Here are Ben Witherington’s top ten reasons why you should pay exactly no attention to Mr. Harold Camping and his false predictions about the May 21 Rapture:
No. 10— Every such prediction since the time of Christ has had an 100% failure rate! That should have put a stop to theological weather forecasting, but alas, pious curiosity knows no bounds
No. 9— There is no basis for such a prediction. Even if you believe in the modern notion of a pre-trib or mid-trib rapture (and I definitely don’t), the New Testament tells us nothing at all about when exactly it might happen. Camping’s computations are based on his own flawed assumptions not only about the Bible but about the 21rst century.
No. 8– You shouldn’t trust any such predictions that come from someone who can’t even read the Bible in its original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, but instead bases his predictions on some English translation. As I like to say, there are no infallible English translations, and every translation is already an interpretation of the original.
No. 7 There have been earthquakes, wars, famines, screwy weather, and distressing political and economic events in every age of Christian history. There is nothing special or unique about 2011 when it comes to those things.
No. 6 Biblical prophecy in any case doesn’t work like Mr. Camping thinks it does! The Bible does not give specific details about events transpiring 2000 years after the writing of the Bible. As I like to put it— God reveals enough about the future to give us hope, but not so much that we don’t have to live by faith every day. Imagine for a moment what would happen if we all actually knew what Mr. Camping says he knows— the specific date of the eschatological come to Jesus meeting— well then we wouldn’t have to be particular good or pious day after day, only at the very end of the process right before May 21rst. ‘Sin in haste, repent at leisure’ would be the motto of a world that knows in advance the day of its demise. Fortunately, God has not revealed any such date.
No. 5— Prognostications and calculations are a human activity based on human reasoning about the Bible and current events. They are an attempt to get hold of or control over the future, so we can plan ahead. God doesn’t allow us to control our futures. He reveals enough to give us reason for great expectations, but not so much that we have a basis for precise calculations.
No. 4— Jesus quite specifically said he was coming back like a thief in the night, a metaphor applied also by Paul and in Revelation to this event. The whole premise of the metaphor is that Jesus would show up at an unexpected and surprising time, a time when know one would be looking for him or knew he was coming
No. 3— The Bible specifically warns against people like Mr. Camping. They shouldn’t be listened to, they shouldn’t be given a following, they shouldn’t be give media attention (but sadly all of this has happened). Even when the 12 asked Jesus for more specific information about the timing when God would do the rest of the eschatological things, like restore the kingdom to Israel Jesus warned “It is not for you to know the times and the period set by his own authority” (Acts 1.7). Jesus is not just talking about the future of Israel, he is talking about the whole future eschatological scenario including his own return which as Rom. 11.25-27 makes clear is linked to the future of Israel. We should have listened to Jesus!
No. 2— It’s just bad theology to listen to folk like Mr. Camping— there is plenty of zeal, but it’s not according to knowledge. You shouldn’t listen to any preacher who says he knows more than Jesus. Here is what Jesus said about his own return—- “Of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son, only the Father” (Mk. 13.32). If God only knows, then why should we think any of us know? If Jesus says during his earthly ministry even he didn’t know the day, why should we combine arrogance with ignorance and insist we do?
No.1– If you’re determined to listen to bad rapture theology and false predictions then at least apply some critical thinking to what is being said. Why would God, who wants us to live by faith and not by sight every day of our Christian lives (see Hebrew 11– now faith is assurance of things hoped for, and a conviction about things not seen!!! Not in evidence, not predictable), take away our reason to continue to trust God EVERY DAY, by giving us a due date for the end of all things? This doesn’t even make common sense, never mind Biblical sense. So my word to one and all is the words of my granny—- When it comes to Mr. Camping and his ilk— don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out. You shouldn’t go Camping on May 21
P.S. We need to pray for all those poor gullible souls who have managed to ruin their lives, and will discover they have done so, on May 22, by following Camping’s advice. Many apparently have sold their property etc.