P.T. Barnum is largely quoted as the person who said “There’s a sucker born every minute.” When mulling this quote over in my mind, I can’t help but to think of the followers of the self- professed know er of all things dealing with the return of Jesus Harold Camping. Honestly, I don’t know what is more disturbing, the sheer arrogance of proclaiming to know the exact date when, as the Bible claims, Christ will return, or the fact that despite two failed predictions there are some people that still seem to cling to every word this soon to be retired “prophet” spews out of his mouth. It’s quite astonishing that Harold Camping would be granted any sort of credibility within any circle of individuals who claim to follow the Bible, especially in light of what the Bible emphatically states in Matthew chapter 24:36, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” I’m not sure how Camping has been able to finagle his way past this verse to the satisfaction of his followers who have actually read this, or any, portion of the Bible, but finagle he has to the tune of people selling all of their possessions in anticipation of the dates Camping predicted Christ would return.
Two failed predictions of Christ’s return and a multitude of scripture twisting tricks later, Camping issued the following statement,
” I am very encouraged by letters I have received and [am] receiving at this time concerning this matter. Amongst other things I have been checking my notes more carefully than ever. And I do find that there is other language in the Bible that we still have to look at very carefully and will impinge upon this question very definitely. And we should be very patient about this matter. At least in a minimal way we are learning to walk more and more humble before God.”
“Failed Prophet Regrets Wrongly Predicting All Those Raptures,” Gawker.com
An opportunity for true humility before God and man missed was sorely missed by Camping as evidenced by his statement, which is laced with double talk and an inability to let what the text Camping claims he will be digging through plainly states only God is privy to. Exactly what part of Matthew 24:36 does Harold Camping not get, and exactly how many (if any) failed predictions and possessions sold off will it take for Camping followers to throw in the towel?
Are the people that follow Harold Camping ignorant individuals who deserve to be duped for not seeing what is arguably right in front of their eyes, or is this a matter of trusting, faith filled people being taken advantage of by a delusional self-professed biblical scholar? For the Bible’s part, Harold Camping is just another in a long line of what the Bible dub as false prophets (Matthew 7, Matthew 24:11-12). The New Testament portion of the Bible sternly warns Christians to steer clear of these false prophets by pouring over scripture themselves, testing what is being taught to them against what is written in the Bible through careful study, interpretation, and application of what is found throughout the Bible. Generally, if someone claims that they have extra- Biblical knowledge, the Bible says to run as fast as you can away from such an individual/group (2 Corinthians 11:4).
In the face of two raptures gone south, I wouldn’t doubt if some Camping followers fell back on the notion of faith, faith in God and Camping’s interpretation of scripture. While I agree that belief in God and the Bible does require some portion of faith, as does belief in any religious system or absence thereof, exercising faith should not come at the expense of common sense. Ultimately, we cannot will what is evidently false to be true no matter the size of our faith or our choice of interpretation.