It’s May 21, 2011, 6:00 PM on the Pacific Coast, and no apocalypse. But relax, I’m sure Family Radio’s Harold Camping can explain everything! (Update: Yep, here it is! Mark your calendars for October 21st.) The only question is, who now remains that is gullible enough to believe anything he says? Sadly, probably quite a few.
Even sadder, most “mainstream” Christians console themselves with the idea that their interpretation of the Bible forbids the prediction of dates for Jesus’ return, while conveniently ignoring the biblical authors themselves, who confidently made predictions that the Savior would return within their own lifetimes— failed predictions that set the tone for the ensuing procession of failed predictions that continue to this day. Oh, not predictions about specific dates to be sure. But even the Christians I know who refuse to commit to specific dates insist that we are living in the “end of days” and that Jesus’ return is imminent… to some personalized approximation of “imminent.” This itself is a form of prediction: a prediction which fails again and again as each generation of Christians watches their children grow up, and as they desperately indoctrinate them to carry forward that same defective prediction.
To Christian readers, whether or not you followed Harold Camping, or even if you don’t believe in “apocalypse soon” in some form, I hope that times like this can be “teachable moments” for you. And here is the lesson that I, as a former Christian, had to learn from times like this: to the extent that your beliefs promote the idea that this life is but a rehearsal for another, you become correspondingly more schizophrenic— dissociated from life and the people with whom you share the world. Please consider studying your beliefs from a more healthy, skeptical viewpoint. I guarantee that many of Harold Camping’s (formerly) most fervent followers are doing just that right now… and for good reason.