I will admit that the days leading up to Harold Camping’s proposed rapture date were filled with great humor on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere else. No one could help themselves, there was just too much sport to make of such a nutty situation.
Well, almost no one. The ones who were the true believers weren’t laughing. The ones who sold all that they had in order to buy advertising to let the rest of us know of the impending doom weren’t laughing. And Harold and his wife weren’t laughing.
There have been strong denunciations from evangelicals – many calling Camping a false prophet. I understand what they are saying. It is a media-driven black eye from which we all want to distance ourselves. I do think that ‘false prophet’ is a misnomer. It is true that his calculations led him to an incorrect rapture date. It’s also true that most evangelicals dismiss the idea of trying to find THE DAY, noting that Jesus said it would come as a thief in the night. (Although I have heard MANY evangelicals talking about the ‘signs of the times‘ and saying ‘the end must be near‘ – which is not far removed from Camping’s effort.) I would not call Camping a false prophet. I would say that he is a mistaken believer. And I would say that the Christian world has tossed him to the garbage heap in disdain.
Could you spend just a minute in Camping’s shoes? How certain he must have been! He had to know the risk, after failing at this attempt once before. Yet whatever calculations he was using, whatever process, however often he prayed… he remained convinced. So convinced that he wanted to tell the world.
I know I’m assuming some things here. I’m assuming he is honest, that he had nothing to gain by this, and that he was simply wrong. I think he dismissed some clear statements of Jesus – but hey – I think that about some of my friends too. And they think it of me. We just haven’t rented billboards to tell the world of our conclusions. (Or have we?)
If you laughed at Harold Camping last week, you’re certainly not alone. I did too. I just don’t see the evil genius who fooled the gullible and rejoices in his power. I see an old Christian who has studied the Bible through and through and somewhere took a wrong turn. Haven’t you met one of those before?
We all need to be committed to studying for ourselves, placing our full faith in Jesus Christ. It is important to get input from others, but ultimately my faith is my own. We’re not always going to get it right – even the most scholarly among us get sidetracked from time to time. Camping’s followers can be disappointed, upset, even broke – but they made their own decisions. Just like I make mine.
I know he’s already targeting October. Maybe he’s just in too deep to get out. I don’t know him. I probably have very little in common with him.
There’s just something about this situation that causes me to think that we shouldn’t join the world in kicking this clown in the rear. Maybe it’s the mercy I’ve received from time to time when I didn’t deserve it.
Thanks for reading,