Harold Camping, a former civil engineer and current president of Family Radio has predicted that this Saturday, 5/21/11, the Christian event known as the Rapture will occur. Camping has made predictions of the imminent end of the world before, in 1994. Thought, at the time, he was careful to claim human fallibility. This time he is sure. He knows that he cannot be wrong.
The Rature, is the Christian belief that Christians, including the dead ones, will be taken up into the sky to meet Jesus Christ (the word ”rapture” means “caught up” or “taken away”).
The basic concept appears in the early Christian writing “1 Thessalonians” (traditionally dated to the 50′s, CE), in which the Christian convert Paul of Tarsus predicts that:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,”
Beyond that, the specifics are not agreed upon by Christians. There are three other principle events to account for in the Christian timeline, the 2nd coming of Jesus (actually , third according to the gospels), the “Tribulation”, and the “Last Judgement”. Pre-Tribulation, Midtribulation, and Posttribulation sequences have been proposed for the Rapture, and only a fist fight will determine the winner. The Rapture could also be prior to or during the 2nd coming of Jesus. All events will be prior to the Last Judgment, of course, since, as the name implies, it is Last.
Camping’s specific prediction for the Rapture is that it will happen on 5/21/11, at 6PM local time (so, it will follow the earthly invention of the Time Zone). He got this number by taking three numbers, multiplying them, and multiplying that by itself: (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.
Camping then adds 722,500 to April 1, 33 CE, the date Harold Camping believes is the death date of Jesus (note: there is no actual historical record of the date of Jesus’ death). According to Camping: 5 stands for atonement; 10 stands for perfection; and 17 stands for heaven. Atonement Perfects Heaven. Funny, huh? Anyway, you can dig through you Bibles all you want. These numbers are not important to anyone but Camping.
The Rapture, if there is one, would be a highly visible event, with Jesus floating down from the higher heavens, possibly all the way down to our realm, trumpets blasting (presumably supernatural trumpets, though earthy trumpets are very loud as well), eclipses, earthquakes; everything that good Christians think of as chaotic and anxiety producing.
Finally, on October 21, the earth will officially end. What a 5 month delay in destruction will do for a supernatural creator/destroyer god is one of those little mysteries of life, I suppose.
Camping’s claim seems ridiculous to most people, including other Christians, but many are taking it seriously, leading to anxiety, and over all irresponsible behavior.
A pre-Rapture interview with Harold Camping can be found here: BuffaloBeast.
As soon as a post-Rapture interview is found, I’ll post it.