Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Its the end of the world, again

In my last rant I mocked Harold Camping saying he was wrong. I still think he is now, but this time I found another series of "logical" steps he takes to conclude that May 21, 2011 is going to be the end of the world. Lets have a look:
  1. Jesus died on the cross on April 1, 33 AD
  2. There are 1,978 years from April 1, 33 AD to April 1 2011
  3. The number of days in 1,978 years is 722 449.072 (assuming a solar year is 356.2422 days)
  4. The number of days between April 1 and May 21 is 51
  5. 722449 + 51 = 722 500
  6. Also (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722 500
  7. Based on some biblical numerology the above formula means (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven) squared
Again, this is all so clear and convincing! There are 722 500 days since Jesus died on the cross, and that number can also be made by multiplying 5 by 10 by 17, twice. Again, I am not making these logical steps up.

First off I am not sure about April 1, 33 being the day Jesus died, just Monday a new story came out arguing for April 3rd. I haven't really looked into it (this was interesting), and even scholars seem to vary between the year 30 and 36 based on  a host of assumptions, such as: what eclipse is mention in Mat 27:45 and Mark 15:33 (Cassiodorus mentions a possible eclipse on in 31 AD); when John the Baptist was executed (some say it was around 35 AD as he was criticising a marriage that took place in the same year); and even the age of Jesus when he died (Irenaeus argued that he was over 40 when he was crucified based off John 8:57). Now I don't know how much weight each point has, but lets just assume Camping is right. After all if he is out by one day his maths formula doesn't work out (see the next point).

Secondly when I worked out the date difference between April 1, 33 and May 21, 2011 I got 722 501 days. That's right, his numbering system is out by a day! It seems there are 50 days, not 51 days between April 1 and May 21 in any calendar year (work it out yourself). But lets move on.

Thirdly, Biblical numerology is made up. I'm sorry, but the numbers in the Bible can not be added up, multiplied or squared to prove your point. Besides, no one can agree on what each number "really" means. This site says the number 5, 10 and 17 means Grace; Testimony (or Law and responsibility) and Victory. Another site says 5, 10 and 17 means GraceCompleteness and Perfection of spiritual order. I actually couldn't find one number system that has five equalling atonement, which is kind of the thing that (possibly/maybe) took place on April 1, 33 AD and is the basis of Camping's magical number. Also why square a number? There is nothing I could quickly find about the importance of squaring some combination of numbers.

Biblical numerology is for hacks who do not understand the basic context of a passages. I have done a few Bible subjects and intro the Bible subjects and not one has ever taught these strange and subject numerical ideas.When Don Carson gave a 14 part series on the whole overview of the Bible he never mentioned what each number means according to some Biblical formula because they are not important and are completely subjective. It is important to read the Bible like all forms of writing in the genre it was made for, eg when David picked up five stones, I do not think it is a symbol of grace or atonement. I think it means David picked up five stones, nothing more, nothing less (that actually is an example from Graeme Goldsworthy's book Gospel and Kingdom teaching people how to read Bible passages in context of their story).

I think Camping is forcing the numbers to say what he wants them to say. Kinda what he has done with the Bible. I don't understand why someone needs to do all sorts of mathematical equations to work out when Jesus will return. All you have to do is read some pretty clear passages. Jesus said concerning his return:
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Mat 24:36
But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:32-33)

I think that is pretty clear. No one knows when Jesus is coming back. There isn't a clause that if you do some flaky maths, you might be able to predict it. Jesus Himself said he doesn't know. And maybe while I'm in this mood, perhaps people who are into predicting when Jesus is coming back again and who also say they trust the Bible should have a quick look over 1 Timothy:

As I [Paul] urged you [Timothy] when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Tim 1:3-7)

I worry about all the people who have bought into Camping's confident assertion which he knows nothing about that promote speculations and vain discussions (not to mention leading people astray and wasting their money). At the moment eBible Fellowship, We Can Know, The Latter Rain, and Camping's family radio station seem pretty keen on pushing his ideas. I'm hoping these groups are not very big. I think they need to start reading their Bibles for themselves (hows that for a radically reformed suggestion?).

Anyway, I think I have spent enough time on Camping.

1 comment:

  1. On the date of the Crucifixion the ESV Study Guide has posted this article.