Today, May 21st, 2011, was supposed to be the beginning of the end according to Harold Camping and his followers. Obviously, they’re wrong, and we all know this, so I’m not going to waste time talking about that. No, what I want to discuss has to do with how Harold Camping is in, what Christians should consider, good company; like Jesus, Paul, John, Matthew, Mark, and the author of Revelation. There are two specific arguments I want to make: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).
Jesus tells his disciples: “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (10:23). Jesus, when speaking to the Sanhedrin during his trial, says, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:16; cf. Matthew 26:64).
The apostle Paul was the first New Testament author to reassure his believers that “the day of the Lord” will still take place any day, suddenly and without warning, like “thief in the night” even though more time has passed than what previously believed and even though some had died waiting (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Paul also expected that some of the people he was writing to would be alive to witness the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), including himself. Paul also writes:
“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use things of the word, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Romans 13:11)
(In the genuine letters of Paul, it’s clear he expected the end of the world to be at hand. This is one of the reasons why the Pastoral letters are believed by scholars to be psuedopigraphy (i.e., 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).)
Elsewhere, we find the author of 1 John saying he knows it’s the “last hour.” He even expects to be alive when “the Holy One” comes (2:18,28). Still later we have the author of the book of Revelation repeatedly saying that the “time is near” or that Jesus will be coming “soon” (1:1; 3:11, 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20).
You might be thinking, “okay, fine, they were wrong too, but so what?” What about the mother that, terrified of the impending apocalypse, slit the throat and wrists of her and her daughter? What of the man who hung himself in a church today? What about the families that have given everything they have to Camping? And remember, these beliefs would have the same consequence 2000 years ago, so don’t try to fool yourself into thinking there wouldn’t have been any believers then who wouldn’t have done anything like we saw some believers do today.
Like I said: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).