Every religion reporter has considered it –either seriously or in jest – at one point in their careers. No matter how difficult it is to get on Page 1, we on the God beat know we have a shot on Judgment Day.
That front page headline could come as soon as next week, according to a California Christian radio host who has predicted Jesus will return on May 21. Not only has Harold Camping, president of the Family Radio Network, preached his prediction on radio waves. A caravan of RVs hit the road to spread the word as well.
But don’t stop the presses just yet. Mainstream Christian scholars have denounced the prediction as contrary to Scripture. They say Jesus himself said no man will know the day or the hour.
In fact, there have been a few false alarms leading up to the latest forecast:
• William Miller predicted Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, then revised his prediction, claiming to have miscalculated Scripture, to October 22, 1844. Many people gave away all their worldly possessions, which resulted in a Great Disappointment.
• In 1992, a Korean group called "Mission for the Coming Days" predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the Rapture.
• On an episode of The Simpsons titled “Thank God, It’s Doomsday,” Homer Simpson incorrectly predicts the Rapture and ends up being the only person taken up.
False alarms aside, some people sincerely believe Harold Camping’s prophecy. So just in case, here’s a glossary of apocalyptic parlance to avoid confusion when or if the events do transpire.
End Times: In Christianity, a time of tribulation that precedes the Second Coming.
Second Coming: The arrival of Christ to judge the living and the dead.
Rapture: The action in which Christians will become spiritual beings and will be ‘caught up’ to meet Christ in the air at his Second Coming.
Tribulation: A brief window of time (six months according to Camping) when anyone who chose not to follow God and got left behind in the Rapture will face, disasters, famine, war, pain and suffering.
Final Judgment: The final and eternal judgment by God that takes place after the Second Coming and Tribulation.
Armageddon: The final battle between the Christ and the Anti-Christ in the New Testament believed to happen during the End Times.
Judgment Day: Always requires some clarification. Some use this term to refer to the Second Coming. Some use it to describe the Final Judgment.
Doomsday: Again, always requires some clarification. The term has been used to describe all of the above.
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