Saturday, October 29, 2011

And You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits....

October 21st passed by rather quietly. You may ask what the significance of that date is. I only ask that you please indulge me and it will all be clear. Harold Camping is a preacher who predicted that on May 21st of this year the rapture would occur and that on October 21st, after five months of plagues, fire, disease and war that the end of the world would come about. Camping had previously made the same prediction about the rapture in 1988 and 1994 but after the world continued as usual he went back to the drawing board and claimed that he had made a mathematical error when he determined the date. This time he swore that no such error could occur. His numbers were solid and there was absolutely zero chance that he was wrong.

Over the years despite his incorrect predictions Camping had attracted a large following and had even established Family Radio, a radio station that broadcasted to over one hundred and fifty markets. This of course was very prosperous for him. Many of his followers quit their jobs, sold their possessions and went abroad to spread the word of the coming end of the world. Only it didn't happen. Again. Some had even donated their money to the church although why it would need it if the world was ending soon was a question left unanswered. Camping was puzzled as to why the rapture had not occurred so he decided to study some more. When asked if the church would give back the donated money or help those who had gotten rid of everything he said "We're not at the end. Why would we return it?"

Two days later Camping announced that after reinterpreting his prophecy that a "spiritual" judgment had happened and that the physical rapture would now occur on October 21st simultaneously as the world would be destroyed. There was no definition of what the "spiritual" judgment had been and indeed nothing appeared to have changed. Since this had been at least three times he had made this prophecy and every time it did not come about Camping lost many of his followers. He had retired from his post at Family Radio five days before his next predicted date of October 21st but true to form, it also passed without notice. He has remained in seclusion ever since.

The thing that puzzles me is that his followers professed to be Christians. Yet even when he claimed to know the date of the end of humanity, which goes against what the scriptures say (no man shall know the time), they continued to believe him and what he said. Time after time. Indeed, until this last debacle his ministry kept growing. Many have called Camping a fraud, a charlatan or just a plain fake but I have a different name to consider for him. False Prophet, that is a person who makes claims not backed up the scriptures and lures others to his side. One that opens up Christians to mockery and ridicule (something they seem to be able to do quite well on their own) and makes a nice chunk of change doing it. Someone who claims to know what no man knows. Sounds like a false prophet to me.

Perhaps it's simply because people want to believe so badly that they are willing to let little things like details slip aside in favor of their desires. Or perhaps Camping was a clever, silver tongued speaker who was able to deceive them and separate them from their finances. Clearly there are a lot of problems in the world that many would like to escape from to a more loving and peaceful place where there won't be any pain and suffering. There have been false prophets before (anyone remember David Koresh?) and more shall come before it's all over. That is of course if you believe in God in some fashion or another. If you don't then you have probably been laughing derisively at this whole thing content and secure in your knowledge. Belief is a funny thing though.

Perhaps it's a good idea to actually read the source material so that when a false prophet does start preaching you can identify him or her for what they are. Then we could eliminate all of the messy problems that they bring forth. But then again, they wouldn't be worth their salt at the old False Prophet Club if they couldn't get a few people to believe them, could they? It's their job, it's what they do. And we just keep on believing what we believe, for better or worse.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

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