Sunday, May 22, 2011

Matt 24 watch, 125b: The Camping case, 2 -- Mr Camping's grave error, and the Media's graver yet error

It is Sunday morning, and as expected, yet another last days date-setting exercise has failed.

(Image modified from WND, under fair use)

We have some lessons to learn on the parallel needs:
(a) to fix governance in ever so many churches and parachurch ministries, and 

(b) just as urgent, to fix our radically secularised, anti-Christian and dangerously hostile global media culture. (And yes, the just linked actually has a balanced report card that can be used to fix media reporting, commentary and a lot more.)
I think the onward exchange with EZ over at UD is as good a way to learn them as any. 

So, pardon some more web clips:


EZ: >> Thanks! I’m resigned to paying some bills and doing the grocery shopping as usual. Sigh . . .  >>

GEM of TKI: >> As expected, it is Sunday and we are all here — save of course those who moved on as individuals overnight.

I find it astonishing (or, maybe, telling) that the same major media entities that spend so much time and effort repeating over and over that extremists like OBL are fringe relative to Islam, are so often willing to let the impression be created that a Mr Camping or the like, are typical of the Christian faith or of Christians who take the scriptures seriously.

Indeed, the sensationalised coverage over the past few days — I had never heard of this man before — sounds to me like a credibility kill attempt: set up someone, make him seem to be a leading figure, knock him over, spread guilt by invidious association. 

In fact, Mr Camping is demonstrably in error — easily known before the fact as I pointed out Friday afternoon above — and is a fringe figure. He seems to have a radio enterprise, and to have amassed a fortune to back it. He is also a long since retired civil engineer (he is 89 years of age, from what I see) essaying into theological waters and using principles of interpretation that are known to be unsound at even basic Bible Study level. E.g. when I wrote a basic Bible study guide 25 years ago, I cautioned that one should not go looking for esoteric “hidden” meanings in the text where the text has a plain and natural sense that makes good sense.

And yet, that is exactly what he did, by coming up with some idiosyncratic date for Noah’s flood, then taking a text on how the eternal God is patient beyond human understanding (a day is like a 1,000 years in his sight . . . ) and taking a reference to seven days to go to the flood, plugging in the idea that 1 day –> 1,000 years, then voila, we arrive at May 21, 2011. Patent folly based on clipping words out of their natural sense in context and imposing a read-in meaning.

Worse, he has done this before, some 15 years ago. He excuses himself as having made a mathematical error then. I do not know what he will say this time around, but he needs to apologise to his followers, like that zealous and self-sacrificing young man I saw Friday in front of our Hospital. he then needs to apologise to the church and the leaders who tried to correct him, who he would not listen to. Sadly, I gather he has dismissed and derides the church at large and has tried to in effect gather circles of listeners into informal groups; a classic sectarian blunder — and one that will give a bad name to groups that meet for Bible study, prayer and discussion in homes or schools or offices.

Then, he needs to go with the church leaders he has been reconciled with and sit before the world, apologising and allowing the leaders to present a more balanced view of the Christian faith’s core message and its view of the End of Days and Day of the Lord. 

After that, he needs to set up a proper board of governance for his ministry, with serious stakeholder representatives on it. And, he needs to attach to it a panel of expert advisors who have the right and responsibility to keep his ministry on track through sound counsel. For, this is in the end a major failure of governance of a corporate entity.

Idiosyncratic autocracy is dangerous, too dangerous today to be tolerated.

But it is not just Mr Camping who needs to reflect on what just happened and make amends.

What was troubling is that the coverage did not stress that here is a fringe person who has gone off the deep end and has been repeatedly corrected, but instead it sensationalised the error, as though this is a set up of a strawman.

The contrast with the very cautious treatment of Islam, tells me that this is likely to be a cynical agenda at work on the part of key media figures, and once such have big enough mikes, the rest will endlessly repeat and amplify the standard story-line.

That lemming-like media mentality is very dangerous, and the sort of cynicism that failed to be balanced in this case — even while being if anything overly cautious in dealing with the likes of radical Islam — is even more dangerous. There is a lot of painful and bloody history on what happens when movements of conscience are repeatedly strawmannised and slandered. Demonisation and dehumanisation are the first steps to unjust suppression. (And when I see cases like the John foster parenting case in the UK, where the UK Dept for Equality and Human Rights told a High Court that Bible-believing Christianity is an “infection,” and were not roundly rebuked, that is a grim portent. Our civilisation has been down that road before — too many times, and it is nowhere where any sane person wants to go.)

Frankly, it smells a lot like hypocrisy and hostility.

Anyway, let us return to focus for the thread . . .>>

Perhaps, such will be heeded. But if not, at least we can learn from the errors just highlighted, and make sure we don't fall victim to either unsound religious groups or to the increasingly blatant media manipulation and its hostility to the gospel. END


UPDATE, 5:30 pm: It further turns out that Mr Camping is highly sectarian, even cultic in his attitude to the churches. 

This can be seen from a clip taken out of his page on "no man knows," where -- having tried to take other texts out of context to blunt the force of the direct scriptural warning against date-setting and to make plausible a claim that "the true believers . . . know the time (the hour) and much about Judgment Day (the day),"  his site goes on to say:

In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 Christ tells us, “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” Because destruction comes upon them, we can know for certain that these people are not saved. Being unsaved, they are in spiritual darkness. They are in the night. Judgment Day is coming for them as a “thief in the night.” Yet they believe they are at peace with God and safely under His care. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
       The language of this verse describes perfectly all of those in the world who on May 21, 2011 are still following any church. Because churches teach many things that are not true to the Bible, including a plan of salvation that is contrary to the Bible, and the Holy Spirit has abandoned all churches, those still following any church on May 21, 2011 are not saved . . .
 This is classic sectarianism, the attempt to corner the market on gospel truth and enlightenment. On long observation, it is highly dangerous to those enmeshed in a system that so dismisses all outside the in-group, in a broad-brush fashion.

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