Posted by: Philip Rushton | April 11, 2011

Why The World is Probably Not Going to End on May 21st

Apparently we only have 40 days left! I’m not kidding. There is a current prediction that Christ is going to return on May 21st 2011. If you head on over to, you can get all kinds of information about how this date has determined. Better yet, you can give them money and buy bumper stickers and billboards to spread the cause.

Or not.

A couple months ago I made quick mention of this movement on the blog, but I did not give it much consideration. I assumed it was just a silly internet theory without much influence. However, this thing has become much bigger than I thought it would. When I was up in Canada I discovered a huge billboard saying “Save the Date: Christ is returning on May 21st.” The Daily News reported the story of a woman in Longview who painted her Toyota Prius with the same slogan. My brother in New York told me that his friend is convinced he is going to be raptured on May 21. This weekend the prediction got some air time at the North West Ministry conference in Seattle by one of the worship leaders. It appears that this movement has gained a lot more ground than I thought it would.

Before we go and spend 5000 dollars getting a professional paint job on our car, perhaps we should pause and actually consider the arguments behind this movement.

The whole movement is built on the premise that we can know the day and hour of Christ’s return. So the first big question we must ask is how they can make this claim in light of Jesus statement in Matthew 24:36? Here Jesus says, “no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Their attempts to get around this text are not successful. It is pretty hard to argue with a direct quote from Jesus, especially when this point is affirmed over and over in the Bible (see 1 Thess 5:2, Lk 12:40, 2 Pe 3:10, Rev 3:3, 16:15). The main argument is that since Noah knew about the impending flood, or the Wise Men knew when Jesus was born, it is in the nature of God to reveal his timing. However, just because God revealed his specific plans in one setting, does not mean he will in another.

They also take texts like Ecclesiastes 6:5 where it says “the wise man will know the proper time and way” and somehow argue that this proves we can know the day of Christ’s return. Unfortunately this text has nothing to do with Christ’s return. The writer of Ecclesiastes is talking about how it is wise to know how and when to submit to ones king.

The other major problem with this prediction is that it is based on questionable historical dating. Those behind the theory believe they know the exact day of creation (11013 B.C.) and the exact day of the flood (4991 B.C), and precede to use these dates as starting points for calculating the end. I must have missed that day at seminary when these precise days were revealed! There is obviously no consensus on these dates. Clearly any attempt to draw out specific time lines from scripture must be tentative due to the loose chronology used in the formulation of genealogies. Genealogies often just show highlights, they do not give detailed time lines.

The most ridiculous argument is how they come up with the May 21st date. They take the statement in Genesis where God told Noah that the world would be destroyed in 7 days, and then take the statement in 2 Peter 3 where it says a day is like a thousand years to God, and combine them to say that God will destroy the world in 7000 years. Since we know that the flood was in 4991, the world will be destroyed 7000 years later, which brings us to 2011. They do some weird number crunching so it adds up exactly to May 21st. The problem is that there is nothing in scripture that leads us to combine Peter’s statement, “a day is as a thousand years,” with Noah’s statement that the flood would begin in 7 days. This argument also fails to recognize that when God was talking to Noah he was referencing the flood not the second coming of Christ. This is simply an extra-biblical mathematical argument.

It might be wise for those at the website to consider the consequences of false predictions. What are people going to do on May 22nd if (more likely when) these predictions do not come true. What is that poor lady with the painted Prius going to drive? Those who have bought into this false teaching will no doubt face distrust and disillusionment with the church. Or maybe they’ll just start a new denomination. This was the ironic starting point of the Seventh Day Adventist movement. When Ellen White’s prophecies failed they banded together to start a new denomination.

Let’s not forget that we’ve been through this many times before. There have been over 40 failed predictions in the history of the church! For an interesting history of failed predictions check out

This whole fiasco has caused me to rethink how we talk about eschatology. My goal in some of the upcoming posts is to look more closely at what we really believe about the end and how it can inform our current spiritual journey. What I will say at this point is that the purpose of eschatology is not to get tied up in predictions and doomsday theories. When the end is discussed in scripture it is usually done to encourage and promote discipleship in the present. When Paul writes the Thessalonians, he reminds them that the day and hour of the end is unknown (1 Thess 5). He suggests to the church that our understanding of the end should encourage us to live faithfully and hopefully in the present.


  1. Let’s do lunch on the 22nd.

  2. I’m in Gil!

  3. I was glad to find this site that puts that verse out there, when I was reading about may 21st, I noticed that they don’t even mention that scripture of no man knows the day or the hour. Its very sad that people like to get people all worked up and then that cause people to not believe in God. I of course can not wait for Jesus to come and believe that I will see heaven, but I don’t not believe the day can be predicted. Thanx for this article!

  4. The world isn’t gonna end on May 21st. And you know I’m disgusted seeing those signs around EVEN Around my own neighborhood today when I was at McDonalds. Harold Cramping or whoever his last name is IS A CULT Leader and a Con-artist trying to scare people into giving away all their money believing the doom is coming. BUT IT says in the BIble No man can predict the end of the world only GOD knows and I believe in the lord as I pray to him even wishing each time on 11:11 to protect the creatures and beings of this world so we can live our lives to the fullest. I am not gonna die at the age of 22 you hear me.

  5. Thanks. Reading this makes me feel better I guess.

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