How to engineer fame - and a great fall - in one failed swoop
How can a man engineer a great following? The answer is very simple - predict a date for Jesus' return. In the months leading up to the date you will become as famous as William and Kate (well, almost).
But then, when Jesus doesn't come (and he is very unlikely to show up on your date) your fall will be equally dramatic. You will (rightly) be called a false prophet and deceiver. As one man put it, if the Father hasn't even told the Son when the day is, why should he tell you? No man knows the hour (Matthew 24:36).
Harold Camping - the prediction
Misled (a kind description) people all around the world were waiting on Saturday 21st May for the return of Jesus, predicted by Harold Camping. Cynical companies were set up to take pets off the gullible for a fee (non-returnable, of course). But the day came and the day went, and Jesus Christ did not return.
Harold Camping - the fallout
Two muddy streams flow out of this failed prediction. First, outside the church, the world laughs and mocks. Atheists in America were preparing to celebrate the non-return of Jesus, and according to one report, an 18 year old boy died in Michigan when partying with his four friends. Harold Camping is surely partly responsible for this death.....and completely responsible for the derision poured on Christ because of this latest, failed prediction.
But then unbelievers will latch onto any reason to hold onto unbelief......?
Perhaps we should be more concerned about the 1000s of Christians around the world deceived by Camping and having to face the aftermath of this failed prophecy. My guess is that some will walk out on Christ, others will become mistrusting of Bible preachers, others will (and this is good) have lost their faith in Camping, while the wider Christian church may end up neglecting prophecy more than it already does because they think it is tainted by wackos.
As I write the blog, Camping has not yet repented, and is still hiding at home, apparently 'flabbergasted' (what, that Jesus didn't fall in line with his predictions?). Someone tweeted "Don't be discouraged Mr Camping, it's not the end of the world!"
So far Camping is unwilling to face the music (and it won't be archangels).