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The Followers of Harold Camping, Pastors in Peril, and Pride

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in churches, humillity, pastors, preachers, pride, religion, repentance | Posted on 17-05-2011

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The Followers of Harold Camping, Pastors in Peril, and Pride

I sup­pose you know by now that the world is com­ing to an end on Sat­ur­day. That’s the pre­dic­tion made by Fam­ily Radio’s Harold Camp­ing. True believ­ers will be rap­tured and those left behind will be in for six months of ter­ror. Camping’s fol­low­ers have been trav­el­ing the coun­try spread­ing the word for a while now dis­trib­ut­ing tracts, putting up bill­boards and warn­ing the unbelievers.

More, many of them have sold their pos­ses­sions to spread Camping’s false pre­dic­tions. He’s done this before and will prob­a­bly do it again.

Reporters have asked some of Camping’s fol­low­ers what they’ll do when they wake up on the 22nd. Some won’t answer. Those who do have a very con­cern­ing answer. They say, “I guess I wasn’t truly saved.”

I sus­pect on the 22nd, there will be a line of media and the gen­eral pub­lic wait­ing to ridicule and laugh at these peo­ple. They’ll be the pic­ture of scorn for a long time at work, in their fam­i­lies, and in pub­lic. A lot of peo­ple will think they have it coming.

I’ve got a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on it. Camp­ing prob­a­bly will deserve what he gets. He’s a false prophet.

How­ever, I think a lot of these peo­ple have been duped. And I also think there’s hope for some of them. What I hope hap­pens is that when they wake up on the 22nd, they’ll see the error of the sys­tem they’re in and look to truth. They’ll stop fol­low­ing a man and start fol­low­ing what is known. That they can admit to being wrong and show humility.

Even if they do have that response, they’ll be ridiculed. How­ever, that won’t mat­ter. The only thing that mat­ters is that they show humility.

Unfor­tu­nately, there will be oth­ers in the Camp­ing group who will hold to their wrong beliefs even when the 22nd rolls around. Whether it be a new pre­dic­tion from Camp­ing (who has guar­an­teed the 21st as the right date) or a mod­i­fied descrip­tion of what actu­ally hap­pened. The ridicule may make them harden in their unbelief.

Now, we can sit here and look at Harold’s fol­low­ers with scorn or we can real­ize we’re not that dif­fer­ent. Let me use another exam­ple that hits closer home for me.

There are a lot of pride­ful pas­tors in the world. I know this because I was one. I’m still pride­ful in many ways. That’s why I can speak to this.

There are a lot of men who are chas­ing after the min­istry instead of chas­ing after Christ. Chas­ing after a posi­tion or stand­ing. Men who view God as an object to be stud­ied instead of One to be feared and wor­shiped. Men who use edu­ca­tion and stud­ies as a way to sep­a­rate them­selves from the masses instead of a bridge to aid them. I know, I’ve been there.

Being a pas­tor is a dan­ger­ous thing. It’s a temp­ta­tion to want to be the next John Piper, to dress trendy and hip, or to appear great in front of your peo­ple. This often hap­pens unwit­tingly. We tell our­selves that we love Christ and that we’re just seek­ing after Him. That what we’re doing is just fur­ther­ing the kingdom.

But when we’re alone at night and we ask our­selves hon­estly, “what is the end I am pur­su­ing?” the answer won’t be so neat and Scrip­tural. It would prob­a­bly be, “my ends by my means. So that I might be appre­ci­ated, hon­ored and find a bet­ter position.”

I don’t want any­one to fall. Ever. I wouldn’t want to see my worst enemy fall. I don’t like pride any­more. I don’t think I really liked pride before, I just found a way to cozy up to it and hold it tight at night.

But that ends in dis­as­ter too.

The best ques­tion I’ve learned to con­tin­u­ally ask myself to guard against pride – “What if I’m wrong?” A good fol­low up? “How would I know?”

I’ve learned that whether we’re a pride­ful pas­tor, a pride­ful fol­lower of Harold Camp­ing, a pride­ful Chris­t­ian (who doesn’t real­ize it), a pride­ful hus­band, we have two choices. We can either hum­ble our­selves or wait for God to do it. And He will. Oh, yes. He will.

I suppose you know by now that the world is coming to an end on Saturday. That’s the prediction made by Family Radio’s Harold Camping. True believers will be raptured and those left behind will be in for six months of terror. Camping’s followers have been traveling the country spreading the word for a while now distributing tracts, putting up billboards and warning the unbelievers.

More, many of them have sold their possessions to spread Camping’s false predictions. He’s done this before and will probably do it again.

Reporters have asked some of Camping’s followers what they’ll do when they wake up on the 22nd. Some won’t answer. Those who do have a very concerning answer. They say, “I guess I wasn’t truly saved.”

I suspect on the 22nd, there will be a line of media and the general public waiting to ridicule and laugh at these people. They’ll be the picture of scorn for a long time at work, in their families, and in public. A lot of people will think they have it coming.

I’ve got a different perspective on it. Camping probably will deserve what he gets. He’s a false prophet.

However, I think a lot of these people have been duped. And I also think there’s hope for some of them. What I hope happens is that when they wake up on the 22nd, they’ll see the error of the system they’re in and look to truth. They’ll stop following a man and start following what is known. That they can admit to being wrong and show humility.

Even if they do have that response, they’ll be ridiculed. However, that won’t matter. The only thing that matters is that they show humility.

Unfortunately, there will be others in the Camping group who will hold to their wrong beliefs even when the 22nd rolls around. Whether it be a new prediction from Camping (who has guaranteed the 21st as the right date) or a modified description of what actually happened. The ridicule may make them harden in their unbelief.

Now, we can sit here and look at Harold’s followers with scorn or we can realize we’re not that different. Let me use another example that hits closer home for me.

There are a lot of prideful pastors in the world. I know this because I was one. I’m still prideful in many ways. That’s why I can speak to this.

There are a lot of men who are chasing after the ministry instead of chasing after Christ. Chasing after a position or standing. Men who view God as an object to be studied instead of One to be feared and worshiped. Men who use education and studies as a way to separate themselves from the masses instead of a bridge to aid them. I know, I’ve been there.

Being a pastor is a dangerous thing. It’s a temptation to want to be the next John Piper, to dress trendy and hip, or to appear great in front of your people. This often happens unwittingly. We tell ourselves that we love Christ and that we’re just seeking after Him. That what we’re doing is just furthering the kingdom.

But when we’re alone at night and we ask ourselves honestly, “what is the end I am pursuing?” the answer won’t be so neat and Scriptural. It would probably be, “my ends by my means. So that I might be appreciated, honored and find a better position.”

I don’t want anyone to fall. Ever. I wouldn’t want to see my worst enemy fall. I don’t like pride anymore. I don’t think I really liked pride before, I just found a way to cozy up to it and hold it tight at night.

But that ends in disaster too.

The best question I’ve learned to continually ask myself to guard against pride – “What if I’m wrong?” A good follow up? “How would I know?”

I’ve learned that whether we’re a prideful pastor, a prideful follower of Harold Camping, a prideful Christian (who doesn’t realize it), a prideful husband, we have two choices. We can either humble ourselves or wait for God to do it. And He will. Oh, yes. He will.

Comments (7)

Believe it or not – I just heard about this the other day – because it’s my friend, Mike Sanderson’s birthday on the 21th and he was whining “Why does it have to be the end of the world on MY birthday”? Oh my – I remember when “88 reason for the Lord to come back in ’88″ was in vogue. I hate scare tactics and never liked the “Thief in the Night” movies for that reason either. Too bad there are people who have to spread fear and hype and make Christians look bad – when we are just simple folk :)

I’m definitely no dispensationalist. I probably won’t ever discuss my eschatology here. But as a good Southern Baptist, I grew up in that world. And I remember watching “Thief In The Night.” I was about ten and made sarcastic comments all the way through it until my mom punched me in the leg.

Well it FREAKED ME OUT. I was a teenager and they showed it at an all night New Year’s Eve party. Wow. Don’t like the “Left Behind” series either. I just don’t get it.

I can’t remember who said it but someone said that the only thing that got left behind in the Left Behind series was biblical theology.

I was pleased to read this post. Historically you are almost certain to be right in your guess as to what will happen. Although it is a prime target for humour – (I myself admit to joking about installing a rapture hatch in the ceiling, not standing under powerlines, and you selling your house and sending the proceeds to me so that as one of the left behinders I can look after your pets) but unfortunately I know one or two very vulnerable people who are prime targets for this nonsense. Varying sociological studies show that those who follow such leaders often insist that they were not wrong, simply in need of a slight recalculation – and for others it will be too late because the strain will unhinge or kill them. It is a shame that more attention isnt given to the extraordinary list of strange assumptions of Harold Camping in his calculations – and more attention given to the fact that he got it wrong in 1994. http://billpeddie.wordpress.com

I only heard about this May 21st thing last week, but I do remember seeing billboards and having no idea what they were about. Thank you for calling out the need for compassion on those who have been deceived instead of being a source of ridicule.

I know a friend that bought ALLLLL of the Left Behind books , read them religiously, but was not interested in reading the ” Genuine WORD of GOD “. These books seemed to fill a need to try to get close to God – But not too close. If we read the Bible, especially the New Testament, would we come to know HIM better ? If we read the Prophetic books, reread them , and meditated on them, would GOD tell us everything we NEED to know about the time in which we live ? ?

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