which actually rejoices in the suffering of the damned. Christians are already being portrayed as ‘anti-gay‘, and now the well -oiled marketing machine for the secular humanist worldview has some powerful new caricatures it can trot out to erode the credibility of those it seeks to denigrate. Camping and his kind do a very effective job in undermining intelligent, thoughtful Christians seeking to be heard within the public space on issues such as medical ethics or social care.
There are other aspects to this sorry saga that one has to anticipate in terms of negative impact, because Camping has been wrong before. There is, on YouTube, the video of an interview between him and a very youthful Louis Theroux, who seems drawn to such individuals like a moth to a lantern. In that, Camping asserts, with great dogmatism, that the world will end in 1994, and even now he appears to be returning to the fray with renewed confidence, suggesting a revised October 2011 date. If the man had simply apologised, and retracted the whole sorry debacle, perhaps even the more committed secularists would let the matter go, but of course other than some mildly-expressed regret about an error in his calculations, Camping continues to pursue his path.
One makes an error when balancing the household budget at the end of the month, apologises to one‘s spouse and moves on. There is no crisis. This is a human error one is allowed to make without significant repercussions. One does not make that kind of error, assuming the prediction is even possible, when calculating the date for Armageddon. In this respect, Camping demonstrates the utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy of this kind of treatment of the biblical narrative – if there were any dependable factual basis to what he is up to, he has spent long enough doing it to get the answer right.
It does not, of course, take the committed sceptic very long to draw the line between this kind of monumental intellectual dishonesty and the genuinely credible propositions at the heart of biblical Christianity. If it is right to be sceptical about Camping‘s teachings, which are derived from the Bible, then (so the argument goes) it is equally right to be sceptical about the claims of other Christians, insofar as they may be derived from the same ‘dubious‘ source. And further, by way of extension, there is the implied criticism of the way that God has chosen to reveal his plan to mankind – surely he would have made himself clearer, surely an important date like Armageddon would not be so comprehensively buried in complex arithmetic that one could keep getting it so wrong?
It is difficult to identify how Christians should respond to these events. After all, we read the same Bible as Mr Camping, perhaps even the same translation. We believe that God speaks to us through it, and we also believe that at some point the Lord Christ will return to wrap up this sick and suffering creation, and usher in a new heavens and earth. And, whilst we don‘t engage in those rather sick thought experiments, trying to imagine how awful things will be for the unconverted, the reality is that we do long for our Lord. It matters. Judgement matters. The renewing of creation matters. The ending of sickness and death and hate and tears matters.
I do not think that we have any option other than to face error such as this head on. There is no point in doing anything else than naming it, and seeking to demonstrate why it is so wrong. The fact that Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 24 that no man can know the date of his second coming supplies us with grounds to be quite categorical about the issue. And there is something else ‘fundamental‘ here.
I have noticed, over time, just how similar the new atheists are to the fundamentalists that they attack, when it comes to their treatment of the Bible. Both groups grab for convenient bits of the text, usually wrenched mercilessly out of context in order to support their own agendas. Indeed, it seems as if many of the more militant sceptics are in fact recovering fundamentalists— one can almost spot where they learned their poor textual habits. This being the case, it is even more vital that Christians not only know their Bibles well, but also know how to use them.
Why a Christian Perspective on History is Vital
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (Author: Peter Greyling)
Longing for 'Home' in The Hunger Games
November 2012 Article (Author: Angeline Liles)
In what sense does the Bible inform our understanding of ‘goodness’? (Author: Simon Aston)
'A Religion for Atheists?'
A critique of Alan De Botton's book, 'A Religion for Atheists' (Author: Jon Thompson)
Is our history being re-written as we speak? (Author: Kevin Moss)
Western Autumn After 'Arab Spring'?
A fascinating look at recent events in North Africa and the UK. From our annual newsletter, November 2011. (Author: Vishal Mangalwadi)
The King James Bible and The Cambridge Connection
The year 1611 marked the authorisation by King James I of England to produce a new Bible in English. 2011 therefore marks the 400th anniversary of the commissioning. (Author: David Berkley)
The Pietistic Roots of Evangelicalism Today
Contemporary Evangelicalism needs to understand and deal with its pietist roots. January 2010 (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
‘By the open statement of the Truth’
Lausanne and the Polemical Imperative (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The New Atheism
The term The New Atheism is one that Christians have had to get used to in the last few years, even if the ‘new’ connected to atheism seems something of a misnomer. (Author: Ian Cooper)
Francis Schaeffer: A Mind and Heart for God ed. Bruce Little
A book review of the latest book on Schaeffer. which is our book of the month for June. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
Staying Young Beyond Our Time?
We have long since discarded Shakespeare’s “seven ages”. Instead, we live in a capitalist system which encourages children to grow up as quickly as possible, and then tells adults to stay young for as long as possible. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
Voting links (Author: Annie Simmonds)
'I'm being taken over': Popular music and the fear of the impersonal
Popular contemporary song lyrics reveal "The Fear" that lies at the core of our culture. (Author: Rachel Thorpe)
'Why I am not a Christian' : a Christian critique
Considering the 'sacred text' of new atheism (Author: Kevin Moss)
Year Round 2008-2009
Recovering the Past, Challenging the Present, Shaping the Future - A review of the last year. (Author: Christopher Townsend)
Don't settle for cheap alternatives
Much has been said and debated recently about the newest craze to hit cyberspace, Twitter. For the uninitiated, (Author: Dom Vincent)
The Roman Return?
The wise keep their eyes on the merits and demerits of ideas for ideas have consequences (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Our Cultured Admirers
People we would expect to be our cultured despisers turn out to be... (Author: Ian Cooper)
Christians and the Credit Crunch
Our TV screens are saturated with the latest reports of... (Author: Kevin Moss)
Belshazzar and the Crash
“Overwhelming pressures are being brought to bear on people who have no absolutes... (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Rescuing Darwin or Wrecking the Faith?
An article published in Evangelicals Now, November 2008 (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
HIS Story Revealed
In a way Christian Heritage is all about stories, so as we near the end of a busy summer season let me share some of them, past and present, to bring you up to date. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Agreeing and disagreeing with Dawkins Part 2
Ranald argues that nothing in all history surpasses the brutality of the social systems most consistently modelled upon Dawkins' own atheistic world-view – Nazism and Communism. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Divinity and Dawkins - Debating Delusions
The Dawkins Letters and Agreeing and Disagreeing with Dawkins Part 1 (Author: Ian Cooper and Ranald Macaulay)
'Education - For God's Sake!!'
A lethal virus has become an epidemic and our children are the victims (Author: Elaine Cooper and Ranald Macaulay)
Dick Keyes on intuition, imagination and knowing God. (Author: Dick Keyes, Photo: karlrpet)
What Can We Learn from Francis Schaeffer?
Ranald Macaulay reflects on the legacy of Francis Schaeffer. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Truth and Lies
words, truth, and morality (Author: Text: Ranald Macualay, Photo:A@lbi)
Democracy in Iraq?
“Democracy in Iraq? You must be joking!” says the common person today. (Author: Ranald Macaulay, Photo: Chris Christner)
As Implausible as Father Christmas?
Sola Scriptura and Expository Preaching Today (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Humans: Religious by Nature
This claim seems ridiculous to many today who have a sense of the modern secular triumph over superstition, mythology (Author: Dick Keyes)
The UK: Prosperous but Disfunctional?
We are ridiculously prosperous in the UK; (Author: Ian Cooper)
West is East and East is West
On Hinduism and Western Culture (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Wanted: Christian Satirists (GSOH Required)
On Recovering Christian Satire (Author: James Williams)
On Whose Side of the Door is the Handle?
On Whose Side of the Door is the Handle? (Author: Rob Ambler)
Jerry Springer the Opera
Ian Cooper discusses this controversial stage show. (Author: Ian Cooper)
Ideas Have Consequences: Sodom Prophesied and Revisited
The fact that we find ourselves living in Sodom should come as no surprise. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Paradigms of Tolerance: Cartoons, Compassion and the Cross
Amid the oceans of ink and hours of air-time devoted to the recent ‘cartoons scandal’ (Author: Chris Watkin)
The Dangers of Thin Religion
Francis Schaeffer used to say that what was needed in our time was both revival and reformation. (Author: Dick Keyes)
Religion - A peripheral Issue?
Religion - A peripheral Issue? (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Heaven Knows How We'll Rekindle Our Religion
Heaven Knows How We'll Rekindle Our Religion (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Battle of Ideas
The Battle of Ideas (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Real Disaster
The Real Disaster (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
The Consequences of Ideas
Yesterday’s paper (1st Dec 2004) carried two fascinating sex-related news items. (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Francis Crick (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Constantine to Charlemagne
Constantine to Charlemagne (Author: Ian Barrs)
Dostoyevsky's 'The Idiot'
Dostoyevsky's 'The Idiot' (Author: Rob Ambler)
The Secular Context and the Christian Worldview
The Secular Context and the Christian Worldview (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Apologetic Communities (Author: Ranald Macaulay)
Evil and Suffering
Evil and Suffering (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics - Christianity and Culture
Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics - Christianity and Culture (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Epistemology - Philosophy of Knowledge
Epistemology - Philosophy of Knowledge (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Idolatry (Author: Jerram Barrs)
Horatio Nelson (Author: Ranald Macaulay)