The Harold Camping prophesy reminds me of a Wikipedia article “when prophesy fails” [en.wikipedia.org
] which I think was pointed out by SeekingSusan in an earlier post (although I can’t find the link).
I can see exactly that sort of thing happening in Struthers – in fact, come to think of it, it has already happened. Not regarding the end of the world, but regarding revival. The New Year Message and other “prophecies” have predicted revival continuously since the beginning of the movement. Now some of these messages, for example about the church spreading out and new branches opening, seemed to be fulfilled at the time, but it is a long time since there has been any realisation of prophesy. This has been explained away by saying things like revival has come, it just hasn’t been noticed (how bizarre!) or that “God’s time is not our time” (so why is this prophesy an annual event, and how do you reconcile these two statements – has it come or hasn’t it?) No-one outside of Stuthers would see any link between the new year prophesies and what is happening in the church. Look back at the list of prophesies on the SMC site if you want to check this. They are still there for now, but will probably be removed if people start to comment on them. The whole “our prophesies are true it is just you don’t understand them” is just another example of the Emperors New Clothes- not so very far from the “when prophesy fails” scenario described in Wikipedia.
One thing though, according to Struthers, the people in the Harold Camping churches will be OK. They are doing exactly what the Struthers leaders would encourage them to do – obey your leaders. I wonder what would happen if someone from Harold Camping’s church wrote to Grace Gault to say, “I am a member of the Harold Camping Church. Should I stay or should I leave?” If she is to stick to Sturthers doctrine, she should presumably say, “Stay - and obey your leader.” I wonder if she would have said the same to members of the Jim Jones movement – the 900 who committed suicide together. Is the doctrine really “obey your leaders no matter what”? The only alternative I can see is to say to people, “judge what you hear and make up your own mind whether it is true, and here are some of the tools you should use – looking for the fruit of the spirit, checking what is said against the Bible, examining whether it leads to good works and a fulfilment of the Great Commission (go into all the world and preach the gospel).” That would have some far-reaching consequences for SMC. There would be nobody left!
Finally, Stephen and others, if you haven’t looked at the Latigo site, you should! It states its purpose as “To place in the public domain information and articles for people who have questions about the practices, teaching and beliefs of Struthers Memorial Church” and includes comments (questions mainly) about various practices and quotes from sermons. Some really interesting stuff there.