In a previous blog post I stated that I was done talking about this issue; but after having just read the latest news regarding the misguided, false prophet Harold Camping, I felt compelled to offer some additional comments concerning this issue.
As you may have already heard, Harold Camping -- the impresario behind the Family Radio Network -- is now claiming that May 21st represented an "invisible judgment day" which only occurred in the Realm of the Spirit. According to Mr. Camping's new interpretation, the real deal -- that is, the physical destruction of the Earth -- will occur on October 21st, without a lead-up time of five months, which supposedly was to have been marked by global calamities, as he had predicted earlier. For those of you who are not familiar with the Book of Revelation, while I haven't delved deeply into Mr. Camping's teachings, I am assuming that he derived the five-month period from the following verses:
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months."
Revelation 9:5-10, KJV
Concerning the physical destruction of the Earth by fire, as I mention in a number of my own articles which deal with the end of this present world, Mr. Camping probably had verses such as the following in mind:
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
2 Peter 3:9-14, KJV
So while some of Harold Camping's beliefs clearly have a Scriptural basis, nevertheless, like many other people, Christian and non-Christian alike, I am left flabbergasted by his latest remarks, which he shared in a 90-minute speech which was broadcast online, as well as via his Family Radio Network.
Mr. Camping has now struck out twice with his 1994 prediction, as well as with his May 21 prediction. Should we really expect any different from his October 21 prediction?
Allow me to again share with you a few verses that are found in the Old Testament, which deal with the office of a Prophet:
"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Deuteronomy 18:20-22, KJV
"And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
Ezekiel 33:33, KJV
So there we see a clear contrast between a true Prophet of God, and a false prophet who is motivated by his own pride and vanity. Which one does Harold Camping represent?
At this point, one of the things which is of concern to me -- aside from how Harold Camping's blunders will affect the overall perception of our faith -- is how Mr. Camping's followers will choose to react to his obvious misstep. Sadly, having been deceived myself four decades ago when I participated in a particular organization which likewise set a false date for the Return of Jesus Christ, I have a good idea regarding how many of his followers will choose to react. Allow me to share with you a few excerpts from some of my articles. In part two of my 2010 series entitled "2012 - New Age Deception And Psychobabble" I note the following:
This is a common reaction with cults and other manipulative groups. In other words, when a leader is exposed as a false prophet, the more dedicated followers will simply forgive him for his blunders, wash over his mistakes, and they will continue to place their faith in his writings, until the time arrives for them to purchase his next book, which many of them will gladly do.
In part nine of my 1997 twenty-part series "Nature of the Alien : ET's, Demons or a Government Plot?" I also state the following:
As I already said, we have heard of similar predictions like these for decades, from many self-proclaimed prophets, seers, psychics and contactees. Every single one of them has failed. Of course, as is usually the case, the leader offers a vague explanation which satisfies the most devoted followers, and they continue living in their state of delusion. Sometimes, the date for the predicted UFO landing is moved up, or else the followers are told that by our own decisions, we humans have helped to change the course of events. This is exactly what occurred with the Nibiru prediction. Supposedly, Nibiru was going to arrive in 2003; now it is 2012, according to a few websites that I have visited.
In short, a plausible excuse for failure is always provided. The psychic, prophet, seer or channeler must maintain their credibility with their followers at all cost; and the blind followers are usually quick to forgive their leader. I speak from personal experience, and have observed this firsthand. So these people who make predictions of massive UFO landings on a certain date, or who say that Jesus will be coming back in a particular year, or who claim that such-and-such will happen on a specified date, are committing a grave mistake; and it may in fact end up being their own grave, if they are proven to be wrong.
So while some of Harold Camping's current followers are no doubt very disappointed, confused, wondering what to do, and in some cases are no doubt contemplating the abandoning the man -- if they haven't already done so -- nevertheless, there will be a core group of followers who will maintain undying faith in Camping's words and predictions, because they are just that deceived, and absolutely nothing will persuade them otherwise.
For those who do choose to leave Camping's fold, I feel very sorry for them; because while they are making the right choice to do so, I also know from personal experience that they will continue to be affected by Harold Camping's teachings for years to come, and they will be plagued with doubts and confusion. They will in fact be forced to forsake a lot of their mistaken ideas and beliefs, and will have to rebuild their faith in -- and understanding of -- God's Word, from the foundation, through a careful examination of the Scriptures. This will not be an easy task for some of them, because cult indoctrination is an extremely powerful thing to overcome. In my case, it took me a full ten years to pretty much rid myself of my doubts, confusion and most of my mistaken ideas. Allow me to share with you an excerpt from my 1997 three-part series "Heaven's Gate, Suicide And Other Death Cults":
It is an established fact that in order for an individual to become a happy, successful and productive member of any type of regimented society, group or organization, such as the aforementioned cults, he must first be willing, or perhaps be induced, to surrender his free will for the supposed good of the whole. In other words, he must be transformed into an obedient member of the collective whole. One of the initial stages in this subtle process is to convince the new recruit that his former value system and/or frame of reference is wrong. To accomplish this, the new recruit is first made to doubt the validity of his old way of thinking by showing him its inherent flaws and weaknesses. To prove this point, the recruiter may point to the current dismal state of society, and attribute it to following the old way of thinking. Much of what the recruiter says will indeed be true, and the new member will find himself readily agreeing with much of the recruiter's words. At this point of the process, a bridge of trust has begun to form.
At the same time, the new member is made to question his own self worth. He will be constantly reminded of his own human imperfections in order to further weaken his resistance. The recruiter will paint himself as a friend whose only interest is to save the new member from the error of his old ways of thinking and doing things, and thus invoke appreciation from the new member. In short, a power struggle is underway in which the recruiter is slowly seeking to dominate the will of the new member.
While all of this is occurring, the new recruit is likewise being slowly bombarded with the new doctrine, so that the old frame of reference is forgotten, and replaced by the new. It is similar to a form of mental rewiring, or brainwashing, if you prefer. Any manifestation of doubt, or resistance, by the new recruit is looked upon as potential disobedience and even disloyalty and is immediately brought to the attention of the new recruit, usually in a subtle, intimidating manner. Being as he wants to please his new spiritual masters, and show his worthiness, the new member will amend his ways, thus further diminishing his ability to think on his own. Of course, so that the new member doesn't become overly discouraged by the constant reprimands during the initial stages of this subtle process, he is also constantly reminded that he is chosen and special, and a part of a small elite group called either by God, his country, or the superiors of his organization. In short, the recruit's desire to belong to something, and to be accepted, is fulfilled, and he acquires a true sense of loyalty.
Eventually, after days, weeks or months, depending upon the character of the individual, the process is complete, and the member loses all free will, and becomes totally dependent on the recruiter for both his spiritual and material needs. He has acknowledged his own lowly state, and is thankful to even be a part of the movement, society or organization. He's also aware that his continued participation in the organization is conditional upon his willingness to remain submissive. At the same time, a double-psychology is brought into play whereby the new member is made to feel that in spite of the physical privations or psychological hardships he may have to endure, (even though the leaders may actually live quite well off in some cases), to leave the group would be equivalent to total failure on his or her part.
In the case of religious cults and organizations, quite often the new member is made to feel that to fail the organization, or the group leader, is equivalent to failing God; and living with the conscience of having failed God, or at least with the belief of having failed God, is difficult for anyone to bear. Religious organizations and churches refer to this "betrayal" of the faith as backsliding. A person who has been a victim of heavy indoctrination by a religious cult, and then chooses to leave, or manages to escape, can sometimes take many years to overcome the influence of the group; and sometimes they never do. As I noted earlier, while most people have the impression that thirty-nine members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult died as a result of their death pact, the truth is that forty-one members actually died. Two of them chose to take their lives later; apparently believing that they had failed their leader and missed the boat on March 26, 1997; which is the day that the thirty-nine bodies were discovered in Rancho Santa Fe.
So as I was saying, the new member becomes just another part of the collective whole, and would never doubt that his older brothers, elders, superiors or whatever they call themselves, have his best interests at heart. From this moment forward, and once the indoctrination and brainwashing process has been completed, the new recruit's entire objective will be to do as he is told, and to simply be an obedient submissive member who will do his best to please his new masters, and carry on the work of the organization. After all, he doesn't want to acquire the reputation of being a troublemaker, and face the danger of excommunication. If he proves himself, with time, he may even find himself moving up in the ranks and becoming responsible for other members below him. He may acquire the status of being an "older brother", or possibly a leader.
Given enough time, the desire to please and impress the cult leader can become excessive and reach a dangerous level. Cult fanaticism reveals itself in different ways. It may involve performing special deeds, such as having sex with the cult's leader, or engaging in heroic acts, such as being willing to die for the belief system of the group, or perhaps even to die in the line of duty in order to protect the cult leader himself. This has become known as the "martyr syndrome"; that is, being willing to die for a cause, or for a person, as a means to demonstrate one's worthiness, or even to convince oneself that one is truly worthy. In some cases, as we have seen, it stems from self-doubt and an inferiority complex which has been slowly instilled in the new recruit over the years by those who are seeking to dominate him.
In short, please pray for those people who choose to leave Harold Camping's misguided cult. They will require all of the spiritual support that they can get.