Today, many believe the world will end.
Christians across the globe—both those of the radical fundamentalist type and they of the conservative ‘keep your bible in the bedroom’ variety—believe in a God who is a vengeful God, an almighty creator who will destroy all he has created before heralding in a new age of heavenly harmony on The Last Great Day.
Some Christian leaders, like one Harold Camping, have no problem understanding the complex, and often contradictory language of the much translated (and many-times-over-the-last-two-millenia edited) old and new testaments which make up the Holy Bible.
Camping famously predicted God’s wrath would be felt on 21st May 2011. Then, when the ‘Rapture’ failed to occur, Camping decided that was because God wanted to give humanity another five months to prepare.
Talk about ignoring a DEAD-line.
Today, our five months is supposedly up. Following Camping’s prophecy it’s about to be all over righteous rover.
But anyone who pays attention to this type of thing, these claims made by self-appointed (probably self-anointed) prophets of God, knows it is nothing new. I was born into a doomsday cult and having survived the predicted end of the world at least two or three times am constantly amused by, and curious about, the tendency of a certain type of man to say he knows precisely when all hell will break loose.
Harold Camping is not the only one to get it wrong.
Over the years many have claimed (falsely) they knew when the world would end. From the Irish archbishop James Usher (who predicted 1996 for The End) to David Koresh (pipping him with his 1995 prophecy) history is littered with righteous rubbish rakers.
Predicting Armageddon and/or ‘The Rapture’ didn’t begin with Camping. Neither did it begin with Herbert W. Armstrong whom founded The Worldwide Church of God, the fundamentalist Christian sect I was born into and lived in for my first ten years. But today, and since Armstrong’s passing, a number of former followers of Armstrong are enthusiastically—and successfully (judging by their financial and congregational growth)—continuing the work by using the fear of a ‘soon-coming’ end-for-all to shepherd the lost flocks back to church.
Some set firm dates for the Apocalypse; some are more ambiguous. Herbert W. Armstrong predicted The End for 1975 in his booklet, ‘1975 in Prophecy’. The world didn’t end but Armstrong did inspire these proven miscalculators:
Yisrayl Hawkins: House of Yahweh* (predicted by 2001 80% of the world’s population would be killed by nuclear war)
Ronald Weinland: The Church of God* – PKG (predicted 2008 as beginning (?) of the end)
David C. Pack: The Restored Church of God (may not have yet set a date but states clearly on his website that the bible is ‘one full third’ prophecy and only he has the understanding to reveal the future).
Now whether you are religious or not, hysteria surrounding this planet’s future seems to be spreading rapidly. As 2012 approaches many people are worried sick about the Mayan’s predictions for cataclysmic events leading to the Apocalypse.
And, though I am by no means an expert on either, it seems to be accepted by the mainstream that Climate Change and imminent economic collapse are very real concerns which may indeed end our way of life as we know it.
But, whatever today brings I predict we haven’t seen or heard the last from doomsayers like Camping, Armstrong and his ilk. Tomorrow, and in the days, weeks and years to follow, there will be other doomsday prophets with yet more doomsday dates.
This need to know exactly when the chosen amongst us will be given a shot at eternal life is a peculiar aspect of humanity. But it’s not the end of the world.