It is always unfortunate when there is a well known and largely disseminated message about predicting the end of the world, and upon its not happening much scorn and derision is heaped upon the person making the claim, as well as the religious system this person embraces. There are many who have made fun of Mr. Camping, and have been deriding Christianity and the whole idea of an apocalypse and second coming. It is unfortunate, because it is throwing out the whole idea of judgment, end of times and the nature of Christ, and the fact that He will be returning as He said He would. So, the idea of this post is to briefly examine the errors and to take a look at what could have been different.
Mr. Camping, by his own admission, is ‘self taught’ in his Bible knowledge. This, in and of itself, is not a problem, but it seems in Mr. Camping’s case, his lack of basic hermeneutics and exegesis skills was very detrimental to his cause. For instance, his idea of the great week, being 7,000 years is correct; however, starting the clock at the time of the flood is erroneous, because the age of sin began in the Garden of Eden, and the flood marked the first destruction of evil people. Mr. Camping also did not take into consideration any of the time clocks specifically given in Daniel and Revelation, and his predictions did not reflect any of these most important factors.
There are too many points to put in this posting that would even begin to cover the most rudimentary reasons this prediction did not come true, nor will it ever come true. When bad theology and improper hermeneutics are utilized, there can be no other outcome than a poor one and it only results in derision and scorn upon the one making the claims, and the system he represents. I have mentioned in many previous postings concerning the nature of many laity taking it upon themselves to educate themselves on these matters, as the Church seems to want to minimize the nature of Judgments and the Justice of God versus the Mercy of God, and the idea that we can live any way we want, and do not have to be concerned about the consequences.
The Church knows, and has taught priests and ministers for centuries, the nature of God and within the nature of God is the idea of judgment and the end of time. Unfortunately, if the mainstream churches want to no longer teach about Judgments, and then attention paid to the end of time has no value, and will be ignored. In my short time in Seminary, I was taught enough about Sacramental theology, Biblical and church history, eschatology, and Church traditions to understand the basic precepts of the Faith as well as the Bible. This is not hidden information from the average Seminarian, but it was sure minimized in its importance in my experience and training. Why will the Churches not teach what they know to be true? Why do lay people have to come forward and do the job of the Clergy?
This is at the heart of what I believe went wrong. Mr. Camping appears to have heartfelt conviction concerning his beliefs and calculations. Despite being way off, and having huge amounts of abuse sent his way by the unknowing and willfully ignorant MSM, this man demonstrated way more faith in his convictions than any of the Churches I have seen in my lifetime. Jesus warned us very sternly in Revelation, that it is those who’ refuse to know the truth’ that will be condemned, not necessarily those who earnestly seek out, and are in error. There were too many ‘theologians’, ministers, priests and assortment of other ‘religious experts’ that came out of the woodwork to condemn this man. That’s fine, but where are or were any of these fine folks when it comes to teaching the Biblical truths to the laity? Why is this knowledge not being ‘shouted from the rooftops’ by these knowledgeable individuals?
I think it is still the case, as I did when in Seminary: I’m not convinced these people really believe it themselves, but know enough about prophecy to ‘debunk’ those who have not gone through formal training as they have. The one thing I will say about Mr. Camping is that he has guts, and acted on his conviction. This is most likely too scary for those comfortable enough to tell the world how mistaken Mr. Camping was, but unwilling to go into the ‘deep thoughts of God’ themselves and make the bold proclamations our faith requires of us. This is why we are in so much trouble today, and that’s why I am convinced when these events really begin to take place, we will be ‘caught off guard’ and many who are currently very smug in their ‘beliefs’ will be overwhelmed by the ‘justice’ side of God, which is thought in the current line of ‘sophisticated thinking’ to be non existent.
If we could combine the guts and conviction of Mr. Camping with that of some of those who have the proper hermeneutical trainings and teachings, we may be in a much different place in our society. Those that mock the faith may very well be humbled and contrite, and we would see a renaissance in our time. But as it is, it is not happening, and we are left with mediocrity. So, we are not prepared for the times we live in and we will be caught off guard when things begin to heat up.