A group of ministries combining to set up a website called wecanknow.com are coming out with a series of billboards claiming that the Rapture will occur May 21st, next year. You can find the story on the news, and their long and involved story is explained in their sister site, Latter Rain. Now, many people, as they admit, will bring up Matt. 24:36 to dispute this:
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Other well thought out sites will, as I found, debate how Jesus- and by implication, the Holy Spirit- could possibly be ignorant of this when He and the Father (and the Spirit) are one. This is sideways to the discussion I'm working on, so I'll briefly point out three things.
1. Jesus may well have been speaking as a human being, and not as the Divine Word. His human body, no matter the soul filling it, was created at some point, and the inclusion of the Angels in the clueless implies that the ban on knowledge extended to all created beings.
2. Jesus often mentioned the Father and Son relationship without the Spirit; perhaps He includes the person of the Spirit in the concept of the Father.
3. We are talking about God the Eternal here, and not a concept easily grasped then or now. What is impossible for man is possible for God.
Anyhow, that isn't how this group defends its ability to know. Rather, it takes an uncommon interpretation of verses like I Thess. 5:2-4:
2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
3While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;
And thus saying that while the majority of mankind will be caught sleeping, the brethren (believers) would not be, because they were given the ability, as the day approaches, to figure the day out from clues in the scriptures.
Having looked at their site, I'd have to say that they do a really good job of figuring a Biblical timeline of what HAS happened. The only hole in their logic there that I saw is that they date creation from the moment of Adam's creation (which they figure a day for based on when God set the Jewish calendar from the time of the Exodus) and not from the Universe's creation, which by even their own standards could through all their calculations off anywhere from 5 days to 5,000 years. (Not to mention that Genesis gives you NO basis on figuring how long the world had been around PRIOR to God saying, "Let there be light!" ) Based on what is said on the Latter Rain site, they admit that a difference of only a few days would cause all their calculations to come crashing down; thus this point alone would be enough to derail them.
However, I believe that their real problem is that Paul's admonition in Thessalonians and the admonitions of Jesus that it echoes is merely saying, stay alert! Live your life as if the day is coming tomorrow. It does not break the clear teaching of Jesus that NO CREATED BEING is going to be able to calculate a future date, even with the complex, Dan Brown-like numerology that this group uses not only to call the Rapture on May of 2011, but the destruction of the earth just 5 months later. Thus, though I highly recommend the way that they built their timeline, even with its one big wart, I'd have to say (kindly) that their date prediction is based on a horribly flawed premise, and (bluntly) it is this kind of crazy crap that gives the followers of Christ a bad name. And with the nutjob in Florida, the Waynesboro "baptist church", and the flaws that even the best of us all have, We really don't need to further alienate with stupidity the people we are commissioned to draw to God with the Truth.
Moral of the story: Whether it is this group's "Judgement day is May 21, 2011" or the atheist's "you KNOW it's a myth" campaign, BE SMART- DON'T GET YOUR THEOLOGY FROM A BILLBOARD. Do you believe an ad just because it's on a billboard?