I came across an excellent article yesterday on Christian Post (http://www.christianpost.com/) about an interview with a former follower of Harold Camping, http://www.christianpost.com/news/exclusive-harold-camping-ex-follower-speaks-out-50708/. I recommend it highly. Evidently the one interviewed, Trevor Hammack, a Baptist pastor in Texas, has been away from following Camping for several years, and does an online audio "program" in which he examines the news from a Biblical perspective, including Camping's prediction antics.
Two things in the article stood out for me:
"But everything began to change in subtle ways and gradually when Camping began to develop a hermeneutic or a principle of Bible interpretation based on Mark 4, where it says that Jesus spoke in parables. 'He took that to mean that everything in your Bible is a parable. Everything.'"
To be sure, there is much of the Bible that uses symbolic language and visions (Books of Daniel or Revelation, anyone?), and of course, Jesus did use parables. But everything has symbolic meaning? "Judas went and hanged himself," is a parable? Well, maybe it's a parable about how idiosyncratic interpreters of the Bible twist spindle and mutilate the Bible to their own destruction, but that's my sarcastic joke, not a serious interpretation of the Bible. By applying a comment about a teaching method Jesus used, out of context, to the whole Bible, Camping threw the barn door of Biblical interpretation wide open, shooed out the horses, cows and rats, and set the barn alight for a conflagration of destructive nonsense! Now that's symbolic language, folks!
I appreciate it when people pointing out problems also point to solutions:
"The whole situation can only be used as a great opportunity for the church to take responsibility and equip people to handle scriptures correctly,' he highlighted.
'Biblical illiteracy is the womb in which deception is conceived. The church today is very illiterate when it comes to church history, when it comes to the Bible. Most Christians don’t really know how to handle it.'
He continued, 'Hopefully people will stop and say 'man, if all those followers of Camping got so confused, maybe we should relook how a) As a pastor, am I equipping my people? and b) As a church member, how well do I know the Bible and how well do I know how to study and interpret it?'"
Good heavens! Yes! Please! "Making disciples" (Matthew 28:19) is far more - and better! - than evangelizing people and then spiritually warehousing them till the rapture or death take them to heaven! Every Christian has a life in which they should learn to know and serve God! Every Christian has some ministry to do/be that is essential to the Body of Christ. Those things aren't going to happen if all Christians are taught is the very basics of salvation! Further, believers who aren't taught more of the Christian life and aren't taught how to learn from the Bible directly will be easy pickings for whichever Harold Camping they chance to meet! Those last 3 sentences are not parables; they are the sad, sober, truth!