Friday, May 20, 2011

Harold Camping . . . a nice guy (and a little frahootled)

It was in the November of the year that I was twelve in which I decided to follow Christ.  I was an altar boy at St. Francis in the Fields church in Malvern PA and up to that point the only thing I knew about Christianity was that most of them were rich.  Our church had BMWs and Mercedes Benz's all over the place.  Kids in youth group had dads who were big deals.  The Dupont family members were in the choir.  It was all very surreal - burlap banners of St. Francis (who was one of the most famous poor people ever) and visiting priests who showed up in pastel, Don Johnson-esque suits with the little priest collar at the top.

So I had to find out what this new faith was all about outside of church.  Lucky for me there was a free magazine that you could call a 1-800 number and get a subscription to.  It was called the Plain Truth.  Years later I would find out that it was linked to a strange cult called "Armstrongism."  

I also found a neat little radio station called "Family Radio" out of Camden NJ that had lots of interesting Bible teaching that I would listen to.  At night it was especially interesting, I got to know a guy named Harold Camping who hosted a nightly call-in show called "The Open Forum."  He would field all kinds of questions about the Bible from people that called in.

Now if his name sounds familiar, its because it is the same guy who says that the Bible has a secret message to believers that is numerically based.  If you are smart enough to figure out the math, you would realize that this Saturday May 21 the rapture will occur and those who are saved are going to be leaving this planet via the Son of God's second coming.

So one question I have is: "How did I ever turn out somewhat normal?"  How could I have had such diverse influences?  Wealthy Anglicanism, Armstrongism, Kooky pastors on radio shows . . . I should be on a commune about now with my eight children with names like "Johiabad" or "Lamech" creating websites about the alignment of celestial bodies and the Biblical signs of the apocalypse.

Of course I remember back when Harold Camping did this the last time - back in 1994 he prophesied that the return of Christ was in the fall.  I remember the guy I was interning with circled September in his Daytimer as "rapture season."  And yes, Harold was wrong then.  

He is a nice old man who knows a lot about the Bible - I would love to be neighbors with him.  Its just that he forgets that when Jesus said He was returning someday, He said that no one would know the day or the hour.  

Mark 13: 21 - “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it.

and again later . . .

Mark 13:32 - "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

This last one is actually an expression that grooms would use about their wedding day.  In ancient Israel, the man who was engaged would go back to his father's house and work on his "Chuppa" or bridal chamber for about a year.  This was to be where his bride and he would live.  The groom's father would inspect it and only when it met the father's specs on quality would he receive permission to go and bring his fiance back to the house to be married.  When people would ask him when the big day was, his answer was "only my Father knows the day."  Jesus, it seems, is preparing a place for us right now.  And at just the right time, the Father will give Him a nod to put an end to the wait and the Earth can end its separation from God.

So . . . sorry Mr Camping.  There are no mathematical formulas for figuring that out.  You are a kind old man who knows a lot but it seems like you have gone overboard with math.  

But its not too late to rope yourself in and try to bring the Kingdom of God to this Earth through the way you live your life - the graciousness of your actions, the way you forgive, the justice you help maintain, the poor you provide for, the fatherless you defend . . .

Let God decide when its time to come back.


  1. Am reading your blog for the first time (coming over from your wife's blog). I appreciate what you have to say about May 21. I especially like the history of "only my Father knows the day" ! I didn't know that, but it adds new depth to that scripture! Thanks for posting!