Some spiritual leaders are obviously not of God. They may have some merit to their message, but their human failings do not have an impact on God’s Kingdom.
Timothy Leary once told a generation to turn on, tune in and drop out. In his book, Flashback, he expressed regret that his statement had been taken to mean “get stoned and abandon all constructive activity.”
What Leary meant by turn on was activate your genetic equipment to become aware of the levels of consciousness out there. While he advocated drugs as one means by which to accomplish this goal, Christians often seek the same thing through meditation, fasting and prayer.
Tune in meant be sensitive to the world around you and act in harmony with it, achieving a sustainable social and envrinmental balance. This is really no different than the way God wants us to live. If we were in His will we would not be using up the earth’s resources, oppressing others even unintentionally nor have unwanted pregnancies to terminate.
Drop out meant actively seek to cut bonds with involuntary commitments, become more self-aware and self-reliant. Cutting bonds with the involuntary is much like how God wants us to break the chains of sin, but despite this society’s obsession with self-reliance, that is not God’s plan for us. We need Him and we need each other, as Psalm 133 and Ephesians 4:16 below makes clear:
Under (Christ’s) direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (New Living Translation)
Thus while Leary’s message was not without merit, it was certainly one meant for the world and not God’s people. Where he was wrong did not thus undermine the efforts of those who want to bring the Good News to the world.
If the continual failed doomsday predictions of Bay Area religious figure Harold Camping have taught us anything, it is that a false prophet and a means to deliver the message to a broad audience is a dangerous combination.
Previous predictions were explained. His book, 1994?, came with the acknowledgement that if it was not September 6, 1994, it would come on October 21, 2011. When the rapture he promised ahead of this date did not happen, he said God’s Judgment came in silence and the end date was still accurate.
There was no explaining this date coming and going without incident. Instead, his daughter issued this statement to the Associated Press: “Sorry to disappoint, but we here at Family Radio have been instructed not to speak to the media.”
Let us ignore for a second that the statement constitutes speaking to the media. Let us further ignore that as a radio network, they are the media. The reason for this is simple: Family Radio is on dangerous legal ground and continuing to speak on this matter could make them more vulnerable to legal action.
As prison minister and author Marty Angelo stated in a Christian Post article after the date passed, Camping has failed to deliver on promises that were the foundation of business transactions. He also noted how every time we allow someone to misrepresent God, the credibility of the entire faith is undermined.
Millions have lost their savings. Some have lost their lives. And a few might have even lost their souls, as Family Radio told them God was no longer saving people.
That is why it is time for Christians to take action. And there is an anti-Leary approach we can take: “Turn off, tune out and drop in!”
First, we turn them off. There are many messages on the radio that we do not agree with. Many have a political bent or might be too old-fashioned or modern for our view. Such disagreements are not worth quibbling about, but do not connect with us.
For those we openly disagree with, we tune them out. That implies putting something else on instead. This means getting a counter-message out there, making it public we do not agree with a message and letting people know why.
But one like Camping’s deserves a drop in. It is time to show up and hold them accountable.
There is more than enough legal grounds for fraud to bring the suit. If I take millions of dollars from thousands of people to build a bridge and I bank it on a guy who has failed to complete his only two known jobs before, I am liable for that money.
His network irresponsibly continued to count on the promises of a person who had a track record of being wrong, and has value to pay off those they took money from. It can be used henceforth to put out a constructive message through the network, even if only to say that we stand up for what is right in matters pertaining to our own.