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,
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.