The Misguided End of the World Predictions of Harold Camping Part 3
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
October 16, 2011

Last Updated :
October 16, 2011

Fanatical Catholic Pope Personality Cult Worship, Extreme Secrecy, Something To Hide And Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Catholic Secrets And Mysteries, Mary Cult Worship And Other Strange And Non-Biblical Roman Catholic Doctrines, Pope As The Vicar Of Christ, Difficulty In Defining What Is A Cult, Harold Camping And Family Radio Network: A False Prophet But Not A Dangerous Man, Harmless Groups Versus Dangerous Cults Marshall Applewhite And Heaven's Gate UFO Cult, Jim Jones And Peoples Temple Cult, David Koresh And Branch Davidians, Order Of The Solar Temple Cult, Closing Remarks And Questions

Returning to the subject of cult-like activities within the major denominations, anyone who has spent any amount of time in any of the Latin American countries, or perhaps in any of the other nations which are dominated by Roman Catholicism, knows that in some of them, the Pope is almost treated like a god. While the Vatican may not necessarily approve of this kind of fanatical behavior -- I really wonder though -- they certainly do not seem to discourage it either. If we can be honest with ourselves, the charismatic aura which has been carefully crafted and sustained around the Pope, and which has resulted in this type of fanatical behavior, amounts to personality cult worship, plain and simple.

So let me ask you an important question: How is this deep, fanatical devotion to the Pope any different from a similar attitude of fanatical respect and devotion being expressed for a particular leader by members of a group which has been declared a strange and possibly dangerous cult? What defines the former as being acceptable, while the latter is not? Can you see my point? Is it possible that fanatical Pope worship is deemed acceptable -- at least by Roman Catholics -- simply because the Pope heads a majority religion, while the leaders of the so-called "cult" do not? In other words, does being in the majority necessarily make Roman Catholic fanaticism okay, while cultic fanaticism is to be condemned?

As we saw in part two, another trait which has been commonly and liberally used to describe alleged cults is secrecy. When anyone is accused of being secretive -- whether they belong to a cult or not -- the natural reaction of most people is to assume the attitude "Oh, they must have something to hide!", whether it is truly deserved or not. In the case of cults, or at least alleged cults, this attitude can easily evolve into the stereotypical view that all cults are guilty until proven innocent. We may not know exactly what those nasty cultists are guilty of, yet somehow, we convince ourselves that they must surely be guilty. Have you ever found yourself thinking in this fashion?

Here again, for the sake of argument, I must make a necessary comparison. If there's any branch of modern Christianity that is rather notorious for being secretive, it is most certainly Roman Catholicism. Many of you are no doubt aware of how hard the "holy mother church" has endeavored for many decades now to conceal the sins of its many pedophile priests; even going so far as to move them from one parish to another, when their sins became known. This makes the Roman Catholic hierarchy accomplices to the crime. While this may be one of the Roman church's deepest, darkest secrets in our modern day, I must also wonder how many other deep, dark and terrible secrets remain hidden to this day in Roman Catholic vaults, in the Vatican Library, and elsewhere.

If you are relatively familiar with Roman Catholicism, then you may know that the entire religion is built around this culture of secrecy and mystery. Even the Roman Catholic laity seems to be in on the act. What I mean by this is that they appear to have a special attraction to anything within their faith which is labeled as a secret or a mystery; such as the secrets of Fatima, for example. Just categorize something as a secret or a mystery, and it will draw the Roman Catholic faithful by the thousands or by the millions; and before you know it, a new holy site has been declared, and a shrine has been set up. While the conservative Roman Catholic hierarchy at the Vatican may not necessarily or openly support such endeavors by the Catholic laity, again, they certainly don't seem to do anything to discourage such behavior either.

I have noticed that there is yet one more way in which the word "mystery" comes into play within Roman Catholicism. No, contrary to what some of you may think, I'm not referring to Mystery Babylon the Great who we find mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Rather, I am referring to the fact that this word "mystery" is sometimes used to provide the Vatican with a way to justify and explain some of their misguided beliefs, when there really are no Scriptures to support said beliefs. In other words, when an inquiring Catholic will ask a certain question -- particularly a doctrinal question -- for which an answer cannot be provided, a priest may reply with a smile on his face "Oh, it's a mystery." This seems to pu a quick end to the discussion, with the inquiring Catholic saying "Oh, okay."

This leads us to the final subject which I wish to use for a comparison: Roman Catholic doctrines. You may recall that in part two, I mentioned that according to my operating system's dictionary, one of the traits assigned to cults is that they embrace strange doctrines, and engage in strange practices. Now, obviously, to a dedicated Roman Catholic who is loyal to Rome and the Vatican, there is absolutely nothing strange or unusual about Roman Catholic doctrines or practices. On the other hand, for those of us who are not Catholics, and who possess an in-depth knowledge of the Scriptures, there are some rather serious problems with a number of doctrines and practices which are promoted by the Roman Catholic Church.

Being as I discuss some of these erroneous and non-Biblical doctrines in some of the aforementioned articles -- please refer to part two of this series -- I won't be going into great detail here. Suffice it to say that they include such beliefs as the following:

[1] The infallibility -- or inerrancy -- of the Pope.

[2] Transubstantiation: the belief that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are actually transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, which is akin to cannibalism, and which contradicts the Biblical mandate concerning drinking blood.

[3] The Immaculate Conception: the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without the stain of original sin, which contradicts verses such as Romans 3:10 and 3:23.

[4] The Assumption: the non-Biblical belief that Mary was received into Heaven without having ever experienced physical death and decay, which contradicts such verses as Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 9:27.

[5] The belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is Co-Redemptress and Co-Mediatrix with Jesus Christ, which contradicts such verses as 1 Timothy 2:5.

[6] The belief that Jesus had no biological brothers or sisters, which contradicts such verses as Matthew 12:46, 13:55, 27:56, Mark 6:3, 15:40, John 7:3-5, Acts 1:14 and Galatians 1:19.

[7] The belief that Salvation cannot truly be obtained outside of the Roman Catholic Church, which contradicts such verses as John 14:6, 6:37, 10:28 and Acts 4:12.

At this time, I am going to summarize and compare all of the previous points in a list for your consideration. In this list, "RCC" stands for Roman Catholic Church. Observe:

Trait Cults RCC
1.  Charismatic leader
2.  Overpowering authority
3.  Dictatorial figure
4.  Personality cult worship
5.  Fanatical followers
6.  Extreme secrecy
7.  Strange doctrines
8.  Strange practices

I should also add the fact that just as certain cult leaders have claimed to be Jesus Christ returned in the flesh, within Roman Catholicism, it is also believed that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ; that is, the sole representative of Jesus Christ on Earth. Some people have interpreted this title as meaning even more than that; that is to say, that the Pope isn't just the representative of Jesus Christ, he is in fact the replacement of Christ, as in the Antichrist. Personally, I have yet to be fully convinced of this interpretation.

While some of you -- particularly my Roman Catholic readers -- will object to, and no doubt take offense at my using the Roman Catholic Church as an example in my previous remarks, as I mentioned earlier, my objective is to demonstrate how the word "cult" is a very subjective term. In other words, how we choose to define a cult, and determine who is a cult and who isn't a cult, depends a lot, not only on what we are instructed to believe by governments and religionists alike, but also on our own personal upbringing, prejudices and perspective.

We can apply these very same criteria to other religions -- both Christian and non-Christian alike -- politicians, movie stars, and just about anyone else, and will probably arrive at some interesting conclusions. However, because we have been discussing cults in a purely Christian sense, the Roman Catholic Church has been the perfect object for comparison. So am I actually suggesting that the RCC is a cult? What do you think? Formulate your own opinion.

Perhaps now you can understand why I am hesitant to refer to Harold Camping as a cult leader, or the Family Radio Network as a cult. If Camping's organization is a cult, then based on a very liberal definition of the word, we must conclude that so are many other modern Christian and quasi-Christian groups and denominations which may have beliefs and practices with which we don't agree, and which we may personally view as being rather strange and even non-Biblical.

Thus, I prefer to limit myself to referring to Mr. Camping as a misguided false prophet. Given his track record, that is, the fact that he has clearly made some predictions -- or prophecies -- which have not come to pass in the timeframe that he predicted, I think we can all agree that Camping is indeed doctrinally misguided and confused. As such, based upon the Scriptures, it would seem that "false prophet" is an appropriate, valid, applicable term to use to describe him. After all, once we arrive at October 21st, and nothing happens, Mr. Camping will have three strikes against him; that is, his 1994 date, his May 21, 2011 date, and his final October 21, 2011 date.

However, while Harold Camping may be a false prophet, in my view, he is by no means a dangerous one. As I explained in part one of this series, Camping has indeed done great harm to our Christian faith through his false predictions; a harm which has been greatly augmented by the mass media which is always hungry for a sensationalistic story to print; but the man is really not dangerous. He is simply a misguided old man who made some serious errors in his interpretations of the Bible. As we also saw in part one, in Deuteronomy we are told "thou shalt not be afraid of him."

If we really want to discuss dangerous cults, then we should focus our attention on the ones which have already shown a propensity for violence, including mass murder and suicide. As I state in the three-part series entitled "Heaven's Gate, Suicide And Other Death Cults", this would obviously include Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven's Gate UFO cult, whose bizarre doctrines concerning UFOs and the Comet Hale-Bopp, ultimately led to the untimely death of forty-one people in Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, California in 1997 by murder and suicide. Applewhite claimed to be the incarnation of Jesus.

It would also include the alleged atheist Jim Jones and the People's Temple cult, whose strange belief system -- which was an odd mix of communism and quasi-Christianity -- led to the murder and suicide of 909 men, women and children in the jungles of Guyana, South America in 1978. According to some surviving witnesses, People's Temple members even practiced their upcoming mass suicide in ghastly rituals referred to as "White Nights".

Then, of course, there is also David Koresh and the Branch Davidians; a cult which -- contrary to the peaceful doctrine of Jesus Christ -- apparently bought and sold weapons. There is also the claim made by federal agents that David Koresh claimed to be the Second Coming of Jesus. While there is a lot of debate concerning exactly what occurred on the final day of the confrontation between the Branch Davidians and the BATF, the tragic result is that in the end, eight-two Branch Davidians -- men, women and children -- died needlessly, and horribly, in 1993, just outside of Waco, Texas, along with four BATF agents from the U.S. Government.

Finally, there is Joseph Di Mambro, Luc Jouret and the Order of the Solar Temple cult, which was based in both Canada and Switzerland. Somewhat similar to how the Heaven's Gate UFO cult members' bodies were found neatly in their own beds, all dressed in the same outfits, over one hundred members of the Order of the Solar Temple were also found dead, with their bodies neatly arranged in a circle. It is believed that they had a murder-suicide pact.

The groups that I have just mentioned to you are real cults. They are, or at least were, dangerously deceptive cults. They had very dangerous ideas and practices, which ultimately led to their members' demise; in most cases by their own hands.

It is my opinion that these are the kinds of cults with which we should most concern ourselves, and not with more or less harmless Christian groups which may possibly have doctrines and practices which may be different from our own. I am not suggesting that we should totally ignore Christian churches, organizations or people who preach false doctrines which may possibly confuse God's sheep, and potentially harm our faith. Such deceptions should indeed be exposed, just as I have done with this series, and in other articles as well. However, if it is a matter of priorities, then it behooves us to expose the really dangerous cults first.

Allow me to leave you with some final thoughts and questions for your personal consideration and reflection.

Is it possible that in our haste to want to put down others with whom we don't agree, we have been overly liberal in our usage of the words "cult" and "cultist"? If so, is it because we recognize that these are powerful buzz words which will automatically invoke a negative response from the hearer? If that is the case, then it is important that we realize that if we are going to be so liberal in our usage of such words, we shouldn't be surprised if someday someone else makes the very same accusation about us. Furthermore, what if our very own government one day declares that our Christian faith is also a dangerous and misguided cult which needs to be stamped out? Then what?

Think about it.

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