published Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Church leaders say false prophets hurt the Christian message

As it turns out, it’s not the end of the world as we know it.

However, Family Radio International preacher Harold Camping, who predicted 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven a week ago Saturday before global cataclysm struck the planet, has a backup date.

It’s Oct. 21, 2011.

But proclamations such as Camping made hurt any outreach to nonbelievers in the Christian faith, say area ministers.

“People don’t take the church seriously,” said the Rev. Keith Jones, pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church, “when the very message we are trying to communicate to the world is how important Jesus Christ is.

“People wonder why Christians invest their time and money in proclaiming the rapture rather than focusing on serving the world with love, here and now,” he said.

Raleigh Wooten, minister of Ware Branch Church of Christ, delivered the sermon “The Day After?” to his Birchwood Pike congregation a week ago. He said Camping’s prediction makes people think Christians can’t get their stories straight.

“It makes people wonder if there’s anything to Christianity and reject all of it,” he said.

Gary Armes, pastor of Hickory Valley Christian Church, said he has read various Internet commentary on Camping’s predictions. On one site, he said, there were more than 4,000 comments.

“I didn’t read all of them,” he said, “but the overwhelming majority carried a very negative slant. People referred to him as an idiot, charlatan and other choice names. Personally, I would hope that unchurched people would not paint the rest of us with the same brush.”

Bill Greer, minister of Soddy Church of Christ, said the failure of such a prediction should strengthen the faith of Christians. In last week’s sermon, titled “Today Is May 22, 2011, and We’re Still Here,” he cited five instances in the books of Matthew and Mark in which Christ said no one will know the day and the hour of his return.

“What the word of God has said is accurate,” he said. “We don’t add to it or take from it. We say this should give us more faith, [provide the knowledge we can] depend on his word.”

Armes said most believers see the predictions for what they are: a human’s idea and not the truth of God. “There are a lot of mature believers out there who can discern a phony or misguided spiritual leader and deal with these predictions in a rational way,” he said.

But some people, Wooten said, buy in to prophecies so far as to sell their worldly possessions and wait for the end.

“That’s regrettable,” he said.

Fortunately, Wooten said, many Christians are already familiar with Matthew 24:36, where Christ said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but my father only.”

Many churches don’t spend a lot of time on apocalyptic thinking, according to Jones.

“I don’t think that most of the church is very focused on the rapture,” he said. “We trust that God is in control, and we live every day under Christ’s Lordship, practicing resurrection, as some have said. We can’t control or predict when Christ will come again. We can just be sure that when Christ does, we can look back at our lives and know that we have done everything we can to serve Christ in our lives.”

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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librul said...

Faith is nothing but an empty bag. You can carry it with you your entire life. You can make regular trips to the faith mall (religion) and, following the pitch of your faith salesperson (priest, rabbi, preacher) seek to fill it with the products of your particular faith store (church, temple, synagogue), you can convince yourself that it is full and heavy with assurance of eternal rewards. Sadly, when you draw your last breath, a quick glance beside your bed reveals that sitting there, enclosing a void, is your empty bag - simply a piece of trash which you realize, way too late, was never worthy of the lifelong veneration you bestowed upon it.

May 29, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

Sadly, many don't realize it was an empty bag.

May 29, 2011 at 10:37 a.m.
chet123 said...

There are Good Shepherds in the field WE CALL CHURCHES....the problem is the people run to the false prophets....because thats where their hearts are....

May 29, 2011 at 1:16 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

Well said libruland wildman. Brainwashing and cult worshipping is a terrible way to waste ones life money. Like WC fields said, there is a fool born (or born again) every minute. I had one of these Christian hypocrites want to talk to me about faith but only if he was the only one talking and I had an open mind for his fairy tails, he won't listen only preach, idiot.

May 29, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.
will2012 said...

Who's dumber? Senile Harold Camping or the people commenting here that do not have IQs high enough to understand the possibility of the supernatural. They ridicule religions which have performed more charitable works than all secular organizations combined. If my Black Lab could speak, he'd probably call belief in God a fairy tale too. Woof. Woof.

May 29, 2011 at 8:51 p.m.
will2012 said...

Oh, and for the poster who said called the human body a "piece of trash which you realize, way too late, was never worthy of the lifelong veneration you bestowed upon it." That's a good reason for religion! When people consider humans to be trash, it opens the door for all kinds of atrocities.

May 29, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.
librul said...

will2012 ... (shaking head) ...

I suggest you read it again, numbnuts. (Or have the same person read it for you who totally missed the meaning last time).

May 29, 2011 at 11:32 p.m.

will2012-he meant our faith is the "empty bag". And wildman in one of the oldest books in the Bible it reads,"He sitteth upon the circle of the earth..." True believers knew the earth was round before anyone else. In the last days there will be scoffers but Jesus IS coming again! Turn to Him! Repent and believe! Read the book of St. John. It will provide some insight.

May 30, 2011 at 12:29 a.m.
LibDem said...

will2012 demonstrates an interesting aspect of the human condition: We are able to see what we want to see.

(Today's Bible Wisdom in the TFP says, "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." This clearly means that once again I will burn down my deck while BBQing.)

May 30, 2011 at 8:42 a.m.
TJK said...

The true reality is that EVERYTHING is Spiritual and has a direct flow from God. The problem today is that Very Very few souls realize how to properly access God's graces which sustains and guides each and every soul back to Him for all eternity.
The flow is from God the Father through the Son by the working and power of the Holy Spirit THROUGH Mary! EVERYTHING comes to us through Mary and returns back to God through Her! EVERYTHING! How did Jesus originally come to us? Friends this IS reality weather you know it or not! If you want to truly please God and do His will and return to Him for All eternity you might want to start by reading and living "Treatise On True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort ONLY pride will prevent you form accepting and living this Truth and guess where pride comes from!

May 30, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
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