So Camping has finally responded publicly to news that the Rapture did not happen last Saturday after all. And he is completely unrepentant, an attitude that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been following Camping’s history and/or Apocalypsitis in general. You’re supposed to believe what you read in the Bible, right? A good and faithful Christian shouldn’t have to apologize for studying the Scripture and basing his life and teachings on what he finds written there. To admit that the prediction was wrong would be the same as admitting that God Himself was wrong. So he does not do that.
But once again, I think someone ought to speak up in Camping’s defense. There are a lot of very smug Christians right now who are going around telling anyone who will listen that “no one knows the day or the hour” of the End (paraphrasing Matthew 24:36), even though that verse is taken from a passage that exhorts believers to watch for the signs that ought to tell everyone it’s coming. Picking a verse here and there, and ignoring verses that offer (shall we say) “contrasting” instruction, these told-ya-so Christians make pre-emptive excuses for the Rapture’s failure to occur, and treat Camping like a black sheep because he dared to listen to what the less-popular verses were saying as well, and to believe in what they are saying.
Well, bullshit. Just because they know better than to treat the End like something you could “watch and be ready” for (as the Bible commands), that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for Camping to have the courage of his convictions. Besides, it’s silly to say that the statement “no man knows the day or the hour” means “nobody will EVER know the day or the hour.” The only way a prophecy like that could come true is if the End never came (at least while there were still living people to know what time it happened). The Olivet Discourse, in which this line is spoken, was a speech that happened almost 2,000 years ago. Camping is entirely correct to point out that it’s no guarantee God could not reveal more timely warnings to His faithful believers as the day of the End drew near.
So yes, Camping has been behaving foolishly, but his foolishness is primarily that he is so gullible about everything he reads in the Bible. He does not stop to consider that the Bible is a collection of stories and sermons written by men, reviewed by men, selected by men, canonized by men, and interpreted by men, and so everything he believes is actually based on faith in the works and words of men. When you believe what men tell you despite its clear inconsistency with itself and with the real world, what you have is not faith, but mere gullibility. That is why Camping cannot learn from his mistakes, and still believes that the End will occur soon (as in Oct. 21 of this year). And when that date fails, he’ll be flabbergasted once again, but he still won’t learn. Because that would be “unfaithful.”