Saturday, February 24, 2007

Harold Camping vs. Bob Sungenis: A Trivia Quiz

Let’s play a little game of trivia to lighten things up a little and also to see how well you have been following everything. The game is simple. A quote will be provided and all you have to do is select the person who wrote it. Names have been removed from the quotes to avoid giving away the answer, replaced by “John Doe”

For each of the quotes below, you may select one of the following candidates:

a) Jacob Michael b) Michael Forrest c) David Palm d) Dr. Arthur Sippo or e) Pope Benedict XVI

If you tire of the quiz at any point, simply skip down under question #25 and check your answers against the answer key.

Good luck!

1) “We do not wish…to attack John Doe personally but only to critique his…views.”

2) “John Doe is assuming the role of …prophet...not on any direct communique from God.”

3) “It is my personal opinion that John Doe has developed an acute Messiah complex.”

4) “Things were going well until I began to question some of the (things) that were being taught by John Doe…these disagreements led to my release…(members of his organization) before and after me found themselves in the same situation as they quickly became a statistic in the high turnover rate…”

5) “I feel an obligation to show from the inside, a brief yet thorough critique of John Doe’s theories and his self-appointed mission. It is our hope that all those who have felt some measure of anxiety on hearing or reading (his writings) didn't quite know how to refute its complicated and intimidating analysis, will receive a large measure of relief upon reading this critique.”

6) “Even many of John Doe’s followers…do not understand…yet they believe…because they trust him.”

7) “Contrary to what he says of his critics, we do not (disagree with John Doe’s views)…because we ‘refuse to accept the truth…’”

8) “It is a fact…that many aspects of John Doe’s…‘discoveries’ have been know for quite some time….Either Doe is unaware of these past developments or deliberately avoids referencing them.”

9) “This is a common occurrence in John Doe’s work- he alone decides which (pieces of evidence) are significant and how they will be used. If they fit into his…scheme, they become significant. If they do not, they are ignored.”

10) “This is a prime example of John Doe’s biased selectivity…”

11) “Unfortunately, if one challenges John Doe that he can’t do these kinds of things…Doe, as he often did with me, will retort that his critics just don’t understand…Because Doe has self interpreted…without any formal accountability his whole life, he has developed a thick theological insulation to protect himself from criticism. With his deep, authoritarian voice…and consistent flow of “us-them” polemical literature, John Doe convinces many naïve Christians that he is virtually the only one in our day blessed of God to understand…”

12) “John Doe consistently fails to distinguish in the reader’s mind what he has merely theorized and what God has actually done.”

13) “The haunting question that he will have to answer is: If it was not God who was leading him, then who was it?”

14) “One of the key dimensions of John Doe’s interpretations…is the prerogative he gives himself to arbitrarily switch (forms of) interpretation…whenever it suits his…agenda.

15) “Flaws in his logic almost jump out at the discerning reader.”

16) “It appears once again that John Doe is reading into the text something he would like to see, or has to see, to make his…theory pan out.”

17) “Once again we see that when one allows himself to…he can twist almost any fact and make it fit into his preconceived ideas.”

18) “I tried my best to show the errors...but John Doe turned a deaf ear and actually became more adamant about his stance…Despite my repeated attempts at revealing this blatant error to him, he continually ignored my pleas and accused me…” “I voiced my concerns to John Doe. My ideas were not well-received. This was the first of several clashes we had over what I saw as his erroneous and sometimes downright bizarre ways.... The strain between us increased, and I sensed that my days at (his organization) were numbered. My disagreements with John Doe resulted in my dismissal…”

19) “One of the passages that Doe uses to bolster his…scheme…is his unique interpretation of (Biblical citation). Asserting that theologians of the past were all in error…Doe claims to come to the rescue…Doe dogmatically proclaims that any interpretation of (biblical passage) that purports to be fulfilled (differently than the way he interprets it) is totally invalid…His is an entirely unique interpretation. To my knowledge, no theologian has ever seen (biblical passage) quite like John Doe.”

20) “John Doe creates a very self-serving hermeneutic since then he can make the words of the Bible mean virtually anything he wants, which he often does.”

21) “To the uneducated…it appears that John Doe has really done his homework and the other person is made to look quite foolish. In reality, it is Doe who often gives the shoddy exegesis and ignores much of what the Bible has to say. Many examples of Doe’s biased exegesis…have already been cited…”

22) “As for biblical languages, when it is to his advantage, John Doe is quick to commandeer the Greek language for support…”

23) “John Doe also sways the thinking of many naïve Christians…Once he has made an inroad and gained the listener’s confidence, Doe will often veer off into his own ideas…the listener usually does not realize what is happening nor does he have the acumen to distinguish between the orthodox statements and the inventions of Doe….It is…the extra percentage that Doe adds of his own theology that causes such controversy.”

24) “Will John Doe apologize? Will he submit to discipline? It seems less likely than the world ending…”

25) “Get this information to pastors and Christian broadcasters. Publicly rebuke this public disgrace to the Church.”


Do you have your answer sheet ready?

None of the quotes above came from Jacob Michael, Michael Forrest, David Palm, Dr. Arthur Sippo or Pope Benedict XVI.

It was a trick quiz. Sorry!

All of these quotes, with the exception of the very last two, were penned by none other than…..Robert Sungenis, in his 170+ page expose of former friend, mentor and employer, Harold Camping. This expose was published as a book entitled: Shockwave 2000: The Harold Camping 1994 Debacle (See here.). The last two quotes were written by Scott Temple, one of the co-authors of the book.

One will quickly notice that Sungenis frames his own work against Camping as a matter of conscience. Yet, in the case of Michael Forrest, Jacob Michael and David Palm, he frames it as a matter of betrayal and spiteful personal retribution. In regard to his own work, he was simply pursuing his dreams and nobly "voicing his concerns". But Forrest, Michael and Palm are duplicitous opportunists.

One will also note that Sungenis says that he “chafed” at having no formal outlet for his teaching, etc. after he was fired by Camping. So in his case, he effectively admits there most certainly was a significant extent to which he did precisely what he accused Forrest, Michael and Palm of: using his friend and mentor to pursue his own personal advancement and desires. It is worth noting that at least Camping was paying Sungenis. Not so for Forrest, Michael or Palm.

Yet, there certainly are one or two other differences. Sungenis did not leave of his own accord, in conscience, even though he admits he saw something he considered dangerously wrong. He was forced out, fired. In contrast, Forrest confronted Sungenis and told him he would not continue to publicly support him if he insisted on maintaining his course. Sungenis would not change and so, in conscience, Forrest quit.

After Camping had obviously helped Sungenis so much and allowed him to do the things that he says he loved, he went on to write and publish a scathing book of 170 pages condemning Camping in 1994: Shock Wave 2000: The Harold Camping Debacle.

A few questions obviously suggest themselves:

1) Did Sungenis send Camping his book privately to see if Camping might respond satisfactorily to his complaints and so avoid the need to go public (as Sungenis demanded of Forrest)?

2) Did Sungenis contact Camping and give him an opportunity to present his case alongside Bob's before Bob put this out in front of the whole world (as Sungenis demanded of Forrest)?

3) By Sungenis’s own standards, doesn’t the fact that Sungenis was fired by Camping call into question Sungenis’s personal account of what happened? After all, he was a disgruntled employee, right?

4) Did this all make Sungenis a particularly despicable kind of opportunistic betrayer, by his own standards...a Judas, as he puts it (as he condemned Forrest)?

5) What exactly did Camping do in response? Did Camping mount a public smear campaign of character assassination filled with fabrications in order to discredit Sungenis (as Sungenis did to Forrest)?

One Standard for Me, Another for Thee?

The quotes above can be found on the following pages of Shockwave 2000: The Harold Camping 1994 Debacle: 1)26 2)22 3)22 4)25-26 5)26 6)27 7)28 8)40 9)53 10)56 11)69-70 12)70 13)71 14)81 15)83 16)91 17)94 18)111 and Surprised By Truth 112-113 19)99-100 20)112 21)114 22)114 23)118 24)150 25)160