As the world inches closer to the end, as Harold Camper's followers believe, many Christians have wondered what could make a man so certain that he knows the exact date of the end of the world. Part of that answer might rely in Camping's unique "engineering" approach to the Bible.
Camping, a trained engineer who started his own construction company as a young man, has claimed that he came up with his end of the world dates through rigorous mathematic calculations based on various numbers and "codes" in the Bible.
In order to come up with his first rapture date (in 1992, Camping claimed the world would end in 1994), Camping used an elaborate calculation involving the day Jesus supposedly hung on the cross, the number of days in the solar year, and other symbolic numbers to derive his end of the world dates, The Christian Post reported on May 21 this year, the second predicted date of Camping's end of world scenario.
This strict, numerological approach to reading the Bible evolved as Camping became more religious while in his 30's. According to New York magazine, Camping had already amassed a small fortune at the age of 35 through his construction company and began devoting more and more time to reading the Bible, studying it for eight or more hours a day, as he searched for its hidden codes.
"He approached the Bible as an engineer, like it was one massive equation that needed to be worked [out]," says Dr. Robert Godfrey, the president of Westminster Seminary in Southern California, who became a Christian as a teenager in the sixties attending the Bible classes Camping had volunteered to teach every Sunday night, NY magazine reported.
Clay Schmit, professor of preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, said that intense approach is not necessarily conducive to understanding the meaning of the Bible.
"The numbers in the Scripture are there simply to help us understand who God is and what God's story is in relation to us," Schmit told CP. "There is nothing special about those numbers that give us any special clues to the faith or any special privilege as regards to spiritual life. They are simply part of the narrative."
Although Christians hold conflicting views about how the world will come to an end, the accepted theological view is that the Bible does not offer clues as to the exact day or date of Jesus Christ's return, as Camping continues to purport.