October 21, 2011: Harold Camping’s latest Apocalypse prediction

Spencer Platt Even though his predicted physical Rapture didn’t take place on May 21, 2011, Harold Camping affirmed recently that … Continued

Spencer Platt

Even though his predicted physical Rapture didn’t take place on May 21, 2011, Harold Camping affirmed recently that the Apocalypse would “probably” take place October 21, 2011.

It started with Jesus himself in the Gospel of Mark, which most scholars identify as the earliest written canonical account of the life of Christ. In Mark 13, Jesus informed his disciples that the last days were at hand. He listed signs of the End of the Age: wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and other calamities.

“I tell you the truth,” he predicted, “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

The disciples must have gotten weird looks in their eyes. Maybe they started swapping gossip about warfare. Maybe they told tales of stars falling from the sky or distant famines, because Jesus dropped one more caution on them before moving along to the next topic. Be alert, he said, because no one knows about that day or hour. Not the angels. Not even Jesus himself. Only the Father.

In other words, fellas, prepare for it, but quit trying to put it on a calendar.

Christians have long been accused of taking biblical commands too literally, but this one-no one knows when the End of the Age will arrive-is one we routinely ignore. There are so many weird images and numbers and timelines in the Bible. It’s got to be some kind of code we can crack, right?

Too many of us try, digging into the Bible’s cryptic apocalyptic passages. Calculations in hand, a few stout-hearted souls eventually conclude they have figured it out.

They are always wrong. Always.

More than a century after the crucifixion, a new convert named Montanus let loose a series of ecstatic prophecies. He said Jesus will return during his lifetime and the New Jerusalem would descend upon Pepuza, an ancient village in modern-day Turkey.

It didn’t happen.

In the 4th century, Hilary of Poitiers published a list of possible candidates for the Antichrist. He predicted the end of the world for 365 A.D.

It didn’t happen.

In Spain in 793, on the night before Easter, an elderly monk named Beatus announced that Jesus would return before dawn. Everyone panicked. They spent the night fasting and praying.

It didn’t happen.

At the turn of the 13th century, a Cistercian monk named Joachim of Fiore proclaimed that God had revealed to him the mystical meaning of the New Testament book of Revelation. Joachim died in 1202, but not before predicting the end will arrive by 1260.

It didn’t happen.

In 1533, a German monk named Stifelius-an early supporter of Protestant Reformer Martin Luther-calculated that Judgment Day would arrive at 8 a.m. on October 3. He published a two-volume book about it. Anxiety seized the Bavarian countryside.

It didn’t happen.

In 1694, a group of Germans sailed to the New World, where they anticipated the imminent arrival of Christ in the deep Pennsylvanian wilderness. They set up a utopian community along Wissahickon Creek, where they fasted, prayed, and waited.

It didn’t happen.

In the early 18th century, famed preacher Cotton Mather warned his fellow Puritans that the end of the world was scheduled for 1697. And then 1716. And then 1736.

It didn’t happen.

In 1844, a Baptist preacher and ex-Army captain named William Miller set upstate New York aflame with the prediction that Jesus would return to rapture the faithful between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844.

It didn’t happen.

There have been many, many more. Herbert W. Armstrong in 1936.
Billy Graham in 1949. Hal Lindsey in 1970. Charles Taylor in 1975. Pat Robertson in 1982. Edgar Whisenant in 1988. Benny Hinn in 1997. Paul Smirnov in 2002.

None of these end-of-the-world projections paid out. We Christians are exactly zero-for-every-prediction-ever when it comes to forecasting the Rapture, the Second Coming, or pretty much any apocalyptic event.

Years ago, a California radio broadcaster named Harold Camping declared that the Rapture was scheduled for May 21, 2011, followed by the end of the world no later than October 21. With billboards and broadcasts, he whipped his followers (and the news media) into a frenzy as the first date approached.

It didn’t happen.

Camping revised his message but stuck to his guns. Judgment Day will still arrive on October 21, 2011, he says. Expect the end.

Call me crazy, but I predict it won’t happen.

Add one more name to the list.

Jason Boyett is the author of several books, including Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse. Find him at jasonboyett.com or on Facebook.

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  • ccnl1

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 billion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 billion years?

  • allinthistogether

    Nobody knows the trouble i’m going to see . . . . Nobody knows but Jesus, or the Father, or perhaps just nobody.

    Thank you for the history lessons. Nobody knows if or when the earth will end by any means other than natural cosmic deterioration. All those who try to persuade their congregations or followers that Jesus is coming back during their lifetimes should be stripped of their ministry for delusions of omniscience and self-serving deceiving of others.

    True Christian leaders should announce loud and clear that no one knows and those who profess to know are not reliable authorities.

  • lschuldt

    Who is “You”? This rogue mistake will always make the Harold Campings wrong on their end time predictions. “You” for most of us who read this sentence is you who is reading this sentence. No brainer? But what if you read a letter written to someone else? Woops. “You” in the letter is no longer you. The New Testament is mostly letters. So who is “you” in these letters? If Jesus speaks to Caiaphas, and says “hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven”, who is “you”? Unless you are given authority to alter the addressees to the addressees of your choice, Jesus spoke to His disciples and the letters addressed those in the ancient churches. So when Jesus says to His disciples, “there are some of THOSE WO ARE STANDING HERE who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God”, we need to take Him at His word. We missed the end of the age and the “rapture” by 2000 years. Just because some expert says “I believe” the “you” in the New Testament can be “you the reader” and the Church of the Thessalonians can be your church today, doesn’t make is so.
    Lynn Schuldt – Prophecy Paradox, the Case for a First Century End Time

  • Rongoklunk

    Yes some folks will be packing-up their gear and standing around waiting for Jesus to take them home tomorrow, the 21st.

    Religion makes fools out of people. You get folks to believe in a great invisible man who lives in the sky – and they’re softened up to believe anything. ANYTHING. Even that some old book foretells the end of the world, right up to the actual date. And that the only folks who get to be saved are those who can bring themselves to believe in this imaginary guyinthesky. How absurd. It’s a fairy tale folks; suitable for any child’s mind. But not for the grown-up – educated twenty-first century mind. C’mon.

  • gonnagle

    Happy 21st of October. Lovely day. looking forward to tomorrow.

  • fallenswan

    Just before the new year in 1999- many of my Christians were storing food and water in their basements and preparing for what Christians has claimed for many-many years -THAT AT THE END OF A PERIOD OF 2000 YEARS – THE END WOULD COME. I WAS RAISED IN A VERY STRICT CHRISTIAN HOME BUT I HAVE NEVER TAKEN ANY OF THESE PREDICTIONS AND PHROPHESIES SERIOUSLY. The truth of the matter is there is very little in the Scriptures which can realistically be taken literally. The Scriptures were selectively chosen for the Bible, there has been many versions of the Bible, and many scholars continue to debate the reliability on the various translations leading up to the King James Version; which seem to be the choice of most fundamentalists. For Christians who truly desire to grasp an enlightened understanding of the Bible and teachings of Jesus, I humbly recommend “The Second Coming of Christ The Resurrection of Christ Within You”


    Christians will fall for ANYTHING.

    They worship the end of the world, you know.

  • itsthedax

    The truly sad part of this discussion is that the christians’ comments are pretty much in agreement with Camping on all of his key beliefs. Christians think Camping is abouit 99 percent right, but are just quibbling about his calendar.