Thursday 19 December 2013

Scoffers score again

A Camping billboard: "The Bible Guarantees It"
Harold Camping has gone to meet his Maker. Proof (if we needed any) that conviction and sincerity are not necessarily the handmaidens of truth.

Camping, lest we forget, predicted the End of World not once, but twice in 2011. Predicted it with unassailable certainty on billboards from Oakland to Auckland.

You and I are living proof that he got it terribly, horribly wrong.

First of all, note this: in the last days there will come scoffers who live self-indulgent lives; they will mock you and say: 'What has happened to his promised coming? Our fathers have been laid to rest, but still everything goes on exactly as it always has done since the world began.' (2 Peter 3:3-4)

You can bet Camping had that verse well memorised. But alas, it's the scoffers who keep getting it right!

Eschatology is a minefield for the uninformed. You can't just add up numbers in various passages of Daniel and Revelation, regardless of what Uriah Smith thought. The track record of ten thousand 'prophets' has been a massive fail, with not a single exception. Hal Lindsey, Herbert Armstrong, Judge Rutherford, William Miller and a numberless legion of lesser lights.

Did Camping go to his grave a broken man? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But he was surely a disappointed one, with all his meticulously crafted chronologies shattered. How many of his followers now rue the day they first heard his message?

Whether he can be accused of being among those he himself would have accused as having "self-indulgent lives", as in the passage above, I don't know. Self-indulgent lies might be more to the point.

Thank God for the scoffers.


  1. Apocalyptic religion is addictive. It is a religious drug. The purveyors, evangelists of various stripes, start with what seems to be an exciting and relevant message and then quickly come to understand that it generates a large influx of money. The addiction begins. Embedded in the message is toxic idea that the future in this world does not matter because the end is imminent. Consumers love this because it is an escape from a world that none of us like very much. Money is no longer important and it seems reasonable to the consumers in their obsessive excitement to turn it over to the prophesying evangelists. It is a market transaction. Both the drug dealers and the consumers derive a benefit. What is absent from the transaction is the truth. It is all a fiction. And eventually an embarrassment.

    I should mention that I have a preteristic view of Biblical prophecy so I tend not to get excited about time charts, type and anti-type, who the Pope is and how many sixes are in Barack Obama's driver's license number. My ears don't itch for that any more.

    I am put in mind of the evangelicals who advised President George W. Bush that it would be all right to pursue policies that destroyed the environment because Christ would come and fix things anyway. I mention this lest you think that the addictive properties of "prophecy" are confined just to religion weenies.

    -- Neo

  2. Yes, by the late second century, when 2 Peter was written, I imagine people were beginning to scoff at a prophecy that was to be fulfilled during the lifetimes of the original apostles.

    2 Peter mentions the epistles of Paul which were unknown by the early church 'fathers' until after the time of Marcion and I would bet a dollar against a donut that Marcion's copies were entirely different than the ones with which we are familiar. The writer of 2 Peter seems to imply that those "scoffers" were the very same people who had recently become followers of the epistles of Paul, i.e., Marcionites. That they were of the docetists persuasion seems pretty clear in 2 Pet. 2:1.