This is May 24, three days after Harold Camping predicted the start of the Apocalypse. This is not a gloat message. Most people were not particularly surprised that Christ did not return at that time. But some were surprised and confused. This story makes me think about what direction do we point people toward as missionaries.
Here in Baguio City, Philippines, a couple of months ago we started seeing jeepneys with the announcement of Christ’s return May 21. The advertisement seemed to direct people to three different places… or directions.
1. It pointed people to the Bible
2. It pointed people to Family Radio
3. It pointed people to Harold Camping
The problem is that the first direction given by the ad (the Bible) was a bit muddy. After all, those concerned about Christ’s return would find nothing in the Bible saying that Christ was returning on May 21. In fact, the Bible appears to say that we cannot know (and should not dwell on) the exact time of Christ’s return… but rather be faithful every day. To come up with May 21, 2011, one has to use numerology… certainly tempting… but numerology is not a Christian field of study. It is doubtful that a Christian should ever be involved in numerology… to say nothing of assuming that God gives us secret information through this pseudoscience.
The second direction of the advertisement was to the website of Family Radio. This is a more clear message.
The third direction was less direct, but still very clear. Since the Bible did not say Christ was returning May 21… one had to rely on the obscure interpretation of the Bible by Harold Camping. Family Network also pointed people very directly to Harold Camping
In the end, the advertisement had the wrong effect. It said to trust the Bible… that the Bible said that Christ would return on May 21. Since He didn’t, the clear implication is that the Bible is false. With Family Radio, it was much easier… All they had to do was change their website to remove all references to “Judgment Day”. The Bible is timeless, but the stench of a bad advertising campaign will not go away anytime soon.
As missionaries we need to know where to point people. Do we:
-Point people to God?
-Point people to the Bible (God’s revelation)
or do we
-Point people to a”prophet” or “denomination”
-Point people to a narrow interpretation of God’s revelation
It does matter.