Bible Study Won't Reveal Judgment Day Date, Says Theologian

Ask Family Radio spokesman Anthony Hernandez how Christians can find the same evidence Family Radio founder Harold Camping found linking the rapture to May 21, 2011, and he'll tell you to search the scriptures. But is that kind of information really found in the Bible? A Fuller Theological Seminary professor says no.

"There are certain things about the faith that are really hidden behind the veil and belong there," said Clay Schmit, professor of preaching at Fuller. "For us to seek after those things is to use the Bible in a way that is wrong."

Humans have a natural desire, dating to back to Eve, to get the "inside scoop" on God's word, Schmit said. However, those who use the Bible to support theories, equations or concepts that are not plainly found in the text, are going beyond the purpose of scriptures.

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"As Christian believers, our call is to look to scriptures to inform us how to draw near to God and to develop good relationships with our neighbors and our families," said Schmit. "The Bible is very clear about those things"

These principles are purposely straightforward so that we can immediately understand its meaning and apply them to our lives, he emphasized.

Parables, or stories with spiritual messages, can have slightly obscure lessons. Jesus used parables, to reach people with different levels of spiritual understanding and give them "glimpses of heaven," according to the Fuller professor.

While the Bible does offer readers glimpses of the divine, he said God keeps many things secret. And there is no amount of searching or studying that can uncover those secrets.

Camping, a self-taught Bible scholar, has told followers that they can know the date of the second coming of Christ. His May 21, 6 p.m. prediction is based on his own interpretation of numbers stemming from biblical metaphors and events such as the flood in Noah's time.

His followers confirm Camping's prediction as the product of intense Bible study.

Hernandez, a frequent speaker on Family Radio's Echoes program, said of rapture revelations, "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."

Schmit disagrees.

"When we pursue the Bible for insights on things that are beyond us, that really only God can know, we are really stepping beyond the purpose of the Bible and we are really doing more than what we ought not to be doing."

So how are Christians supposed to read the Bible?

We should study the Bible "through faith," allowing God to teach and reach us, not the other way around.

Most of the world has now passed the predicted date and time of rapture. And so far, there have been no reports of earthquakes or tombs opening and Christians being swept up as Camping predicted. The only regions yet to greet 6 p.m. are the mountain states and the West Coast.

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