Monday, May 16, 2011

The Rapture is Coming?!

The billboards have been around for a while - but the non-stop media coverage as the (supposed) impending date for The Rapture approaches has made Harold Camping (and his Family Radio "ministry") impossible to ignore.

Let me start with a couple of quick statements in case you don't want to read the whole article (and I know that there are some of you out there):
  1. He's wrong. (Seriously, the guy is more than a couple of bricks short of a full load, theologically speaking.)
  2. However the world ends, it won't be on a timetable that we can consult.

With those things out of the way, I want to suggest that those of you who are interested in a detailed look at Harold Camping, his heretical (meaning unbiblical) teachings & his predictions can check out Alpha & Omega Ministries excellent collection of links & resources on the subject.

Harold Camping has done this before, by the way... back in 1994, he predicted that the Rapture would occur in, well, 1994. Since it didn't, he monkeyed with his theology to come up with the May 21, 2011 date - based primarily on interpreting the Bible as one giant allegorical puzzle.

I don't want to get into the details of Camping's prediction - they're the usual mess of numerology, Scripture-twisting & outright nonsense. (And, if you're so inclined, the website referenced above can break it down for you.) Nor do I want to deal (right now) with his other heretical teachings: the rejection of the church, the Trinity & the reality of hell.

Instead, I'll like to excerpt a bit from an excellent article by Dr. David Reagan on the Lamb & Lion Ministries website entitled "Harold Camping: The Madness of Date-Setting."

The Ultimate Challenge

All date-setters have to deal with Matthew 24:36 where Jesus, speaking of His return, said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

Camping dismisses this statement as being no longer true. He says it all changed in September of 1994 when the Holy Spirit began to be poured out and new revelations concerning the end times began to be given to true believers. He argues this is in fulfillment of a promise given in Ecclesiastes 8:5 where it states that "a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure."

Once again, Camping just fishes around for some words to substantiate an unrelated point. Ecclesiastes 8:5 is specifically talking about being obedient to political leaders. It says that a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure to obey a royal command. The fact that it is so specific is the reason that Camping only quotes the last half of the verse.

Camping also quotes Daniel 12:4 & 9. These verses state that certain end time prophecies will not be understood until the time comes for them to be fulfilled. This is certainly true with regard to prophecies that depend upon historical developments (like the re-establishment of Israel). The verses also relate to prophecies that rely on modern technology (like the whole world looking upon the dead bodies of the two witnesses in Jerusalem). But these verses certainly do not apply to Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:36 where He stated without reservation that no one can know the date of His return.

Camping also points to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 which says that the Lord will return "like a thief in the night," but not as such for "brethren" who are "sons of light and sons of day." Camping argues that these verses mean that true believers can know the date of the Lord's return. But that is not the meaning of this passage. Instead, it simply means that believers can know the season of the Lord's return (and not the date) because we have been given signs to watch for.

Camping is not the first to play this number/Scripture manipulation game - I remember well Edgar Whisenant & his book "88 Reasons the Rapture Will Occur in 1988." (I worked at a Christian bookstore that year & we actually got cussed out by a lady who was angry that we weren't carrying the book - she accused my manager of "having the blood of the unsaved on his hands" for not warning them about the Rapture... that never happened.) For another perspective on this year from an author I respect, read Jason Boyett's op-ed piece in the Washington Post, "Harold Camping & the apocalypse of my youth."

Sadly, he won't be the last. We want so badly to know what's going to happen - to feel like we have a handle on things & events. What we really want (if we're wise enough & honest enough to admit to ourselves) is to "be like God." The quote, btw, is from the advice of a certain silver-tongued serpent in Genesis 3:4-5... and we all remember how well that turned out.

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