Monday, March 7, 2011

Harold Camping: Interpretive Errors

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Harold Camping, owner of the Family Radio Network who has set the date for the Lord's return at May 21, 2011, approaches biblical interpretation in a way that could be summarized as reckless.


Harold Camping Billboard

First, he often takes prophecies that apply to a specific historical period and relates them instead to the end times. The context of Daniel 8:14 makes it clear that the prophecy of 2,300 days applies to the time when a tyrant by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem. It was 2,300 days later, after the Maccabean Revolt, that the Temple was cleansed and rededicated. The prophecy has nothing to do with the end times or with a cleansing of the Church.

Camping's greatest error of interpretation is rooted in his insistence that the Bible is a parable from beginning to end and thus must be interpreted allegorically.1 He insists that the real meaning of any passage is to be found in its hidden spiritual meaning that can only be decoded by true believers. Such an approach to Scripture makes it possible for Camping to interpret passages in any way he pleases, and that is exactly what he does.

As an example, he argues that the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11 represent the Church, and that when the time for the Church's witness comes to an end, God will kill (or destroy) the Church. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in Revelation 11 that even hints that the Two Witnesses are anything other than two persons who will be anointed by God to call the world to repentance during the first half of the Tribulation.

Another trick Camping constantly resorts to is re-translating Scriptures in unorthodox ways to give them the meaning he desires. An example of this can be found in his effort to prove that God is revealing new truths today. He quotes Hebrews 8:8 which declares that God "will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." This, of course, is speaking of the New Testament, but Camping says, no, it is talking about providing new revelations in the end times and should therefore be translated to say that "God will finish a new covenant" rather than make one!2


Harold Camping

Often times he will simply quote only part of a verse, giving it a meaning it never was intended to have. An example of this will be provided later in this series.

Since Camping was trained as an engineer, he loves numbers, and he plays with them constantly, giving them any meaning that he happens to need to support his off-the-wall interpretations. Thus, when he needs a number to be literal (as with the 2,300 days in Daniel 8:14), he interprets it literally. But if he needs it to be symbolic, then so be it, regardless of the context. Accordingly, he interprets the one thousand years of the Millennium to be 1,955 years! That's because he equates the Millennium with the Church Age.


In the next part of this series examining the madness of Harold Camping's date-setting, we'll look at Camping's End Time scenario and its problems.


Notes

1. GotQuestions.org, "Is Harold Camping and Family Radio a cult?" www.gotquestions.org/Harold-Camping-family-radio.html.

2. Harold Camping, We Are Almost There! (Oakland, CA: Family Stations, Inc., 2008), page 3.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr. Reagan for teaching us and instructing us.

Talia said...

Nice to see somebody picking apart this apostasy.

Billy said...

Off topic but...a guy told me today that my tie with the "fish" was a Catholic symbol. I always thought of it as Christian (neither Protestant nor Catholic). Was he right? Is the fish a Catholic symbol?

Expected Imminently said...

Billy
The 'fish' symbol was in use long before the invention of RC. They may use it, but they didn't originate it.

Sue :)

Nathan Jones said...

Right-o, Billy, the ichthys (ΙΧΘΥΣ), the Greek word for fish, that we see on half the cars in the South or eating a Darwin fish hails back to the earliest Church days. It's based on Jesus' calling Andrew and Peter to be disciples that they'd be "fishers of men".

During times of great persecution, a Christian could be indentified by another Christian by the fish sign. The first would scratch half the fish in the dirt. If the other finished the fish symbol, then they knew each others to be brother's in Christ. If not, nobody would be the wiser for scratching in the dirt.

Expected Imminently said...

Nathan and Billy

I wonder what symbols persecuted Christians could use today. I mean, the fish has world renown and could be id by non believers.

What about drawing half a fluffy cloud, the response being the other half. Or perhaps a full cloud the response being a line going UP to it for the imminent Rapture?

Any ideas - other than using two parts of a Scripture verse?

Sue :)

Billy said...

Sue,

I think the persecuted Christians during the Tribulation will be identified because they will not have the mark of the beast. So I don't think secret sign will help them. I think they will be slaughtered like the Jews in the Holocaust. Oh dear God, what suffering is to come.

Billy

(thanks for the info Nathan!)

Billy said...

Nathan said "...the Greek word for fish, that we see on half the cars in the South..."

Imagine the Southern U.S. traffic jams after the rapture! In So. Calif. the freeways will be jammed, too, though not because of the Rapture.

Expected Imminently said...

Billy
I agree it is a frightening thought about the Trib. BUT, I meant now, before the Trib. There is awful persecution of Christians, especially in Muslim countries, I wonder if they have any secret signs.

I think they do have them in China, (obviously its secret) but we could also get a dose of it before we go, we already have to beware of being un PC and not say anything to be construed as a 'hate crime' - well we do here in the UK.

Maranatha!
Sue

Billy said...

Sue,

I realized AFTER I posted that I had misunderstood what you meant...ooops!

RF said...

Billy said,
“Imagine the Southern U.S. traffic jams after the rapture! In So. Calif. the freeways will be jammed, too, though not because of the Rapture.”

Oh I love it! I was born, raised and still live in the Atlanta, GA area. I’m southern born and southern bred.

Billy said...

RF, I'm born, raised and still live in So. Calif. I'm jealous of you!

But at least my Mom's side of the family are Southerners (TX/OK/AR). So I grew up on Southern cooking and southern values :)

DrNofog said...

The fish symbol was also picked because it is an acrostic. Each Greek letter spelling fish, "Ichthys" forms the first letter of the words "Jesus Christ God's son Savior"
Iēsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sōtēr, "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ"

RF said...

DrNofog said...
The fish symbol was also picked because it is an acrostic. Each Greek letter spelling fish, "Ichthys" forms the first letter of the words "Jesus Christ God's son Savior"
Iēsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sōtēr, "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ

Thanks man! I had no idea.