Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Harold Camping is Yet Another Good Reason to Become Catholic

Well, May 21st came and went and as Bruce Cockburn said

"Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me..."

As expected, Harold Camping was once again wrong in attempting to predict the day and the hour when "the rapture" would occur. I would like to believe this is a great living example of the failings of sola scripture but in reality it's just plain and simple disobedience to scripture. Jesus told us know one would know the day or the hour and yet Harold and countless others through history have attempted to tell us just that very thing.

So it's not truly an example of the failings of sola scripture per se (we already have  greater than 20,000 denominations which provide ample evidence of such). Harold's recent heresy is an example of what sola scriptura has spawned: The belief that each of us carries within us the authority to interpret God's word and that we are not beholden to any other outside authority (read Church) other than our conscience and the way in which we believe scripture is guiding/forming it.

Why isn't there somebody out there to condemn Mr. Camping and put him in his place? Who should we turn to? His pastor? Naw, he doesn't go to church since he believes we are no longer in the Church age. His denomination? Can't because he is his own denomination. How about his board of directors? Naw, he owns Family Radio lock, stock and barrel. How 'bout Pat Robertson,  Billy Graham, or the Evangelical Theological Society? What authority do they have over him? None.

So basically, this gentleman makes a prediction about the end of the world, spends millions of dollars donated to his ministry to promote it, then causes many to leave jobs, houses, family, etc, to follow this heretical belief, and poof! Nothing happens, and no repercussions. Nada. Perhaps Harold has a little egg on his face but will go on without any rebuke and I suspect, if he lives long enough, will pull the same shenanigan again at some point.
If there is any lesson learned here, I pray that some of these deceived folks will begin to process the non-event and realize the need to come under some type of religious authority not based on one man and his personal private interpretation of Scripture.
   I left the Catholic Church in 1973 and spent several hours per week listening to Mr. Camping's teachings. I suspect they were partly responsible for my decision to ultimately leave Catholicism, so I do have a small dog in this fight and it bugs the heck out of me that 40 years later Camping is still deceiving others leading them away from the true faith. I pray that God will ultimately write straight with crooked lines and use Harold's heresy to ultimate bring people back to the faith that is guided by the authority given  from Christ himself.


Anonymous Mark J said...

Russ, I believe this is more a failure to follow Gal 1:8 than anything else. The New Testament's greatest warnings are to threats inside the church--wolves in sheep's clothing, false teachers, etc. So we should not be surprised when this happens--and no group is immune.

May 24, 2011 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For several days I have been struggling to make sense of the whole “End of the World” fiasco. Mark J. seems to be saying that Camping was a false prophet who misunderstood the meaning of the Bible. Russ on the other hand is taking it one step further and asking not only did Camping misinterpret Scripture but by what authority did Camping make these statements and who is going to hold him accountable? It seems that you both agree he was wrong to do what he did, but what’s to stop some other “wolf” from doing the same thing.
The Catholic position that there needs to be authority to make the final determination and hold people accountable is the only one that makes sense. It would be different if Camping was a cult leader and convinced all of his followers of some false belief, but he wasn’t part of a cult. His program has been aired on mainstream Christian radio for years and his teachings have been widely accepted. When he started to go off the deep end, who was there to shut him down?
There is safety in the Catholic Church’s claims of infallibility regarding faith and morals. They and the Eastern Orthodox are the only ones who can trace their roots back to Christ. Every other tradition and creed was a break from the roots and foundation of Christian/Catholic belief. It makes much more sense to look to the teachings of the Church Fathers and then have an authority structure to rein people in when they start to veer away from the truth.

May 24, 2011 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Name Witheld said...

It may be that his failure has Mr. Camping a bit depressed, but he should not let it get him down. Everybody makes mistakes. It's not the end of the world.

May 24, 2011 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Mark J said...

Anon, the presupposition that the Catholic Church is infallible is a belief that only a practicing Catholic can hold, I don't see that as any different than a person's belief in Sola Scriptura, in that regard.

We're called to be on guard at all times. And I'm sure there are people that failed Mr. Camping by not confronting him on his teachings

May 24, 2011 2:34 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

"And I'm sure there are people that failed Mr. Camping by not confronting him on his teachings'

Why couldn't they confront him? In the New Testament times, what if a disciple started preaching that Jesus was returning soon including a date etc based on his personal interpretation of the Old Testament prophetic books? What if this "new teaching" was getting traction and causing dissension in the Church? I suspect the Church would have held a council and through the power and authority given to them by Christ(the keys to bind and loosen)would have rebuked the erstwhile "bible teacher" and put him in his place.
When the new Church was struggling with understanding why the Gentiles didn't need to first be circumcised, the very first council in Jerusalem was held and with authority, a binding decision was made to allow conversion without the pre-requisite ritual of circumcision.
This had been a historical reality since the start of the Church. Error is dealt with and the Church is protected from wandering into heresy.
In the 4th century, when the arian heresy was threatening to split the Church, once again, a council was held in 325, and the "official white paper" on the nature of Jesus was released by the Church.(The Nicean Creed) Even with the scriptures available to them(though not all formally collected and canonized as the NT until 393AD) they required an authority outside of scripture to deal with this impending doctrinal disaster. With the bible alone(or parts of it circulating around), the early believers couldn't agree on whether Jesus was truly God or not! That still blows my mind.
For the next 1700 years, the Church has dealt with error in doctrine in this fashion. The many councils of the Catholic Church were often the result of dealing with heresy or re-affirming the faith that had been passed down through the ages, but perhaps needed to be "unpacked" (made a bit clearer) for the faithful.
Have there been wolves in the Catholic Church? Absolutely and lots of them and plenty today! I agree that no one is immune from false teachers. There is a 2000 year history of people coming up with their own novel doctrines. But in Catholicism, they are not permitted to continue to teach and promote these doctrines, nor are they permitted to just move on and start their own church as Mr. Camping originally did when his reformed church rebuked him when he was starting to get off the wall. But they couldn't prevent him from starting his own church. Why? Because there was already in place a 400 year old history of Christians who started their own church based on their own interpretations of scripture.
My whole point is that in Protestantism, the diversity of doctrine and practice of faith is due to the lack of a central authority. Using the Bible alone has not been enough to prevent fragmentation and dissent.

Jesus prayed for his disciples that they would be one. I don't believe that His prayer is no longer applicable.

May 25, 2011 8:10 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

"Using the Bible alone has not been enough to prevent fragmentation and dissent."

It would appear to guarantee fragmentation and dissent.

May 25, 2011 10:12 PM  

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