You may have seen Family Radio’s billboards: Judgment Day is May 21. How a Christian organization can draw this conclusion, claiming to know the hour and day of judgment, is dismaying, but not impossible to understand. Family Radio simply employs a method that is common to most heretical groups: namely, employing a method that allows a person to make the Bible say whatever that person wants the Bible to say.
Those who advocate the “Word of the Kingdom” use the same method.
Hidden Teachings — Key to the “Word of the Kingdom” is the idea that scripture contains hidden messages, things ordinary Christians do not see or understand. A leading proponent of this teaching, Arlen L. Chitwood, writes, “Not only will he able to go to the Scriptures and bring forth things which are ‘old’ (things he has already seen and understood) but he will also be able, from the things which are ‘old,’ to begin seeing and bringing forth things which are ‘new’ as well (things he has not previously seen and understood)” (source — emphasis mine). Chitwood points out that Jesus helped the apostles to see things that were otherwise unknowable. Never heard of Christians suffering in the lake of fire? Ah, well that is in scripture — if you know where to look and how.
Family Radio employs the same line of reasoning, regarding its May 21 prediction of Judgment Day. Do you believe that no one will know the day or hour? Ah, well look more closely…
However, God wrote it in such a way that it could not be understood until the world was almost at its end. Remember, understanding comes only from the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read in Luke 24:45: “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” This explains why the Bible is written in such complex and difficult-to- understand language. It is one reason why Christ spoke in parables, even as we read in Mark 4:34: “But without a parable spake He not unto them.” — source
Gnostics were among the first to suggest the gospels contained hidden teachings. What is extraordinary about this idea is that the hidden teachings generally contradict the plain meaning of scripture.
Entirety of Scripture — Another tactic among heretical groups is to claim that they alone read scripture completely. This is an arrogant assertion. Orthodox Christians have been studying the “whole counsel” of scripture since Pentecost. Yet, Family Radio and kingdom seekers insist that they alone study scriptures correctly.
Writes Chitwood, “[The Christian] has to compare Scripture with Scripture, i.e., he has to compare ‘spiritual things with spiritual'” (source). Of itself, this statement is not difficult to accept; however, Chitwood’s purpose is to accuse others of reading the Bible in a nonspiritual manner. He asserts that the reason most Christians have never heard of his teaching is because they do not seek the “whole counsel of scripture” (source).
Writes Family Radio, “Mr. Camping [their principle spokesman] has been a tireless student of the Bible for over five decades. The tens of thousands of hours he has spent analyzing the Bible has given him a unique perspective of the entirety of Scripture. He has dedicated his life to prepare himself to answer questions raised concerning God’s Word to man” (source — emphasis mine).
Connecting the dots
I think the folk at Family Radio and advocates of the “Word of the Kingdom” should meet. They could hurl insults at one another and pontificate on inane details, all the while employing the same method of biblical interpretation. If anything, the error of one might expose the error of the other.
Note: More articles on Camping’s prediction can be found at Agabus.com on May 21. 2011.