Monday, May 30, 2011

My First Published Article

This month's issue (June/July 2011) of Homiletic & Pastoral Review contains my first ever published article! It is on the development of the dogma of papal infallibility in light of J.H. Newman's seven notes for authentic doctrinal development.

If you don't already have a subscription to Homiletic & Pastoral Review, you should! I've been a subscriber for about five years now and haven't been disappointed by it once. I am quite pleased to have my first article in this wonderful magazine!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We Interrupt This Apocalypse To Bring You Breaking News...

….there has been a miscalculation.

It seems that some people just don’t know when to give up! After his second failed prophecy of the unbiblical ‘Rapture’, Harold Camping has issued a new prophecy: The world will end on Oct. 21! The AP reports with my comments in bold, below.

By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press Garance Burke, Associated Press – Tue May 24, 3:56 am ET   
OAKLAND, Calif. – A California preacher who foretold of the world's end only to see the appointed day pass with no extraordinarily cataclysmic event has revised his apocalyptic prophecy, saying he was off by five months and the Earth actually will be obliterated on Oct. 21.

A prophet in Scripture is one who speaks on behalf of God. In the Old Testament, the way you knew that a man was a false prophet was if his prophecy came true or not. Simple enough. If the prophecy happens, you have legitimate prophet. If no, then you have a liar and deceiver and the penalty for false prophecy was death by stoning (See Deut. 18:20-22).

Harold Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before catastrophe struck the planet, apologized Monday evening for not having the dates "worked out as accurately as I could have."

If someone has a true prophecy there would be no mistakes and ‘miscalculations’! If it is from God, it will be completely accurate. Could you imagine Elijah challenging the priests of Baal, dousing the altar with water, calling down fire….and then nothing happening? He wouldn’t be able to say, “Oh! Silly me. I got my calculations wrong. Could you guys come back in five months from now?” 

And how does Camping know that he is one of the 200 million?

He spoke to the media at the Oakland headquarters of his Family Radio International, which spent millions of dollars_ some of it from donations made by followers — on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

It was not the first time Camping was forced to explain when his prediction didn't come to pass. The 89-year-old retired civil engineer also prophesied the Apocalypse would come in 1994, but said later that didn't happen then because of a mathematical error.

You would think people would have seen him for the fraud he is the first time! But to be fooled again is just plain foolish. If people go along with him the third time, they deserve what’s coming to them. In the immortal words of George W. Bush:

There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again.

Through chatting with a friend over what he acknowledged was a very difficult weekend, it dawned on him that instead of the biblical Rapture in which the faithful would be swept up to the heavens, May 21 had instead been a "spiritual" Judgment Day, which places the entire world under Christ's judgment, he said.

In other words: “While talking with a friend to try and figure out how I don’t get tarred and feathered, I decided to give May 21 a spiritual twist to it.”

The globe will be completely destroyed in five months, he said, when the apocalypse comes. But because God's judgment and salvation were completed on Saturday, there's no point in continuing to warn people about it, so his network will now just play Christian music and programs until the final end on Oct. 21.

"We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "The fact is there is only one kind of people who will ascend into heaven ... if God has saved them they're going to be caught up."

So…anyone born after 6pm on May 21, 2011 will not be saved? Gee, that’s swell!

Josh Ocasion, who works the teleprompter during Camping's live broadcasts in the group's threadbare studio sandwiched between an auto shop and a palm reader's business, said he enjoyed the production work but never fully believed the May 21 prophecy would come true.

How fitting that his studio is between an auto shop and a palm reader: two professions which are known for lying to people and swindling them out of their money!

"I thought he would show some more human decency in admitting he made a mistake," he said Monday. "We didn't really see that."

Exactly! Camping has no decency at all. People have spent their entire life savings and quit their jobs based on a fraud and all he can say is that his math was wrong. 

Follower Jeff Hopkins said he spent a good deal of his own retirement savings on gas money to power his car so people would see its ominous lighted sign showcasing Camping's May 21 warning. As the appointed day drew nearer, Hopkins started making the 100-mile round trip from Long Island to New York City twice a day, spending at least $15 on gas each trip.

"I've been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I've been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car," said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, NY. "I was doing what I've been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I've been stymied. It's like getting slapped in the face."

I don’t remember the Bible instructing anyone to put a lighted sign on top of their car (or camel) and claim to know when the end of the world is. I’ll have to go back and look for that. 

Camping's hands shook slightly as he pinned his microphone to his lapel, and as he clutched a worn Bible he spoke in a quivery monotone about some listeners' earthly concerns after giving away possessions in expectation of the Rapture.

Family Radio would never tell anyone what they should do with their belongings, and those who had fewer would cope, Camping said.

But if you want to donate your entire life savings to Family Radio, Camping sure as heck won’t stop ya! I think the IRS needs to do an audit on this guy.

"We're not in the business of financial advice," he said. "We're in the business of telling people there's someone who you can maybe talk to, maybe pray to, and that's God."

But he also said that he wouldn't give away all his possessions ahead of Oct 21.

AND HERE IT IS, FOLKS! Camping will take your money and watch as you lose everything for his lie, but don’t expect him to do the same. How are people fooled by this con-man?

"I still have to live in a house, I still have to drive a car," he said. "What would be the value of that? If it is Judgment Day why would I give it away?"

Silly Mr. Camping! Don’t you know that you get your own chauffer in Heaven? You won’t need to drive your car there.

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically — even within faith traditions — about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus' return can be predicted. 

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels about the end times, recently called Camping's prediction "not only bizarre but 100 percent wrong!" He cited the Bible verse Matthew 24:36, "but about that day or hour no one knows" except God. 

Even LaHaye knows that you can’t know when Christ will return! Now, if only someone would explain to him that the Rapture is also unbiblical.

Camping offered no clues about Family Radio's finances Monday, saying he could not estimate how much had been spent advertising his prediction nor how much money the nonprofit had taken in as a result. In 2009, the nonprofit reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities. 

Harold Camping should be in jail. Plain and simple.

Associated Press writer Tom Breen in Raleigh, N.C., and Videographer Ted Shaffrey and AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in New York, contributed to this report.