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If Camping has his way, it's our last day

Published May 21. 2011 09:01AM

First an update from Shelton, Connecticut. Due to overwhelming support from America for the reversal of the overly harsh and in some opinions arbitrary rule that was going to keep James Tate and his two friends from attending the senior prom for asking his date by hanging a paper sign on the outside of his high school, Head Mistress Beth Smith reversed her decision and said such cases in the future will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

If Ms. Smith was not so stubborn, she would not have found herself in the crosshairs of public criticism that almost universally agreed while he should have some type of punishment, a one-day suspension and denial of the prom was way over the top. I, for one, am glad she decided to own up to the error of her ways.

Of course if preacher Harold Camping has his way, this is our final day on earth. Camping has stated that tonight a massive earthquake will ravage the planet starting at 6 p.m. He says this quake will continue from the west coast across the whole globe this evening and tearing apart everything and heralding the return of the Messiah starting the rapture which will last according to Camping until November when the world will end.

Before we all get too upset, we should remember that this is not the first time Harold Camping decided Jesus was returning to Earth. Camping's first apocalyptic prediction occurred after he left his church in 1988 to devote his time to directly teaching his Biblical doctrine. Around that time, he dated the second coming to September 1994, but he acknowledged he could "be wrong" and hedged by saying it could also be 2011.

When September 1994 came and went, Camping eventually settled on 2011 and reformulated his predication that the rapture will occur in 2011. From what I can determine, his belief of this comes from his formulation of time based on Biblical interpretation. In brief God told Noah in seven days to load the ark.

Camping said this seven days speaks to all of us as well especially when coupled with a statement found in the New Testament (2 Peter 3:6-8) that chastises believers that in God's eyes a day is a thousand years and a thousand years but a day.

Through some creative counting and assumptions regarding how lineages were measured and time was represented, Camping set the creation at 11,013 years. He provides several milestones in his book "Adam When" but the most significant is the flood from his calculations occurred on 4990 BC and the seven day prophecy meant the world would also end 7000 years from the flood. If we move forward 7000 years from 4990 BC, that places us in 2010, however because there is no year zero, the date becomes 2011.

How did Camping decide May 21st? He points out that Noah was told the flood would begin on the 17th day of the second month of the Hebrew year which was the day he closed the ark. The 17th day of the second month of the Hebrew calendar according to Camping is May 21st which is the day he claims the rapture will begin and the door of Heaven will be closed to non-believers.

One major criticism in his timeline though is he claims there will be a final tribulation in the church which began on May 22, 1988 and ended today the day before Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the church which was 50 days after Christ ascended. Camping placed his crucifixion on Friday, April 1st of AD 33 which means Pentecost occurred on May 21st of that year. Through all of this math, Camping arrived at the rapture occurring today.

One issue with Camping's timeline that critics point out is 1988 is the year he left the church and he is accused of date setting to match that time with his timeline.

Also, Camping is not the first person to predict the end of the world. The followers of Conrad Beissel who founded the Ephrata Cloister just south west of here believed the world was going to end in the 1700s. Hal Lindsey predicted the earth would end by 1988 which coincidentally is when Camping said God would leave the church ending the Church Age. Who can forget the tragic suicides of the Heaven's Gate followers who believed the world would end in 1997 as Hale-Bopp approached? And now, today.

Coast to Coast host George Noory issued an open invitation to Camping or any of his followers to appear on the show on Monday night to talk about what happened tonight, but none have accepted the invitation. Tongue-in-cheek Noory noted that Camping sent the show a donation flyer offering the opportunity to make installment offerings to his church in April, an offer Noory thought was strange if he truly believed his sermonizing.

Of course there are two things we can count on if we are still here tomorrow. One, there is always the Mayan calendar ending next year to experience this all again, and second if anyone is leaving and I happen to still be here, can I have your stuff? Just drop me a note leaving all your worldly possessions to me. I will take good care of them.

But seriously, I'm sure I will see everyone, including a sad Camping, tomorrow.

Til next time ….

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