How Did Harold Camping Go Wrong?
May 21st came and has gone, and all the saints are still on earth! The rapture did not take place. The Bible warns that the dates and times of his return are not revealed, yet there are those who have attempted to “predict” the return of the Lord. It amazes me how many people believed his message, sold all they had, only to be left now with nothing materially, hope lost, and faith damaged. In spite of that, Harold Camping has told his followers on Family Radio that there was a “spiritual” beginning of the end and now moved the actual date of destruction to October. What credibility does he have as a soothsayer of future predictions? Why would anyone listen to him or follow him? Is it just because he heads a Christian radio station?
I have always been skeptical of self-proclaimed “prophets” who outline “end times” theories. I remember in the ‘70’s when someone predicted Henry Kissinger to be the “antichrist” claiming that if you place the letters in his name with their numerical values, the end result added up to 666. Well, it has been decades since Henry has had major political influence, and again Christianity has looked foolish in its predictions. We have Christians who have made a mint writing dozen upon dozens of books claiming the mysteries of the book of Daniel and Revelation, outlining the course of the end times, both fictional and supposedly nonfictional. Who are you to believe?
Why the interest, the fascination? I have been taught that when I die, I will immediately be with Jesus. If that is the case, then why do I need the rapture when I know I have the assurance of being in his presence after death. “Death, where is thy sting?” I am looking forward to passing from life to death because of the assurances I have been taught about being in His Presence. I have also grown up in churches that preach that a believer can be in “His Presence” now, just through worship. Really, I guess, the focus should be on Jesus, not just on his return. The book of Revelations in some Bibles is entitled the “Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Could the book possibly be a symbolic metaphoric revelation of the person and presence of Jesus Christ, revealing who he is, his nature, not focusing on his return and end times theories. I know the last two chapters of Revelation are metaphoric reflections of all sixty-six books into one passage, reflecting who Jesus is in the entirety of the Bible, which is remarkable.
I admired Dr. Carl Zeigler, a religious professor, when I went to Elizabethtown College for being a real Biblical scholar. He was a brilliant man, yet he would not touch the book of Revelation because of its controversies. He would rather reveal Jesus Christ through the Gospels than speculate about the coming apocalypse.
Mr. Camping broke away from the body of Christ, using the airwaves to propagate his theories to the general body of Christian believers, and would not subject himself to other Christian teachers for accountability. These are all the ingredients that can lead to heresy or a cult.
Cults are not new. I remember the Children of God (http://www.thefamily.org/en/), the Forever Family (http://avehurley.wordpress.com/2007/03/10/forever-family-became-cobuthen-turned-to-a-cult/), the Moonies (http://freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/m/moonies/), etc. to my generation during my youth. I recall the Jim Jones and the People’s Temple massacres in Guiana (http://www.religioustolerance.org/dc_jones.htm). I have seen Christian leaders elevate themselves to begin to think they have an inside tract on God only to fall. The tactic that worked on Lucifer that brought his fall still is influential today. I was wondering what cults are out there today, and Camping’s teachings have been exposed, bringing tragically down many sincere Christian followers, damaging their loyalty and faith, ruining them financially.
Could this have been avoided if the Church practiced the five fold? Mr. Camping’s evangelistic and teaching zeal would have been tempered by the nurturing heart of a pastor/shepherd who would have warned him of how his actions this would damage the sheep. Even today he does not show regret to those who have been stung financially by his actions. The prophet who would have exposed his teachings for what they were, not life giving words but destructive words. A true prophet would have discerned the dark side of his teachings, exposing them while warning the saints. An apostle, or over seer, would have seen over what was happening and would have warned Camping of the results of his impending actions, but I am sure Camping would not have listened for he became his own self-proclaimed evangelist, teacher, shepherd, prophet, and apostle, and that is dangerous. No man is to take on all those passions as a self-proclaimed leader. Each of the five fold is a “body” ministry to the “body of Christ”, for the “body of Christ”, to empower the “body of Christ”, the saints, not just single, powerful leaders.
I do not see Mr. Camping willing to “lay down his life” for his brethren, for during his current press conference he showed no regret, no remorse for those stung by his false teachings and predictions. He did not expose a pastoral heart of a shepherd. I saw no remorse, not a willing spirit to admit error, only a “new” justification. I did not see a willingness to “step down” from Family Radio, but a controlling spirit to continue to use it to spread his newly justified propaganda. I am sorry, but I did not see “Jesus” through Mr. Camping at his press conference.
There will be more Camping’s in the future. How can the Church prepare, equip, prepare its saints for the “next” group of false prophets, false teachers, self-proclaimed evangelists and apostles all under the title of “pastor” or elite Church leader? That will be the topic of my next blog.