Thursday May 12 2011
Is Jesus returning May 21?
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
Not likely, say Roseville pastors
No doubt you’ve seen the warnings on billboards alongside freeways announcing that Jesus will return to Earth May 21 for the Rapture. Some of those billboard messages even go so far as to “guarantee” the second coming of Jesus when he will save a select group of Christians during Judgment Day and leave other people behind to face the end of the world, which has been identified as Oct. 21. The 89-year-old Harold Camping, president of Family Radio in Oakland, predicted both dates. “He made the same prediction for Sept. 6 1994,” said Pastor Chuck Wysong, of Bayside West Community Church in Roseville. “He gathered people into a church, they were all dressed up, and the day came and went.” After re-crunching some numbers, Camping calculated a new date, which is quickly approaching. The billboards have been stirring up questions among Christians and non-Christians alike. Wysong attempted to address these concerns during a recent service, where he responded to inquiries from parishioners as part of the church’s “God, I Have a Question” series. “The hype is going to get more intense and it’s starting to freak people out,” Wysong said. He said Camping and his supporters are part of what he calls the “Doomsday Movement.” And recent occurrences such as the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, floods in the Midwest and deadly tornadoes in the southern United States have only fueled this movement. “Whenever there is a war, earthquake, national disaster, the doomsdayers say this is when the Lord will return,” Wysong said. “This causes one of two extremes — a fanatical interest in the teaching of prophecy and the other extreme is people get tired and don’t really care anymore.” The Bible tells of the beginning of time and the end of times, when Jesus will claim his followers for all eternity. There are roughly 300 references to Christ’s return in the New Testament, Wysong said. But for Christians, the question is when? The Gospel According to Matthew chapter 24, verse 36 reads: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” The Rock of Roseville will not address the May 21 claims during church services, said pastoral assistant Lydia Birks. “We believe that no man knows the time or the hour when Jesus will return,” Birks said. “That is what the Bible says in Matthew 24:36. Our senior pastor tends not to address things of this nature as they really deserve no attention or merit since this preacher’s proclamation is simply unbiblical.” Abundant Life Fellowship executive pastor Mark Holliday agrees. “Our perspective is the Bible is very clear that no man knows the time or hour,” Holliday said. “Everyone should be living their lives (as if) at any time Jesus can return. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more intrigue. Maybe people know better.” Wysong says doomsdayers who purport to know the date of Jesus’ return are claiming to be God. The Bible says this event will be marked with famine, wars and earthquakes, so they look for any kind of sign and then sound the alarm, he said. “This isn’t anything new,” Wysong said. “People have been making predictions since the Lord left the planet. The second coming is all about hope and God making what was wrong now right. It brings peace. It’s not conjuring up fear and hopelessness for people. I don’t believe that’s what God’s teaching in the Bible.” Some accuse Camping of fear mongering to scare people into following him or to take advantage of them — there have been stories of elderly people selling their homes and giving them his life savings to promote his agenda. “If May 22 comes, which I think it will, I’m going to go by one of those billboards and take a picture next to it,” Wysong said. Sena Christian can be reached at email@example.com.