There’s a group in the States that threw money at billboard companies in Omaha, Nashville and Detroit to advertise the Second Coming.
The Christmas-themed ads featuring images of the three magi and the star of Bethlehem tell people that “He is coming again.”
Allison Warden, whose family runs the website WeCanKnow.com, points to 1Thessalonians 5:4, where it states “but ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” to justify their campaign.
Warden and her family are followers of Harold Camping, known for his controversial teachings on his station Family Radio Worldwide, which sponsored the billboards in Nashville.
Camping, who teaches people to leave their churches ahead of the end date, says that he arrived at the May 21, 2011, by using a mathematical calculation showing that day to be exactly 7,000 years since Noah’s flood.
And according to him, the world itself will end in October of that year. I’ve added the link to that website but I don’t know why anyone would want to go over there. More from the article:
Trying to predict the end of the world is not just unbiblical, according to Slater, but unChristian. He noted that in trying to live by knowledge, the group’s teaching looks more like agnosticism than Christianity.
I’ll argue it’s the opposite of agnosticism because Camping clearly believes in a god, something agnostics waffle on. I bold that other bit because it’s troublesome. Why? Dr. Thomas B. Slater, a professor of the New Testament, is about to blithely demonstrate why:
“I think the people are sincere but they also are making a grave mistake,” he said. “They are attempting to replace living by faith with living by knowledge. But knowledge of when the world ends cannot replace the power of living by faith.”
Slater considers the billboards to be misguided. I agree they’re misguided, but I think the real problem here has to do with how math and knowledge in general is being manipulated and mutilated to make Camping’s predictions add up.
Choosing to live by knowledge is a grand goal, one more people should strive toward, regardless of what faith they want to live under at the same time. Electing to live by a mockery of knowledge is not a grand goal. It’s a colossal mistake and an enormous waste of time and energy and Camping’s ludicrous prediction is going to ruin lives. He’s been wrong before and he’s going to be wrong again. Fat lot of good that’ll do his believers this time around, too.
Slater makes some good points, though.
“Jesus has told his disciples that they should not be concerned with the end of the world but they should be worried about making the world a better place. These people are doing the exact opposite.”
Slater referred to Matthew 25 where Jesus says that the righteous are those who feed the hungry, look after the sick, and visit those in prison.
“At every opportunity Christians should help other people,” said the New Testament scholar. “We should not just stop at being saved. We should continuously help people through life because we move toward sanctification. It doesn’t mean we ever get there but we are always striving to get there.”
If May 21 comes and goes, added Slater, the billboards are going to turn more people off Christianity if they haven’t so already.
Another problem I see here is how easy it is to warp the message of Christianity, assuming Slater is correct in his statement of what it’s supposed to be and what Christians are supposed to be doing to earn that righteous afterlife. If only the bible designers hadn’t thrown so many conflicting stories into it. Were four gospels absolutely necessary? Why didn’t they just draw lots and pick one? Did Paul, and the rest of them for that matter, correctly interpret things or did he misinterpret and tweak bits of history and folklore to justify his own actions and ideals? And then try to factor in everything done and said and taught in regards to that book by everyone since… yikes. No wonder there were so many schisms. No wonder they keep happening, too.