Camping’s Calendar

I understand Harold Camping’s dilemma. I believe that he really thought he heard from God. There’s no convincing him otherwise, so don’t bother trying.

As a pastor I’ve seen this a lot. I can’t count how many people I’ve known who truly believed they heard from God. And when it doesn’t come to pass, rarely do they say, “Oops. I was wrong. I didn’t hear from God. Oh well…“. Rather, the mental and spiritual gymnastics they go through to desperately try to make it make sense is breathtaking.

Why? Because if they admit they were wrong about hearing from God, then they’ve opened up a huge theological and spiritual problem.

And they just can’t go there.

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About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Mike

    You speak TRUTH.

  • http://www.ascendingthehills.blogspot.com Jessica Mokrzycki

    lol that’s great!

  • http://www.jasonmarshall.co.uk Jason

    very good, thanks David

  • jeremy

    Not to mention that as soon as we admit we were wrong, others mo longer put any merit in anything we say, even in the things we still can speak to with some level of confidence. “Oh he’s going through a tough time right now spiritually… he’ll figure it out eventually.”

    What people seem to fail to understand is that sometimes when we admit to not hearing from God in a specific situation we are thinking / ‘hearing’ / ‘seeing’ more clearly tham ever… spiritually speaking.

  • Mike

    Jeremy, great insight!

  • Sister Marie

    Those who claim to speak for God will never concede their fallibility. If a prayer by Benny Hinn really results in a miracle healing, why doesn’t he go down to Tennessee at the Danny Thomas Children’s Hospital and clean out the cancer wards there? Could it be because he dons his $500 pants in the same way that we do – one leg at a time?

  • http://www.cindymurphythinkingoutloud.blogspot.com Cindy

    Yes, “mental and spiritual gymnastics” is a perfect description. I’m guessing when the final date in October rolls by we’ll probably hear that the world really has ended but it is an invisible “spiritual” end. It’s incredible what people will believe when they are fully invested in something. For Harold Camping because he believes he heard from God and he’s put his whole life into this and for many of his followers who have given up the lives they once knew, it would be too painful to admit that it is was all for nothing, so they look for anything they can cling to no matter how ridiculous it might sound to the rational mind.

  • http://www.lelightclub.com Louise la francofun!

    Actually when I went through this I preferred to say I was wrong than to admit G-d was ignoring my petitions. I since stopped asking for things and do not expect anything out of the ordinary (this way I’m less disappointed). I’m thankful for what I do have and sporadically throw monologues up there in case someone’s listening. Praying does not accomplish His will and not praying does not hinder His will only the disposition of our hearts does.

  • brent

    time was when hearing voices from God was blasphemously assuming the role of a prophet.

  • brent

    jeremy – it’s like a gambling addict who believes that pushing the button on the poker machine causes the game to spit out coins. Ok, not that time, but this time it will. Ok, not that time, but this time it will. Ok, not that time, but this time it will. BING!!! See?? I TOLD you!!

    If doomsdayer’s keep making predictions (and they will) then eventually when something bad does happen (and it will) they’re going to take credit for it.

  • Sister Marie

    “I understand Harold Camping’s dilemma. I believe that he really thought he heard from God.” (David Hayward)

    Owing to Camping’s advanced age, there’s a distinct possibility that you are correct. If we were to apply the normal standards by which one evaluates the credibility of such statements – i.e. what kind of track record does this person have for his predictions? – then this story would never have garnered the publicity that it did. And our society no longer tolerates committments to mental institutions those who though delusional, represent no danger to themselves or to others. So the only ones who are harmed by such ridiculous predictions are those who are equally delusional. If this had occurred before the internet existed, chances are that few of us would have even been aware of it. So now, crazy people like Camping and this pastor in Florida with his Koran burning crusade become instant celebrities.

  • http://theprodigalprophet.com Dylan Morrison Author

    Indeed David

    The prophet who gets it wrong usually drops the supposed ‘word’ like a hot potato and moves onto the next one hoping his new admirers won’t have heard of the ones that didn’t come to fruition. It’s endemic within the charismatic/pentecostal scene.

    Unfortunately it diminishes the acceptance of the
    genuine prophetic gift and the Divine Voice.

  • Johnfom

    The good ol’ net does indeed give a wider voice to the ‘crazies’. As it turns out, the folk who have grown up with the net tend to be better at spotting a fake than their older and ‘wiser’ parents. As a culture we are building better filters. It’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to advertise to the young-uns, they just filter ads out.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the next generation of politicians, ministers, and other leaders as it becomes harder and harder to ‘spin doctor’.

    Maybe, just maybe, we will have to honestly open up that ‘theological and spiritual problem’ and deal with it.

  • Mike

    Johnfom, great insight and word!

  • Lynn

    Brent,
    You make a good point. I think it’s a proven fact that if something works PART of the time, you’ll keep doing it on and on. Like with gambling.

    I think prayer works this way. A particular prayer appears to be answered, so you keep on praying…

  • OneTrueKinsman

    So, someone explain to me then…

    If you are Christian, you adhere to the words in the Bible (both Old and New Testament). How ‘sane’ is the Book of Revelation? Christians of many denominations can call Harold Camping crazy, but is his craziness that far off from what Luke wrote in the Book of Revelation, which Christians claim as the inerrant word of God?

  • http://www.afterthepulpit.com After the Pulpit

    Priceless! “Noventure” sounds perfect for my least favourite month.

  • Sister Marie

    “…but is his craziness that far off from what Luke wrote in the Book of Revelation…”

    Uh, Luke didn’t write Revelation. But that’s beside the point. There’s a lot of interpretations to that passage, including whether John was high on something.

  • Crystal

    I’m with Louise la francofun!( what does that name mean, I wonder?) on this one. I no longer beseech God on my knees to give me what my heart desires. He will do it in his own good time, or maybe not, but I’m convinced that nothing I do or say makes any difference. This is my humble state of affairs at present, and it feels more like real faith than what I used to do – crying out loud, falling on the floor ( although that worked in one particular situation so I can’t be too cynical) hitting the walls in anger, throwing stuff, repeating scripture verses like mantras all day long until I didn’t know what I was saying, going for long walks and yelling out loud to God that he had to answer my “prayer” but of course he didn’t, and he hasn’t, because he’s God, and he can do what he wants, which right at this moment is nothing – on and on. Get my point folks?

    As far as Camping goes, I’m downright angry at how he has deceived people. He is responsible for leading gullible Christians down a stupid, stupid road of deception. I know that nobody could talk any sense into him so there’s no point even trying, but all those people who followed him ought to never read their bibles again because it appears that their guru is rewriting it. Any day now you will see a new “Camping Bible” on your local bookstore shelves, and it will have nothing to do with campfires and cookouts!

  • Mike

    Christians, all Christians, pick and choose what they Believe and practice out of the Bible. There are arguments, both pro and con on many positions, which can successfully debated Scripturally (eg. eternal security, women ministers, etc.). When one comes to realize this, then grace is much easier to be extended to those of conflicting viewpoints.

  • Crystal

    David,

    Forgot to say how good your calendar cartoon is. Clever! One of the best, I would say.

  • OneTrueKinsman

    Sister Marie,

    Apologies…it was John.

    My point, though, was that most Christians argue the bible is the inerrant word of God, which includes the Book of Revelation. If this book called the Bible is accepted as the doctrine for Christianity, then that means all the craziness in Revelation is also accepted.

    We can call Camping ‘crazy’ all we want…he just happens to be the one who was most vocal over the past few weeks. If a moderate Christian stood on the corner somewhere in a busy city and started reading from the Book of Revelation, would he/she appear any less crazy?

  • OneTrueKinsman

    Revelation 6:12-17 (New KJV)

    12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold,[e] there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon[f] became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders,[g] the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

  • http://www.lelightclub.com Louise la francofun!

    Crystal! In Canada we have people who speak English (Anglophones), people who speak French (Francophones) and people who speak other languages (Allophones). I am a Franco and hopefully fun! Ergo the intended pun!

    And yes David brings much needed comic relief to this sad and tragic side of Christinsanity!

  • Kthuuluu

    There is a side to christianity that isn’t sad and tragic? Must be in some book other than the bible. Where can I find this???

    /Sarcasm

  • http://www.kinnon.tv Bill Kinnon

    Too funny. Love the cartoon, David.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    thanks bill. glad you like it.

  • Rose

    I guess I’m having trouble understanding why kicking Camping when he’s already down makes anyone a more “with it” Christian than Camping, especially when this author thinks Camping was sincere. I wonder which Jesus would condemn more — a sincere mistake or ridicule of a sincere mistake?

  • Mike

    Rose, a sincere mistake; I agree. However, his “mistake” cost people hundreds of thousands of dollars. I heard reported (unverified at this point) that a woman killed her daughter so she would not have to go through the tribulation. And, caused great embarrassment to Christiandom. However, Jesus did always teach, “If they aren’t against us, leave them alone.”

  • brent

    Rose – the Jesus in the Bible would be way more judgemental of someone making a sincere mistake, say for instance having any belief other than exactly the one he wanted you to have, and he was not at all above ridiculing people for getting it wrong.

    Jesus was not a “it’s ok for you to believe what you believe” or “it’s ok for you to find God your own way” kind of guy.

    I’m more interested in why Christians ridicule the guy at all – sure, he got the date wrong, but it’s a central tenet of Christianity that it WILL happen any day now. Without the belief of the certainty of the immanence of Armageddon you’re not a Christian, you’re just some kind of spiritualist or general Believer.

    Off topic: If Jesus taught “If they aren’t against us, leave them alone.” then what’s with the crusades, anti-semitic violence, the witch-hunt, the inquisition and banning gay marriage? I think Jesus taught “If’n yer not for us yer agin us”.

  • Tiggy

    Dear Brent, why are you giving Jesus a Scottish accent?

  • Mike

    Brent, read your Bible. Not going to waste my time to look it up for you. Pull your concordance out. The disciples came to Jesus telling Him there were others preaching the Gospel that were not part of their group. Jesus clearly said that if they were not preaching against Him to leave them alone.

  • brent

    Ok, sorry. How’s this?

    If Jesus taught “If they aren’t against us, leave them alone.” then what’s with the crusades, anti-semitic violence, the witch-hunt, the inquisition and banning gay marriage? I think the Church teaches “If’n yer not for us yer agin us”.

    Or are you saying that the Church is anti-Jesus?

  • Johnfom

    The verse is in Mark.

    9:39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us.

    It’s also in the end of Luke 9.

    Having said that, Luke 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

    So… *shrug* Methinks there may be a bit of context to be looked at for the quotes.

    And yeah, sometimes the church is more ‘cultural expression’ than ‘of God’s kingdom’ (eg. crusades, witch-hunt, inquisition, etc).

    Concerned about this one though: ‘Without the belief of the certainty of the immanence of Armageddon you’re not a Christian, you’re just some kind of spiritualist or general Believer.’

    What? Since when has this particular millennial view been one of the core, immutable, essential doctrines of Christianity? I think, for most, is is not an essential doctrine. There is even a recognisable group (the preterists) who would be seen as Christian and would reject such certainty.

  • brent

    Since when? Since the word go. Since the early Christians decided to redefine the word Messiah. To a Jew the word refers to the human being who will lead the Jewish people to a victory over their oppressors and forge a Jewish nation.

    Just like Camping who changed the meaning of the word Rapture to mean a spiritual rapture, whatever that means, after it became readily apparent that Jesus in fact was not the Messiah (by reason of him being dead), they changed the word so that suddenly it meant he was a spiritual Messiah, whatever that means.

    There are two parts to Christianity – the carrot and the stick. The carrot is that Jesus came to save us all by sacrificing himself to himself to appease himself because of all the sin and stuff. The stick is that one day Jesus will return, and on that day, boy, you’d better be ready.

    Jesus is still the Messiah right? The ‘spiritual’ Messiah, obviously, because he never was the ACTUAL Messiah. Or are you saying that the meaning of the Christian word Messiah has again changed, and that Christians no longer preach that the Messiah will return? He’s now a meta-spiritual Messiah? Jesus, the King, might or might return to redeem us all in the end times?

    I wish Christianity would make up it’s mind.

  • brent

    sorry I just finished shouting at my kids to go bed. I want to delete all that / and replace it with something more intelligent.

  • http://www.theepapergirl.etsy.com Lindy

    lol So true.

  • Sister Marie

    OneTrueKinsman wrote: “We can call Camping ‘crazy’ all we want…he just happens to be the one who was most vocal over the past few weeks. If a moderate Christian stood on the corner somewhere in a busy city and started reading from the Book of Revelation, would he/she appear any less crazy?”

    It depends. To the extent that crazy people are able to hide their craziness “under a bushel”, the proximate result is that you and I would never even be aware of it. If the “moderate Christian” was reading silently, he would hardly even be noticed. He would acquire just a little more notice if he was reading aloud but in a normal speaking voice. Those passing by might wonder what this individual does to pay his mortgage and put food on his table, but there’s no law against reading in public. So we must ask ourselves, “Why is it that millions of us know this crazy person’s name?” And I think there are two reasons – one is that somehow this guy attracted enough equally crazy followers to fund a massive advertising campaign, and two, the internet has enabled the rapid dissemination of craziness.

  • james

    jesus is already here!/ he is returning to us everyday – Don’t look up in the skies for for him – look in the eyes of everyone you meet.

    didn’t he say something like “everytime you welcome a little one in my name – you welcome me.”

  • OneTrueKinsman

    Sister Marie,

    And I think there are two reasons – one is that somehow this guy attracted enough equally crazy followers to fund a massive advertising campaign, and two, the internet has enabled the rapid dissemination of craziness.

    …and how many millions/billions adhere to Christianity? And how many of them believe the bible to be literally true (including Revelation)? And how many of the non-literalists have called out their pastors/preachers on the validity/truth behind Revelation?

    My point is that, whether you believe in the literal truth of Revelation or not, you’re guilty by association until you speak out against it.

    My mother was telling me of a woman she knew who thought Revelation was literal. My mom thought she was crazy but, when I pressed her on it, she was reluctant to pass Revelation off as ‘just a story’ (my mom’s Orthodox Christian…I’m an atheist).

    The line in the sand needs to be drawn. If there are more people who do NOT believe in the literality of Revelation than there are of literalists, it is THEIR voice that needs to be louder. Why is there such a reluctance to call out this bulls**t?

    David, you are/were a pastor. Did a member of your congregation ever question Revelation?

  • http://irrelevantaxiom.wordpress.com Daniel

    OneTrueKinsman,

    I took a class on revelation in college. Maybe you think it’s crazy because you don’t understand it. Ya know, it’s what many people do today. When they don’t understand something like the God of the Old Testament, they just throw him out. I’m glad scientists don’t do that. We’d never get anywhere in our understanding of science.

  • OneTrueKinsman

    Daniel,

    Educate me, then. Tell me what you see when you read Revelation, how you interpret it.

    And, please, which scientists don’t throw God out, when > 90% of scientists are either agnostic or atheist.

    You don’t need a belief in God to understand science when, in fact, science renders God unneeded to explain the natural world around us.

  • Crystal

    Louise la francofun!:

    Thanks for enlightening me with regards to your name. I live in Canada too, but I wasn’t raised here so I don’t speak French and am an ignorant Anglophone. Ha Ha! By the way, French is a beautiful, expressive language, especially when sung.


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