The Trouble with People Like Harold Camping

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Over the past few days, Harold Camping’s “ministry” has gotten quite a bit of press.  Probably the most frustrating and sad part of the whole business is the fact that people without the ability to discern have literally emptied out their bank and retirement accounts, turning all of it over the Camping.

One couple quit their jobs, moved to Florida, rented a home and stand on the street corner giving out tracts.  Another man in New York emptied out his retirement account of over $140,000 and sent it on to Camping.

That’s on the “religious” side of things.  On the anti-religious side, commonly referred to as atheism, they’re having a field day with this and who can blame them?  Plans for all day Rapture parties have taken front row.  One man has started an insurance business to take care of pets of those people who were taken in the Rapture.

So what will happen when this day passes with no sign of the predicted worldwide earthquake and judgment that Camping heralded for months?  Laughter.  Atheists shaking their heads.  Scoffers.  Naysayers.

As for me, I do not blame them one bit.  It bothers me greatly that anyone can deign to do what Scripture says is a complete waste of time by attempting to predict something that only God the Father knows about.  While some may say, “Well, if it helps someone come to terms with the realization that their days are literally numbered, then it’s been good.”  The problem though is that this may in fact wind up being a catalyst for people to become even more convinced that the Bible lacks veracity.

After all, Harold Camping has not only said “The Lord is going to return,” but he has placed a date on it.  Moreover, he has said that the “Bible guarantees it!”  What does that mean except that from his study, he has been able to determine that the Bible says that today – May 21st – is the end of days?  When it does not happen, then people will naturally say, “See?  I told you the Bible is full of nothing.”

While many will simply shake their heads at Camping and use this as confirmation that he is truly a loon, it may still confirm to them that the Bible cannot be trusted.  This is sad considering it is not the Bible that cannot be trusted, but people like Harold Camping.

Camping is 89 and has stated that he will be watching TV today to watch the events unfold.  I have spent the last several days telling all of my atheist/agnostic and nominal Christian friends that Camping is dead wrong; that the Bible says nothing of the sort that he has predicted.  I have told them about what Jesus Himself said about the fact that HE did not know the day or hour (in His humanity).  I have also tried to do damage control by negating Camping’s reasoning and excuses for why he believes today is the day.

Camping’s shoddy treatment of Scripture has him winding throughout the Bible from Daniel to Revelation, to Matthew to 1 Peter and elsewhere in his vain attempts to prove that the Bible says that May 21, 2011 is the day the world ends.  It is sad.  It is tragic and I am angry.

I am angry that the Bible is so mishandled by someone who so cavalierly misinterprets then misrepresents God’s Word as he has done.  I made a prediction yesterday that by today, there would be at least three earthquakes that would measure over 5.0 on the scale.  As I look at the US Geological site now (11:12am), I see that SIX have occurred so far, with one of them at 5.9 on the scale and not one of them has even been close to the United States.

What does this mean?  Is the world going to end?  No, it simply means that six earthquakes have happened.  While I believe those and all other recent earthquakes are part of the birth pangs that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 (the Olivet Discourse), Camping has stated that the earthquake of Revelation 16 is the one that is going to happen today.

Ever since I sensed that God was leading me to study and teach His Word, I have felt a greater sense of responsibility to ensure that what I teach is what God’s Word says.  If I cannot do that, then I had better make sure that I preface my statements with “in my opinion.”  By not doing so, I am claiming to speak for God and if I am wrong, I deserve death.

That may sound too intense for some, but the truth of the matter is this:  if the Lord ever sees me going off on some deep end, or tangent, then I pray He removes me from this earth because I am bringing dishonor to His Name, and His Word.

The tremendous responsibility that everyone who teaches God’s Word has to make sure to the best of their ability and with all humility that what they teach is inline with God’s Word cannot be understated.

In 1994, Harold Camping made a failed prediction that Jesus would return then.  Over time, he realized that he was wrong and he said it was his math that created the problem.  As I looked over his current math problem that brought him to today’s date, I realized his math was still wrong and I’m not a math wizard either.

I am serious when I say that I pray God would take me from this earth and home to Him if I deign to make ridiculous statements concerning His Word that have absolutely no basis in Scriptural fact.  I think the same should happen to Harold Camping.  That may sound extremely arrogant, but I am only saying what I think should happen.  I’m not God and I do not deign to believe that He would override His will for mine.  The idea that someone can continue to misuse God’s Word and gain financially from it is unconscionable.

I frankly do not know if Harold Camping is an authentic Christian or not.  I know that he believes salvation is by faith and not works.  For that I’m glad and I truly hope and pray that the man knows the Lord.  I would like to be confident in that area, but again, it’s not my business to know.  It is between him and the Lord.

Nonetheless, from a human perspective, what good is Harold Camping doing?  None that I can see, but admittedly, I cannot see that far.  All I know is the fallout from this can be turned to good if God chooses to turn it to good.  At the same time, it may well cause those who marginally doubt His Word to doubt it further.

The tremendous responsibility that Camping has taken on his shoulders is awesome and to be wrong about it makes it that much worse.  Those of us who understand the problem have that much more damage control to do, through prayer, through evangelizing the lost, and through the quality of our lives.

I am praying that God will circumvent the problems that are being caused by Harold Camping’s failed prediction.  I pray that this will not forever cause those who doubt Him to continue to doubting.  I pray that at worst, this situation will be used to allow authentic Christians to enter into dialogue with those outside of the true Church so that they can know and understand that this failed prediction is just that – a failed prediction by a guy who does not understand the interpretive process used in determining the truth of God’s Word.

The fact is that it’s not even that difficult once the proper hermeneutic is in place.  Once we understand the importance of context, when the text is presented as metaphors and when it is literal in meaning, God’s Word begins to open up to us.

Lord God, please do not allow this man to destroy the growing faith in some and do not allow him to chase people away from you.  I pray Father that if it is your will, you would pull this man out of this life so that he can no longer create unnecessary controversies around your Word.  However, I ask for your will only.  Barring his removal from this life, I pray that you would soften his heart to realize that he was wrong.  Give him the grace to admit it and further, cause him to return money to people who gave everything they had because they foolishly believed this man’s faulty interpretation of your Word.

I praise your Name above all names.  Be glorified in and through this terrible situation where your Word has been lowered into a confusing morass of stupidity.  Protect those who will one day turn to you to receive your salvation.  I pray that the enemy of our souls will not be able to use this situation to his advantage.

Folks, I am praying that God’s perfect will in this situation be done so that He and He alone receives glory, honor, and praise.  Will you join me in that prayer?

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By Fred DeRuvo

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