What follows is a sampling of predictions concerning the end of the world. Most circulated widely and reflect either the rise of a movement or its demise. This second section covers 1843 to 2011 and was drawn from a class called “Ten Issues: Rapture” that was conducted in July 2016 at Trinity Cathedral in San Jose, Ca.
- William Miller, founder of an end-times movement called Millerism, determined that Christ would return between 1843 and 1844. A spectacular meteor shower in 1833 brought credibility; many prepared for the end.
- Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon movement, claimed a voice told him that he would not reach the age of 85 before either the millennium or the second coming occurred. That date was 1891, but he died in 1844.
- Ellen White, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventists, made several predictions about the end of the world. On June 27, 1850, she claimed that an angel told her that only a few months remain before Christ’s return.
- Charles Taze Russell, founder the Jehovah’s Witnesses, asserted that the second coming would happen in 1910 and the end of the world in 1914. His movement extended the date to: 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, and 1994.
- Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, forecasted that the end of the world would happen in the year 1936. When it did not materialize, he changed the date to a new “estimate” of 1975.
- Some Christian teachers viewed World War II as a beginning of the end, and the actions of the allies afterwards convinced many people of its possibility, as well as the horrific treatment of the Jews in Germany and Russia.
- The founding of Israel as a state led several to believe that this was the final event before the second coming, since evangelical churches taught that Jesus would not return until such actions occurred in Jerusalem.
- The Israeli army captured Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, and again conservative Christians interpreted this as proof that the end was near, since temple sacrifice needed to be restored before the second advent.
- Hal Lindsey stated in “Late Great Planet Earth” that the end would come forty years after Israel became a nation, 1948+40=1988. He later altered the date after the Six-Day War; the new prediction was 1967+40=2007.
- Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Cost Mesa, Ca, and founder of over 600 churches nationwide, predicted that the rapture would take place in 1981. When it failed to transpire he redated it to December 31, 1981.
- Pat Robertson predicted in 1976 that the world would end in October or November 1982; that was the date for Armageddon. He announced it on the 700 Club, and personally guaranteed that global judgment is near.
- Lester Sumrall (1913-1996), a prominent Pentecostal who some call “the father of Christian television,” predicted the end of the world in his book, “I Predict 1985,” that with revisions was reissued later as “I Predict 2000.”
- Edgar C. Whisenant, a NASA engineer and TBN programmer, wrote, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988”; it sold 4.5 million copies. When forecasts failed, he predicted its certainty in 1989, 1993, and 1994.
- Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins wrote “Left Behind,” a series in twelve volumes that sold over sixty-five million copies. LaHaye stated that Y2K would trigger global economic chaos allowing the rise of the antichrist.
- Harold Camping, radio broadcaster, claimed that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011; the ensuing five months would see fire, brimstone, and plagues with millions dying daily; this was his fourth failed prediction.