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  • An open letter to Harold Camping’s rapture watchers

May
14

This is an open letter to all those who have believed the message of Harold Camping that the rapture will happen one week from today, especially those who have staked their lives on the claim and lost everything for the sake of spreading this message around the world.

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

You have been deceived. As May 21st comes and goes without the clear prophetic utterances of Harold Camping having come to pass many of you will be confused, angry, disillusioned, or all of the above.

You will be ridiculed by friends and family, national media and even Church leaders.

You will wonder how God could have failed you so badly…or rather, allowed you to fail Him so badly.

Some of you, no doubt, will continue to believe that Harold Camping simply made an error in the timing of his prediction and will want to reassess and continue on with him in teaching about the rapture of a small segment of the church out of the world being A) an actual Biblical event and B) knowable by those who truly understand Scripture.

But it is neither of these things. Do not be further deceived! Come out from his false Gospel and the influence it has had on your life!

Now, to those of you who do recognize the foolish nature of all that Harold Camping has taught, I want to offer a word of encouragement to you.

Yes, Harold Camping is wrong. And yes, you are wrong for having put your faith in his foolish message and then rationalized away all the warnings and rebukes from the larger Body of Christ regarding his error.

HOWEVER, God cares for His sheep…even the ones who’ve wandered into the care of false shepherds (see Jeremiah 23 for how God feels about these shepherds who presume to speak in His name). No matter how badly deceived we have been, there is always the opportunity to repent and come into the light of God’s love and the true leading of the Holy Spirit.

Sadly many of you will feel that you can no longer trust God and are not welcomed in any church. I want to encourage you to return to the true Body of Christ (regardless of denomination…Christ’s bride spans denominational boundaries!) and to surround yourself with a community of believers who will help guide you back into the truth of God’s Word.

I want to encourage you to be teachable and humble in acknowledging the catastrophic error and false shepherding you willingly embraced, and committed to never being so deceived by any self-appointed prophet ever again.

If a church is not willing to lovingly receive you back into their arms and walk with you through the emotional and spiritual vertigo you will be feeling on May 22, then shame on them! Literally! There will be shame on them for not tending to the wounded and hurting sheep who are most in need guidance and healing.

To those of you who have left friends, churches, jobs and/or families in order to proclaim the message of Harold Camping, I urge you to do everything in your power to be reconciled to them. Go to them, tell them you were wrong; don’t try to justify, don’t try to rationalize, don’t try to minimize the hurt this false teaching has caused in your life and theirs. Simply ask their forgiveness and allow them to respond however they may, leaving it in God’s hands after that. This is not easy and you will be tempted to minimize and sidestep your role in this, but God honors those who acknowledge their faults and seek to correct them and restore broken relationships. Your spouse may not take you back; your children may not want to have anything to do with you; your boss may not hire you back; your friends may not invite you back into their lives…but you must do what you can to repair the damage caused by your actions.

I do want to make one thing clear  before ending this letter. Your desire to tell everyone about the saving power of the Gospel and your willingness to give up everything for the sake of the Jesus is something that many Christians in our culture could take a lesson from. Yes, you were wrong to follow Harold Camping’s ridiculously unbiblical teaching…but the passion and vigor with which you followed what you thought was the message of our Lord is impressive and points toward the very nature of Discipleship and the radical call of Jesus on our lives! As my friend Olatunde Howard put it when I shared this letter with him before posting it: “What Satan intends for evil, God can use for good.” It’s only “zeal without knowledge” that tears down and leads astray–if you are able to keep that zeal, but submit it to true knowledge of the Holy Spirit, and true fellowship and accountability within the Body of Christ, much good can come of it!

I don’t know if any of you will even read this. My hope is that it reaches some of you on May 22nd and God uses these words to draw you back into His care and begin the healing and restoration He desires whenever ANY of us stray from His guidance and fall under the spell of persuasive false teachers.

Blessings from the Dojo,

JM

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Note: If anyone would like to explore in more depth what the Bible actually teaches and does not teach regarding End Times issues, you can listen to or download my entire “Apocalypse Now?? What the Bible Teaches About the End Times” course for FREE at http://sermon.net/jmsmith or you can order the course as a 10-disc audio CD set at http://jmsmith.org/store/apocalypse for $40 + shipping.

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Comments

  1. JM, I share your concern about all this. I worry about the fall out it will cause. I worry about the teenagers who have put their trust in this teaching. I worry about those who have invested thousands of dollars into this cause. I worry about their love for God after May 22 has arrived. My thoughts on this issue will be live on Monday May 16 at 8am Pacific time: http://www.thepangeablog.com/2011/05/16/the-rapture-is-coming-this-saturday-may-21-2011/

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kurt Willems on May 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

  2. Georgia Gary

    Father, in the name of jesus, first thank You for Your grace and mercy. Thank You for this brother, Your son who seeks to win souls for Your kingdom by exposing the lie and liars of Your and our enemy satan. And Father, we know that Your word shall not fail for You said in your word that no man knows the day, hour or time that You will return, therefore for those who have been deceived by satan’s worker, we pray that You will convict their spirits that “what was meant for bad will be used for your good” and that is 2Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin. And will heal their land.” His word will never go void.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Georgia Gary on May 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

  3. [...] An open letter to the Harold Camping followers.  A must read for everyone, including non-Christians. Share [...]

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  5. Good stuff! An excellent pastoral response to people who will, no doubt, be hurting and disillusioned come Sunday.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Andy Holt on May 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

  6. [...] article here.Related articlesWe thought Harold Camping was a liberal (nagoonberry.wordpress.com)An open letter to Harold Camping’s rapture watchers (jmsmith.org)Harold Camping Claims Another Victim (scotteriology.wordpress.com)9 Films To Prepare [...]

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  7. That includes Santa, Barney The Dinosaur and god. You’re just as delusional as camping if you believe that a dead man from 2,000 years ago is going to magically return and save you, since there is zero real evidence that Jesus even existed in the first place. The bible is simply a fiction book, a collection of poorly written fairy tales thought up by a cult of mentally ill primitive stone age humans, then edited and re-edited by kings/rulers of different eras to fit their own agenda Some books in the bible have even been proven to be forgeries not even written by Peter or Paul, if they were even real people themselves either. Early dumb humans sat around in the grass and wondered what was in the sky and since there were no planes, microscopes, science or any form technology, they made up delusional stories. We’ve been to the moon and back now. No heaven to be found. The bible has as much meaning as the latest issue of an X-Men comic.

    [Reply]

    jm Reply:

    Haha…I approved this comment so that people can see what the exact opposite end of the spectrum from Harold Camping looks like!

    Good to know delusional nonsense isn’t confined to the religious extremes. ;)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Imaginary things do not exist on May 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm

  8. Thank you for putting it forthrightly and lovingly! If folks who mistakenly following Harold Camping are not lovingly corrected and received back into our fellowship, they will follow him (or another) all over again.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Glenn Harris on May 22, 2011 at 1:03 am

  9. Nick

    Everyone who believed camping was a fool and stupid for throwing everything away. Has it ever occured to any of you that maybe this man was profiting from this stupid prediction, that he knew what he was doing. Or maybe hes a crazy old man. Do any of you believers of this man who are so called christians read the bible in which you worship where it states that christ hi
    Self cant predict the secondcoming. So why believe such a prediction?? FOOLS! All of you who have nothing shouldve thought of these things

    [Reply]

    Comment by Nick on May 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

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