They say he has done this before. I would not know because, until I moved to New York four years ago, I had never heard of him. (Just as a matter of trivia, he IS NOT the guy who wrote 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988. That was Edgar C. Whisenant who died in 2001 if Wikipedia knows anything.)
Are people taking Camping's prediction seriously? Well, I walked into Kohl's or Target or some place and I saw a big black pick-up truck in the parking lot and on the back window was a huge decal that read: "The Rapture Will Take Place on May 21, 2011" or something like that.
I also notice, by my estimation, that they are talking about it more than usual on their broadcasts. In fact I happened upon one of their programs in which the speaker, not Harold Camping, was explaining in great detail all of the mathmatical calculations that have led them to their claim. Who knew you had to be a math scholar to get to heaven?
So, it dawned on me the other day what a bitter-sweet experience it would be if the Rapture really did take place on May 21, 2011. Normally, as Christians, we declare that we are ready and waiting in great anticipation for the Rapture. I grew up in a church that wholeheartedly sang the old hymn, Our Lord's Return to Earth that said:
I am watching for the coming of the glad millennial day,
When our blessèd Lord shall come and catch His waiting bride away.
Oh! my heart is filled with rapture as I labor, watch, and pray,
For our Lord is coming back to earth again.
But last week it dawned on me that, if the Rapture were to take place on May 21, 2011, the first reality we would have to deal with in heaven would be the truth that Harold Camping was right! Imagine that on your first day in heaven!
Now, just in case you thought Harold was just a regular gospel preacher--think again! His view of salvation is heretical. Paraphrasing his doctrine of salvation:
Believing is a work. Since we cannot save ourselves by our works, belieiving will not help. All we can do then is hope, hope, hope that God, in His mercy, will save us.
So, what will Harold tell us on May 22, 2011 if the Rapture does not take place? I predict that he will claim revelation from God that the time was extended due to His mercy, or maybe the 2nd function button was stuck on their calculator the day they were figuring out their theory.