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Thread: Harold Camping and Family Radio

  1. #1

    Harold Camping and Family Radio

    Note: This is outdated content, but retained as a reminder and warning of cult leaders.

    A new cult is growing, gaining significant numbers worldwide. Harold Camping, The President and General Manager of Family Radio (Family Stations, Inc.), a once faithful, church-attending, servant of the Lord, is winning converts to conform to his Jehovah's Witnesses type doctrines. The mechanism he uses is his California-based Family Radio ministry with worldwide broadcast facilities, including more than 150 locations in the United States. His indoctrinating teachings can be heard any hour of the day — by radio, satellite, or Internet broadcast.

    During 1980's, Family Radio played traditional hymns with nationally syndicated shows such as "Back to the Bible", its youth-oriented sister program "Teen Quest", "Science, Scripture and Salvation", and especially "Unshackled" from the Pacific Garden Mission of Chicago. It also allowed local churches to air 5-minute devotionals and Bible studies free of charge. It was a quiet, low-key alternative to the glamour and glitz of Christian television of that time. It was an oasis for Christian’s everywhere, that is, until Harold Camping began his Scriptural departure.

    88 year old Camping has no theological training or Biblical education. A study of the history of Mr. Camping's teaching reveals that he has been obsessed with Christ's second coming as well as working with dates and chronologies for some time. He started promoting aberrant and extra-biblical teachings and behavior (including his lack of accountability) which quickly moved him outside the boundaries of orthodox, evangelical Christianity.

    “In many cases sheer fanaticism has been the result of exclusively dwelling on prophecy, and probably more men have gone mad on that subject than on any other religious question.” — Charles H. Spurgeon

    When it became apparent that he was forming a following of his own within a local Christian Reformed Church, he was asked not to teach his aberrant views on the return of Christ. Rather than submit to the church, he chose to leave the church and form the Alameda Reformed Bible Church, in Alameda, CA. He became its leader and they sought to join with some Reformed denomination. This attempt was unsuccessful for a number of reasons, primarily due to Mr. Camping's use of an allegorical method of the interpretation of Scripture. While he taught that the seeking of "signs and wonders" was unbiblical, he has used this new interest as a "sign" that the church was increasingly apostate.

    Although he claims to hold an amillennial view of eschatology, his latest teaching seems to draw heavily from dispensational premillennialism. He views the visible, corporal church as parenthetical. According to him, God has allowed Satan to prevail against the church. He recently admits that while some of the details of premillennialism regarding the end of the world were wrong, they were right about their teaching that the church age would come to an end. Instead of believers being raptured as they teach, he contends that the real biblical teaching is that believers will be driven from churches and/or commanded to depart from churches.

    In his self published book “1994?” Harold Camping states the end of the world would occur somewhere between September 15-17, 1994 (p. 531). He did not know the exact day because Scripture says ''no man knows the day nor the hour'' (Matt. 24:36). But according to Camping we can certainly know the month and the year that Christ will return. Lately, he has been teaching that the world will end on May 21, 2011.

    Camping adamantly declares that true believers must not remain under the structure of the New Testament covenant model of the church, with officers, sacraments, preaching, and discipline. Furthermore, in the programming of Family Radio, he has censured all references to the organized, visible church and any references to a person being a pastor or minister of a church. He no longer broadcasts church services or recognizes the office of a minister of the Gospel. Many of those who worked at Family Radio for years and do not agree with this latest teaching have either voluntarily resigned or have been forced to leave. He seems thoroughly convinced in his position and aggressively promotes the same.

    Historical Review of Similar False Spirits Leading up to Camping

    In 1843, people sold their homes and businesses and traveled the United States preaching the imminent return of Christ. They were the followers of William Miller, a farmer and self-taught bible scholar from New York. Miller marked Christ’s return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He began to teach this throughout the Northeast and gained a wide following. Despite the building expectation, March 21, 1844 came and went without the return of Christ. When 1844 failed to reveal Christ, some of the followers abandoned the movement. Many however tried to find a new explanation. Ellen G. White eventually led the Seventh-Day Adventists to the conclusion that Jesus had returned invisibly in 1844, and that He would soon make His presence known. Another group that tried to hold to the 1844 date was led by Jonas Swendahl and was known as the Second Adventists. They believed that 1844 marked not the date of Jesus' return, but of the beginning of the last generation. Swendahl taught that Jesus would therefore return in 1874.

    One of Swendahl's followers was a former Presbyterian named Charles Taze Russell. When 1874 came and went, he concluded 30 years was not long enough for a generation. So he added 70 years to 1844 and concluded that Jesus would return in 1914. This and other differences led him to split from the Second Adventists and launch Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence. His followers became known as the International Bible Students, and they went about the country with the message, "Millions now living will never die!" Followers were commanded to leave their corrupt churches and fellowship together under the new teachings. All churches were considered apostate, whereas God had provided a new spokesman for their instruction, Zion's Watchtower Tract Society.

    What began as the International Bible Students later became the Jehovah's Witnesses. The date of 1914 was changed to 1925, 1941, and 1975. There was a call for Christians to depart their apostate churches as to prepare for Christ's return. This is also the chant that Camping promotes to his faithful via the radio waves. Like the Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses, he focuses on the spirit-guided revelation of "hidden" meanings in texts, finding indicators pointing to 1994 by the number of swine drowned in the Sea of Galilee or in the number of servants in Abraham's house.

    September 6, 1994 passed and insists he was right all along. Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, he states 1994 wasn't the wrong date, we simply have to add 7 years to it. Family Radio is now fully a cult, by means of his heretical teachings. He has no accountability to others and ministries have been forced to edit their messages to fit his peculiar theology, hence their exodus from what used to be a model radio ministry. He owns a network of radio stations that he uses to indoctrinate his faithful minion. He spends his on-air time explaining to listeners why they should leave their churches, abandon the oversight of elders, and gather around their radios for “fellowship” in the “post-church age.”

    Highlights of Harold Camping’s Doctrines


    What are some of the main points that reveals the heresy of this cult which closely reminiscent of the Jehovah's Witnesses? The following are some examples of the wildly speculative exegesis of Harold Camping.
    • Camping teaches that Satan rules all the current churches.
    • Camping insists "the church age" has ended, and that God is no longer active.
    • Since the Church age has come to an end, he teaches the Tribulation has begun
    • Camping teaches that if you are still in the church, you will not be "raptured."
    • Camping now teaches that you should not get baptized or partake of communion.
    • Harold teaches that Jesus didn't really die for our sins on the cross.
    • Camping treats the Bible as a special code book that he alone can decode.
    • He teaches that God is unfolding new revelation to him as we approach "the end."
    • Camping states he knows the exact day of the "rapture," as May 21, 2011 - with absolute certainty.
    • Camping now teaches that the unsaved are totally annihilated.
    • Camping instructs his faithful to not tithe to any church, but rather send donations to Family Radio.

    He has the ears of millions across the world through his far-flung radio empire. His listeners tend to develop a strong attachment to him, finding in his esoteric, allegorical interpretations a view of Scripture they do not hear anywhere else (and for good reason). His broadcasts have resulted in many people leaving their churches and thereby abandoning the historic Christian faith. Here is a quote from one who witnessed the effect of Camping: "...when I was in Ukraine in May for the annual conference we have at the Eastern Ukraine Theological Seminary, pastors of the Baptist Church stood up and asked about Harold and expressed sorrow that people were leaving their churches because of him." This sad story is being repeated in many, many churches worldwide. Pastors who had no idea that Camping had a hold on members of their churches are reporting losing individual families, up to as many as 10 families from a single congregation.

    One of Camping’s latest books is called “The End of the Church Age and After.” It repeats for a new audience Camping’s recent scriptural “discovery” that all contemporary churches are from Satan and Christians should worship in their own homes without benefit of clergy, baptism, communion, or church structure — but must turn to Family Radio network for proper leadership. The book is complete with logical fallacies, out-of-context Scripture references, mismatches between contemporary news and biblical prophecy, and a horrific display of inadequate knowledge of church history and biblical interpretation.

    Camping Teachings Emulate Cult Leaders and False Prophets

    In a past interview with the Associated Press regarding his book, Camping announced, “The Bible says God is not saving people any longer in the churches, they’re being saved outside the churches.” Harold Camping paints all churches as false and corrupt and teaches that the Holy Spirit is no longer working through them. He is committing the same sin that Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Herbert W. Armstrong and Jim Jones committed. They are the respective founders of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah's Witnesses, Worldwide Church of God and People's Temple--all of them cults. In like manner, Mr. Camping is also a cult leader. The Worldwide Church of God, however, repented of its heresy following the death of Mr. Armstrong and is now an orthodox, Bible-centered church.

    Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, Rev. Jim Jones of the People's Temple, and David Koresh of the Branch Davidians all claimed theirs was the one true church and all the others had been corrupted, and they gathered thousands of devoted followers. The results of their teachings are well known, including the Jonestown suicides and the fiery suicide of the Branch Davidian compound.

    Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mr. Camping accuses anyone who differs with him of not really believing the Bible and labels them as being idolatrous of their fallen church. The true idol here is Mr. Camping. The most troubling of Mr. Camping's overt teachings is that "Michael is the Lord Jesus Christ" (The End of the Church Age … and After, p. 56). Harold Camping is a Jehovah's Witness in doctrine. To deny that Jesus Christ came to earth as the Godhead incarnate is blasphemy against God.

    Camping in many ways is very much like Edgar Whisenant who predicted that the rapture would take place in September 1988. He likewise backed up his claim with his self-published booklet "88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988." Whisenant at 56 was a calculus engineer with NASA as Camping has a B. S. degree in civil engineer and is familiar with complex mathematics. Sadly, the blatant failure of Whisenant did not stop Camping from plunging into the prediction game. Camping sold tens of thousands of copies of "1994?" He followed this book with "Are You Ready? : Much More Evidence that 1994 Could be the End of the World." When Whisenant predictions failed, he decided to cease his predictions. He told a reporter he was under medication to control paranoid schizophrenia, but that his mental condition had no bearing on his calculations. Camping has yet to come to terms with his delusions.

    Use of Numerology and Allegorical Interpretation

    Disturbingly, his interpretations are largely based on his own method of numerology, by combining a collection of unrelated Bible verses to justify his beliefs, and his own prejudice against the organized church. For example, he now teaches that hell does not exist, basing it on his false interpretation of "the second death" in Revelation 14:20 as annihilation (ceasing to exist), and he tosses out hell as a false "Church Age" teaching. Camping does rely only on the Bible to support his teachings, as do cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Unification Church, and followers of Herbert W. Armstrong. He cannot or will not read Scripture in context; he instead pulls select verses out of context to come to his bizarre conclusions, justifying it as "Scripture interpreting Scripture".

    Apologist James White, in his excellent critique writes; "Without controversy, the central issues raised by the teachings of Harold Camping regarding the church and the end of the age are issues of interpretation." He later astutely observes that "Camping's allegorical interpretation is the heart and soul of his teaching and the source of the zeal of his followers as well." Because of this method, the meaning of any Scripture passage is purely subjective, subject to the mind and imagination of the person teaching it. Camping's use of an allegorical method of interpretation for Scripture, and especially for unfulfilled prophecy, is fatally flawed. It undermines the very nature of communication.

    James White goes on to say, "He [Camping] will normally begin with a proposition, a statement, and then use a biblical passage to support his statement. This is the way of the eisegete (the one reading into the text rather than reading out of the text its natural meaning). He sets up a context, an assertion, and then expects the citation of the biblical passage to "prove" the point....Does Camping take the time to establish the connection? No, he does not. The connection exists solely because Harold Camping insists it does, nothing more." Ultimately, Camping forces one to choose to submit to one authority or the other, either Sola Scriptura or Solus Campingus.

    Allegorical interpretation believes that beneath the letter or the obvious is the meaning of the passage. Allegory is defined by some as an extended metaphor. If the writer states that he is writing an allegory and gives us the cue, or if the cue is very obvious, the problem of interpretation is not too difficult. But if we presume that the document has a secret meaning and there are no cues concerning the hidden meaning interpretation is difficult. In fact, the basic problem is to determine if the passage has such a meaning at all. The further problem arises whether the secret meaning was in the mind of the original writer or something found there by the interpreter. If there are no cues, hints, connections, or other associations which indicate that the record is an allegory, and what the allegory intends to teach, we are on very uncertain grounds. Using allegorical interpretation destroys biblical authority. The authority of Scripture is undermined and the authority of the interpreter and teacher is exalted.

    Harold Camping uses numbers and mathematics to calculate approximate dates for details like the creation of the earth and to add spiritual meanings or "pictures" to Scripture. This is because numerology and mysticism are at the core of his theology, and he has claimed his experience as an engineer and working with numbers makes him uniquely qualified to teach things that the church has suppressed for 2,000 years. Complicated mathematical propositions have been presented many times for dates that have come and gone as May 21, 2011 most certainly will. Harold Camping, book “Are You Ready?” predicted the Lord would return in September 1994 using extensive occult numerology methodologies applied to scripture that added up to 1994.

    Numerology is a combination of mystical or esoteric relationship. Numerology is regarded as pseudomathematics by modern scientists. It’s like comparing astrology and astronomy or alchemy and chemistry. One is pagan and mystical, the other science. Numerology is among the occult practices rejected by the church, along with astrology and other forms of divination and "magic". Harold Camping published a follow-up book to “1994?” with “Are You Ready?” which also predicted the Lord would return in September 1994, by using extensive occult numerology methodologies applied to scripture that added up to 1994.

    Camping Claims We are in the Great Tribulation

    What of Camping’s claim that "we are in that time of the great tribulation" and that "the next event will be the return of Christ and the end of the world?" Shouldn't we take into consideration the times in which we live, that the second coming of Jesus Christ will occur at any moment? To those who experienced the excitement and subsequent disappointment of dispensational eschatological predictions in the late 70's and early 80's, Camping's claims seem strangely familiar. Although one must agree that the Lord Jesus Christ will return as he has promised, it is foolish and even dangerous to overturn solid biblical teaching about the role and responsibility of the visible church.

    The problem with people like Camping who turns the Bible into a kind of crystal ball is that they show very little historical awareness. Camping speaks assuredly about the signs that are being fulfilled "right before your very eyes" and point to the impending end. However, Camping and others like him seem to be oblivious that there have been many believers in every generation--from the Montanists of the second century through Joachin of Fiore (1135-1202) and Martin Luther to those Russian Mennonites who undertook a "Great Trek" to Siberia (1880-1884) and the nineteenth-century proponents of dispensationalism, who have believed that they were living in the days immediately preceding the second coming of Christ. So far they have all been mistaken. How many people have lost confidence in clear doctrines of Scripture affecting eternal life because misguided prophetic teaching is, unfortunately, not likely to be considered.

    The power or validity of Camping's assertion of a "new age" or a "time of the great tribulation" is the assumption of cultural presuppositions and an ignorance of the past. He has committed the argumentum ad novitam fallacy (appeal to newness) which "argues that something is best because it is newest." We must reject Camping's argument as fallacious.

    Camping’s Cult Markers and Claims of Revelations

    As true with any cult leader, Camping has effectively established himself as the ultimate spiritual authority on earth, by claiming that through his own effort and study of the Scriptures, God has given him new revelation that must be obeyed. His followers cling to the view that because he can teach (via Family Radio), God must want him to teach. In other words, "ability means authority" or as the Bahá'í faith teaches "might makes right." This again is a reflection of cultural assumptions, not biblical truth. When Camping uses the phrase "the Bible teaches," what he really means is "what I have discerned or understand what the Bible teaches." For him, it is his understanding of biblical teaching that is ultimate truth. He also insists that God commands all true believers to obey what has been revealed to him. This insistence is nothing less than the attempt to exercise unquestioned power over those who would listen to him. He has become God's spokesman or prophet to the world.

    Camping further asserts "Thus, we can expect that in our day, when the signs are showing that we must be close to the end time, the meaning of a great many Biblical passages should become revealed to the minds of careful, diligent students of the Bible. The very fact that we can find great harmony in our understanding of Biblical passages that heretofore have been very obscure greatly encourages us that God has placed us on the right track. We can expect, therefore, that many passages of the Bible which in earlier times have been somewhat mysterious can now be understood." While man's knowledge of Scripture might progress, it is certainly not true that God's holds back certain portions of His Word from man's understanding until a certain time in history. This progressive revelation principle which Mr. Camping holds is an assault on both the sufficiency and accuracy of Scripture and an affront on those who seek to faithfully exegete the Word of God.

    Ending Thoughts

    Church history provides many examples of false teachers who were convinced of the rightness of their views. More importantly, God himself warned the church that men like Mr. Camping would arise. For example, the Apostle Paul charged the Ephesian elders; "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among your selves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Acts 20:28-30). Mr. Camping is one such man who now stands outside the flock of God and calls the sheep to follow him. He is engaging in schism, and dividing the Body of Christ, an act that God declares that He hates.

    We are again witnesses of the fallibility and sinfulness of man. We must be ever vigilant and guard the truth, or as Jude wrote "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." The Ecclesia of the church must confront Camping and his erroneous teaching and declare to the watching world God's evaluation and judgment against such heresy. It has been and continues to be our prayer that God would show mercy to Mr. Harold Camping by opening his eyes and his heart to see the error of his position and to grant unto him repentance. If not, then may God stop him from continuing to attack the precious bride of Christ.

    “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in dam.nable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." — 2nd Peter 2:1

  2. #2
    Junior Member Rene's Avatar
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    Off the Beaten Path

    I asked a friend of mine who seriously loves the Lord and knows the Word, if he'd heard of this guy and this is his response...

    "Yes, I heard him on the Family Radio (his wholly-owned network) station in EWR (Newark NJ) when I was on military reserve there in '90-94. Only listened to him for a bit, and recognized he was way off the beaten path. Just did not care for his doctrine or his preaching style." Doug

  3. #3
    Rev. Stephen Hamilton of Lehigh Valley Free Presbyterian Church, are one of the radio families that elected to leave Family Radio in 2002, due to the cult-like doctrines promoted. Harold Camping was confronted and refused to give ear to the admonitions of that body.

    The below hyperlink provides a very concise and informative presentation, given as a sermon to Hamilton’s body, as an explanation to their separation for Family Radio. Stephen provides an outline of what cult markers to look for in a movements such as Harold Camping's.

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=2602191926

    Please take time and listen to this MP3, as to have a ready answer for those who will seek answers.

  4. #4
    Junior Member HarveyW's Avatar
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    Family Radio

    Thank you for this informative post! I have been listening to family radio because I have been enjoying the music. Through that time I eventually bumped into Harold's show a few times. I was disturbed when I heard him claim about May 11, 2011 as the return of Christ (not to mention all the hype about the Mayan's date on Dec, 2012). I can certainly see how convincing he can sound, especially about what he had to say about the ending of the church age. Reading this post surely clarifies my personal concern about Harold Camping's questionable claims. I appreciate your hard work in helping to keep the body of Christ informed and prepared. I surely needed the reinforcement and clarification. Thank you so much!

    Together in Christ,
    Harvey

  5. #5
    Junior Member Rene's Avatar
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    Regarding Harold Camping--- should anyone be that bold or should I say prideful enough to predict the exact date when Jesus will come? Doesn't this only prove false prophets when they make predictions that do not come true?

    "If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it." ~ Deuteronomy 18:22

    This should not be the focus of Christians about dates, but the signs of the times and the focus should be on people who still are not saved. The time could be at any time. His Word says we do not know the day or the hour. Jesus said look for these signs..and there are signs...everywhere...prophecy being fulfilled. The focus should be on looking for His coming and to pray for the harvest/workers are few....so many are perishing.

    My 5 yr old keeps asking "mommy when is Jesus coming? I want Him to come now, why isn't He coming now?" I tell him He is coming and we have to keep looking for Him and be ready and tell people about Jesus so they can be with Jesus too!" Doesn't Scripture talk about receiving a crown for just looking for His return? We are excited! I am praying for my son's patience..may we have a heart like His and see things the way He does.

    Father, may Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done..on earth as it is in Heaven...thank You Abba for Your Word. We love You. You are Holy. Bless this ministry and those seeking to do Your will above all else.
    .

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    dispensationalism

    Dispensationalism is the 'eschatology of the day' - and as long as people remain in the dark about the timing, the nature and the purpose of the Parousia, (2nd Coming) there will always be date setters. It's so unfortunate, because it stains the body of Christ and makes us a laughing stock to unbelievers. I hear it time and time again, it's one of the major turn offs of Christianity. We are in desperate need of another reformation, this time in the area of eschatology. May God open our eyes to the truth, and remove the blinders that lead so many astray.

    I don't know any people who hold to Harold Camping's teachings or listen to him on the radio, but I do remember him being a big name in the 90s.

  7. #7

    Judgment Day Fails May 21st

    Update: It is past 6pm in all time zones on May 21st and all is well

    What made this prediction different was the lavish spending that accompanied it. Camping and his followers spent more than $100 million worldwide on billboards and posters, financed by the sale and swap of radio stations. Advertising popped up across America and the globe from Iraq to Lebanon to Israel to Jordan, the Philippines to Vietnam, where thousands of the Hmong ethnic hill tribe gathered together on the Thai border in anticipation of the event. The campaign was backed up by Camping's radio show, which can be heard worldwide, and a website that featured, naturally, a countdown clock. On May 20th, that clock was at zero underneath the banner headline: "Judgment Day: the Bible guarantees it."

    Perhaps not surprisingly, atheists and other non-believers used the opportunity as a way to mock the Christian faith. Various parties were planned across the US. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the local chapter of the American Humanist Association held a party last night to celebrate the Earth's survival and planned a music concert. The American Atheists held "rapture parties" in places such as Wichita, Kansas, Fort Lauderdale in Florida and even just a few miles from Family Radio itself at a conference centre in Oakland. New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg used a press conference to assure citizens that post-Rapture his administration would not pursue parking tickets or late library books.

    But other non-believers and cynics saw an opportunity to make money rather than jokes. There has been a mini-boom in firms and individuals offering to look after the pets of those who believed they were about to be raptured. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, set up by New Hampshire atheist Bart Centre, has about 250 clients who paid $135 (£83) for insurance policies that guarantee Centre and others will care for their animals when they ascend. Others paid out to sign up with websites that would send out farewell letters to friends and relations left behind.

    Many experts have worried about the psychological impact on his followers who are suddenly confronted with the collapse of their belief system. Some Christian pastors planned to gather outside Family Radio to counsel any distraught members who showed up wondering why they – and the world – were still there. Camping himself admitted he had pretty much staked everything on his fervently held belief. "There is no plan B," he told Reuters late last week. Which is a shame. As the day progressed in California last night with no global mega-quake in sight, he and his followers needed one.

    This failed appearance happened to the Millerites in 1843. They called it the "Great Disappointment." Unfortunately for Mr. Camping, he did fulfill biblical prophecy about deceivers seducing the flock of Christ. He is a false prophet and we can expect more like him in the coming days.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Leslie's Avatar
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    So, another curious thought.

    So of course all of this end of the world stuff has gotten me thinking.

    So when the true rapture happens, is it right that Christ comes and we are all raptured to meet him in the clouds or heavens? Well, I was thinking. There are many whose bodies are completely disintegrated in fires, cremation, and by natural decay. So it makes me think that God does not need our earthly bodies when He calls our souls home to Heaven. So when the rapture truly does happen I was thinking that maybe it won't be like in the Left Behind movies, where the Christians' bodies have simply vanished and their clothing is left, and will probably be more like the illusion that all of the Christians simply died. Leaving their bodies behind. I do remember being taught that we will receive new bodies in Heaven, Of course, I have not based any of this on anything I have read in scripture personally and am having this thought based on things i remember being taught as a child and teen.

    Just a thought, and none of us will know for sure until it truly happens.
    .

  9. #9
    Yes, that has been queried over the centuries, about those burnt at the stake, dismembered or decayed, how can those bodies be reassembled in a rapture? There is no easy way approach this subject, whereas there is no definitive answer. But there are clues, which takes a little digging and patience to discover.

    First, it is important to note that the word "Rapture" itself does not appear in the Bible. The Latin rapiemur is Saint Jerome's translation of the Koiné Greek word arpagēsometha used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4. This is a faithful translation, using a form of the Latin verb rapiō, meaning "to catch up" or "take away", where we get the English noun "Rapture". It is found in the Vulgate rendering of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

    The term Rapture is used to refer to the faithful believers being taken up to meet Christ in the air as described in this passage written by the apostle Paul:
    "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 NRSV

    All of which some think is Paul just rehashing Daniel's dream from Daniel 7 without citing his source. It is more likely 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is really a description of the Second Coming of our Lord, and that it is at that time that the truly faithful will be “caught up.” There are different opinions what the results are from the compilation of passages, but I think the following is a fair appraisal.

    Apparently, doubts had arisen among the Thessalonians regarding the fate of those Christians who had died before Christ returned. Would they miss out on the spectacular events of Christ's second coming and the resurrection? Paul assured them that God would save those who had already died, as well as those still living. None of the other Scripture passages references the "gathering" use the image of the faithful being caught up in the clouds and meeting the Lord in the air, nor did Paul use that description in his later writings. Therefore, many Christians do not place great significance on the particular description and imagery Paul used in 1 Thessalonians. Additionally, most Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias do not mention the Rapture at all.

    Paul wrote in this well known passage and the following five consecutive verses, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write to you. For yourselves know that the day of the Lord so cometh like a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then cometh sudden destruction upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 - 5:4).

    So here Paul gives the real rapture clarity, Jesus comes down from heaven, true believers are caught up together, and sudden destruction comes upon the lost. All of this takes place on “that day,” which is “the day of the Lord.” These words occur near the end of Paul’s first letter to the early Christian Thessalonians. Paul wrote a second letter to these very same Christians at Thessalonica which taught exactly the same thing. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, Paul wrote to the same group about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him.” (A perfect parallel to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

    Right before this, in chapter one, Paul wrote about this same gathering. After describing the “persecutions and tribulations” which these early believers where enduring, Paul wrote: “And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)

    So we find that careful comparisons reveal that all three of these Bible passages; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2:1 describe the very same day when Jesus Christ comes down from heaven, when His faithful people are gathered together, and when sudden destruction comes upon all the lost.

    When all three sections are put together, it becomes clear that Jesus is coming with a shout, a voice, a trumpet, with mighty angels, and in flaming fire to catch up all the true believers and to destroy the lost. Again, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2:1 all describe the same event - the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is at this time His church will be “caught up.”

    In the Twinkling of an Eye?

    Paul wrote about a certain event taking place - “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye...” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Numerous apply this to the sudden disappearance of Christians in the Rapture. Supposedly, in less than the time it takes to blink, all true believers will vanish from the earth before the Tribulation and the rise of Antichrist. Is this really what Paul meant?

    Paul wrote in language too plain to be misunderstood, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

    This passage does not teach the idea of vanishing Christians at all. Rather, it reveals a loud return of Jesus Christ during the final sounding of the last trumpet and the “instant” transformation of believers into immortality at the end of the world.

    One Taken and One Left?

    Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:40, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Countless Christians apply this verse to the “Great Disappearance” when believers will suddenly vanish - leaving their clothes, shoes, necklaces, and wedding rings on earth. Such an interpretation is skillfully illustrated in Left Behind: The Movie. In many prophecy books on this subject, unbelieving spouses are described as waking up in the morning only to discover that their believing husbands or wives have been “taken” or raptured to heaven. All who are “left behind” must then endure the “seven years of Tribulation” and the rise of the Antichrist. But it is said they have a “second chance” to be saved.

    The all-important question is: When is “then”? Does this verse describe the sudden disappearance of millions of Christians before a seven-year period of tribulation, as is taught in Left Behind? Or is it talking about the salvation of one and the destruction of another at the Second Coming of Jesus - at the end of the world? According to the preceding verses of Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 36, 37-39, the answer is - “one shall be taken” and “one shall be left” at the visible (vs. 27), audible (vs. 31), glorious (vs. 30) flood-like (verses 37-39) Second Coming of Jesus Christ! And just like in Noah’s day, when that time finally comes there will be no second chances. Sadly, those that are left perish!

    This is much more that could be written on this subject, but it will have to end here for now

  10. #10
    Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Act 1:7

    ISV) He answered them, "It is not for you to know what times or periods the Father has fixed by his own authority.
    (ERV) Jesus said to them, "The Father is the only one who has the authority to decide dates and times. They are not for you to know.
    (CEV) Jesus said to them, "You don't need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls.

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