Family Radio host Harold Camping has predicted that the end of the world will be on Oct. 21, 2011. Despite being wrong on numerous occasions, he is nevertheless sure that this time he is right.
Still, what if this time Camping really is right? He has seemingly become "the boy who cried wolf," but if this time he is correct, just what would we do?
Would this be an occasion for preparations or the gathering of belongings? And just what would we gather, and what would we prepare?
Following Camping's May 21 doomsday deadline, National Public Radio spoke to a board member of Camping's Family Stations Inc., who spoke of many believers who left their jobs and their families, and gave their savings to Family Radio.
Considering that we were about to face the end of time, would anyone else really be in need of our financial holdings? And let us say that there are some who would, just what would they spend it on?
Concerning families, would we actually abandon them? Would we actually take up and leave them behind, as though we were certain that the place to which we were headed, they would certainly be unable to follow?
And in terms of leaving our jobs, would that really be necessary? It is entirely within the realm of possibility that our place of employment would have already left us.
Camping has also envisioned an end of time, where, accordingly:
"We must believe that probably there will be no pain suffered by anyone because of their rebellion against God. This is very comforting to all of us, because we all have children, and have loved ones that are dear to us that we know are not saved, and yet we know that they'll quietly die. We can be more and more sure that they will quietly die and that will be the end of their story."
Does the thought that we will encounter "no pain" ease, perhaps, previously held anxieties concerning being visited by unimaginable violence? And based on this realization, are we now more comfortable with the prospect of facing our day of our reckoning?
Christians have frequently given thought to the notion of the end of time, and over the centuries the nature of such an event has become limited only to the extent of our imaginations or, perhaps, our biblical interpretations. Still, as some leading Christian authorities have insisted, there is no end of time, at least not in the way it is being fashioned by the Family Radio host.
The idea that the world will not end is one that many Christians have always understood. In fact, many Christians have always recited it, as Dr. John Noe, author and theologian, who has appeared on CNN's Larry King with Harold Camping, has pointed out.
In an introduction to his book, The Perfect Ending for the World, Noe speaks of the Gloria Patri, the familiar church doxology, or short hymn, that reads: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end."