23 May 2011

Chew on this

by Phil Johnson

'm on the way home from Boston this morning and don't have the time or the technology to write a proper blogpost. I can't even get the normal weekend Dose 'o' Spurgeon post online (I'll do it this afternoon, Lord willing).

So for today's post I'm going to point you to this article, which is the best piece I've seen from a secular source on the Harold Camping debacle. It's a sad story. It's a classic example of why false doctrine is so dangerous. And it's a good reminder that the Battle for the truth is one we ought to take more seriously than we sometimes do.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Phil's signature


Johnny Dialectic said...

The article says Camping is "somewhat bewildered" that his prediction did not come true. Come on, have a little compassion.

DJP said...

What's sad and concerning to me, Phil, is that this is the culmination of a path taken deliberately over the course of years and years, a path including stubborn and hard-headed rejection of repeated attempts to reach out and correct, a path that has RUINED the lives of his devoted followers...

...and yet what we get (even at my blog) is delicate, dainty souls concerned that we not hurt Mr. Camping's feelings at this time.

Find me the apostles showing "grace" (as a code-word for dainty indulgence) to the false teachers of their day. One example. Just one.

Tom said...

Sensei Dan,

Perhaps when 89+ you become, much good thinking you will not do.

At that time, I hope you have good people around you who aren't sycophants and will tell you to keep your mumblings to yourself.

I know when my grandparents got up in their 80s and were within several years of death, they didn't think too clearly either and would do/say things that left my family scratching our heads.

That being said, I wonder how much of Camping is senility and how much is premeditated heresy?

DJP said...

Tom, I hope to God — which I say sincerely and not as a mere expression — that if I live that long and begin losing my mind, I will not be given a platform to mislead others. I have prayed dozens of times that I neither be allowed to outlive my love for God, nor my usefulness to Him.

Your point would carry more weight with me if this were a sudden slip, and not the the culmination of a pattern begun long ago. I'm listening to a Walvoord/Camping debate from 30+ years ago, and the seeds were already there.

If a guy were 100 years old, telling cancer sufferers he had a surefire God-guaranteed cure — but first they'd have to leave all conventional medical care, and people were dying agonizing deaths all over the country because of him, would we be saying "Oh, well, give him grace, he's not as young as he used to be"?

And isn't this even more serious than that?

donsands said...

Good article.

"It's a classic example of why false doctrine is so dangerous."


"Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!"-Sam Stone

GW said...

This article says that "Millions" were disappointed.

I know that Camping has some followers, but does anyone think the number of people believing this on Saturday were that much larger than the Hale-Bop Comet cult?

Robert said...

I'm with Dan on this one. Should we call him to and pray for repentance? Sure. Should we be light on his actions and the results of them? No.

We have a clear example set forth in Scripture as to how we are to handle false teachers. Paul wrote to the churches throughout Galatia that anybody preaching a false gospel is to be anathema. Jude wrote that certain people were "long beforehand marked out for condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 4)

Camping is a false teacher...plain and simple. Perhaps he should have read James 3 before taking it upon himself to become a public teacher...especially to so many people.

Yes, he may truly be convinced he is right, but that is because he is coming to Scripture and trying to work beyond what it says to suit the way his own mind works. He should have left his engineer's hat off before ever opening the Bible and come to it humbly and read it for what it meant. This all boils down to pride for me.

Tom said...


I agree that Camping definitely has a history. I just wonder how much his age now may have to do with his ability to think and reason clearly. The description his wife gave of him being "bewildered" and and "mystified" is what makes me think he may be dealing with some form of dementia.

We obviously don't know. And you're right that we definitely need to warn others about Camping and his false teaching. I also think his board and directors needs to step up and exercise more control over the radio network and not give him a platform.

DJP said...

I hear you; but an arrogant, unrepentant false teacher could also say the same. After all, my careful calculations CAN'T be wrong this time! The Bible "guaranteed" it!

Totally agree with your last sentence. That day is years and years overdue. But as the founder and owner, has he allowed them even that option? I don't know.

The Squirrel said...

Dan, Thanks for mentioning that Walvoord/Camping debate. I just downloaded it and look forward to listening to it sometime this week.

For other's interested, here's the link.


Solameanie said...

I'm not known for being exactly gentle with false teachers. However, given Camping's age I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's statement to Timothy to "not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father." That doesn't mean that there can't be plain speech, but one does need to exercise some care with an octogenarian.

Dave Miller said...

Camping’s primary error is scriptural selectivism – He gives certain verses great importance while completely dismissing others.

Like every false teacher, Camping takes the truth of the Gospel and seasons it with lies and man-made foolishness. Not everything he says is a lie, nobody would listen to him if was; but there is enough truth in his message to make some people believe.

This is what makes false teachers so dangerous. They sprinkle poison like pepper onto a healthy meal. It spices up what the world considers bland and makes it more interesting – unique even. This appeals to the sinful nature of immature believers and they are entrapped.

For Camping’s followers; pray for the eyes of their hearts to be opened to the true light of the Gospel. For Camping; pray for his repentance.

The Rios' said...

On somewhat of a different note..could someone give a helpful response to this following statement made by a local pastor in our area..."Pray for the USA. Has anyone noticed the increase in weather disasters (tornadic activity) here in this country while at the same time we are "messing with Israel". That's my paraphrase of what he said and wondering what a biblical response would be. Thanks!

DJP said...

Walvoord may not have been the sharpest scalpel on the tray, but in the debates Camping is sounding like a Kabbalist by contrast.

Dave Miller said...

@The Rios’: Biblical response? Are you a member of his flock or a colleague? Your response should differ depending.

I might ask him to carefully consider whether or not he understands God’s ways well enough to interpret such things as directly related. Is he just ‘asking questions,’ ala Rob Bell? Either way, he isn’t doing a shepherd’s job if he is creating unrest and unease in his flock.

Are tornadoes God’s way of telling us we need to repent?
Are floods God’s way of telling us we need to repent?
Are wildfires God’s way of telling us we need to repent?
Is a beautiful sunny day God’s way of telling us we need to repent?


kateg said...

Two things: 1) the pope is 84, and will also be bewildered when he finds out the truth, and not because he is old; and 2) the people are the ones with the itching ears. If people wanted orthodoxy, there are teachers out there who do that. If we read our Bibles, we might recognize them more readily.

DJP said...

Kate: word.

The Rios' said...

Dave Miller...thanks for the helpful response. No, we are not a member of his flock, just have known him a long time and know how much he is misleading people in our area. For example he tells people that "your faith is dead, if it is not followed by signs and wonders". Very troubling! Thanks again for your help. Grace and Truth!!

Bobby Grow said...

If anyone is interested, while I agree with Phil, the piece he points to is an interesting read; here is a fantastic read and critique of Harold Camping from both an exegetical and historical theological vantage point.

Bobby Grow said...

Of course the article I point to above also critiques dispy premil too, but if you can look past that (critically) and just focus on what he says in re. to Camping; I think you'll find it insightful. Hopefully it's okay to point/link to this other article here in the comment meta?

ajlin said...

Shouldn't the tag that comes up on the photo say "false teacher" rather than "false prophet"? :)

Sir Aaron said...

@Dan: I don't think it's possible to outlive your usefulness to God. As you recently posted, even Camping is glorifying God in this ordeal.

@Dave Miller - Camping isn't jsut "selective." He claims to have discovered the formula for decrypting Scripture in a manner that allows him to calculate a date for the end despite Jesus himself telling us that we can't know it. Indeed, He doesn't even know it. That's clearly antithetical to the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripure that has been the bedrock of Protestant theology since Luther. It is important that we clearly spell out his error.

Sir Aaron said...

FYI for curiosity's sake:

Apparently Camping was post trib according to an interview of one of his followers last week. (I was thinking of a comment in one of the previous metas when I heard the interview).

Bobby Grow said...

I thought Camping was amil, no?

stratagem said...

How many people ACTUALLY believed him? Not "millions," I'm pretty sure. Since most Christians know that Jesus himself said that no one except the Father knows the day or the hour that he will return, presumably no Bible-literate people believed him, and of course no agnostics or atheists did, either. So who's left?

Scooter said...

Found the verse!

"My beloved son, remember those who have denied the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he may be camera shy after being publicity disgraced. Use that opportunity to invite him over for tea. Be sure to show your right side when being photographed because of your unsightly mole. Repeat often that God's mercy is wide and deep. Remember all are sinners so everyone can make an honest mistake. Above all, always ask questions, never give answers.

These are trustworthy sayings and by keeping them you will avoid accountability and responsibility to your hearers."

1 Balderdash 2:11-15

It comes right after the book of 2 Nonsense, but recent higher criticism is leaning toward these verses being a coffee stain that was mistranslated as actual commands.

Robert said...


How many JW's and Mormons are there? Roman Catholics who actually follow/believe what the RCC teaches/believes?

My point is that there are many millions of people following false belief systems that supposedly use the Bible. Heck, just look at Rob Bell's, Robert Schuller's, Benny Hinn's, and Joel Osteen's followings.

stratagem said...

Robert: Could be. I figure if there was a sucker born every minute in 1885 (about the time of PT Barnum), then accounting for the much-increased population of the USA now, there is a sucker born about every 9.7 seconds.

Watching many non-Christian people on my facebook feed over the weekend, Camping sure exposed Christ to a lot of mockery via his stupid prediction. Non-Christians tended to lump all Christians into the same naive camp.

Scooter: love those bogus "verses"

Robert said...

stratagem: I noticed the same thing on Facebook and in the news as well. Part of me wonders how much the combination of these false teachers and technology bringing the news of their teachings to the world is all part of things accelerating towards the type of persecution that Christians will face around the end times.

stratagem said...

Good question. It's hard for me to know whether I should be chagrined with a believer who has brought so much ridicule upon the church, or to respect Satan's cleverness in using a pretend Christian to bring so much ridicule upon the church.

Sad that so many people are made to think that stupid predictions and money-raising sensationalism is what the Gospel is all about.

Robert Warren said...

Like slowing down to see a wreck, I went to the FR website a little before 9 EDT and he's on.

Based on the little bit I've heard, there's no repentance or apology. Seems like he's spiritualizing May 21 and moving the date to October 21, 2011. James White's hunch was right.

Sonja said...

I just want to weep over this whole thing, and I have wept a bit. At first I took him as a kook, but then realized if I'm hearing about this guy, so are a lot of other people.

I've seen salvation for only 6 years. I've seen God mocked in this time only by unbelievers, but never at this level by one who purports to be a believer. Rob Bell -- yesterday. Fred Phelps -- unbelievers see him for what he and his family are.

Stratgem said it better than I ever could in his 11:53 comment.

God uses the bad and turns it into good. Okay, I'm on mission but a bit overwhelmed as to how to answer my neighbor when she jokingly stated "you're still here?"

IOW, I've been lumped into this mess only because I share my faith.


Cathy said...

Like I always tell my kids, "Sin makes you crazy." It makes us blind to the reality of our spiritual condition, and it makes us think that we know more than God.
I'm sorry- sin is Camping's problem- not dementia.

Blue Collar Todd said...

Sorry if I missed someone bringing this up but Camping his doubling down. The new date is October 21, 2011.

Solatude said...

Sonja @ 7:57 pm

Be encouraged. Take heart in the Word of our Lord. He who declares the end from the beginning knows all days from now till His return. (Isaiah 46:9-10) God is in control. (Ps. 46:10) The Lord is for us and we for Him and no one is able to keep Him from fulfilling His will through us. (Rom. 8:31-34)

2 Peter 3:3-4
...In the last days scoffers will come walking according to their own lusts and will say, 'Where is the promise of His coming? Since the time of the fathers, who now sleep, all things remain as they were from the beginning of creation.'

The Lord said the world will be taken unaware when He comes. (Matt. 24:36-39) I weep with you for these days, but we do not grieve as ones who have no hope. (1 Thess. 4:13b) In the world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, the Lord has overcome the world. (John 16:33) All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Hold strong in faith, study His Word, pray always, share the Gospel, follow the Lord, and you will reap in due season what you have sewn. How beautiful are the feet of those who go to preach the Gospel. (Rom.10:15)

I mean only to encourage you, not instruct you. Grace and peace to you all. God bless.

lee n. field said...

Re Camping's age: Maybe he's getting into a bit ob>f dementia now. He certainly sounded "off" to me when James White interacted with him on Iron Sharpens Iron last year or the year before.

But, it's been over 20 years since he was disciplined by his (then) church, left, and declared the church age over.

lee n. field said...

"I'm listening to a Walvoord/Camping debate from 30+ years ago, and the seeds were already there."

My player is showing that thing as close to 6 hours long. Is it a good use of time to plow through the whole thing, especially if Walvoord is, as you indicate, not at the top of his game?

CR said...

@Sir Aaron - Wow, camping was a post trib?