Today is the end of the universe

End of the universe

Following on from my two posts back in May, this is my third and final post on this subject.  Why won’t I be writing any more posts?  Because today is the end of the universe …

Here is an extract from an update in June on Harold Camping’s Family Radio website:

Indeed, on May 21 Christ did come spiritually to put all of the unsaved throughout the world into judgment.  But that universal judgment will not be physically seen until the last day of the five month judgment period, on October 21, 2011.

Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011, on the last day of the present five months period.

When the Judgment Day earthquake failed to occur on May 21, Mr Camping made a broadcast on his Family Radio station.  In my previous post on this subject, I transcribed some of his comments, including the following:

On May 21, 2011, we didn’t feel any difference, we didn’t see any difference in the world, but we know from the Bible that God brought Judgment Day to bear on the whole world.  The whole world is under Judgment Day, and it will continue right up until October 21, 2011, and at that time, the whole world will be destroyed.

We’re just learning that we have to be looking at all of this a little bit more spiritual, but it won’t be spiritual on October 21, because the Bible clearly teaches that then the world is going to be destroyed altogether.

Here are some other extracts from his website, which clarify what was supposed to happen today:

Each day people will die until October 21, 2011 when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants. [1]

Thus, we must realize that October 21, 2011 will be the final day of this earth’s existence. [2]

We indeed can be certain that the rapture will occur on May 21, 2011, and the final day of the history of the world is October 21, 2011. [3]

There is much Biblical evidence that the rapture of believers will occur on May 21, 2011 and this world will cease to exist on October 21, 2011. [4]

on October 21, 2011, the entire universe, together with all the non-elect unsaved, will be completely annihilated. [5]

Finally, on October 21, 2011, the last day of the Day of Judgment, their remains, together with the earth and the entire universe, will be burned with fire and destroyed forever  […]  At the end of the 153 days of this great horror, which is called Judgment Day (May 21 to October 21, 2011), the end of this world will come.  The earth and all of its works will be burned up, even as the whole universe will be destroyed. [6]

Those who are not raptured on May 21, 2011, will die on that date or at some moment on or before October 21, 2011, at which time the entire universe will be consumed by fire. [7]

However, on 23 September, Mr Camping published an audio recording on his website (direct link to MP3), in which he changed some details of his prediction, and also sounded less confident in his prediction.  Here are some interesting extracts:

I do believe that we’re getting very near the very end.  We’ve learned that there’s a lot of things that we didn’t have quite right, and that’s God’s good provision.  If he had not kept us from knowing everything that we didn’t know, we would not have been able to be used of him, to bring about the tremendous event that occurred on May 21 of this year, which probably will be finished out on October 21 that’s coming very shortly.  At this point, it looks like it will be the final end of everything.

I really am beginning to think, as I restudy these matters, that there’s going to be no big display of any kind.  The end is going to come very very quietly, probably within the next month.  It will happen, that is, by October 21.

Well, he was certainly correct that there was “no big display of any kind” – the entire universe does not appear to have been consumed by fire today.  If the end has come, it has indeed “come very very quietly”, so quietly that no-one noticed.

Here is the complete timeline of events, as taught by Mr Camping: [3]

  1. On May 22, AD 33, the “church age” began.
     
  2. On May 21, 1988, the “church age” ended and the first 2,300 days of the “great tribulation” began.
     
  3. On September 7, 1994, the final 6,100 days of the “great tribulation” began.
     
  4. On May 21, 2011, “God’s salvation program” ended, and the whole world (except for the elect, the true believers) was placed under “God’s final judgment”.
     
  5. On October 21, 2011, “God’s final judgment” ended, on “the final day of the history of the world”.

There are no more events in his timeline.

I’ve filed this post (along with my previous two posts on this subject) under the category of psychology rather than religion or spirituality, because I regard Harold Camping’s teachings as an interesting case study in psychology.  He joins the long list of people who have inaccurately predicted the end of the world, and I’m interested to observe the confidence with which these people speak about their predictions, and how they react when their predictions fail.

I admit I do feel rather sorry for him, since he spent such an enormous amount of time and effort teaching his beliefs.  We’ll wait and see whether he publishes any final thoughts about the failure of his predictions.


Update

On 28 October, Mr Camping published a new audio recording on his website (direct link to MP3), in which he admits that Christ did not return.  Here are some interesting extracts:

We’re living in a day when one problem follows another, and when it comes to trying to recognise the truth of prophecy, we’re finding that it is very very difficult.

Why didn’t Christ return on October 21?  It seems embarrassing for Family Radio, but God was in charge of everything.  We came to that conclusion after quite careful study of the Bible.  He allowed everything to happen the way it did, without correction.  He could have stopped everything, if he had wanted to.

Amongst other things, I have been checking my own notes more carefully than ever, and I do find that there is other language in the Bible that we still have to look at very carefully, and will impinge upon this question very definitely, and we should be very patient about this matter.

We are simply learning, and sometimes it’s painful to learn.  We are learning how God brings his messages to mankind, and, my my, we have claimed to be a child of God, and therefore, as we search the Bible, we’re bound to feel the darts of the Lord, as sometimes he gives us the truth, and sometimes he gives us something that causes us to wait further upon him.

Oh my, what an encouragement it is to be able to go to the Lord again and again, “Oh Lord, I don’t know anything, Lord, you teach me”, and that’s the attitude that has to be part of each one of us.

Incidentally, I have been told that I had said back in May that people who did not believe that May 21 should be the Rapture date probably had not become saved.  I should not have said that, and I apologise for that.

A fascinating article by Lorne Dawson titled “When Prophecy Fails and Faith Persists” (available here and here) contains some passages which are very relevant to Mr Camping’s prophecy:

Festinger and his colleagues developed the theory of cognitive dissonance: when people with strongly held beliefs are confronted by evidence clearly at odds with their beliefs, they will seek to resolve the discomfort caused by the discrepancy by convincing others to support their views rather than abandoning their commitments.  They will seek some means of reestablishing cognitive consonance without sacrificing their religious convictions.  With experimental confirmation, this theory has gone on to become a mainstay of social psychology, and in the sociology of religion there is something like an implicit consensus in support of this view as well.

For people whose lives have become dominated by one powerful expectation, and whose activities are dictated by what that belief requires, abandonment of faith because of disappointment about a date would usually be too traumatic an experience to contemplate.  Reinterpretation is demanded.

To some extent all of the groups that survived the disconfirmation of their prophecies did so because they were able to promptly provide their followers with a sufficiently plausible reinterpretation of events.

we can distinguish between at least four kinds of rationalization: spiritualization, a test of faith, human error, and blaming others.  Some of the groups studied favored one of these modes of rationalization over the other, but they usually appear in various combinations.

attributing the failure of prophecy to human error (usually referring to the misunderstanding, miscalculation, or moral inadequacy of followers) is very common, especially in groups stemming from more traditional religious backgrounds.  In the case of the Lubavitch, many members told Shaffir quite straightforwardly that the messiah “would have come, but we didn’t merit it … if we merited it, things would have worked out differently.”  In the eyes of many of the faithful the error was theirs in even thinking that they could discern the mysterious ways of God.

The immediate failure can always be subsumed within a larger and more ingrained repertoire of millennial hopes and fears.

Since Mr Camping’s fundamental timeline of five events (see above) is now over, it seems unlikely that he will be predicting any further dates for the end of the world.


Illustration:  molten earth by Brent Nelson, used under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

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One response to “Today is the end of the universe

  1. lol so it’s the 21, nothing happened…

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