Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Family Radio: The Newest Layer of Crazy

As most of you likely remember, the Rapture-obsessed group Family Radio, headed by Harold Camping, claimed that the Bible "guaranteed" that the Rapture and Judgment Day would occur on May 21, 2011.  I live-blogged the coming and going of May 21 at the time.  Needless to say, their predictions (even promises) of what the Bible guaranteed were false.


For most people, this would be a red flag.  Obviously, Camping is a crackpot.  And it should have been a call to repentance.  This was a group which had no problem claiming that anyone who didn't accept the interpretation of Scripture which they developed on their own was going to Hell.  When that interpretation of Scripture was shown to all the world, in a public and humiliating way to be false, they should have rent their garments and found an authentic shepherd who knew what the heck he was talking about.

Instead, Camping just re-invented what May 21 was all about.  This is a sure mark of pride.  Rather than admit that they were wrong, they're simply moving the goal posts and acting like they weren't publicly exposed as ignorant of the plans of God.  What I hadn't realized was how bad it had gotten. Now, Family Radio made two predictions which were easily proven false:
  1. That there would be global earthquakes;
  2. That all the "true" Christians (those who bought into Camping's nonsense, and rejected the Church) would be bodily assumed into Heaven in the "Rapture."
Both of these were obviously false prophesies.  You don't need to be a member of their group to know whether or not there were a bunch of earthquakes on May 21 (nope), or whether 3% of the world's population disappeared on that day (nope).  But here's what Family Radio is teaching these days:
Thus we have learned that except for a somewhat different understanding of the words “earthquake” and “rapture” or “catching up” no other past teachings of Judgment Day or the end of the world have been changed. The time line, the certainty of it, the proofs, and the signs are all precisely the same. No other past teachings have been changed or modified. Indeed, on May 21 Christ did come spiritually to put all of the unsaved throughout the world into judgment.
That's right: they were still right, it's just that and “earthquake” and “rapture” don't mean what you think they mean. By "earthquake," it turns out that they really meant that "All of mankind was shaken with fear. Indeed the earth (or mankind) did quake in a way it had never before been shaken."  This is an "earthquake," since man is formed from the earth (no, really, their teaching is that bad).  Even if you buy into the idea that "earthquake" means "manquake," mankind wasn't shaken with fear - at most, they were shaking with uncontrollable laughter, as Camping and Co. made Christianity look idiotic. So even under their modified "prophesy," they're still wrong.  That's astonishing, really -- they're making "prophesies" after the event in question, and still can't make them true.

Much more troubling, where we jump from "stupid" to "evil," is their claim that because of the invisible Rapture,  no one else can be saved, ever again:
The second word, “rapture,” identifies with the idea of the completion of God’s salvation program. The catching up of all the elect meant that there was to be no more salvation activity to be done anywhere in the world by God. Each and every true believer had become eternally safe with God in Heaven. No more was there any aspect of God’s salvation program that remained to be done. But the same thing became true this past May 21, even though no one was raptured. No one who had not become saved by that date can ever become saved. 
Here's an obvious question: why bother running the radio show at all, then?  It's literally doing no good, even if Family Radio is right. We've now reached the end-point in the absurdity of double-predestination.  Nothing anyone does from now until the end of time will have an iota of an effect.  The elect are already saved in such a way that even their rejection of Christ won't matter; and Christ will do nothing to save the damned now. As for the end of the world, here's their new and improved end-times vision:
Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011, on the last day of the present five months period. On that day the true believers (the elect) will be raptured. We must remember that only God knows who His elect are that He saved prior to May 21.
So you're either going to Heaven or Hell, there's nothing, not a single thing, you can do about it, and you've got no way of knowing which way you're going.

In a single movement, Camping manages to combine the worst elements of Protestantism:

  • the "you're going to Hell, and Jesus won't ever save you, no matter what you do" of hyper-Calvinism,
  • the "of course Christ wants to come back in my lifetime" eschatological narcissism of Rapture Evangelicalism, and 
  • the refusal to admit error in the face of false prophesies of Seventh Day Adventism, Jehovah's Witnesses, and sinful man generally.

The fortunate thing, of course, is that October 21, 2011, isn't very long from now.  I look forward to the day, very soon, when Family Radio is brought to humiliation once again.  But I look forward to it precisely because these are well-meaning Christians being lead astray by Camping's insane teachings.  Once Family Radio can no longer cling to its pride, can no longer simply reinterpret the prophesies it's constantly sure of, perhaps then we can draw Camping's followers to a firmer foundation of their faith. Their fervor, such as it is, is admirable.  But they've put their trust in princes (Psalm 146:3), rather than taking refuge in the LORD (Psalm 118:9).

5 comments:

  1. You're not expecting him to do *exactly* the same thing on October 22nd? I am...

    In fact, I'm going to save Mr. Camping some time and write his press release for October 22nd...

    "The Bible is the inerrant word of God and must be taken very seriously...over the last few years God has revealed to us, through very careful reading of Scripture and by wonderful proofs, the exact date of the Rapture and the Final Judgement in so many ways...

    "Back on May 21st we experienced the Rapture when Christ came and spiritually placed the unsaved under judgement.

    "Yesterday was the Final Judgement came to pass, but whereas we had assumed that this would be the physical destruction of the world it turned out to be a more spiritual destruction. But make no mistake, the Final Judgement has come and, in a spiritual sense, the physical world has been destroyed.

    The earth will continue on for a little while, but God has passed judgement and knows His elect. The final judgement has been made. These elect are now truly 'in the world, but not of the world'. One by one, we will die and go to be with God and, once all of the elect are with Him in Heaven, the world will finally cease to be."

    Hey...turns out I'm quite good at this. Can I have my own cult now, please?

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  2. Restless Pilgrim - just tell me where to send my life savings! ;)

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  3. Ha ha -- it took me a moment to realize that your "quotation" wasn't actually from their site. It was spot-on, as I suspect JoAnna agrees. But here's why I think it's different.

    Before May 21, Family Radio had talked at great length about the two important dates: May 21 (Rapture / Judgment Day) and October 21 (End of the World).

    May 21 came and went without event. Many people seem to have left the movement over it, but the rest, from Harold Camping on down, have just doubled-down on October 21.

    Certainly, that doubling-down has required some embarrassing "re-defining" of their prophesies, but they honestly remain convinced that the two dates (May 21 and Oct. 21) are correct -- just that their exact sequence was off. If nothing happens on October 21, the two dates will be revealed to be arbitrary.

    Will some try and reimagine it as an invisible spiritual thing? Maybe. Probably, even. But it's going to be a lot harder, without some sort of backup date. So I think all but the most proud or fanatical will have their eyes opened.

    The other wild card in play, quite frankly, is Harold Camping's health. He's been off the air since June due to a stroke, and he's 90 years old. If he's not in a place where he can spin his latest false prophesy, and no one else steps up to the plate right away, his listeners may be forced to come to their own conclusions. All involved really do need our prayers.

    Joe.

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  4. Let's pray our Lady appears on Oct. 21 and says "Go to Mass!"

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  5. Pride is, alas, inexhaustible unless rejected.

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