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Camping Prediction: Rapture On May 21, 2011

By James Donahue

California Christian radio personality Harold Camping claims he has decoded and crunched Biblical numbers and predicts that Jesus will be coming in the clouds to whisk his followers off into Heaven on May 21, 2011.


Camping has been making this prediction for about two years and has gained a world-wide following through his Family Stations Inc. ministry that boasts worldwide broadcast outlets that include over 150 stations in the United States.


The 88-year-old Camping is not an ordained minister and he claims his teachings and radio followers do not constitute a church. But he definitely has a following of “believers” who say they are preparing for the big event.


Historians would say that Camping is sticking his neck way out on a limb by making such a prediction. False predictions of the Christian “rapture” have embarrassed religious leaders and their followers almost since the day the authors of the Jesus story proclaimed him a deity who promised to return and take believers off into the sky.


Because Matthew 16:28 quotes Jesus as promising that “there shall be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,” many early Christians expected the rapture to occur in their lifetime.


The multiple zero calendar years, AD 500, AD 1000 and AD 2000 were all targeted by Christian leaders and theologians as possible times to expect the end of the church age and the return of Christ.


Among the more infamous wrong rapture predictors was William Miller, founder of the Millerite Movement, who said Jesus would return on March 21, 1843. A large following of believers accepted the story. The date passed and when it didn’t happen, Miller came up with a new date: Oct. 22, 1844. By then many followers were so convinced they quit their jobs, sold their homes and possessions, and waited with Miller on a hilltop for the big event. It is remembered even today as The Great Disappointment.”


Even with this kind of historical record of miscalculations, Camping has gained a global following of people who may be headed for the very same kind of “great disappointment” brought on by the Millerite Movement.


Like Miller, Camping made a similar prediction about a decade ago that went bust. He claimed that Sept. 6, 1994 was going to be the Day of Judgment. He led dozens of believers to the Alameda Veterans Memorial Building in the Bay Area to await the return of Christ. Parents dressed  their children in their best clothes and everybody waited, their Bibles open, facing upward toward heaven. But nothing happened.


That did not seem to deter Camping. He explained that there had been a mathematical mistake and got out his slide rule to re-study the numbers. He has since established a complicated interpretation of numbers that he believes is a code hidden in the scriptures pointing to the 2011 date as the end of the Church Age and the day the saints get whisked off into the clouds.


Obviously Camping and the others who preceded him either overlooked or refused to believe the quoted words of Jesus when he warned his disciples: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”  The verse is found in Matthew 24:36 if you wish to see for yourself.