Monday, June 13, 2011

Harold Camping Had A Stroke


Harold Camping is an old man. As of this writing he is a few months short of his ninetieth birthday.

Harold Camping has been the subject of quite a few of my recent blogposts. He is famous for predicting the date of the rapture. First, he said that it might be in 1994. It wasn’t. Then told us that the Bible “guaranteed” that the rapture would happen on May 21, 2011. He was wrong again. Now he says that the rapture and the end of the world will both occur on October 21, 2011.

He will be wrong again, and he will be wrong for the same reasons that he was wrong twice before.

There will be no rapture. Ever. The doctrine of the rapture is based on a convoluted and de-contextualized reading of a few verses of the Bible. It was not what the writers of Scripture intended. It is not a part of the historic Christian faith.

The world will not end on October 21 because Harold Camping reads the Bible in strange, idiosyncratic and nonsensical ways.

I have said that when Harold Camping’s 1994 prediction fell through, he set the date for 2011, never expecting to live to see the day. It was a joke about Camping’s age. It was not a funny joke.

I give Harold Camping this much credit. I believe that he is sincere. He is wrong, but he is not lying. I do not think that Camping is fraudulent, venal or crass. He is just mistaken.

He also has talents for persuasion and publicity. He managed to get his bizarre biblical interpretation widely known.

The news yesterday announced that Harold Camping has had a stroke. His speech is affected. Somehow I feel badly about that. Maybe it is because I made fun of his age. Maybe it’s because I owe a sudden spike in this blog’s popularity to my posts about Camping. Maybe it’s just because he is a fellow, flawed human being whom God loves.

I hope that no one is listening to Harold Camping’s goofy teachings about the Bible and the end of the world anymore. I also hope--no, I pray--for Harold Camping’s recovery.

 A CBS News story about Camping's stroke, and the source of the photograph accompanying this post can be found here.

Contemplating Camping's mortality, and my own, puts me in mind of Psalm 103:14-18, quoted from the New Revised Standard Version:

The Lord knows how we were made;
     he remembers that we are dust.
As for mortals, their days are like grass;
     they flourish like a flower of the field;
     for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
        and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
     on those who fear him,
     and his righteousness to children's children,
      to those who keep his covenant
          and remember to do his commandments.

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