By now, we all know that the much-lampooned Harold Camping was wrong again, and that Jesus Christ did not return on Saturday, May 21, 2011. But then again, those of us who really read our Bibles knew that before he made his latest prediction. This is not the first time he has made a prediction like this and been wrong. I did not hear that in the secular media, though. So much attention was focused on this false teacher that even mainstream news media were running stories about it, and anchors were joking about their plans for that day. The reaction to his prediction outside of his circle of believers ranged from a reasoned response (as in, Jesus Himself said that no one, not even He, knew the day or hour) to outright mockery and scoffing.
As an amateur Bible scholar and a student of Theology, I understand that there are certain essential Christian doctrines, and then there are subjects that are open to discussion and debate. I am a little dismayed, though, at the number of false teachers and false prophets who appear on the airwaves. The internet has made it possible for anyone who can turn on a computer and set up a web site to have an audience, and it is to be expected that some of those people will be the types that the apostles warned us about. Primarily, though, I am speaking of Christian television.
Without naming them (I am sure you know who they are), there are people on television networks who are spreading a false picture of what Christianity is about. Many of these people have been the subject of scandal, and it’s no wonder to me. They spread the false health-and-wealth gospels, they tell you that if you send them money you will receive a financial return, and they even tell you that Jesus was rich, that He wants you to be rich too. You will never see these false teachers open their Bibles and preach from a passage of Scripture in context. Where they have a potentially powerful platform, they hoodwink people into sending them money while real preachers of the gospel work tirelessly in the mission field, looking for more ways to reach people with radios and printed tracts and whatever materials can be smuggled into their locale.
It’s no wonder that so many people do not understand what it means to be a Christian. In a country where we have almost unbridled freedom of speech, that freedom has been abused to allow pornography, lying and even the perversion of the gospel. In the secular world, radio talk show hosts spread all kinds of misinformation, wanting us to believe that our government is out to get us all and that the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 were an “inside job.” Because the people that they are slandering are politicians, it is impossible to charge them with slander or libel since this is “protected political speech.” It’s a convoluted world, with a convoluted foundation, and we need to be truth seekers, now more than ever. In the misinformation age, knowing where to go for truth is the key to peace. I am speaking not only in a spiritual sense, but in a worldly sense as well. Look how many of the news stories are not really about news, but about another celebrity whose bad behavior attracted attention. When a major event happens, incorrect details often come out because the reporters are in such a rush to get the scoop that they don’t verify the information. Then when those details are corrected, the conspiracy theorists jump on them as evidence of a “cover up.”
Look at Jesus Christ, not at people who claim to have special knowledge. Do not listen to the prosperity preachers, or to those who sound more like the motivational speakers that you would hear at a corporate seminar than preachers of the gospel. Believers must ask God for boldness to speak up and challenge the false teachers and the false prophets, so that we can take advantage of every opportunity to share the real gospel of Christ, which is very good news in these times.