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Does the Bible say the world will end in 2012?

Biblical Prediction of the World's End

A number of Protestant sects have focused on the imminent second coming of Jesus as a key part of their doctrine. In the 19th century, groups known as dispensationalists put forth the theory that Christ's arrival would be preceded by a "tribulation." Wars, famines, epidemics and earthquakes would be the fate of anyone not transported away in the "rapture" that would come just before the havoc. These predictions drew on verses from the Book of Revelation, the Old Testament and other biblical sources [source: Luo].

The tribulation and the second coming have always remained just around the corner, but some Evangelical preachers have suggested that 2012 may be the time when they finally arrive. Others have drawn on the methods put forth in the best-selling 1997 book "The Bible Code" to determine that news of 2012 is contained in the scriptures in the form of a cipher [source: Parkview Baptist Church].

There is a long history of predicting the exact date of the apocalypse based on biblical interpretation. In the 1840s, upstate New York farmer William Miller kicked off an end-of-the-world movement by calculating that the final day would arrive on October 22, 1844. Thousands of people prepared for the end, only to experience "The Great Disappointment" on October 23. The Seventh Day Adventist Church is an offshoot of Miller's movement [source: White].

The Jehovah's Witnesses, founded in the 1870s, adopted a belief that the end would come in 1914. An Adventist prophet declared that February 6, 1925, would be the date. Evangelist Hal Lindsey's 1970 bestseller "The Late, Great Planet Earth" saw the end coming before 1988. Television and radio preacher Harold Camping predicted the curtain would drop May 21, 2011. He gave a revised version of the prophesy a few days later [source: Daily Record].

In the next section, we'll look at the mainstream view of the 2012 predictions.