Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Doomsday Radio Wants Your Money

You may remember Family Radio, the group predicting that Judgment Day was coming on May 21, 2011, followed by the end of the world on October 21.  After nothing happened on May 21, their leader, Harold Camping, claimed that Judgment Day was just invisible, that the world was still ending on October 21, and that “We had all of our dates correct” (no, really: he said this after May 21).

Well, after staking what remained of the organization's reputation on October 21, 2011, Family Radio went big... and came up short.  The world didn't end on Friday, and it's really hard to spin that failure.

The damage that these false predicted have already done to the Body of Christ has been profound.  After the May 21 date didn't pan out, angry callers described being financially ruined: “You’re really pathetic, you know? I wasted all my money because of you. I was putting all my money and my hopes on you… I wish I could see you face to face, I would smack you. Mr. Camping, you always say a lot of (redacted) I lost all my money because of you, you (redacted).”  Another caller described the loss of something worse far more than money: “I don't know what it means to be faithful anymore because I am really disappointed.”  And of course, atheists have been using these failures to argue that Christianity is stupid.

Of course, this is yet another reminder that Psalm 146:3 isn't joking when it says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

In light of the unambiguous evidence that they have no idea what they're talking about in regards to the end-times, what should Family Radio have immediately done?  I think that the answer is obvious.  They should have apologized for their crazy eschatological views, their obsession with the end-times, and their loose-cannon Scriptural exegesis, as well as for the lives they ruined, the damage they inflicted upon the Body of Christ, and the two times that they humiliated Christians around the globe.

But of course, they didn't do any of that.  Instead, they sent out an appeal for money.   Turns out, they didn't budget very well past October 21:
Family Radio Stations, Inc, the radio network founded and managed by Bible teacher Harold Camping, was broadcasting a message on Saturday, one day after the world failed to end as the 90-year-old evangelist had predicted, encouraging remaining supporters to keep making donations to the network. 
The message also revealed that the station, which reaped about $80 million in donations between 2005 and 2009 and also benefited from sales of some of its radio properties, may be in danger of experiencing financial difficulties.
While we're on the subject, why did Family Radio still have any money?  If they really believed the message they were proclaiming, why not live it, and give up everything for Christ, in the lead-up to the end of the world?   By the way, Harold Camping retired on October 16, but apparently for health reasons, rather than a belief that he had five days left to live.  He has yet to apologize.

20 comments:

  1. St.Peter's epistle is so relevant here. Not only does he warn the faithful that "no prophesy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation" of course, but he also explicitly lays out "there shall be false prophets among you, who will bring destruction upon themselves, denying the sovereign Lord who bought them ... by reason of whom the Way of truth shall be evil spoken of"

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  2. I would expect Protestants to read their Bibles in more detail...

    In Matthew 24:36 Jesus makes it very clear that these sorts of predictions on the end of the world are totally off-limits to not only us, but all the angels in heaven as well.

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  3. I'm astounded that the organization has any followers left after this debacle.

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  4. Wow...that's impressive!

    Do you think I'll be able to Gift Aid my donation? ;-)

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  5. it's very bad that people believed Camping. It's worse that the eventual incorrectness of his prophecies lead to hatred, animosity, and despair.

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  6. Joe,

    I don't see an email link on the site or your profile. Is there a way I can send you a question?

    It's OT or I'd post it here.

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  7. I love the expression often used by Fr. Mitch Pacwa when he is asked these types of questions.

    "That's a management issue, and I'm in sales."

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  8. @Rob and @Father of 4: Not all protestants followed this guy...

    :(

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  9. Thank you, Erin, for pointing out that not all Protestants follow this guy. It is amazing that I do not know a single Mainline Protestant that believed in this group's junk. I do not even know of any Evangelical or Pentecostal Protestants that bought into either. It is truly sad for the folks that lost so much or all of their life's savings. I would never ask for people to donate their life's savings while they are still alive and to pay for billboards. It would be great if folks felt the calling from God to sell all of their possessions and give to the poor. Are there any St. Francis types left in the Catholic Church? I do not hear about these great saints today.

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  10. CJ, it's joseph[dot]heschmeyer[at]gmail[dot]com.

    Chris, that's funny! I'll have to remember that one.

    Jennae and Philip, my feelings exactly.

    Erin and Rev. Hans, I agree. This is very much a fringe even within Evangelicalism. My only contact with anyone who actually believes in this stuff is through the blog, from a woman who commented quite confidently about how I'd be proven wrong on May 21. Still, they've spent more than $100 million on advertising these false prophesies. That money is coming from someone.

    And I do think that this fringe is generally a byproduct of a low ecclessiology that encourages private interpretation and speculation of Scripture. But even here, there have definitely been Catholics with wild apocalyptic ideas, although none as popular as Camping.

    And Rev. Hans, there are a lot of folks still following that call every day. My cousin, in fact, just gave away everything he owned in order to join the Little Brothers of the Lamb. As Wikipedia explains, "The members of the community engage in active door-to-door mission by going begging for their food. They also share their table with the poor and destitute, especially with the homeless. They live together in small, informal communities."


    God bless,

    Joe

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  11. Hi Joe,

    Off-topic again. Have you done any posts on the New Jerome Bible Commentary or know of any others who have? I recently bought a copy and I'm really disappointed.

    Although it claims to be a Catholic commentary and carries an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, it has some serious theological issues.

    For example, I just read the commentary on Peter's confession in Matthew 16. The commentary claims that Jewish Christians preferred James as the leader of the Church and the hellenistic Christians preferred Paul. Therefore, for ecumenical purposes, the "author of Matthew" chose to "give" the keys to Peter as a "compromise" and "uneasy synthesis".

    The implication here is that the Gospel is not divinely inspired at all, but simply a document written and adapted (and even twisted) to suit the needs and desires of conflicting communities.

    This from a Catholic commentary!

    Any thoughts?

    Blessings,
    Georg

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  12. Georg,

    I've never used it myself, but I've seen some criticisms of it. For example, this one, from EWTN, is quite sharp, and notes "that the three editors of the book are the three censors. They have certified the orthodoxy of the book they themselves produced, and a large part of which they wrote! The three men are Fathers R.E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy."

    That's unusual, to say the least -- I've never seen a book in which the editor was the one who reviewed it for orthodoxy. Don't know if that helps, but it sounds like you're not the only one perturbed by it.

    Joe

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  13. Thanks Joe,

    It's a relief to know that others have spoken strongly against it. I will not be using it anymore!

    God bless

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  14. If you're looking for good commentary, I've read good things about the Ignatius Study Bible, and have been very pleased with the Navarre Bible. Unfortunately, both are expensive.

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  15. Tell me, who doesn't want your money? Even the church wants your money. Anything and everything wants your money. You would be hard put to find anything or anyone who did not want your money. They call it advertising on one hand and charity on the other. There is NO free lunch.......

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  16. And my Catholic friends wonder why I get so "cranky" when I talk about Protestantism and Protestant leaders. These are the liars, misfits, scoundrels, and outright heretics who kept me out of our Lord's Church for 25 years telling me lies about the "Whore of Babylon" and other such garbage.

    I guess I've got some time coming in Purgatory because I still can't get it up to say anything charitable about them at all. Once upon a time, these clowns were not considered "separated brethren" by the Church. They were called "heretics" and warned that they would go to hell for their opposition against our Lord's Church and the Truth therein. I think it's long past time that such declarations be put back on the table of theological discussion.

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  17. Patrick - I direct you to a recent episode of Jimmy Akin's podcast, in which he defines heresy and elaborates upon who can formally be called a heretic. The definition the Church gives us is narrower than yours.

    Apparently, Harold Camping has admitted fault and apologized. I'm impressed by his humility.

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