2 Timothy 2:16–18 (ESV) But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
It is rare that Paul addresses a false teaching directly in his epistles, and rarer still to attach names to such teachings. But some things call for unusual treatment due to their impact. And here, Paul identifies what makes the actions of Hymenaeus and Philetus so problematic: a spreading ungodliness, due to a subverted faith which is the product of false teaching. In other words, false teaching which damages genuine faith, ultimately results in an ungodly lifestyle in those damaged by it. They give up the simplicity of trusting and walking with Christ.
There are two prevailing views on what form this gangrenous teaching that the resurrection had already passed, took. First, is that the resurrection is simply one’s salvation. They have been “raised from the dead” in Christ, and therefore no literal, physical resurrection is to be looked for. Second, was simply that resurrection was merely when those who died passed into Heaven. Both views though hold the very same error at their core – the “spiritualizing” of the resurrection. And in this way, they “upset” or overturned the faith of some, in turning them away from looking for Christ’s literal return, the resurrection of the dead, and the putting of the universe right.
Enter Harold Camping.
I’ve been pretty silent so far on Mr. Camping’s wackiness. I’ve done everything I can (since the 80’s) to chalk up his strange preoccupation with eschatological arithmetic to a mere harmless fancy, and then increasingly to the onset of an age related lack of Biblical lucidity. But no more.
Listening to his live press conference last evening evening in the aftermath of his failed prediction of Judgment Day arriving in global earthquakes and the rapture of all true believers – I lost my ability to ignore it. Why? Because his entire defense last evening was the Hymenaeus and Philetus tack: Judgment Day DID come, but it was all just spiritual – so he said.
He took not one iota of responsibility for what he incited in others by teaching his own misguided interpretations (if they can be called that: better, self-delusions) as absolutely and unequivocally what the Bible teaches. His gangrenous false teaching will injure the simple , pure faith in Christ of many – as the admitted raising of (and thus fleecing God’s people of) over 100 million dollars to get the warning out. Whether it was for personal gain or not is irrelevant.
This is shameful, wicked, unconscionable and indefensible. And to say “well, it really DID happen, just spiritually” is as much of a lie and destructive to faith in the Bible as it can be.
Whether self-deluded or a pure sham (I make the assumption of self-delusion) – the damage is none the less. And the whole Church suffers from the weight of it.
Let me not mince words here: Harold Camping is a false teacher of the highest degree, who has perverted the Gospel by drawing people away from following Christ, to following his predictions in order to be truly saved and right with God. This, is damnable. And it is not to be excused, winked at, ignored or explained away.
God has used Harold Camping and Family Radio in wonderful ways over the years to truly be a vehicle for the Gospel. But that is no more a means to excuse this present crime against the Gospel than the fact that Peter declared Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and was an apostle – freed him from public confrontation by Paul in Antioch when Peter’s public weakness led to a practical denial of the Gospel.
I have but two things to say in closing:
a. Do not listen to Harold Camping. Shut him off. Period. Do not give an ear to false teachers. Avoid this “irreverent babble” – it only leads to ungodliness, for it takes our eyes off of Christ.
b. Pray for Harold Camping and those who have listened to him and been so woefully harmed. They are in serious trouble. they have “swerved from the truth.”