WILL THE RAPTURE TAKE PLACE ON
MAY 21, 2011?
Questions and Answers

What are some of the weaknesses
of the interpretive system that produced the above date?

IF THE RAPTURE FAILS TO OCCUR ON THAT DATE
it will discredit the "replacement theology" system
but will confirm the credibility
of a "dispensational" interpretation of Scripture
such as is held by ThyTestimonies.com.

When this system fails it may also upset the faith of some
who have bought-into a false, man-made, date-setting system.

And it will enhance Satan's attempts to discredit
the truth and accuracy of God's Word, the Bible.

By  R.L.B.

        For several years a system of interpreting the scriptures has been boldly proclaimed by Mr. Harold Camping on his network of Family Stations, Inc. otherwise known as "Family Radio." His system uses a theory of Scriptural interpretion known as "replacement theology," a system widely held by amillennialists.

        Briefly, this system views God's dealings with believing Christians today as being the 'replacement' or 'fulfillment' of God's promises made to His earthly people Israel. In this system, the ethnic nation Israel has been 'replaced' by the present day church, and the physical nation Israel itself has permanently ceased to be part of God's program.  Thus, according to Camping's system, the various prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., which refer to future judgments and blessings of the literal twelve tribes of Israel are 'spiritualized' and these prophecies are now fulfilled through non-Israelite Christians and the 'local congregations' they assemble with in the twenty-first century. Thus Camping has invented the theory that God's judgments upon Israel are interpreted to mean that Satan now inhabits and controls 'local church congregations' today.  This system dramatically differs from various forms of dispensational theology.

        In dispensational thought, God's dealings with Israel are taken literally, and are not 'spiritualized' to mean whatever the 'replacement' theologian thinks best fits in with his particular theories. 

        For example, we believe the scriptures clearly teach that the Jewish leaders opposed the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry when He announced to them "the kingdom of heaven is at hand [or has drawn near]" (Mat. 4:17).  We believe the Lord said what he meant and meant what He said, and that this announcement was not to be 'spiritualized.'  Furthermore, when these wicked leaders of Israel caused the Messiah to be crucified (Acts 2:23), He forgave them (Luke 23:34), and the book of Acts records God's subsequent bona fide offer of the earthly kingdom to that physical nation. (Acts 1:6; 3:19-21).  As the gospel of the kingdom continued to be proclaimed in the Acts, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem continued to reject the Lord Jesus (Acts 4 - 9), and the leaders of the Jewish Diaspora throughout the Roman empire eventually joined Jerusalem in rejecting the Lord of Glory and the works of the Holy Spirit (Mat. 12:32; Acts 28:24-29).  This national rejection by all Israel's leaders (at Jerusalem and at Rome) marked the final rejection of the Messiah by the "wicked hands" who sat in Moses' seat.  This fateful decision by official national Israel to reject their Messiah, and the subsequent final pronouncement of blindness upon that nation occurred at Acts 28:25-28.  At that point (Acts 28:28), the covenant nation was temporarily set aside and the offer of the earthly kingdom was placed in abeyance.  Finally, God's program continued with an elect people (believers today) who are totally unconnected with the covenants belonging to ethnic Israel (Eph. 2:11-19).  At some time in the future we will be taken from this scene at "the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).  At that time God will once again take up His dealings with His earthly covenant people.  He will fulfill the prophecies and promises made to them, specifically the re-gathering (assembling) of a remnant from all twelve tribes of Israel to their land, the establishing of the new covenant, and the indwelling of the Spirit of God (Ezek. 36:22-31; Jer. 31:31-34).  So called 'replacement' theology does not believe in a literal millennial (thousand year) kingdom (Rev. 20:1-7), nor does it believe God will ever gather the scattered tribes of Israel to their promised land, as is plainly taught by God's prophets.

        Mr. Camping, and his followers, cite Old Testament prophecies that warn Israel of physical judgments to fall on them because of disobedience, and interpret these judgments as being fulfilled in the church today (since they believe 'the church' has replaced Israel in God's plan). According to the Camping system Satan now has total control in the "local congregations", and all true Christians absolutely must leave any local church which has elders, deacons, and pastors.  He contends that anyone who remains in such "local congregations" is not saved.

        The Camping system that produced the May 21, 2011 date is based on a naive misinterpretation of 2 Peter 3:8: "But let not this one thing be hidden from you, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."  The true interpretation simply proclaims that God is timeless, eternal, and not bound by any calendar on the wall.  In no way does it support any "year day" theory that says 1000 years equals one day.  With the Lord "one day ... is AS a thousand years."  The verse is not intended to be a mathematical formula.  The true meaning is clearly shown in Psalm 90:4:

 "For a thousand years, in thy sight, are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:4)

        Camping's followers paid for billboards that unequivocally stated Jesus Christ would return on May 21, 2011 and the world will be completely destroyed October 21, 2011.  The May 21and October 21 events failed to materialize, as did a September 6, 1994 date when Camping's first prediction crashed and burned.  Camping made it quite clear that he believed these dates ARE TAUGHT BY THE BIBLE. Some believers may be weak in the faith and not able to distinguish between what the Word of God actually teaches, versus what Camping says it teaches.  These Christians may conclude that the scriptures themselves are erroneous, causing serious doubt in their minds as to the authority of God's word. This is because Camping leaves absolutely no wiggle room;  Camping says this is not his interpretation, it is absolutely what the Word of God teaches.  According to Camping, to deny what he preached about these dates was to deny the inspired Word of God. 

     "But profane, vain babblings shun, for they will advance to greater impiety,
     "and their word will spread as a gangrene; of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
     "men who as to the truth have gone astray, saying that the resurrection has taken place already; and overthrow the faith of some.
     "Yet the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those that are his; and, Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity." (2 Tim. 2:17-19)

        Like Hymenaeus and Philetus, modern day date setters such as William Miller, Charles Taze Russell, Joseph ("Judge") Rutherford, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Harold Camping, not only make themselves the laughing stock of the world, but they willingly become the devious tools of Satan when their predictions fail to materialize.  But, more seriously, they defame the word of God in the eyes of believers and unbelievers alike.  In so doing these teachers voluntarily label themselves as "vessels of dishonor" (2 Tim. 2:20-21) and should be treated as dishonored vessels by Bible believing Christians.  Note how the scriptural passage quoted above continues, giving specific instructions to serious Christians as to how to respond to such false teachers:

     "But in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also wooden and earthen; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.
     "If therefore one shall have purified himself from these, in separating himself from them, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Tim. 2:20-21)

* * * * *

UPDATE - (October 18, 2011)

Now that Mr. Camping's May 21, 2011 prediction has failed, what now?

Now that May 21, 2011 and October 21, 2011 have come and gone with nothing happening, Mr. Camping continues to cling to this May 21st date, except now he says the Lord came in judgment, in a spiritual sense.  This all sounds like a repeat of William Miller's 1843-1844 fiasco and its after-the-fact "reinterpretation" by his Adventist followers:

     This [1843-1844] coming is foretold also by the prophet Malachi: “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1. The coming of the Lord to his temple was sudden, unexpected, to his people. They were not looking for him there. They expected him to come to the earth, “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8 - (Ellen G. White, Christ's Closing Ministry In the Heavenly Sanctuary, A brief review of the foundation of the great Advent movement of 1844)

Even after his May 21, 2011 prediction totally failed, Camping continued to maintain that the physical, violent, end of the world would occur October 21, 2011.  He also claimed that no unbeliever can be saved after the May 21 date.  There is "no possibility" that God will save anyone. (Open Forum, June 9, 2011). 

If I was fooled by his first and second false predictions, shame on him.  But if I am fooled by his subsequent false teachings, shame on me.  Much better to study the Word and go by what it says, rather than by the pronouncement of some man who claims his interpretation of the Word is the Word of God.  In other words, be a 'Berean' (Acts 17:11), not a follower of some man.

Bible believers who hold a 'dispensational' interpretation of scripture look for a literal unannounced second coming of Christ to earth.  We also believe He will take His present gathering (ekklesia) to be with himself in the heavenlies.  But we also believe that God will do these things on His own schedule, not on a date set by a vessel of dishonor here on earth.

(Note: Update June 9, 2011:  Mr. Camping suffered a mild stroke that supposedly did not affect his speech.  However, his appearances on radio and television are currently being filled by older pre-recorded programs and by speakers who are convinced of Camping's doctrines).

(Further note: Update October 17, 2011:  The various 'Family Radio' preachers continued to insist that in four days (October 21, 2011), the earth will meet its fiery end.  That 'fiery end' failed to take place, PROVING that Camping's 'replacement theology' system is false.  This failure of his prophecy strongly suggests that a literal, dispensational, interpretation of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc., is the more correct way to understand the scriptures).

As of July 1, 2012 Family Radio continues to broadcast archived Open Forums that erroneously tie happenings in the church on earth with the prophesies to a future National Israel found in Jeremiah.  Camping needs to read some of the articles on the ThyTestimonies.com website!  The fact that the now discredited Camping is given air time does not bode well for Family Radio.

* * * * *

A further note on so-called 'replacement theology':

        Replacement theology has not only affected amillennialists like Harold Camping.  Even some dispensationalists have been tainted with a mixture of 'replacement theology' and of a system which might be called an 'inverted replacement theology.'  Thus, while rightly affirming Israel's future blessings, those who follow those systems fail to recognize that the primary theme of the book of Acts has to do with God's prophetic dealings with His covenant people Israel; that the "church" (ekklesia) which began on the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) is actually the prophesied new covenant kingdom ekklesia that Yahweh referred to when He promised to "gather" Israel from among the nations (Mat. 16:18-19; 19:28), and put His Spirit upon them (Isa. 44:3; Ezek. 39:29; Joel 2:28-29) and within them (Ezek. 36:27; 37:14). 

        In the 'replacement theology' system held by some dispensationalists today, the fact that God began working out His program for the nation Israel in Acts 1 through 3 is largely ignored.  The blessings meant for Israel in those key chapters are taken from Israel and applied to today's ekklesia.  This error leads to misunderstanding the position of the entire book of Acts, and has led to errors such as Pentecostalism and other isms.  When Christian "gatherings" in the Acts are labeled as "God's pattern church," it assumes that our Christian gatherings today should be patterned after the kingdom ekklesia that existed when God was still actively inviting ethnic Israel to be 'restored' as part of Hebrew prophecies to call together his earthly chosen people for millennial blessings on earth. Thus, Israel's earthly kingdom blessings are wrongly transferred to the ekklesia today whose blessings are spiritual in nature, and are located not on earth but "in the heavenlies" (Eph. 1:3). This error is a form of 'replacement theology.'

        In the 'inverted replacement theology' system the heavenly blessings meant for believers today, as found in Paul's prison epistles, (following the sentence of blindness read upon national Israel at Acts 28:28), are applied to the remnant of believing Israelites who formed Christ's kingdom ekklesia in Acts 2 and 3Thus, in this system some believe the apostles failed to understand God's plan for "The church."  The apostles were mistakenly thinking of the kingdom, whereas they should have understood that Christ's gathering in Acts 2 and 3 was supposed to consist of Jews and Gentiles united in one body in Christ with its sphere of blessing "in the heavenlies" as revealed in the 'mystery' of Ephesians and Colossians.

        In fact, today's church ("gathering") exists completely apart from the earthly kingdom related covenants and blessings announced in the Gospels and offered to Israel in the Acts. (See Eph. 3:3-6).

        For more on this subject see the papers

"The Church" (& How it Changed During the Acts Period)

The Book of Acts, Dispensationally Considered,  and

The Miracles, Signs and Wonders of the Great Commission.

 

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