Harold Camping admits he was wrong

Finally Harold Camping accepts the plain words of Matthew 24:36 (“of that day and hour knoweth no man”):

After numerous failed doomsday predictions, Family Radio founder Harold Camping announced this month that he has no plans to predict ever again the day of God’s Judgment. He also issued an apology to listeners, admitting that he was wrong.

“We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours!” a statement on Family Radio’s website reads. “We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.”

Camping, 90, has made predictions about Judgment Day, Christ’s return and the end of the world for the past few decades – with the May 21, 2011, forecast receiving the most media attention. Each time the date passed, he did not admit to mistaking the timing but instead reasoned that the events happened “spiritually” rather than physically.

But once Oct. 21, 2011 – the day Camping said the world would be destroyed physically – came and went, the Christian broadcaster began to reevaluate his views about being able to calculate and know the exact date of the apocalypse.

“Even the most sincere and zealous of us can be mistaken,” Camping and Family Radio staff stated in their March letter. “We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking.

“But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man’ (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.”

via Harold Camping Admits Sin, Announces End to Doomsday Predictions, Christian News.

Hopefully he will now  admit his other errors and accept other plain words of Scripture.  For example, another finding of his odd interpretation of the End Times is that we have entered a dispensation in which all organized churches have become apostate.  Thus, people should stop going to church.  Instead they should just listen to his radio program.  Maybe he could now announce that he is now taking Hebrews 10:25 to mean what it says and that his followers should now start going to churches again.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Michael B.

    What a bold statement Camping and others have made — that they have had special communication with the ruler of the universe that none of us has had…pretty amazing.

    It’s even more amazing when put in the context of Christian theology. Consider the rest of the verse: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” So Camping and Pat Robertson and others have been vouchsafed information that not even Angels and even members of the Trinity have known. What a privilege, and one has to wonder if the others who don’t know must be a bit jealous of Camping.

  • Michael B.

    What a bold statement Camping and others have made — that they have had special communication with the ruler of the universe that none of us has had…pretty amazing.

    It’s even more amazing when put in the context of Christian theology. Consider the rest of the verse: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” So Camping and Pat Robertson and others have been vouchsafed information that not even Angels and even members of the Trinity have known. What a privilege, and one has to wonder if the others who don’t know must be a bit jealous of Camping.

  • Robin

    I am glad to see Mr. camping is at least make a nod toward orthodoxy. I agree Dr. Veith, I hope he recants a few of his other bizarre beliefs/predictions.

  • Robin

    I am glad to see Mr. camping is at least make a nod toward orthodoxy. I agree Dr. Veith, I hope he recants a few of his other bizarre beliefs/predictions.

  • mikeb

    No one is completely useless, they can at least serve as a bad example.

  • mikeb

    No one is completely useless, they can at least serve as a bad example.

  • Jerry

    As per Luther, my daughter planted a tree the day before each of Mr. Camping’s predictions…any other ideas as to how to get her to take more interest in the yard work…

  • Jerry

    As per Luther, my daughter planted a tree the day before each of Mr. Camping’s predictions…any other ideas as to how to get her to take more interest in the yard work…

  • Jon

    The great thing about being a modern American Christian is that, regardless of how heretical your teaching may be, or how much damage it does to others, a mere “[we] can be mistaken,” washes away all responsibility.

  • Jon

    The great thing about being a modern American Christian is that, regardless of how heretical your teaching may be, or how much damage it does to others, a mere “[we] can be mistaken,” washes away all responsibility.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 5: Actually, the great thing about being a Christian, period, is that all of our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ.

    Divine forgiveness is a merciful and wonderful thing.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 5: Actually, the great thing about being a Christian, period, is that all of our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ.

    Divine forgiveness is a merciful and wonderful thing.

  • Jon

    @6 You miss the point.

  • Jon

    @6 You miss the point.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 7: Enlighten me then.

  • DonS

    Jon @ 7: Enlighten me then.

  • Jon

    My point was that Camping held himself out as a teacher of God’s word, and he got lots of folks to believe that he was just that, and thus to take what he said as gospel. Based on Camping’s date-setting, some of those listeners sold their belongings, and otherwise impoverished themselves, believing they would no longer need this world’s goods. Now, those people are not just embarrassed, but they feel foolish and probably blame, not just Camping, but God, in whose name they believed Camping spoke.

    Camping, to our knowledge, simply says, I was mistaken. But he wasn’t mistaken about some mathematical calculation, he misrepresented God and disillusioned many who believed what he said. Were Camping part of the church, there should be imposed some kind of pennance, requiring him, in some way, to make restitution to those whom he misled. Instead, he says, we were mistaken, and moves on.

    I wonder if this why under the law God called for false prophets to be stoned to death. Not just because they misrepresented the word of God, as if in a vacuum, but because they misled so many innocent hearers about God. People deceived by false prophets often have a difficult time trusting again anyone who make even speak truthfully about God. St. James noted that teachers would be more severely judged. Perhaps just for that reason.

    Camping is outside the church, or, perhaps, is a church of one. He answers to no authority but his own. But he owes his deluded listeners more than what he has said.

    Christ have mercy.

  • Jon

    My point was that Camping held himself out as a teacher of God’s word, and he got lots of folks to believe that he was just that, and thus to take what he said as gospel. Based on Camping’s date-setting, some of those listeners sold their belongings, and otherwise impoverished themselves, believing they would no longer need this world’s goods. Now, those people are not just embarrassed, but they feel foolish and probably blame, not just Camping, but God, in whose name they believed Camping spoke.

    Camping, to our knowledge, simply says, I was mistaken. But he wasn’t mistaken about some mathematical calculation, he misrepresented God and disillusioned many who believed what he said. Were Camping part of the church, there should be imposed some kind of pennance, requiring him, in some way, to make restitution to those whom he misled. Instead, he says, we were mistaken, and moves on.

    I wonder if this why under the law God called for false prophets to be stoned to death. Not just because they misrepresented the word of God, as if in a vacuum, but because they misled so many innocent hearers about God. People deceived by false prophets often have a difficult time trusting again anyone who make even speak truthfully about God. St. James noted that teachers would be more severely judged. Perhaps just for that reason.

    Camping is outside the church, or, perhaps, is a church of one. He answers to no authority but his own. But he owes his deluded listeners more than what he has said.

    Christ have mercy.

  • DonS

    A fair point, Jon. God makes it very clear in Matthew that those who mislead others spiritually will be held to a high account.

    That has, however, been true always and everywhere, not just in modern America.

    And acknowledging your wrongs still brings forgiveness from our ever-loving Father. Thankfully, for all of us.

  • DonS

    A fair point, Jon. God makes it very clear in Matthew that those who mislead others spiritually will be held to a high account.

    That has, however, been true always and everywhere, not just in modern America.

    And acknowledging your wrongs still brings forgiveness from our ever-loving Father. Thankfully, for all of us.

  • JacobC

    I used to listen to Camping’s program way back in the 1970′s. I soon lost interest, but it seemed every couple of years I would run across his program and listen for an hour. It seemed like every time I listened, he got worse.

    I wonder how many people he drove to despair? He seemed to relish telling people that they cannot know that they are saved and I even heard him tell his listeners that very few people would be saved so chances are it is very unlikely that you will be saved. I remember hearing anxious callers hoping to hear Good News, only to be told that basically they should despair of God – it was like salvation was this big lottery and there were only a few winning tickets. And I think this was before he got on his no-one-who-is-a-member-of-a-church-can-be-saved kick. An hour of his show every few years was about all I could stand.

  • JacobC

    I used to listen to Camping’s program way back in the 1970′s. I soon lost interest, but it seemed every couple of years I would run across his program and listen for an hour. It seemed like every time I listened, he got worse.

    I wonder how many people he drove to despair? He seemed to relish telling people that they cannot know that they are saved and I even heard him tell his listeners that very few people would be saved so chances are it is very unlikely that you will be saved. I remember hearing anxious callers hoping to hear Good News, only to be told that basically they should despair of God – it was like salvation was this big lottery and there were only a few winning tickets. And I think this was before he got on his no-one-who-is-a-member-of-a-church-can-be-saved kick. An hour of his show every few years was about all I could stand.

  • Michael B.

    @JacobC
    “I even heard him tell his listeners that very few people would be saved”

    – “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

  • Michael B.

    @JacobC
    “I even heard him tell his listeners that very few people would be saved”

    – “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

  • JacobC

    @Michael B.

    Yes, the gate is narrow. But everything I heard from Camping, even in his earlier days, seemed to lead people to despair of God rather than leading people to repentance. Camping did not say the gate was narrow so much as he said the gate was hidden and virtually no one would find it. I heard him tell callers who said they were baptized and believed in Christ that chances are they are not saved and anyway there is no way to have any assurance (evidently you can’t know anything about salvation but you could until recently know God’s timeline to the hour). Instead of pointing people to the finished work of Christ he would point people to their own doubts and fears and tell them you can’t know if Christ is for you – maybe but probably not.

  • JacobC

    @Michael B.

    Yes, the gate is narrow. But everything I heard from Camping, even in his earlier days, seemed to lead people to despair of God rather than leading people to repentance. Camping did not say the gate was narrow so much as he said the gate was hidden and virtually no one would find it. I heard him tell callers who said they were baptized and believed in Christ that chances are they are not saved and anyway there is no way to have any assurance (evidently you can’t know anything about salvation but you could until recently know God’s timeline to the hour). Instead of pointing people to the finished work of Christ he would point people to their own doubts and fears and tell them you can’t know if Christ is for you – maybe but probably not.


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