What is behind the popularity of Harold Camping?

Harold Camping and May 21

May 21 Calendar

As many people know, Harold Camping has predicted that the rapture will happen on May 21. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that I will be writing a post the morning of May 22 thanking God for another day.

My purpose here is not to catalog a list of reasons why Mr. Camping is wrong. Others better qualified than I have done this. Many blogs and web sites have pointed out the errors in Mr. Camping’s methodology and Biblical interpretation.

Nor is my purpose here to catalog the teaching of Scripture on the Rapture. Again, others with greater ability have done this well. I can contribute little to the discussion.

My purpose here is to ask several questions which come to mind as I reflect on this prediction. I welcome your thoughts in response to these questions:

  1. What is the driving force behind date setting?
  2. Second, why are so many people believing this?
  3. Is Camping providing an illegitimate satisfaction of a legitimate need?

What is the driving force?

Why is it that people feel the need to predict prophetic events? What is it in humans that causes us to crave this type of knowledge?

The thought strikes me that this goes back to the very first sin. In the Garden, we attempted to seize control of our own destiny, chosing to disobey in an attempt to become like God. In our fallen state, we desire knowledge that is reserved for God.

Pride plays a large role in this. Jesus tells us that no man knows the hour, it seems to me that it takes a large measure of pride to go against this statement and set a date.

The opposite of this is trust in God. This is the lesson of manna, a lesson that I find necessary to relearn often. If I am living in fellowship with God, if I am living in dependence upon him, if I am living as if Jesus can return at any moment, then I do not have to know when he will return. If I do these things, I will be ready.

Why are many so easily led astray?

Some are led astray because they want to have the inside track, they want the knowledge that will get them ahead of the people around them. Again, I would point to pride. If I have knowledge that others do not have, I can feel superior to them.

Another factor is the lack of Biblical teaching emanating from many pulpits in America. If the entire Bible was taught and pastors took seriously the call of God to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12), then there would be fewer people duped by false teachers.

Is there a legitimate need behind this?

I think that there is a legitimate need behind this phenomenon. That need is to be certain of our standing before God. The good news is that we can be assured of good standing with God without setting dates or other false assurances.

Romans 10:9-13 tells us that everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. Jesus himself tells us that he is the way to God (John 14:6). Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can be assured of our standing with God.

As a result, we don’t need date-setters or others who promise secret knowledge. We only need Jesus.

Last Thought

Jesus promised to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3). When the time is right, he will return to take us there. I trust him to know the proper time – whenever it happens, it will be fantastic.