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May 21, 2011: An Apocalyptic Minstrel Show

Updated on June 25, 2014
No one knows about that day or
hour, not even the angels in 
heaven, nor the Son, but only
the Father.
    ~Jesus of Nazareth~

Harold Camping, 2011
Harold Camping, 2011

Judgment Day

Have you heard the stunning news? The end is near—AGAIN.

There’s no mistake or shadowy interpretation this time. Take care of earthly business, make amends, and do what must be done to fix all relational troubles and be at peace with everyone.

Don’t be caught unprepared and unaware. Get all bags and baggage ready because the date is set, and for this go-around we have an ironclad pledge that every nitty-gritty particular can be found in ancient texts.

Ah-huh—and I’m next in line to be King of England or the Pope, whichever office comes open first. Please forgive my skepticism, but we’ve been here before and unfortunately, unless human nature is magically and radically altered, we’ll revisit this territory repeatedly in the future.

The current theological silly season is being fueled by Harold Camping, the eighty-nine year old president of Family Radio, which is a religious broadcasting network based in California. It has more than 150 outlets scattered across the United States along with a website, which means the tidings are being widely dispersed.

Evidently Camping and Company has the inside scoop on what goes on in the heavenlies. According to them the end is fast approaching—their bold prediction is posted on Judgment Day billboards around the world with the slogan, The Bible Guarantees It.

There’s also the freakish scene of the apocalypse as a traveling minstrel show—a caravan of RVs touring the United States carrying followers of Harold Camping. The vehicles are decked out in decorative lettering proclaiming that Judgment Day begins on May, 21, 2011.

At each stop along the journey, the teams disembark to distribute tracts detailing the secret knowledge they possess. Here are the specifics of the hidden Bible calendar that Camping has unearthed and polished up: The Rapture—in which believers in Jesus Christ will be instantly transported to heaven—will occur on May 21, 2011. The estimate is that 200 million people will disappear from planet earth on that fateful day.

However, that cataclysmic event is not the conclusion of matters. Camping states that May 21, 2011 will merely be “the first day of the Day of Judgment”.

The actual end of the world will occur on October 21, 2011—and remember to take heart, have courage, be filled with overwhelming sorrow, or collapse in convulsions of laughter because according to the mathematical interpretations of his prophetic utterances, the Bible guarantees it.

Ah-huh—pardon me while I adjust the antennae inside my head. I thought I had it tuned into spiritual matters and the stuff of eternity, but apparently I’m not picking up all the stations anymore. I was a johnny-come-lately to this headline news—it came to me courtesy of Brother Camping’s Traveling Minstrel Show.

We’ve been here before, and most certainly, we’ll be here again.

People Are People

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles over a period of forty days, speaking to them about the kingdom of God. We can only imagine the depths he delved into or the startling insights he shared.

At the end of their time together, Jesus gathered them on the Mount of Olives, which was less than a mile from Jerusalem. His disciples were anxious and excited about the happenings.

They couldn’t get a handle on the subtle nuance of his teachings—just like moderns they wanted a physical manifestation of spiritual truth. The waiting and faith issues were things to be wrestled with, but while they had Jesus with them they wanted direct answers, so they asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus didn’t coddle them—neither did he pull any punches. He spoke with succinct clarity, telling them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After that, those men who’d left everything to follow Jesus of Nazareth were eyewitnesses to a miraculous wonder. Their Master, who they’d traveled and lived with for three years, ascended to heaven. While they watched—mouths gaped wide open and eyes bugged out—Christ was taken up, and engulfed by a cloud.

As they stood there staring intently at the sky, a pair of white-clad men were suddenly beside them. These supernatural visitors had a challenge and information for them: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

After that, the apostles returned to Jerusalem and settled into the upper room in the house where they were staying. What salted their conversations as they walked along together—how long did it take before they engaged in speculation about the future events they’d been told about?

For me, here’s where discernment kicks in: I seriously doubt that those first disciples even made it back to the city before a quiet dialog took place. It started out with a tentative query, and then, built itself into the problematic eschatological quagmires humans frequently find themselves slogging through.

“When did Jesus say he was coming back?”

“He didn’t. He said our Father in heaven has the date set.”

“Yeah, but it’ll be soon, right?”

“Of course. The angels said we’d see him, didn’t they?”

“That’s right. . .I think.”

“So when’s he returning?”

“Next week maybe—it won’t be long now.”

By the time they were ready for bed that evening there was likely factions within the group so fascinated by the mystery and determined to unravel every aspect of it in terms that could be easily understood that they were projecting possible scenarios for it all to transpire.

These imaginings of mine hold credence because in this we see flesh and blood fallibility being true to itself. People are people—our motivations and inclinations remain unchanged from the dawn of time.

Throughout the centuries since Jesus ascended to heaven there have been segments in the worldwide body of Christ who’ve been obsessed with end times. Their misdirected passion can be contagious, cantankerous, and cancerous. In their compulsive enthusiasms, dates have been set with absolute finality, only to pass with nothing of significance taking place. Each dismal failure is a stain and stench on God’s Word, and the cause of Christ.

We’ve been here before, and most certainly, will be here again.

Deceived & Deluded

This latest traveling minstrel show isn’t Harold Camping’s first adventure of heralding the apocalypse. In his book—1994?—he wrote that there was every indication for the world to come to an end in September, 1994.

That bit of forecasting was couched in wiggle room language. He duly noted that “the possibility does exist that I could be wrong.”

Wisdom prevailed back then, but nowadays there’s only adamancy and dogma—to this point there’s been no allowance that his grasp on what God has revealed might be mistaken or misguided. Time will tell—we’ll see if there’s any hint or flash of humility WHEN there isn’t an incomprehensible population decrease on May 21, 2011.

To suggest that Harold Camping is a kook is too easy, and an unfair characterization of respectable kooks everywhere—to say that those who adhere to his teachings are Kool Aid drinkers incapable of reasoning and thinking things through for themselves misses an all too human reality.

There’s something in our DNA that demands answers to the marvels of Scripture. We want all the ambiguities too wonderful for us to know explained and done so right now, thank you very much. This taking it on faith and walking in anticipation of what God is doing in history is fine and dandy, BUT let’s get the timeline clear and straight—every single detail of it in perfect alignment.

Forget the fact that Jesus of Nazareth flat-out declared that it was not for us to know what resided within the authority and sovereignty of our Father in heaven—No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

There will always, always, always be some voice in the wilderness, some radio preacher or Internet guru proclaiming with unconditional sincerity the exact day and/or hour. We have an Enemy who has many aliases, one of which is the father of lies—though we wish it were not so, even those who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the Bible as the authority in their lives are susceptible to swallow one of his multitude fictions as pure gems of sparkling truth.

Perhaps Harold Camping and Company are well-intention, but their views and perspective are deceived and deluded. They should be pitied, with the full appreciation that except for the grace of God, each of us could succumb to the fork-tongued whispers of our Enemy, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

We’ve been here before, and most certainly, will be here again.


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    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      jami - Thank you for the up & awesome vote. Your comments are much appreciated.

    • profile image

      jami l. pereira 

      7 years ago

      Oh my ! this is awesome on so many levels ! so mnay people harbor feelings on religion and its consequences and i admire you for plunging right off in it !!! thank you for sharing ! i voted up and awesome! great work!:)

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Jachda - Thank you for stopping in & sharing thoughtful comments. Much appreciated. Blessings.

    • Jachda profile image


      7 years ago from Evansville, Indiana

      Voted Up, Useful, and Awesome. This is a very well written hub, and it needs to be said. For those who are familiar with Scripture it is obvious when date setters come and try to rouse a following by fear tactics. Those who know Scripture are not deceived. Jesus is coming again, and we need to prepare for that glorious moment, but no one knows the date or the time.

      Praise God!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Corrie - Exactly. May 21st will come & go without a glitch. I've come to the conclusion that what's been attributed to P.T. Barnum is loaded with truth: "There's a sucker born every minute."

      Thanks for stopping in & sharing.

    • Corrie Lamprecht profile image

      Corrie Lamprecht 

      7 years ago from Thailand

      See ya all on 22 May. It is just amazing what a bit of money can do; especially if it plays on people fears and want to trust prophesies. Why don't people do some proper research and investigate the claims of these "Whatever they are". I saw a man on CNN interview; he has put a 'substantial' amount of his retirement funds into this capaign. I feel pitty for the man, how foolish can humans become?

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, Jo. I'm glad you stopped in & enjoyed the visit. Yes, Jesus actually warned his disciples of that very thing. Take care. Blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you for stopping in & sharing, Bill. I appreciate your words & perspective. Blessings.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      7 years ago

      A very well written article. You and I agree. I laughed at this guy. I have heard of him before. I think it says some where in the Bible. That many will say that Jesus is here or there. And they will try to deceive. I look forward to reading more of your work. Bravo!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The more I read about HC, the more that he amazes me.In our family, father and son are spiritual, mom is the kind, God- ok yes. We are good people like many people out there. Not to much church goers. Even people we have known and are relatives- devout in their faith, would not be blessed to go to heaven if they did not follow HC and Family Radio.I realize truth can be stranger than story, so their is a chance HC is right, but still-if HC is Moses, he should state so. I pray each day for all good people, for our families and for calmness and faith.

      Peace to all

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      CMCastro - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Your visit and words of testimony are much appreciated. Blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Disappearinghead - Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

      Along with you, I find the church's fascination & obsession with eschatology to be misguided at best. You raise essential points & questions, which would be good for the fringe elements of evangelicalism to study.

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 

      7 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      I'm going to stick to believing what Jesus Christ said about it. Only the Father knows. I remember when the Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door in the year of 1978 and told us the end was near. I am a busy person, and I get up everyday the same way. I talk to the Lord and thank him for the day, ask forgiveness of my sins, seen and unseen, and I pray for my family and what Jesus has done to allow me to be His Child. It is good to get our "ark ready" for the physical disasters that may effect our environment, but the sanctuary we must get ready is within our own hearts, and if our own personal sanctuary is ready to carry God's Light, then we will be ready for when God calls is the Time for us to Go with Him or not. God's Word is Truth and I will focus on what His Word is. My best choice of Scripture is 1 John 1:5-10.

    • Disappearinghead profile image


      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      I find the whole obsession with 'end times' rather bizarre. Pre/mid/post trib' rapture? It's an unbilical doctrine dreamt up in the 19th century. Paul believed Yeshua's return and 'rapture' (another unbiblical term) would be in his lifetime. So either he was wrong (in which case his writings are not inspired on this subject) or he was right (and the Church is vainly awaiting an event that isn't going to happen).

      If one reads Jesus' end time prophesy in Matt 24 (first reading his rant at pharisees in Matt 23 as an essential preamble) whilst putting everything aside that today's Church bangs on about, one would come to the conclusion that his return happened in the late 1st or early 2nd century. All the events he prophesied came true between AD70 and AD135 when Hadrian finally destroyed Israel.

      Why does the Church somehow imagine that Daniel's 70th week is separated from the previous 69 by 2000 years?

      The vision of the rock cut from the mountain (Yeshua) establishing a kingdom that would grow continually until the whole Earth is filled with the knowledge of God, completely contradicts all the current 'end time' interpretations that are in vogue.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, Tony. Your visit & words are much appreciated. Blessings.

    • Tony L Smith profile image

      Tony L Smith 

      7 years ago from Macon

      Good one Ken, let us just get busy and occupy. Their is too much to do worrying about something thats brings fear and unreal repentance anyway

      to your victory


    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Amen, Dave. AMEN. Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Blessings.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Ken my brother: I too have been trying to smooth the waves of unrest being stirred up by those preaching "The end of the world is at hand." I cannot believe these alarmists that are going about trying to preach this gloom and doom. Even Jesus the Holy Spirit,go about their tasks in heaven, doing what they know they must do, giving little or no concern as to the date and time Jesus will return until Our Father says it is time.

      We are warned of false prophets, and thos who will come saying they are Jesus returned, but not to give heed.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      RTalloni - How true & how tragic. Thanks for the visit.

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      It's amazing to see how many will follow these kind of movements, yet reject the Word of God.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Motown2Chitown - I'm afraid, as someone once said, that common sense isn't all that common. Thank you for the up, useful, & awesome. Much appreciated. Blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Sunnie - Thank you. I appreciate the awesome, up, & your words a great deal. Blessings.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Ken, again, you said it so well! The common sense of the average believer seems to be so hard to see these days - and I feel that it's because of "leaders" like Camping. Continue to be a quiet, sane voice for the believing world, and I think we may actually be READY when our Lord does return. God bless you. Up, useful, and awesome!

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      7 years ago

      Dear Ken,

      Thank you so much..boy did this need to be said by a fellow makes us all look so foolish when these people go around predicting the end times..You are so correct..we do not know the date..that is why we should live life to the fullest.God Bless you my friend..Awesome and up!



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