Recently I encountered a group that claims to be God’s special “elect” people as harbingers of doom and individuals who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to perceive that May 21, 2011 will be day of rapture for God’s people and death and destruction for everybody else. They are the devotees of Harold Camping, a retired engineer with no Bible education or training whatsoever who set out to “discover” the countdown to destruction as he believes is “clearly” indicated by the Bible itself.
There are 3 main things to know about this group’s belief system:
1) Harry Camping’s core idea is linked to Noah and that God told Noah about the Flood before its arrival. As such, the core slogan for this group is: “Noah Knew, So Can We.” Indeed, their website is called www.wecanknow.com/.
2) A core part of their theology is what we might call “strong” Calvinism or “double predestination” whereby God foreordains which individuals will “go” to heaven and which ones will end up in hell. Harold Camping (and his followers) make much about the idea that there is nothing anyone can “do” to be saved, but in reality, they make studying the Scriptures and a person’s openness to the truth of May 21st the key parts of what it takes to be saved. This is played out in various parts of the thread below.
3) Finally, this sect teaches absolutely no confidence in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for salvation. As part of their hardline Calvinism, they adamantly claim people cannot “accept” Christ’s gift of grace and salvation. However, this is also where they are inconsistent with their denouncement of “works salvation,” for instead of trusting in Christ, their leader instructs them merely to believe that May 21 will be the rapture and to wail and moan and “cry out to God for mercy” in the hope that God will save them. In that sense, this sect shares far more with Islam and forms of Judaism than it does with actual Christianity.
What follows below are conversations I have had with various members of this cult-like group in regard to their interpretive framework and possible outcomes should May 21 come and go without event. The original conversations took place in the Yahoo Group Forum: “Latter Day Rain” and on the critical website: http://departout.com.
My intention was/is to follow the group in the months and weeks preceding May 21st, 2011 and then to observe how they handle the aftermath of being mistaken, deceived and disillusioned by their leader, Harold Camping.
As I see it, there are really only 3 basic options that these people have when their so-called “prophet” and his “prophecy” are revealed to be in error:
1) They will finally move on to a deeper faith (this time with eyes wide open, but without all this Harold Camping business), or
2) They will lose faith in both Christ and Camping, or
3) They will simply make excuses for Camping and go right back to making the Bible dance to another doomsday calendar song.
It is my hope that they will select option #1, but I fear that #2 and #3 are more likely. As you can see from the thread that follows, none of my conversation partners are even willing to consider what option they might choose if Harold Camping’s doomsday formula turns out to be a sham (at least not out loud). I suspect that this is because, like cults, honest questions and expressions of doubt simply are not tolerated. This is unfortunate.
Matthew 24:10-11 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
(Readers interested in the mathematical formula deployed by Harold Camping should skip down to the April 28th comments and thereafter)