grain of salt.
Before those who delight in false predictions that make Christians look foolish laugh any louder, they have a multitude of liberal misfires to live down.