Strike Three and You’re Out
You may have heard that last week Harold Camping apologized for setting dates for the rapture. His bizarre application of civil engineer math geekiness to biblical hermeneutics misleads him to believe he could calculate the date of the rapture and the final judgment (See Robert Godfrey’s posts on Camping parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). Strike one was back in 1994—No rapture. Camping discovers his miscalculation, and revises his date to May 21, 2011, which is also to kick off five months of judgment apparently in the form of rolling earthquakes that were to begin at a certain time of day all around the globe. Perhaps you noticed the billboards in some parts of the country, but most of you will recall the media attention given to it in the weeks leading up to Camping’s second date. May 21, 2011 comes and goes: strike two! Upon this failure, he claims that the rapture really did happen, but it was a spiritual rapture, and that a spiritual judgment has begun which will culminate in the complete end of the world all at once on October 21, 2011. Nothing. Strike three and you’re out, Harold Camping! In the stressful aftermath of this publicly humiliating fiasco, which brought much grief, consternation, and in some parts of the world, persecution, Camping suffers a stroke, and he is removed from regular broadcasting on Family Radio. I don’t know if the strike was brought on by the stress of the events, but a stroke he suffered, nonetheless.
Now that he’s had time to recover, this past week, Camping posts a letter on the Family Radio website apologizing for his “sin” of setting dates (read the letter here). In some ways it is an impressive statement. I was particularly moved to see his state in no uncertain terms that those of us who harped on Jesus’ words that “no man will know the day or hour” were right, and that he was wrong:
…we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.
But this candid concession and apology was not good enough for Dan Elmendorf, former Family Radio broadcaster and now founder of Redeemer Broadcasting. In his weekly program, “A Plain Answer,” Elmendorf reminds us that the sin of date-setting was the least of Camping’s doctrinal problems. Absent from Camping’s open letter is any expression of repentance for having called on Christians to leave organized churches in which the gospel is preached and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are administered under the oversight by elders with the authority of exercising church discipline on members whose lives are persistently refusing to conform to a biblical standard of holiness and obedience to Scripture. Apparently, Camping still believes, and would have his listeners believe, that “the church age has ended.” So, it’s not that Camping has repented of the more heretical nature of his controversial “ministry.” I recommend that you listen to Elmendorf’s program, the first segment of which addresses Camping’s “weak apology.” The host shares some insight and experience which you can’t get from the Associated Press stories.
The Schuller’s Take Their Ball and Leave
In another recent instance of heresy in the headlines, it is reported that the entire family of positive-thinking televangelist, Robert Schuller, are leaving Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The 85 year-old Schuller, having retired from weekly “ministry” in 2009, was succeeded by his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman. According to the LA Times, Coleman announced this past Sunday that she will leave the Crystal Cathedral to start a new church citing a “hostile working environment” stemming from a growing divide between the Schuller family and the Crystal Cathedral’s board of directors. Robert Schuller and his wife applaud Coleman’s decision, but announce they will not be joining her at her new church, and that their plans for weekly worship are not yet finally decided. They will not, however, have any further public association with the work of the Crystal Cathedral and it’s broadcast The Hour of Power, started by Robert Schuller back in 1970. It seems that all positive (as opposed to “good”) things must come to an end. In my humble opinion, this end has been long overdue.
So it has been ten days since Harold Camping’s prediction failed to come to pass as “guaranteed” by himself, rather than the Bible (as he falsely claimed). In the wake of this failure, many people around the world are left in various states of loss. For some, it is a loss of pets who were euthanized in preparation of last Saturday; for others, the loss of money; and for many more, the loss of pride in their teacher’s genius and their own “inside scoop” about the end of the world.
There are various ways people respond to anti-climactic events such as this one: some may (please grant it, Lord!) repent of their blasphemous repudiation that the institutional church is under Satan’s control (Matthew 12:31) and resubmit themselves to the ministry of the Word of the gospel preached and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper along with the oversight of biblically faithful elders who are watching out for the souls of those entrusted to their care (Hebrews 13:17). This is the ideal result, but may sadly be the minority report barring the grace and mercy of God, and the loving care of the Christians around them who come along side them to help in this matter. If you are a believer who reads Scripture and confesses the essential truths of the faith along with the rest of the universal church as expressed in the ancient catholic creeds and the historic Protestant confessions, please stand by ready to pray for and with these imperiled souls, graciously ready to assist those around you who were victimized by Camping’s false teachings.
It has been reported, regrettably, that for others, deliverance didn’t come, but their own deaths, whether at their own hands, or the hands of others (don’t neglect to read these two previous links!). Responsibility for tragic unintended consequences such as these have been denied by Harold Camping, who minimizes his role (listen to his callous responses from last week’s press conference).
Whatever the circumstances in the lives of Camping’s followers, it would behoove all of the surviving ones to take a half an hour and give a thoughtful listen to Redeemer Broadcasting’s recent episode of A Plain Answer, entitled, “One Week After Harold Camping’s May 21 Date.” Those of you who ought to be watching for opportunities to minister to Camping’s bewildered followers will also be equipped by it. If nothing else, encourage them to stop listening to Family Radio altogether and seek the greener pastures of Redeemer Broadcasting. This page will explain why.
“The online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries” has posted a good survey of Monday’s press conference on Harold Camping’s hopefully final episode of Open Forum. Short of apologizing and repenting of his errors, it seems Camping may at least spare us of five more months of hand wringing about the supposed judgment to come on October 21, 2011.
I haven’t listened to the entire program personally, but what little I have heard leads me to conclude that Camping’s bottom line is that he wasn’t wrong about something happening on May 21, 2011, but that he forgot to interpret it spiritually. You can download the Open Forum press conference here, however, and listen for yourself.
A “spiritual” rapture and five “spiritual” months of “spiritual” rolling earthquakes?
Camping also continues to insist that God is still to destroy the world by fire in five months. So, perhaps he’s made a note to himself to more quickly announce that if the world isn’t destroyed by fire in October, then he has a handy out that God…”spiritually” destroyed the earth by fire? Uh huh.
Apprising Ministries’ Ken Silva fills in a few more blanks:
It seems, rather than humbly admitting his error, Camping now speculates he “misinterpreted the Bible” and rather than May 21st beginning “the end of the world” supposedly we’re to believe that it was actually “the spiritual beginning of the physical end” not too unlike the eschatology of the non-Christian cult of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Camping is quoted as dreaming:
“Were not changing a date at all; we’re just learning that we have to be a little more spiritual about this,” he said in a rambling 90-minute radio broadcast that was part sermon, part press conference. “But on Oct. 21, the world will be destroyed. It won’t be five months of destruction. It will come at once.” (Online source)
Sort of reminds one of the Pathological Liar, an old SNL character of Jon Lovitz, “this isn’t changing a date…um, I’ve had a new revelation from God—yeah, that’s the ticket—er, an invisible thing happened, see. So, you can’t say I’m wrong; trust me, yeah, it happened. Really, it did.” Cabanatuan continues:
The good news, for those dreading five more months of talk about the rapture, is that Family Radio will be taking down its billboards, ceasing distribution of Bible tracts and literature about Judgment Day and focusing its programming on religious music and God’s word, not on a countdown to the end.
“We don’t need to talk about it anymore,” Camping said. “The world has been warned – my it has been warned. We have done our share and the media picked it up. The world has been warned that it is under judgment.” (Online source)
Yes, it has; in Scripture, and now we’re in the position of having to warn the world about false prophets like Harold Camping, whom the Lord did not send, that are in reality prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds (Jeremiah 14:14) and are not repentant for the damage they cause . . . . (read more)
(05-22) 19:18 PDT ALAMEDA – The man who said the world was going to end appeared at his front door in Alameda a day later, very much alive but not so well.”It has been a really tough weekend,” said Harold Camping, the 89-year-old fundamentalist radio preacher who convinced hundreds of his followers that the rapture would occur on Saturday at6 p.m.
Massive earthquakes would strike, he said. Believers would ascend to heaven and the rest would be left to wander a godforsaken planet until Oct. 21, when Camping promised a fiery end to the world.But today, almost 18 hours after he thought he’d be in Heaven, there was Camping, “flabbergasted” inAlameda, wearing tan slacks, a tucked-in polo shirt and a light jacket.
Birds chirped. A gentle breeze blew. Across the street, neighbors focused on their yard work and the latest neighborhood gossip.
“I’m looking for answers,” Camping said, adding that meant frequent prayer and consultations with friends. ”But now I have nothing else to say,” he said, closing the door to his home. “I’ll be back to work Monday and will say more then.”
Camping’s followers will surely be listening. Read more