History has recorded horrible repercussions that came and continue to come as a result of people who ignore the Word of God and think of themselves so highly they can set the date Christ is to return to this Earth. The problem is that like any sin, once it is committed, and the world can verify the person is a false prophet, the false prophets compound the problem by retreating to the world of mysticism and innuendo to justify their position. The result has been the formation of several cults (Religious organizations that call themselves Christian but reject Biblical teaching as part of their basic tenants) and pseudo-Christian denominations that are used by the devil to create broader avenues to eternal destruction of the adherents.
Scripture is very clear about setting dates for the Return of Christ, and the Disciples were told very clearly that they were not to attempt to do it either, because not even Christ was given the date. Here are the verses that are ignored to set a date.
Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
After saying that the false prophet is to suffer capitol punishment, it says:
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Date setter Christopher Columbus. Columbus wrote a book called The Book of Prophecies in which he predicted the world would end in 1656. This was the year number of the Flood after the Creation. The reasoning was that after Christ's coming, God would give the world the same amount of time before the final judgment. Columbus felt it was imperative that the world be reached with the Gospel before Christ returned and set up his Messianic Kingdom.
Date-setter and farmer William Miller of New York. As a new Christian, he decided in 1818 that Christ would return in 1842 to 1844. Later he became a preacher (self-taught without necessary discipleship and training) and made this the keynote of his sermons. He was eloquent and earnest and found an ever enlarging audience. In 1839 there was a financial panic that caused even more to believe the world was coming to an end. Prophetic charts were often added to stock market reports in Newspapers as the countdown to the end came closer. The whole concept became known as Millerism. Between March of 1842 and 1843 was the year in which Christ was to come. However, nothing happened. Miller was very disappointed and decided he had miscalculated. He set a new date of October 22, 1844 as the actual date. As the date neared, farmers did not bother to harvest their crops. Others quit their jobs and sold their things and gave the money away. Finally the day arrived and fear and foreboding swept across New England. Churches were filled for the great event as well as mountaintops. The day passed and many became disillusioned. The Day is remembered in History as the “Great Disappointment.” Millerites did not learn their lesson, but continued to set dates, and began the Advent Church in 1845 of which Miller was the president.
Date Setter Francis Nichol made the Millerite date an invisible event of Christ’s movement in Heaven! He was a Seventh Day Adventist editor of their publication Midnight Cry. Hiram Edson expanded on this concept claiming to see visions of it. Ellen White also saw visions of it and added the requirement of Sabbath observance from Friday evening to sundown on Saturday. These demented folks who based their doctrine on lying visions and the work of false prophet date setters officially organized in 1863 as the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The perversions simply proliferated from these original founders to reject many foundational teachings of Scripture and replace them with teachings from lying visions and much distortion.
Date Setter Charles Russell felt he alone could interpret Scripture and invented quite a few totally unbiblical interpretations. In the process he set several dates. One was that Christ’s presence on Earth began in the fall of 1874. But he only came to the upper air. This was when a 40 year harvest period began. Then in 1914 the end of Gentile times would come and the 144,000 saints who would be kings and priests in heaven would all have been sealed. When the world did not end, it was taught that those that are saved after this date belong to the servants of the great company. The great company is those who will rule on Earth under the 144,000. After Charles Russell died, an industry lawyer named Joseph Franklin Rutherford took the presidency of the Watchtower Society. He was the one who had the group named Jehovah Witnesses. This group has predicted that the world would end in 1914, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, and more recently, 1975. When the earlier dates passed with the world not ending, they decided that human history actually began when Eve was created! Another new teaching is that before the world will end in the Battle of Armageddon, first the 144,000 anointed class from 1914 must die off. The illegal dealings of Russell and this group are well documented and should be sufficient alone to prove this group is not of God, nor does the teaching come from people who are of God.
Date Setter Harold Camping claimed the Lord would return on September 6, 1994. Of course nothing happened. This self-taught church layman has spread false teaching for many years on his radio stations. He sounds very pious and sincere and looks up the verses on the air to talk about them. But being of a Reformed theology, he was taught to spiritualize Biblical statements and look for mysterious interpretations to understand Scripture. His interpretation is “private” and so contrary to II Peter 1:20 in that only Harold Camping can arrive at the strange ideas he teaches. When the date arrived there was no contrition or repentance for publicly proving himself to be a false prophet. Instead he changed his teaching and now teaches we are in the Tribulation and all Christians must not attend any organized churches, further moving into perdition and away from very clear Biblical teaching that states the complete opposite. He has now started his own cult of followers. What will they be called? Campites?
M. Fackler, edited by J.D. Douglas, Philip Wesley Comfort and Donald Mitchell, Who's Who in Christian History (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997, c1992). Miller, William
John H. Gerstner, The Theology of Major Sects republished by Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Swindoll leadership library (Nashville: Word Publishers, 2000, c1998). Second Coming.
A. Culver Gordon, Westminster Theological Journal (Westminster Theological Seminary, 1945; 2005). Vol. 8 Nu. 2 p. 219.
Edmund C. Gruss, Cults and the Occult in the Age of Aquarius, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1974.
Anthony A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Erdmanns Publishing Company, 1963.
George Thomas Kurian, Nelson's New Christian Dictionary : The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs., 2001). Seventh Day Adventists
Bob Larson, Larson's Book of Cults. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House publishers, 1982.
Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1977.
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). October 22.
Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations (Garland TX: Bible Communications, 1996, c1979). 5473
Sharon Whitley via email on May 19, 2011, pointing out that Harold Camping did not have a Presbyterian background as we stated twice, but instead a Christian Reformed one. She also mentioned that he was not part of any religeous group and in fact tells his followers to not attend church, as was alluded to in the above article.