Thursday, 8 March 2012

Doomsday pastor Harold Camping: my predictions were sinful

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Harold Camping
Last year, California-based evangelical preacher Harold Camping caused something of a stir (or at least created a few ripples in the pool of vaguely ridiculous news stories) by predicting that the Rapture would occur on 21 May. Contrary to expectations, it didn't, so Camping revised his prediction by declaring that the world would finally meet its Doom on 21 October. Again, this didn't happen – winter didn't come, there was no feast for the crows, and Camping was forced to admit, in a somewhat roundabout manner, that he had got it wrong.

You may have thought that was the last we would hear from the nonagenarian Camping, who with three failed predictions behind him (6 September 1994 was his other, in case you're curious) would have been well within his rights to put his feet up and enjoy the rest of his time on the world he had said (and actively willed) wouldn't be around to provide a platform for such idle leisure pursuits.

But Camping has this week issued a letter to followers of his Family Radio ministry, in which he asks for God's forgiveness for his "incorrect and sinful statement" predicting the end of life as we know it. The letter contains much discussion of how Camping and his followers have been "humbled", and the preacher points out that he "has no interest in even considering another date".

However, Camping does point out that his predictions have had some positives:
"The May 21 campaign was an astounding event if you think about its impact upon this world. There is no question that millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible’s warning that Jesus Christ will return. Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.
"Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible."
And later in the letter:
"We were even so bold as to insist that the Bible guaranteed that Christ would return on May 21 and that the true believers would be raptured. Yet this incorrect and sinful statement allowed God to get the attention of a great many people who otherwise would not have paid attention. Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible. However, even so, that does not excuse us. We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin." 
So, contrite, but pretty keen to make sure God realises that the Rapture folly was pretty beneficial to the whole persuading-everyone-in-the-world-to-kneel-and-worship-Him thing.

How very humble.
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