Sunday, October 23, 2011

Harold Camping and Family Radio: please, please, just shut up

Harold Camping — who is not a false prophet — was wrong (again) about the date of Christ's return. More fundamentally, Camping was wrong to set a date for Christ's return. Still more fundamentally, Camping was wrong to pose, in any way, as a Bible teacher. (Read an account of his sad and shameful story, starting here.)

Harold Camping has been wrong about very much for very many years, as others have documented. He was wrong about how to interpret the Bible, and wrong to reject at least an attempt at correction. But when his local church tried to step in to deal with some of his harmful teaching, he was wrong not to heed it. He was wrong to teach that the church age had ended. He was wrong to set a first date. He was wrong to set a second date. He was wrong to set a third date. He was wrong not to take any responsibility for what he'd said and done. He was wrong to refuse to take responsibility for what people had done and how they'd ruined (or ended) their lives on the basis of his false teaching.

At each and every point, Harold Camping was wrong not to take and accept responsibility, repent, and make restitution as able.

But what of Family Radio? Are they free from responsibility? Now they're saying in effect "Oopsie, well, that was disappointing, but please keep giving us money." Is that a mischaracterization? You tell me. First:
"I know that many of us are deeply disappointed that Christ did not come. And I said something like this back in May," the host said. "But please try to keep in mind that all of us who are believers, all of us who are Christians, are to live in such a way that we are to pray with the apostle John: 'Come quickly Lord Jesus.' "
"I trust that you too will pray for us often that we can minister in many ways. That God will provide wisdom to those of leadership and that we continue to minister to you, and to teach God's word daily. Please pray for us and pray about continuing to support this totally listener-sponsored Christian radio network. We have a great need for daily operating funds. Without your generous support at this time we might be forced to face some very important decisions. I trust those of you who enjoy some of our programming daily will be able to share generously in the months ahead."
"Deeply disappointed that Christ did not come," and pray "that we continue to minister to  you, and to teach God's word daily."

And please give us money.

So, "disappointed that Christ did not come" — not "horrified that for years and years we at Family Radio provided an international platform to a dangerous and obvious false teacher who, contrary to Scripture, predicted the date of Christ's return repeatedly, shut up the Gospel, told his followers to leave their local churches, and pronounced as heretics millennia of Christians who affirmed that even Jesus had said He could not predict the date during the days of His flesh."

And pray "that we continue to minister to you, and to teach God's word" — not "that we each of us repent for having brought shame and disgrace on the name of God, and ruination to the lives of many, and that we have wisdom as we seek to produce fruits in keeping with repentance, attach ourselves to local churches, and look for sound Christian leadership to take up the ruins of Family Radio's international apparatus."

If you look around right now, you don't see a lot of Christian comment about Camping. Maybe they're worn out, maybe it's already been said, or maybe they're saving it for Monday.

But you do see a lot of non-Christian comment, mocking Camping, but even more mocking Christianity. Because of Camping.

Christians should not give a dime to Family Radio. Should not have been giving a dime for years.

Family Radio once had wonderful music, wonderful programs, wonderful preachers and teachers — and this unqualified oddball named Camping. Over the years, Camping displaced the rest, and continued his wretched trajectory.

I just can't imagine a scenario under which Family Radio continues as-is with sound Christian support.

If it be responded that "Gee, they couldn't do anything, because Camping owned everything" — it's hard to see that as an argument for supporting Family Radio. In fact, it's an eloquent argument that support should have stopped like the throwing of a light switch years and years ago: there was no machinery for shutting up a dangerous false teacher.

Harold Camping has glorified God, but it has been all unwitting. Too much is more than enough. Pray God he shuts up now. Preferably in broken, redemptive repentance. But if not — just shut up (Titus 1:10-14).


threegirldad said...

11/11/11 is just around the corner. Can he resist? Will he resist?

Rebecca Stark said...

I met a lady who works for Family Radio at a wedding last summer. She says most who work there don't believe a thing Camping says. She says she prayed every day that his mouth be stopped. But she keeps on working there.

It was a weird experience. I didn't say most of what I wanted to say She was the grooms mother; I was the bride's aunt. Didn't want to start an argument.

Chris H said...

When people mock Christianity on account of Camping, I've simply taken to saying, "He's not a Christian. Might as well mock Catholicism because of the Mormons."

I don't usually come out and say such-and-such isn't a Christian, but I'm going to go with my Lord's advice and look at the fruit borne and then name the tree.

Don't believe what the Bible says? - don't claim its author as your God.

And sweet cracker sandwich, if you're going to comment on the Bible, perhaps try reading it through a couple of times. That's for me, too.

Susan said...

I wish I could find my copy of Dr. Robert Godfrey's An Unexpected Journey. In one of the chapters he mentioned Harold Camping, and he remembered Camping as not being as aberrant as he is now. How did a man who had positive influence on Dr. Godfrey end up like this??

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Ooooo, 11-11-11. That's funny, TGD.

As the world failed to end, on Friday, my ten year old said, "You know what he'll do? He'll probably say that his fervent prayers have held off God's judgment, and we should thank him, and send him money." Complete with eye-rolling and drama.


TAR said...

Amen...Amen..Amen Dan...

Susan said...

Julie, I think your son has a valid point there, sad to say. :(

Fred Butler said...

I can't wait for 11/11/11
I'm looking forward to writing a lot of checks that day.

Robert said...

I keep thiking of the Proverb about curshing a fool with the mortar and pestle, but his folly still remains. Although, I'm not sure it is Camping being is the people who remain involved with Family Radio.

I can't help but to think of this same idea applying to other things going on within the evangelical movement as well, btu don't want to stray off topic.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

This little line caught my eye: "Without your generous support at this time we might be forced to face some very important decisions.". I kinda think the time to make some very important decisions is loooong overdue.

Kyle said...

How sad... "stood up" by Jesus...

jmb said...

I wrote the following for some friends. Not sure if it's appropriate for a post, so I didn't send it earlier. But, of course, it's your decision anyway, so here it is.


AP - 1:07 PM EDT

Harold Camping, 90, who revised the meaning of the word "rapture," when it failed to occur on his predicted date of May 21 of this year, has revised the meaning of "the end of the world," which does not seem to be occurring today as he had planned.

On May 21, according to Camping, the earth was to be ravaged by catastrophic earthquakes, as God's elect were, in a split second, to find themselves in Heaven. Camping was bitterly disappointed when that didn't occur, until he realized that it had occurred, but in a different way than he expected. Since the word "man" is, in Hebrew, the word for "ground," or "earth," and on that day all men trembled and quaked with fear, there had, in a sense, been worldwide earthquakes. However, the rapture of believers would have to wait until October 21, his previously chosen day for the end of the world.

"Once again, I was heartbroken when today began and it looked like the world was not going to end. But I knew that I could not be wrong; I just had to find a different meaning for it."

After several hours of meditating on the Scriptures, he hit on it: October 21 was going to be the end of Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi! "I admit that I was off a day or two, but what's a day or two in the context of eternity?" Camping asked, rather defensively.

How did he come up with his revised meaning? "As I often do, I used the science of Numerology, and assigned numbers to the letters in Kadafi's name in English. Fortunately for me, there is probably no modern leader whose name is spelled so many different ways. I tried every possible variation until I came up with "The end of Moammar Kadafi is October 21, 2011, give or take a day or two."

But how does the end of the tyrant equate with the end of the world? "It's the end of HIS world," Camping sputtered, beginning to get angry. He quickly calmed down, and continued. "But, more importantly, Kadafi was a leader for about 40 years. The number 40 is a verrrry important number in Scripture," Camping drawled in his familiar growl. "For instance, the Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. So the end of the world will be in 40, uh, something - I'm not sure yet. Could be 40 days, months, or years. I'll have to do more study on that. But you can be sure that I'll let everyone know when I've - I mean the Bible - has decided."

It occurred to this reporter that it could mean 40 minutes. Camping smiled broadly, his heavily wrinkled face taking on a hideous grin. "That would be wonderful, wouldn't it? It would mean that I'd almost certainly be alive to see it. I mean the looks on the faces of all those punks who think I'm" - he suddenly broke off, and affected a more somber countenance. "Well," he said solemnly, "God's will be done."