May 21, 2011 is an important date. Influenced by the teachings of Harold Camping, there are many Christians who believe that on that day God’s judgment will fall upon the earth. Taking great liberties with his interpretation of scripture (finding hidden meanings in the Biblical text that he alone understands) and using some extremely questionable methodology (basing doctrine on figurative language), he has arrived at the date of May 21, 2011. In his understanding of scripture, Camping has come dangerously close to falling outside the realm of orthodox teaching.
Whether or not you agree with Camping, the date is still important. It is either going to prove him right and God’s judgment will come, or it will prove him wrong (again!) and demonstrate that man does not know the mind of God on this subject. Camping’s basic error is that he has fallen for a common misunderstanding of the purpose of prophecy. Prophecy was not given to us so that we can calculate dates. In fact the Bible clearly instructs us not to engage in this futile pursuit (Matthew 25:13), a truth that Camping conveniently dismisses.
One of the passages that Camping uses to “prove” his contention that May 21, 2011 will be the day of God’s judgment is 2 Peter 3:8 which says that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. However, he fails to keep reading to verse 11 which states, therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? One of the primary reasons that God has given us information about the end times is so that we will live holy lives today as a witness to a society that is living in spiritual darkness. In other words, our lives are to be spiritual lights in a spiritually dark world that illuminate the path to the savior.
Camping does emphasize the need for people to receive Christ before Judgment Day comes and for that we should give him credit. However, his obsession with setting dates (he has done this before) has the potential to do more harm than good. The spiritual damage that may be done to the faith of his followers when Judgment Day does not come may be devastating.
Whatever we think of Camping and his penchant for predicting dates is really of little importance. What is important is how we are living our lives in light of what God has revealed to us. God’s Day of Judgment is coming, whether it is on May 21st or at some later time and we need to live in light of that truth.
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