Local ministers have faith in Bible, not human predictions

Published 5:19 pm Thursday, May 19, 2011

It was announced and heavily advertised by a loosely organized Christian group that the world will be coming to an end this Saturday, May 21 at 6 p.m. in each time zone across the world.

Harold Camping, an 89-year old retired civil engineer from Oakland, Calif., and the founder of independent ministry Family Radio Worldwide has predicted that The Rapture — the return of Christ to bring those faithful to him into paradise prior to a period of trials on earth that precede the end of time — will take place this Saturday.

Camping says his belief is based on hidden mathematical formulas found in the Bible.

A little closer to home, local ministers aren’t exactly buying Camping’s prediction, math or not.

“Unless this guy is God, don’t put stock in it,” said Jim Shannon, pastor of Lime Springs United Methodist Church. “First off, when we say ‘end of the world,’ that’s not exactly true. The Bible tells use that there are seven years of tribulation, and then the millennium before it.”

Kenny Martin, youth pastor at West End Baptist, echoed Shannon’s sentiments.

“I think it’s very crazy,” said Martin. “People have said the world is going to end for years, but no one’s [been right] yet. No man knows [when the end times are]. It says in Matthew 24:36 that Jesus doesn’t even know, only God.”

Martin stressed that Christians should rely on scripture, not other people for when Christ will come.

“The Bible’s never been wrong,” Martin said. “I’d rather go with what’s batting a thousand. I guess that’s the Chilton County way of saying ‘God’s never missed one.'”

Jake McCall, pastor of Grace Fellowship, said God’s word is clearly revealed in the Bible and doesn’t require long formulas to interpret.

“Harold Camping of Family Radio has an engineering background and has always had a fascination with the numbers of the Bible. He has spent much of his life trying to use numbering systems throughout the Bible to predict the end of the world. He has come up with a number of predictions, including a published book declaring that the world would end in 1994,” McCall said. “The things in Scripture that God has chosen to reveal have been clearly revealed in Scripture alone, not through unlocking hidden codes or numbers.”

Shannon said he felt Camping’s statements might hurt how others view Christianity.

“It definitely hurts. The true church of Christ should try to stick to [what] scripture [says],” he said. “The world sees him as a representative and it hurts us. It makes us a laughing stock.”

The ministers all agree that while Camping is off base, they do encourage people to be prepared for Christ’s return.

“I am quick to agree that it is very easy to get caught up in end times theology and teaching. It’s interesting and certainly captivating,” said McCall. “Here is what I suggest should be our focus in regards to the end of the world: Know and trust that Christ is coming back. When He returns, He will either be your Savior or your judge.”