I love road trips, sure it can be painful to the parts that you sit on for hours on end, but there you have it.  I have time to reflect, to pray, to catch up on unheard CDs, to look at God's creation, and to listen to Christian FM radio.
Christian FM seems to be in vogue right now.  I was able to catch music, commentaries and sermons almost all of the way south, and then back north again when I took a different route.  Much of the music I heard was different than the top-40 format that we have locally, very nice.
On the second evening of driving south, as I was approaching my destination, I heard a snippet of Biblical teaching that had me dropping my jaw and then whooping with laughter.  I dearly wanted to listen to the gentleman's reasoning, and his Scriptural support, but unfortunately the station faded out in the high desert evening.
I spent several days down on the edge of the Mojave wondering just what this commentator meant when he said that atonement did not come on the cross, salvation came before the foundation of the universe.  Hmmm.
So, I listened carefully on the return trip and, sure enough, I found the station again.  It actually turns out to be a whole movement which was founded by Harold Camping in 1959.  He predicts that the rapture will occur on May 21, 2011, the end of the world is October 21 of the same year.  The movement is simply called Family Radio Inc. and has over fifty radio stations all across the U.S.  Many are located in California.
This movement hearkens out of Oakland.  They have an interesting take on the Bible, its interpretation, and the age that we are in.  If you are curious you can find more information at: Family Radio
This is reminiscent of Ted Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God in which he rejected Jesus as God and formed one of the largest cults in America.  Camping claims that there are levels of meaning for each verse in the Bible and that his hermeneutic uncovers this meaning.  Thus his take on atonement.  Thus his claim about the rapture and the end of the world in spite of clear Scripture that says "no one will know the day or the hour".
Isn't it interesting that we, as people, still fall for a hidden knowledge claim for our faith?  ("Just listen to me, I have the hidden knowledge that will get you into heaven")  In Camping's case that hidden knowledge is his hermeneutic, his method of interpreting the Bible.
We run into this in other venues, too.  For instance, many home church advocates claim that theirs is the only true faith and that all church goers are uniformly lost.  That all churches are merely social clubs in which the participants get a flawed version of the gospel . . let's call it gospel lite.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have seen a church growth movement that willingly expels anyone who disagrees with them.  How many times have we heard, "I used to go to church, but . ." only to receive yet another version of love your neighbor gone horribly wrong.  Many have been lifelong leaders in their church.  Many did not understand the mechanics of church growth and stepped into the minefield unaware . . thinking that they were part of the solution.
There is something seductive and exclusive about having all the control in a church . . as if the narrow gate were meant only for them and no other Christians.  There is something seductive and exclusive about setting up other Christians as the straw men, or the bogey men, in an argument so that you can easily knock them down.  As leaders this us vs. them attitude makes it easier to keep your congregation from wandering off to more fertile fields . . where maybe they will be fed a more complete Biblical message.  Us vs. them turns us inward, keeps our neighbors at a manageable level . . our neighbors are then who we deem them to be.
This flies in the face of clear Biblical teaching.  Think about it, our neighbors should be everyone else.  In our day and age the good Samaritan might be better understood as the good Islamic extremist (someone we love to hate - Luke 10).  And having reviewed considerable 9/11 news footage this morning I understand that this can be a stretch for all of us.  We are called upon to be good neighbors, just as an Islamic extremist can be a good neighbor.  Not because we will receive extra crowns in heaven but because it is merely our responsibility to do God's will.  And nothing can be more fundamental to His will than to love Him, and to love your neighbor.
Wow, the rabbit trails that I take.  Back to Family Radio and Mr. Camping.
It is extremely difficult to walk according to God's will if your understanding of Him is flawed.  And I believe that Family Radio, specifically the program called Open Forum, teaches a flawed version of the gospel.  I would associate this, at least on some levels, to the heresies that Paul speaks about in Galatians 1.  As a side note, most heresies are a direct attack on the person and works of Jesus.
So what is a Christian to do?  How do we protect ourselves from being suckered into this kind of false teaching?  Let me toss some guidelines out here, in no particular order, let's call them Mark's Rules of Thumb lest we turn them into yet another false doctrine.
Have a great 9/11 day today, remember to pray for family, friends and nation.
Have a glorious and fed Lord's Day tomorrow!  Praise Him yet again for His presence!