Monday, May 16, 2011

Thoughts on Harold Camping

So I was asked my thoughts on Harold Camping.  Typically I just give the quick answer on something like this.  That answer being that the views of Harold Camping or any of his counterparts who have gone years before or who will come in the future are not worth the effort to comment on.  ((Just to be clear, I am not saying that they themselves aren't worth anything, just that their views aren't.))  That said, here are my thoughts.  I pray they are helpful to you.

First, we want to avoid saying things like 'those guys are wackos!'.  While they may or may not be of a sound mind, that really doesn't play into the discussion of their "end of the world" claims.  Harold Camping and his followers are either correct or incorrect in their assertion.  Being "wacko" wouldn't automatically mean they are incorrect.  Plus, we want to speak the truth, in all situations, in love.  (Ephesians 4:15).

Our goal in discerning the validity of any claim should always be three fold. 

1.) To defend the glorious truth of the Gospel. (Jude 3)
2.) To protect our minds from false doctrine. (Romans 12:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:14)
3.) To warn others with the intent to (a.) spare them from deception  (b.) pull the erring one from harm.  (James 5:19-20)

In other words, we sound the warning because we want to see God glorified and to love people and NOT just to be "right" in an argument.

So, Harold Camping claims that he knows that God is going to end the world on May 21, 2011... He believes this because he has supposedly "developed a system" that uses mathematics to interpret prophecies hidden in it.  By the way, our first red flag should be that HE developed this system.  Camping says the world will end on May 21, 2011 because that will be 722,500 days since, what he believes was, the crucifixion on April 1, AD33.  He gets the figure 722,500 by multiplying three hold numbers (5, 10, and 17) together, twice.

That's the claim, let's do the work of a Berean here (Acts 17:11) and examine this claim by Scripture.

Mark 13:32 - But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Not even the Son (Jesus) knows the day nor the hour.  Only God the Father knows when He will end the world.  We know a fair amount about how it will end (2 Peter 3:10).  So it stands to reason that if God Himself only knows the day and the hour, then Harold Camping does not.

It's really that simple folks.  Now, we have to understand that the canon of Scripture is closed.  No new revelation is being added to the Bible.  Further, if anyone comes speaking something contradictory or altering to Scripture then the Bible wins the argument and the person making the claim is wrong. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Camping's claims deny Biblical inerrancy because he is claiming to have received an extra-biblical revelation/divine knowledge.  He asserts that since Noah knew about the flood, we can know about the end of the world too.  But that doesn't fly because God's purpose is not the same.  God's goal with Noah wasn't to end the world, just man.  God's purpose in the flood, among other things, was judgment on man for their sin and restoration of the covenant that God had made with man now to be kept through Noah and his descendants.  The "end" will be permanent restoration through the glorification of all who have believed on Christ and final judgment on the wicked who have rejected Him in unrighteousness.

So what should Christians think about the end of the world, be it Harold Camping's claims or just the fact that it one day will end.  Well, let's look at three texts.

2 Peter 3:11-18 - Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.  14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,  15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,  16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.  17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,  18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish at peace.  Take care that you are not carried away like the ignorant and unstable lawless people. (emphasis mine) Growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.  11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”  

The Angels said, basically, don't just sit around thinking on things too much that you aren't meant to know, rather, GO fulfill what you've been told!  Which is to be His witnesses, to spread the Gospel, to the world. (Acts 1:7-8)

Ezekiel 33:1-9 - And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,  2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,  3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,  4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.  5 ‘He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.  6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’  7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a  message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.  8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.  9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.

Sound the warning!  Not about the end of the world so much, but rather about God's pending judgment on them for their sin and need for forgiveness.  And how God has provided that means in Jesus Christ the only Savior!  The reason to repent and trust Christ isn't because you are afraid of the end of the world or even of going to Hell.  That CERTAINLY is a part of the whole equation for sure, but that's not the reason that we should try and convince others to repent and trust in Christ.  The real reason that anyone should trust in Christ is because they have sinned and God's judgment resides on them... BUT GOD (Ephesians 2:1-9), in His kindness and goodness chose to show mercy on mankind through the willing substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, His Only Son!

Christ, who stood in our place and took God's wrath for our sin so that we who are guilty could be justified before God.  (Romans 2:3-5)

Let me, in keeping with good conscience to the truth of God's Word, avoid Harold Camping and his cult of lies.  With his deceptions he proves himself to be, in fact, NOT a brother in Christ but rather one of the antichrists that John spoke of. (1 John 4:1-6)  I would submit that in claiming to have this supposed knowledge of the end, Harold Camping is in fact NOT confessing the Biblical Christ.

In the literal sense of the word he is an anti-christ (anti=against) Christ.  He and his followers are enemies of the Gospel.  they are enemies of God and this should cause us not to be arrogant or haughty... but rather to weep for them and charge such a one by the mercies of the Living God, to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15) that they might be saved!

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