See Part II: The Critique
by Christopher J Gordon- Lynden, WA
It was December, 999 AD, and a great panic was spreading throughout Europe that the end of the world was less than a month away. Predictions of the end had surfaced throughout the first millennium, but as the sun went down New Year’s Eve, the millennial frenzy reached new heights. Possessions were given to the churches, debts were forgiven, prisoners freed, merchants refused payments for goods, and the churches swarmed with people confessing their sins. Many of the sick begged to be placed outdoors to see Christ’s descent from heaven. Pope Sylvester II held a mid-night mass at St. Peter’s in Rome, the supposed last one ever to occur on earth, and in the moments before midnight, as the church bells sounded, enemies embraced each other with the kiss of peace. As the moments into the new millennium transpired, nothing happened. The aftermath left behind a wake of disillusionment, especially when churches refused to return people’s possessions.
Wild eschatological interpretations and predictions of Christ’s return have always been a problem since Christ’s first coming—this is nothing new. But we seem to be living in a time when the consciousness of the end of the world not only grips the community of faith, but also the world at large. Political and economic chaos characterizes news reports. In the last ten years, a powerful earthquake has struck each year killing thousands, the most recent in Japan leaving us in horror as we watch the footage. On people’s minds is the question as to whether these things mark the end of the world. We are told the Mayan Calendar itself predicts a 2012 apocalypse; and Hollywood, capitalizing on this fear, recently debuted “2012”, a movie depicting the awful destruction to be unleashed at the end of the world.
I live in the town of Lynden, WA. On many of the major roadways, even into Vancouver, B.C., are signs and billboards warning that Judgment Day will happen on May 21, 2011. This prediction is made by Harold Camping, the co-founder of Family Radio, Inc. My initial response was to laugh off the prediction in astonishment, not only because the Bible condemns such predictions, but because Camping already did this, and got it wrong. Who would possibly believe him? But after receiving mailings in support of Camping’s prediction that went out to every home in Lynden, and knowing the fearful response of many Christians, a response is warranted.