Newswise — Jesus told his followers that no one knows the time of his return.
But that hasn’t stopped folks from putting it on their calendars ever since, said Dr. Doug Weaver, associate professor of religion at Baylor University.
The latest one who claims to have pinned down the date is Christian radio host Harold Camping of Family Radio network, who is traveling the country with followers in recreational vehicles, telling people that Judgment Day will be May 21.
Fascination with the end of the world has spawned “a cottage industry,” including books and movies, Weaver said.
When natural disasters abound, or when the financial picture is particularly bleak, forecasts of the Rapture are more likely to surface, he said.
One of the most determined predictors of the end was 19th-century preacher William Miller in the 1840s. When his first prediction failed to come true, he recalculated, but again to no avail.
Camping also has made previous predictions unsuccessfully.
Forecasters often turn to the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation for clues as to the end times, Weaver said. Weaver is co-editor of the book The Acts of the Apostles: Four Centuries of Baptist Interpretation.