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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Camping Prediction More Probable Than Those of Most Evangelicals

Harold Camping's prediction of a May 21 judgment day is more likely to come true than the predictions of most evangelical pastors. If Camping is right, then he made a lucky guess and consequently optimistic Amillenialism is based upon faulty exegesis, an unlikely scenario. On the other hand, all dispensational pastors are definitely wrong on their general description of the end times. Even if we allow dispensationalists to pick every date from now until the end of the age as their prediction for a pre-tribulation rapture, they’d still be wrong. No one will be left behind.

The ramifications are striking. Dispensationalists are wrong about a doctrine that is often more thoroughly explicated in their respective church covenants than the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone, or the Holy Trinity for that matter. At the very least, I hope that all Reformed Christians believe it is more probable that (i) Jesus will return on May 21, 2011 than (ii) he will return in stages and unbelievers will occupy pilotless air craft. The former is highly unlikely whereas the latter is an absurd impossibility.

Obviously Camping is a heretic - given his ecclesiology if nothing else, but let's not lose perspective, shall we? Most of evangelicalism is confused on this matter of Jesus’ return, yet are sensible enough not to make date-predictions. Notwithstanding, their general predictions of how things will unfold are more disturbing than Camping’s predictions, at least for me. Camping has excommunicated himself from the Christian church, so his exegesis (or in this case his numerology) is of little or no concern to me. I am exceedingly more concerned about evangelicals like John MacArthur, for instance, who refuse to renounce such silly rapture teachings that bring reproach upon Christ’s church from the inside. Indeed, Camping is an embarrassment but not to the church, for Camping is not a member of the body of Christ. He's a fringe-fanatic and nothing more.

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15 comments:

Allen said...

Interesting post. I have always had trouble seeing how the "rapture" works. For me, it leaves too many unanswered questions. For example, who is to preach the Gospel after the church is gone? Would this means Christ has two second-comings, one for the church and one for the end of the age? Wouldn't the "last trump" of 1 Thessalonian need to line up chronologically with the last trump of revelation? Seems there are more questions than answers.

I have been looking at pre-wrath return of Christ positions and find them more plausible. Your thoughts on this?

I am far from being an expert on theology. Perhaps my post exposes this all too well. So, please forgive my ignorance.

Reformed Apologist said...

I'm not sure I follow. You seem to say in paragraph one that you take issue with the pre-trib rapture theory only to give it credence in paragraph two.

Allen said...

Pre-wrath is not pre-trib. It is after the sixth seal. It is the rapture of the church just prior to the "Day of the Lord," which begins at the opening of the seventh seal.

Hepzibah The Watchman said...

I read these posts and have one observation. Presumably, there will be an end for the time of the Gentiles. Yes, after the Rapture there will be no Christians preaching to the Gentile unbelievers because their chance to choose will have passed. The next stage is the preaching of the Gospel to the Jews. This is the job of the 144,000 Jewish converts (12,000 from each tribe of Jacob).

I don't believe in the 5/21/11 date - but I don't claim to know when any of this will happen. Many Christians (lay people and shepherds who are well schooled) may get it wrong. But, there is one clue that God left us to help with our understanding. In Revelation 1, the angel says to John, "Come up here and write what you SEE." We have a first century man trying to describe 21st century technology. When the book of Reveation is read with this in mind - it makes much more sense. May God bless you all, indeed.

Jim said...

HTW,

The only problem is that everything you said is not found in Scripture. It's found in fiction novels.

James Swan said...

Ron, could you flesh this out for me, I'm not sure I know what you're saying:

If Camping is right, then he made a lucky guess and consequently optimistic Amillenialism is based upon faulty exegesis, an unlikely scenario.

Thanks.

Reformed Apologist said...

Allen,

The point still stands. A pre-wrath schema is merely a synthesis of the other aberrant views and in particular exempts believers from wrath such as does the pre-trib view. Accordingly, and as noted it already, you give credence to what you don't find tenable, the absence of Christians to preach the gospel once wrath begins. In other words, you say that the pre-trib view isn't credible because of x, yet the pre-wrath view you find credible contains that same x.

The problem remains - there is no basis for these theories in Scripture. One must superimpose a theology upon Scripture and then point to this verse and that verse in a Gnostic fashion to make Scripture fit with the position. For instance, MacArthur acknowledges that Luke's Olivet Discourse points to AD 70 whereas he won't allow Matthew 24ff to point to the same. He says that more is discussed in Mt 24, like the abomination of desolation. The simple answer is that Luke wasn't writing to Jews as was Matthew, which would mean they would be familiar with Daniel's prophecy. He also takes issue with language such as stars not giving their light etc., which is simply apocalyptic language for the demise of a nation, something very common in OT Scripture. He thinks it's too strong to apply to the destruction of the temple. What he fails to grasp is that if God spoke that way for the demise of a pagan nation, how much more the case for the demise of his ancient people?!

I defy anyone to deduce from Scripture multiple returns of the Lord.

Reformed Apologist said...

James,

What is meant by that snippet is simply that if Camping is right, then an optimistic eschatology must be wrong because the church has not yet grown to the degree that an optimistic view contemplates. Yet that only adds support to the claim that Camping's prediction is wrong. In other words, it's an "unlikely scenario" that Camping is right because (a) nobody knows the date, which would make Camping's prediction a wild guess, not likely to come true; and (b) it's very doubtful that an optimistic eschatology is wrong given Scripture's testimony.

Make sense?

Reformed Apologist said...

Mr. Watchman,

I'm sure you can offer proof-texts for the pre-trib rapture theory, but it's one thing to point to texts that speak to the truth of a rapture and quite another thing to find texts that prove that rapture doesn't come at the once and for all coming of the Lord to the earth, something Scripture affirms. Secondly, the most clear statement of the Olivet Discourse is that the generation of Jesus' hearers would not pass until the temple was destroyed. That prophecy came true in AD 70. Since the reality of history as predicted by the Lord no less doesn't fit a dispensationalist paradigm, they had to come up with a theory of a re-built temple so that it can be destroyed just as Jesus promised. Why not just take the Lord at his word when he said that all those things he spoke about would occur in that generation. Again, the language he used for lights-out for Israel had biblical precedent. Apocalyptic language is found for instance with Cyrus over Babylon; when Assyria takes Egypt; in the taking of Petra; and even when the Holy Spirit arrests the church in Acts 2 - and of course in the taking of the temple in AD 70.

Padded Cell Princess said...

I don't believe in a rapture. The theory of rapture is not that old and I believe that Revelation is to be read in context as a letter to the church at the time it was written, just like the separate 7 letters before it. It is written in a style that was popular at the time and if you read it as a symbolic text for what historically was going on at that time with Rome and their attack on Christians. The problem is that most people don't do their homework on the history. Not just studying the writers themselves but also what was 'the norm' of that time and what was society like. Luckily I'm married to a Biblical historian who can read the original Greek and knows the historical background. Yes I believe God is coming back but not with the whole hoopla of a rapture scenario. I think if you have a good grasp on what was going on at the time when Revelation was written then you can start to piece the symbolism together for yourself and Revelation starts to all of a sudden make a lot more sense.

James Swan said...

Thanks for the explanation.

it's very doubtful that an optimistic eschatology is wrong given Scripture's testimony.

I'm assuming by this you mean probably a Post-mill view.

Reformed Apologist said...

Both would have been proven wrong if Camping was corerct, optimistic-Amil and Postmil.

I draw a distinction between the two, the latter including a prolonged age before consumation, not necessarily 1,000 years though, wherein the church is the largest kingdom on earth, and the former simply culminating in the same degree of success for the great commission but without the extended age of the victorious church on earth.

James Swan said...

Thanks.

Puritan Lad said...

As bad as the "rapture" theory is, the worst part of Dispensational theology is the idea that there will be a return to animal sacrifices in the Jewish temple as an atonement for Israel's sin while Christ himself is seated on an earthly throne. Apparently, Christ's work isn't finished after all.

Reformed Apologist said...

PL,

That's a great point and one I think has more force than I used to think. Do Christians really think that God would have his people offer sacrificesf? After all, isn't that why the temple was destroyed in the first place? Doesn't the book of Hebrews reveal God’s mind on this matter of sacrifices after the shedding of the Savior’s blood? Calling these future sacrifices a memorial doesn’t solve the dilemma for they have been forbidden.