It’s the end of the world as we know it?

Published 9:59 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Mainstream and social media sites alike have been abuzz this week over the well-publicized prophecy that the end of the world will come at 6 p.m. today.

The idea, which takes its root in the theories of Harold Camping, has grown legs thanks to the efforts of Robert Fitzpatrick, who penned the book “The Doomsday Code.”

Fitzpatrick, a retired New York City Mass Transit Authority employee, has reportedly furthered his message of late by sinking the entirety of his savings in a $140,000 advertising campaign within the city.

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The prognostications have garnered celebration from some and skepticisim from most, prompting rapture parties at the most and snarky Tweets and status updates at the least.

Even with the evidence Fitzpatrick and Camping offer to support their theory, most theologists and preachers have a difficult time getting past some very obvious obstacles.

“Jesus said in chapter 24 of Matthew that nobody knows (when the world will end). Even he doesn’t know,” J.D. Barnes, rector of the Trinity Episcopal Church, said. “Only the Father knows. I guess maybe somebody could guess right at some point in time.”

Carl Jenkins, preacher at the church of Christ at Canal Heights, approaches the proposition from a similar stance but also digs a little more deeply at the core of the theory.

“I guess Jesus could come back (Saturday). The guy could have made a lucky guess,” Jenkins said. “Of course, Jesus makes it pretty clear that no man can know the day or the hour. This guy claims to know both. He says that Jesus will come back at 6 p.m. in every time zone. I guess that means God can only destroy the world one time zone at a time.”

Fitzpatrick’s theory is predicated on the idea that he has surmised an accurate date for the creation account in Genesis as well as the arrival of the flood that first destroyed the world.

“He claims to know exactly how long ago the Genesis creation account was,” Jenkins said. “He claims that in the last days, God will reveal these things in the last days. So he is also claiming to be a modern day prophet.”

Camping and Fitzpatrick are not the first and ó assuming they are wrong ó likely will not be the last to attempt to pinpoint an apocalyptic date. Jenkins offers that such instances are a result of disparity between the way man sees time and the way God sees time.

“The Bible talks about those that are going to watch and wait and try to guess when it is going to be,” Jenkins said.

“People feel like, since it has been 2,000 years since Jesus’ first coming, it should be past time for his second coming. We can’t know for sure, but many scholars believe there were about 4,000 years between God’s promise to Abraham and Jesus’ first coming. So 2,000 years really isn’t all that much by comparison. It is very unlike humans to keep promises over that amount of time. But with God, it is different.”

Barnes, Jenkins and other dissenters of Fitzpatrick’s doomsday theory also walk a similar line in regard to how they advise others to apporach notions about the end of the world as both point toward preparation over prognostication.

“We need to live every day of our lives like it is going to be our last day,” Barnes said. “What if it ends today? We need to live every day the right way, not bide our time.”