Harold Camping and Family Radio Letter

This news story caught my attention a few moments ago, “Calif. Preacher: World’s End Prediction ‘Wrong‘”.  Curious, I went to the Family Radio website.  Sure enough, there is a letter posted on the Family Radio website.  There is a link to “An Important Letter from Mr. Camping” under the “Click to listen” golden microphone at the time of this post.  You can read the entire letter here.

I have little interest or time to parse the letter.  I am taking it at face value.  However, as I read it I was struck by the very real tone of humility.  Camping writes,

The May 21 campaign was an astounding event if you think about its impact upon this world. There is no question that millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible’s warning that Jesus Christ will return. Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.

We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.

We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours! We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.

We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking. But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.

I would have liked to see the pronoun “we” changed to “I” throughout the letter since the May 21 date for the apocalypse was Camping’s baby.  Nevertheless, while I have significant points of theological disagreements with Harold Camping and Family Radio, I commend him for his humility.  We ALL, every one of us, know how hard it is to say “I was wrong.”  In any case, the whole May 21, 2011 fiasco is a hit-you-between-the-eyes illustration that we must not be consumed with end-time date-setting.  The Father has fixed the time of His Son’s return to establish His kingdom and it is not for us to know, period.  In the meantime, we must be witnesses to the risen Christ while still exclaiming, “Maranatha!”

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ [7] He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. [8] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1:6-8, ESV)

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Cathy Cruz Marrero, aka Narcissus

This woman is a classic case of good old fashion narcissism.  She is also known as the Fountain Lady because of her fall into a fountain while texting.  She’s taking legal action.  Over what?  

Lesson from all this? “Do not text and walk” she says.

No one would have ever known it was her had she not gone national with this.  Give me a break and get over yourself Cathy.

How’s that for compassionate conservatism?

Danger Without and Danger Within: The Hutaree and Pride

Danger Without: The Hutaree

By now, you have very likely heard of the Hutaree, a Michigan based militia group.  They have been operating in relative obscurity until the last several days.  Hutaree means “warriors of God.”  This group allegedly concocted a scheme to kill police officers.  They were raided and seven people from the militia were arrested.    

Military-style training videos are found on the home page of their website, not too far under the John 15:13 header, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Sadly, the Hutaree identifies itself as a Christian group with Jesus as their General.  As with so many groups like this one, their doctrine seems to be based on an unhealthy preoccupation with end time events coupled with bad interpretation.  This is true of them as I read the “Doctrine of the Hutaree” page on their website which primarily deals with the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-12.

It deeply disturbs me when radical groups like this call themselves Christians.  I despise it.  This is a group of end-time absorbed, pathetic, pseudo-patriot, zealots.  When Jesus was betrayed, He was met at night by a band of Roman soldiers.  John 18:3 says, “So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.”  Peter responds with violence, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right” (John 18:10).  Jesus’ response?  “Put your sword into its sheath” (John 18:11).  As Jesus stands before Pilate, He tells the Roman leader plainly, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.  But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36).  To be involved in the cause of Christ is not a call to arms.  At least in Peter’s case, it was a defensive strategy.  In the case of this militia group it was a preemptive strike.  Jesus’ Petrine rebuke indicates that violence is counterproductive to advancing His mission.  John Piper fittingly said,  

We Christians are ashamed of many of our ancestors who did not act in the spirit of Christ. No doubt there are traces of this plague in our own souls. But true Christianity—which is radically different from Western culture, and may not be found in many Christian churches—renounces the advance of religion by means of violence. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting” (John 18:36). The way of the cross is the way of suffering. Christians are called to die, not kill, in order to show the world how they are loved by Christ. (John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ, 14). 

Groups like the Hutaree remind us that there is danger without.  I’m grateful that this alleged plot was thwarted.  My other concern is to simply communicate: The Hutaree ≠ Christianity.

While there is danger without, there is also danger within each of us. 

Danger Within: Pride

Speaking of John Piper, you may have heard of the announcement he made this weekend to Bethlehem Baptist.  He plans to take an eight month leave from ministry to examine his soul and strengthen his marriage.  Thankfully this is preventative, to keep him from committing a ministry-disqualifying sin rather than restorative, to deal with an already committed ministry-disqualifying sin.  He says,    

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

 You can read the entire statement here.

The flesh says to us, “be a sponge and soak in the glory.”  Grace says, “repent and be a mirror—reflect the glory of God to those around you.”  To be sure pride has a powerfully seducing quality to it—not one of us is exempt from this.  This commendable action by John Piper is a simple reminder that pastors are sinners under transformation like every other Christian.  All of the comments I quickly perused on the Desiring God blog rightly praise him for his decision.  What he did took guts and humility.  His ministry of the word is special, no doubt.  But a life that moves the battle with sin from the pulpit to the heart and home is nothing short of God’s grace at work a human heart. 

May God grant him clarity of spiritual sight to deal with the danger within and may we learn from his example to do the same, especially for those of us who are pastors.