(Photo: AP Images / Maura Lynch)
A Family Radio spokesman affirmed with The Christian Post that the May 21 rapture is "guaranteed" and said the date of end of the world was revealed through Bible study and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Anthony Hernandez, a frequent speaker on Family Radio's Echoes program, teaches on subjects such as "Being Warned of Things Not Yet Seen" and "The Time is at Hand." Like many of Harold Camping's followers, he is preparing himself and others for May 21, the day Camping says will mark the second coming of Christ.
Despite scriptures such as those in Matthew 24:36, which says, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only," Hernandez insisted that Christians can know date of judgment day though Bible study and the Holy Spirit's guidance.
"It's a convenient excuse if you just read 'No one knows the day or the hour' and in other places where it says 'He is coming like a thief in the night,' [and then say] 'OK, alright, I don't have to look at this,'" said Hernandez.
Instead, he said what those scriptures are really saying is that no man knows the hour unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to him or her.
"In Corinthians, God further elaborates saying, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things, yes it's [the knowledge of the end times] for the child of God, but it's for God the Holy Spirit, in His time, to choose to begin revealing these things and the way it's revealed is through His word," Hernandez told The Christian Post.
Biblical responses such as those in Matthew and Acts are really a "test," he added, and the true children of God should feel compelled to seek out the truth about the end times.
However, studied theologians are not buying this argument.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wrote Tuesday that Camping's prophecy seems to label only himself and those who affirm his teaching as true believers.
Camping, 89, said of the rapture in a May 11 interview with New York magazine, "The Bible has every word in the original language – it was written by God. Incidentally, no churches believe that at all, they don't hold the Bible in the high respect that it ought to be."
He went on to say, "When we get to May 21 on the calendar in any city or country in the world, and the clock says about – this is based on other verses in the Bible – when the clock says about 6 p.m., there's going to be this tremendous earthquake that's going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison. And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun."
Camping further believes that the world will be completely destroyed on October 21.
Mohler noted that Christians are right to look for Christ's return. However, he said they "are not to draw a line in history and set a date."
"We are to be about the Father's business, sharing the Gospel and living faithful Christian lives," said Mohler, a Southern Baptist and influential evangelical.
According to Hernandez, Family Radio is faithfully sharing the Gospel overseas and across all 50 states ahead of Saturday. Family Radio's Project Caravan has employed four buses to spread the Gospel across the United States by this Friday. Project Jonah is sending volunteers around the world to witness to people about the second coming of Christ in "hard-to- reach" places.
Hernandez said of Family Radio's evangelizing efforts, "I look at this the same way that God sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh. He said, 'go to Nineveh, tell them in 40 days they are going to be destroyed."
The only difference between Jonah's message and Camping's, Hernandez said, is "whereas He did not destroy that city. This is guaranteed that He's going to destroy this world."
Jason Boyett, the Christian author of books Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and O Me of Little Faith, warned that preaching the Gospel to the back drop of Camping's prophecy is bound to create real victims.
Boyett wrote in The Washington Post's On Faith page, "Camping's faith will survive the impending disappointment, as will his ministry and radio empire. He'll make excuses and set another date. I don't worry about him; I worry about his followers and their families."
Boyett shared his experience as an eighth grader living though Edgar C. Whisenant's prediction that 1988 would be the year of the rapture. His pastor – and consequently he himself – took the prediction seriously.
"When Jesus didn't come back in 1988, I was relieved, but I also lost a piece of my faith. Belief became harder for me," he shared.
Camping also made a previous judgment day prediction, saying there was a very high likelihood that the world would end in 1994. Despite the failed prediction, several still sold their homes, quit their jobs and spent their savings in anticipation of May 21, 2011.
NPR recently reported that one of Camping's followers, 27-year-old Adrienne Martinez, and her husband, Joel, quit their jobs and moved to a rented home in Orlando where they passed out tracts. The couple told the radio program that they are spending the last of their savings because they did not see a need to hold on to one more dollar.
"We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won't have anything left," said Adrienne.
Hernandez said many of his friends are also letting go their earthly possessions in time for May 21.
"In my view that's a good thing," he remarked. "I'm in agreement. I believe with all my heart that this is the end so I don't see anything wrong with that."
Though he is in agreement with the Saturday prophecy, Hernandez has opted to use up his vacation hours rather than quit his job. Additionally, he and his wife are continuing to pay their bills.
While his wife is supportive of the prophecy, she is "not in a hundred percent agreement," Hernandez said.
Because of his wife's doubt, he said, "I totally relate to anybody who has a hard time understanding it or have doubts." He added, "My encouragement is pray for wisdom and search God's word."