Before I launch in too deep into the murky waters that this post is sure to stir, I want to say thank you to everyone who stopped by on May 20th and 21st to read my previous post about this issue. Even moreso, I want to thank those who commented, either here or via Twitter or Facebook. Your comments are appreciated and heard.
With that in mind, let me address a couple of comments that actually spurred the initial draft of this post. Some said that I was too hard on Harold Camping in my initial post; that I disrespected someone with whom, though a brother in Christ, I vehemently disagreed. Message received.
After listening to Harold Camping – and even quoting him a few times in a dissertation – I must admit that I have never heard him teach bad soteriology. He teaches, so far as I know and have been able to discern, that salvation comes to someone through faith in the atoning work of Jesus and nothing else. That’s good solid doctrine. In Acts 16, Paul said, in response to the jailer’s question, “What must I do to be saved?”, that salvation comes about simply by “believ[ing] in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and all in your house.” That’s it. Believe in the atoning work of Jesus, understanding that there is nothing you can do to add to that to insure your salvation.
So, the original intent of this post was to clarify my position on Camping (i.e., I believe he is a Christian, even if he is horribly misguided on some issues) and to extend my condolences to him and all of his followers who find themselves in awkward situations in this uncertain time.
But then, Camping said this:
The structure of God’s timeline has not changed. No change at all. … My life and the life of many others… if we found we made a mistake we’ll correct that immediately. [May 21] was an invisible judgement day. A spiritual judgement day. But it was still a judgement day.
When we study the Bible, we don’t know everything. The Bible is very complex…. I challenge everybody, read every word and try to decide what is God saying? I don’t know if any of you have tried that…. You’ll find that you’ll read verse after verse and you’ll wonder, ‘What is God talking about?’ We have to do it. We don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time. We’re a long way toward being right. But it’s not physically at this time, it is spiritual. We have not been wrong about that at all.
And in response to the question, “how can you in good conscience say that the world will end in October on the heels of your failed prediction for May 21, 2011?”
I have never never told anybody that I’m infallible…. There isn’t any student of the Bible who can say I have never made a mistake.”
Finally, in response to the question, “Are you prepared to apologize?”, Camping gave this feeble response:
If people want me to apologize I can apologize, yes I did not have it all as I should have. I’m not a genius. I pray all the time for wisdom. When I make an error I say Yes I was wrong. It was to be understood spiritually, not physically. The world is now under judgement where it was not prior to May 21, 2011.
Before I continue, I have to address this. Outside of his error in attempting to discern a date and time that the Bible clearly teaches can not be known, what we have here is a man who is egregious in his arrogance.
Words mean something. Time and again in the past year or so, Camping has used the term “irrefutable” and “infallible” to describe the various “proofs he has found in the Bible to give the May 21 date for the Rapture. He described it as an actual physical event which would involve earthquakes and the snatching away of believers at 6:00 pm. These “facts” were irrefutable! Yet, here we are.
So, in order to preserve what precious little legitimacy his ministry has, all of a sudden we learn that May 21 was a date of spiritual judgment and October 21 is the date of the actual Rapture. <sigh> Where are the “irrefutable” and “infallible” proofs, Harold?!? The fact, remains, readers, that these “proofs” don’t exist because we are assured, in the Bible from the lips of Jesus Himself, that they can’t.
So, essentially, Harold Camping added some prophetic revelation to the Bible. Consider that in the light of these words taken from a transcript of Harold Camping’s radio call-in Q&A show. Camping responds to a caller by saying:
The minute you try to add to the Bible, from this vision or that tongue, or whatever, and one person adds this, and another one adds that, and someone else adds something else, and then attempt to interpret the Bible in the light of all this new information, you end up with a gospel that will take you almost anywhere. This is exactly what is happening today. The false gospels are going off in all directions.
Essentially, my friends, that’s what Camping did. He added. True, he claimed to have reached his conclusions via intense study of the Bible, but he added, nonetheless, and came up with – according to his definition – a false gospel.
If you’re reading this, and you are uncertain about your spiritual future, let me assure you that you don’t have to be. Yes, there will, one day, be a rapture, but you need not worry about that. The path to salvation is simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Simple. The best part is that it’s not about what you have done, are doing or will do. God doesn’t look to your actions to see if you have done enough to earn His favor. ” God loved [you] so much that He gave His only Son, so that [if you] have faith in Him [you will] have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn [you]. God sent Him to save [you]! No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned!”
And that’s a promise you can count on.
Finally, this will be my last post on this topic. It simply isn’t worth my time. I will address any questions you have (as always read and comment. It’s about community.) here or through Twitter or FB. But let my final word on Camping be this:
I do believe Camping is a Christian, but he is dispensing more false teaching than truth. Avoid him at all costs. If you have given him money, I’m sorry (though I don’t think he should refund anything. Caveat Emptor.) Find a local church that teaches truth, and don’t just be preached to. Study, and show yourself and approved student of the word. Keep away from worthless and useless talk. It only leads people farther away from God. (2 Timothy 2:15-16) Test all things and all teachers. (I Thessalonians 5:21) Camping advocates intensive study of Scripture. Do it! And stop letting him do it for you!