I was headed towards vacation when all of the Harold Camping, false prophesy hoopla blew through, and since I had already written several blogs that would be automatically posted...I am just now getting to give my input! I read several opinion pieces, blogs, and tweets of Pastors and other believers making comments about this missed false prophecy. The comments and blogs ranged from an attitude of mocking, to saying since he is a false prophet he should be stoned… some were funny, some were full of grace, and some were a bit mean spirited - others simply missed it. I read some that had the idea that this was the danger of “following a man” or placing too much emphasis on what man thinks. Certainly there is a great danger in placing too much hope in man, and not spending time searching the Scriptures and knowing what they state: but, I simply don’t see this as the main problem with Harold Camping and all this hoopla! In fact, I see Harold Camping’s problem as the complete opposite. To jump to the conclusion that the problem is following a man, is to totally miss the cause and treat the symptoms, which is so often the trouble today.
In order to understand this overall situation, let me give you a quick run down Mr. Camping’s lack of doctrine: (1) He does not believe that mankind is utterly sinful. (2) He does not believe that Hell is a real place - he is an annihilationist. (3) He believes that ALL organized churches are wrong and encourages that one listens to Family Radio Broadcast and engage in personal Bible study.
The issue I must remember is that our doctrine is built on the Word of God, but we stand on the shoulders of godly men when it comes to our doctrine. We are not called to only sit in our room and discover what the Bible means to me. I am to personally study the Bible, but one of the reasons that God gives me a church with other believers is make sure I do not fall into false doctrine. The rule of thumb is if it is a “new” doctrine then it is a wrong doctrine. While the Word of God is my only source of truth, I need to know what other believers have historically thought about a particular doctrine. If I “discover” something in the Word of God, which historically the church has viewed as error, then I had better back up. If I have “found” something that historical Christianity has deemed as heresy, then the body of believers should call me on that and lead me through the Scriptures to repentance. So, should I be concerned with how Augustine, Tyndale, Luther or Calvin saw things? How about Edwards, Gill, Spurgeon? Should I be concerned with what strong modern day biblical scholars think? Well of course! These men are not inerrant and neither am I - but to think for one moment that I am to study on a island and I do not need past or present believers to serve as check points for me is the height of ignorance or arrogance.
What leads a person to predicting dates of the return of Christ? What leads a person to such obvious unbiblical, made up prophecies as Harold Camping had? It is NOT that one relies too much on other people, but rather, it is one making up his own doctrine on an island asking “what does this mean to me” without asking “What did God mean when He inspired this?”. It is deciding to walk this life without genuine believers to discuss doctrinal issues. Certainly, the reason people followed Harold Camping is that they didn’t know the Word of God; but, the reason Harold Camping is leading the way he is, is because his theology, or lack thereof, is discovered on his own in isolation, without accountability in studying the Word and thus, relying only on himself. That is the real danger! I would think it would have helped if Mr. Camping or his followers would have read Matthew 24:36 or Mark 13:32 - even a simple Spurgeon quote could have aided in their study:
• “Let us not therefore be troubled by idle prophecies as to the end of the world, even if they claim to be interpretations of Scripture, for what angels do not know has certainly not been revealed to hair-brained fanatics.” – C.H. Spurgeon Commentary on Matthew 24:36