08 January 2011

The Dangers of Subjectivism

What are you doing on May 22? Well, if you're a follower of Harold Camping, you're probably not planning on being here that day. Surely by now you've heard of Camping's latest "prophecy," that the Rapture is going to occur on May 21, 2011, after which time God will proceed to execute His final judgment and destruction of the earth. If you're a student of the Bible, however, then you know that Camping's prediction has absolutely no validity whatsoever.

Prophets, as predictors of the future, have no place in the church today. Hebrews 1 tells us that, in the last days, God spoke finally and ultimately through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is prophet, priest, and king. Why, then, should we desire any further word than that which has already been spoken by Him through whom the world was created? Revelation has ceased and if you ever hear someone claim otherwise, I would strongly suggest that you run quickly in the other direction.

Harold Camping, like so many others today and throughout history, is a false prophet. He is an extreme example to be sure, but the dangers of his influence shouldn't be written off lightly. How many naive people, seeking the truth, have been led astray by men and women like Camping? These "dreamers of dreams" are themselves living in rebellion to God and thus seek to lead others with them as they travel the wide path to destruction. Twenty years ago, Camping predicted that the world would end in September of 1994. Well, I think we can all agree that didn't happen! So we must necessarily (and obviously) conclude that Camping, though claiming to speak for the Lord, is indeed a false prophet.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst."
(Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ESV)
Mr. Camping should be on his knees, first repenting, and then thanking God that we no longer live under the Law. If we did, then it would indeed be required that Camping be stoned for his lies and false prophecies.

I realize these truths are nothing new to most of my readers. I hesitated to even mention Harold Camping, because it seems as if he is hardly worth acknowledging. But as I am studying through the book of Jude, I find myself daily more and more grieved by the presence of apostates in the Church. It is so easy, in our Christian bubble, especially if we are blessed with a Bible-teaching church with Godly leadership, to lose sight of how truly entrenched the visible Church is in apostasy. Yes, Camping is an extreme, but how subtly did his false teaching begin? I haven't studied this man extensively, but let's just look for a moment at his approach to Biblical interpretation.

Camping, like so many others, interprets the Bible allegorically. This is, without a doubt, the most dangerous approach to Scripture that we can take! Sadly, this is becoming more and more pervasive in "Christian" circles today. Postmodernism, the Emergent church movement, and even the Purpose-Driven movement, have all in one way or another taken Scripture, ripped it out of context, and interpreted it to mean what they think it should mean in a certain time or place to suit their purposes. What is the consequence? Nothing can be objectively true. Nothing can be certain. What's true for you may not be true for me and so let's just agree that we're both right so that neither of us is offended by being told that we're wrong.

Interpreting God's Word allegorically leaves one with a purely subjective, emotional, personal, and usually flawed view of the truth. It's this method that leads to pastors preaching on the parable of the talents to mean that God has given people different "talents" (as we use the term today) which they must use to worship Him. Allegorical interpretation will find someone reading the story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and believing it to be a picture of a sinner reconciled to God and thus brought back to "life" through Christ. While it's true that repentance and faith in Jesus does bring us into eternal life, that is not the purpose of Ezekiel 37! Instead, this story is a picture of Israel. Believers today can find plenty of New Testament texts to point to the truth of regeneration in Christ; we do not need to strip an Old Testament story of its truth and blessing for Israel.

Subjectivism has taken over our churches, and it has led to nothing short of apostasy. God didn't write the Bible so that we could all read it and interpret it to mean whatever we want it to mean. He also didn't write the Bible in a secret code that can only be unraveled through numerology and the like. God isn't trying to hide His truth from His people. He, through the power of the Holy Spirit, inspired ordinary men to write His truth within the pages of what we now call the Bible. It is clear, it is understandable, it is TRUE. It is God's revelation of Himself to man. If we choose to hold it as a wobbly mass of subjective, feel-good, self-help advice, then it will slip quickly from our grasp and we will only be left holding our own musings. But if we cling to it as the solid Word that it is, then we will build our faith upon the Truth that it contains, and that is a foundation that will never falter.

1 comment:

  1. Camping has long crossed the line from false teacher to just plain heretic; he denies the Trinity.

    I first heard Camping back in 1994 when I stumbled across his radio program. I was aghast at who horrible were his hermeneutics, and so many naive people were calling in and taking what he said as gospel. I got to listen to him tell us the rapture was going to be in September 1994, and wondered why all his followers didn't leave him after that failed. But just like others of his ilk, he explained he simply misunderstood, and that the end of the Church age has come instead. And if you today are still in a local assembly, you are cut off from God's real people, who sit around the radio to listen to Camping.

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