Archive for Overcoming thought-stoppers

A Mental Exercise for Christians: Was Harold Camping a False Prophet?

Why should we care about the religious broadcaster Harold Camping? Because Jesus advised us at Matthew 7:15, saying: “Be on the watch for the false prophets.” 

Harold Camping gives us a good test case of one who not only didn’t qualify as a ‘faithful and discreet slave’, but one who was in essence, a false prophet. By performing this exercise in regard Camping, we can safely examine what it means to be a false prophet without the blindspots we might have toward any group we might happen to be affiliated with. By going through this exercise, we will be more equipped to spot false prophets,

But was Harold Camping a false prophet?

The May 1, 2014 Watchtower says, “RELIGIOUS LEADERS sometimes predict tragic worldwide events to warn mankind and gather followers. Doomsday prophet Harold Camping and his disciples widely advertised that the earth would be destroyed in 2011. Needless to say, the world is still here.” 

This article further says, “Human predictions are often based on such factors as scientific research, analysis of available facts and trends, or even bogus spiritual insight.”

Therefore, Harold Camping was indeed a false prophet who used ‘bogus spiritual insight’ to make predictions that did not come true. The question we should all ask ourselves is: are there other religious leaders or organizations out there that have done the same thing?

If you have time, please watch the above video with the following questions in mind:

  • If Harold Camping uttered a false prophesy, how would God and Jesus view this?
  • Does Harold Camping deriving his prediction from calculations or ‘misplaced expectations’ based on Scriptural interpretation rather than claiming inspiration, make him less of a false prophet?
  • Was he not simply just “keeping awake” rather than “sleeping”?
  • Should Harold Camping have tried to calculate God’s timetable?
  • Where the Apostles at Acts 1:6,7 like Harold Camping, proclaiming a worldwide campaign that set definite dates regarding the times and seasons of God’s timetable, or did they simply direct a question toward the person who would know best?
  • After the Apostles learned that it did not belong to them to know, did they go ahead proclaiming their own predictions anyway?
  • If it did not belong to the Apostles to know God’s Times and Seasons, why did Harold Camping think it belonged to him?
  • Could Harold Camping then be considered a faithful and wise servant of God?
  • Was he faithful to God’s word which precludes making false prophesies?
  • Was he wise in doing so?
  • Was he giving the right sort of food at the right time?
  • What did this prediction show in regard Harold Camping’s credentials as to being a unique messenger or channel of communication from God?
  • Should those that listened to Harold Camping have demanded ‘more than the usual’ of him?
  • Should they have continued to follow his teachings?
  • If he had been shown to be a false messenger, could he later have become a true channel of communication from God?
  • Could they expect someone who proved to be a false prophet to suddenly become a true prophet?
  • Even though Harold Camping directly apologized, calling his predictions a “sinful statement” and publicly asking God for forgiveness, should he have stepped down as a teacher?
  • What was his responsibly to the followers who emptied their bank accounts and quit their jobs to help spread this message?
  • Even if he truly repented and they forgave him, would it follow they should have kept following him as a credible teacher of God’s word?

‘Misplaced Expectations’

We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. Then again, not many of us claim to be God’s sole channel of communication with mankind. How do such religious leaders handle failed predictions like, to name a few–1914, 1925, or 1975? They mention how even the Apostles had misplaced expectations, citing Acts 1:6.

Acts 1:6,7 does give us insight into how truly faithful and discreet servants of God handle such matters. Here the Apostles set the example of what to do and what not to do. The passage says, 6 So when they had assembled, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.”

Note: The Apostles did NOT go on a worldwide campaign proclaiming, “The Kingdom of Israel is being restored at this time!” They simply asked a question. They were told it did not belong to them to know, such things were only in our Heavenly Father’s jurisdiction, nobody else’s. Therefore, if a person is truly guided by God’s word, should that not be the end of the matter? If someone goes beyond the things that are written, and makes a prediction, either overtly or subtly, is that faithful and discreet?

Where Else Can We Go?

When contemplating the problems in the Organization–the lack of real love, the feeling of being overworked, never feeling good enough, constantly being judged, the endless list of ‘do nots’, the scandals and historical blunders, glaring doctrinal errors–some people will ask, “Where else will we go?”

What many Jehovah’s Witnesses do not know is that folks in other high-demand groups also ask this exact same question in regard their own organization. This is a type of thought-terminating cliché that enables a person to take glaring problems and file them away, creating a fear that for all the problems, it’s either this or nothing. Once labeled in this manner, a person is enabled to stop or minimize thinking about the problem. Nothing ever gets solved this way.

This thought-terminating cliché is based on John 6:68, where the Apostle Peter is portrayed as saying, “Where else can we go?” However, this is NOT what the Apostle actually said. Please take your Bible out and reread this verse. Reading what the Bible actually says can help liberate us.

Does the Light Get Brighter?

The power of thought terminating clichés cannot be overestimated. In a few short words, a stack of inconvenient evidence can be labeled, filed away, and forgotten. No thought-stopper is as pernicious as the following saying, “The Light gets brighter.”

How can such groups, who often claim to be the only one having the Truth, continually justify changing that ‘truth’? By referencing Proverbs 4:18, which says, “But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” This is interpreted to mean that from the beginning of the “modern-day Organization” until now, there has been a progressive movement into increasing light and thus a continually refining of the understanding of prophecy and other doctrine.

This saying is not unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses alone, but was inherited from their Adventist forebears, likely, all the way back to William Miller. Concepts such as ‘New Light’ and ‘Present Truth’ can be found among many Adventists groups today.

However, is this what Proverbs 4:18 means? The only way to discern the meaning is by reading the entire context: Proverbs 4:14-19.