The Rev. Schuyler Rhodes, pastor of Temple United Methodist Church in San Francisco, has the first and last word in a United Methodist News Service story about the beginning of the end-of-the-world, purported to be taking place this weekend.
UMNS reporter Heather Hahn interviewed Rhodes for a comprehensive story on the subject, which incorporates some tongue-in-cheek humor along with thoughtful analysis.
Some Christians believe that the Rapture will occur at 6 p.m. (local time) on Saturday, May 21, and that a momentous earthquake on the same date will launch five months of death and chaos, to culminate in the end of the world on October 21.
"I don't have anyone in my congregation who has taken it particularly seriously," Rhodes says in the story, "And people who are biblically serious wouldn't take it seriously."
He goes on to point to Jesus' words in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32: "But nobody knows when the day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows."
The designation of May 21 as Judgment Day comes from Harold Camping, co-founder and president of the Oakland-based Family Radio network, which owns more than 150 stations in the United States, including 11 in California. Camping graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1942 with a degree in civil engineering and bases his end-of-the-world prediction on mathematical calculations based on biblical dates.
According to Camping, other Scripture shows that End Times information eventually would be revealed to true believers. He claims "God began to open the true believers' understanding of the timeline of history" around 35 years ago.
But, "The end will come when it comes – in God's time, not ours," Rhodes says. "We believe that Christ is risen and Christ will come again. We're called in this time in between to be faithful to God's word and build communities of hope and healing."