Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Discussing the Theology of the Emergent Church: My Discussion with Brian McLaren
04/30/2011 - James WhiteMy sincere thanks to Justin Brierley for inviting me to dialogue with the biggest name in the Emergent movement, Brian McLaren on Justin's fine program from London, Unbelievable. You can download the program here, and I would strongly suggest subscribing to Justin's program. You sure hear enough of it on The Dividing Line as I interact with the discussions that take place there from a Reformed and presuppositional perspective!
A Fascinating Reminder of the 1914 False Prophecy
04/27/2011 - James WhiteI used to spend a lot of time on the subject of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It was the second major group I tackled and studied. I still have a huge number of their old, old books, shelves of them, actually. I also have a whole set of what are called "bound volumes," yearly compilations of all of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Of course, much of this is now available digitally on the Watchtower Library CD Rom (which isn't easy to get hold of, but not impossible). Anyway, I just checked the dark corner of one of my shelves and pulled out the bound volume for the Watchtowers of 1984. On the cover of the May 15, 1984 publication (repeated on page 4) is a picture of a group of elderly people, all looking upward. The title give is "1914: The Generation That Will Not Pass Away." You will look in vain for such confident promises in today's Watchtower publications, as they have effectively buried the 1914 prophecy, but it was front and center for many decades. In fact, on page 5 of this same publication we read, "If Jesus used 'generation' in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80's or 90's, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them 'will by no means pass away until all things occur.'---Luke 21:32." Well, I was sent this graphic a few days ago. It contains that same cover picture (I double checked it in my own printed edition), but identifies each and every person in the picture by name, and gives the date when they all passed away. A tremendous testimony to the status of the Watchtower Society as a false prophet---just like Harold Camping already is (1994), and will be proven yet again in about three weeks. False prophets come, false prophets go, but Christ continues to build His church, not by the popularity of His teachings, but by the changing of the heart.
The Real Story Behind the Harold Camping Decoder Ring
04/25/2011 - James SwanThis past Sunday my pastor announced that each member of the church received a copy of the latest Christian Renewal Magazine. We received this because it contained an article on Harold Camping. Over the past fifteen years we've had Family Radio supporters in our church (they've all since left, of course). There are a number of people my church is concerned about. Sure it's easy to laugh or mock Mr. Camping's upcoming doomsday debacle, but let us not forget that there are those who will suffer from all of this. What do you think will happen to the family in which the husband is an avid follower of Mr. Camping while his wife and children are not? I'm aware of situations like this, and they are dangerously frightening.
The Christian Renewal article is entitled "Harold Camping, Judgment Day, and the rest of the story" by URC minister Christopher Gordon. The article can also be found on his blog. Reverend Gordon brought out an odd coincidence that I'm not sure everyone is aware of:
Camping was also involved in the Alameda CRC as an elder and later an adult Sunday school teacher. On a given Sunday morning, Camping's Sunday school class drew almost half of the attendees of the Alameda CRC. The problems began, however, sometime before 1988 when Camping began to advance the idea that one could know from the Bible when Christ would return. When challenged that "no man knows the day nor the hour", Camping was known for responding, "yes, but we can know the month and the year." In 1992 Camping self-published his controversial book "1994?", in which he suggested the possibility that Christ would return sometime between September 15th and 27th of that year, dates corresponding to the Feast of Tabernacles. Camping would soon, unashamedly, predict September 6, 1994 as the date of Christ's return.
When Camping's first prediction failed, claiming miscalculation, he then began to reinvent his scheme with the idea that God ended the church age. "Sometime earlier" wrote Camping, "God was finished using the churches to represent the kingdom of God." In his book "We Are Almost There!" we find that Camping chose the date of May 21, 1988 for the end of the church age. Why this particular date? In an obscure time scheme combined with strange mathematical formulas, Camping was able to secure this date as the end of the church age. The common answer heard over the Open Forum was that around thirty-five years ago God began to open the true believer's understanding to know the entire timeline of history---a justification based on an obscure interpretation of Eccles. 8:5, and other detailed and often confusing studies in numerology.
What Harold Camping conveniently chose not to reveal is that May of 1988, reputedly, was the month the Alameda CRC began censuring Camping from teaching the adult Sunday school class. Though, according to bulletin records, the official announcement of the reorganization of the Sunday school class without Camping as the teacher was made public in the Sunday bulletin on June 5, 1988, the controversy climaxed in the weeks prior to this date, on or around the May 21 date. After a summer of conflict, church visitors were sent to assess the situation and turmoil in the congregation, and supported the Consistory's decision to deny Camping the privilege of teaching. The official date the elders took over the adult Sunday school class was September 11, 1988.
The whole controversy that spanned Camping's censure and departure from the church was roughly from May to September, 1988. Drawing a preliminary conclusion, is it really a coincidence that the period Camping's teaching controversy broke open in the church coincides with the "month and year", if not the exact date, that Camping would later declare the church age ended? Is it not the least bit suspect that Camping would later declare that the Holy Spirit was removed from the church beginning on May 21, 1988, the very same period Camping himself was removed from teaching 'in" the church? And is it not alarming that Camping now "outside" of the church would declare, soon after his own departure, that anyone still identified with any church is now under the judgment of God? In legal terms, I think it's safe to say we have motive.
Pride and bitterness had so overcome Camping that he was able to declare that upon the year of his censure and departure from the church, God was done with the entire church, and from that time forward, God would only work in the "true believers" who were willing to take the stand with Camping and come out of the church. This is a severe warning of what can happen to those who reject the elders who rule with the authority of Christ. Over forty percent of the Alameda CRC, many of whom were employed by Family Radio, "went out" from the church and subsequently started their own "fellowship".
So there you have it: The Holy Spirit was removed from the church because Mr. Camping was removed from the church. I haven't checked over Reverend Gordon's facts, but if indeed this is the case, this is a very odd coincidence.
Unbelievable: The Conference May 14
04/19/2011 - James WhiteGiven how useful I find Justin Brierley's program in London (and yes, I enjoy participating in the program), I thought I would mention for our UK readers the upcoming conference Justin is putting on. You can read all about it here. And don't forget to tune in Thursday as I continue my review of the Licona/Ehrman discussion from last Saturday's Unbelievable program.
A Parody That Accomplishes Its Task
04/03/2011 - James White