Radio evangelist Harold Camping has died at the age of 92. Best known for predicting that on May 21, 2011, Jesus would come back, Camping’s most harmful teaching was that all church bodies were heretical and that people should just listen to his radio broadcasts instead of going to church.
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.”
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.
On Sunday, Pastor Douthwaite at our church gave one of the best comments on the Harold Camping fiasco. From his sermon on John 14:
Thomas and Philip didn’t quite understand all that Jesus was saying. They ask questions. Their knowledge isn’t quite right or complete. But don’t mock them or think less of them for this – for who among us understands all this? Especially the mystery of the Trinity which Jesus here is teaching. But give Thomas and Philip credit for this – though they didn’t fully understand, they looked to Jesus for the answers. They clung to Him tenaciously.
That’s not only a good example for us, it is what a certain Mr. Harold Camping missed this weekend. I’m certain that you’ve heard of him. The media has paid an unusual amount of attention to him and his prediction that the end of the world was going to begin yesterday. I don’t want to go into the details of all that he said. But you know what he missed? Christ. Not that he’s not a Christian. I’m not saying that. I don’t know what’s in his heart. But in all his study of the Bible, he looked for numbers and clues and codes and all sorts of things . . . but he missed Christ. And that’s what the Scriptures are all about. They’re not about hidden clues, secret teachings, mysterious numbers, and being able to calculate days and times. They’re all about Jesus. About his death and resurrection. That dying and rising with Jesus is the truth, and the way to eternal life.
Camping is not alone in spinning a Christless Christianity. I have read “Christian” books going into all kinds of profound theology and teachings about Christian living that did not so much as mention Christ. I have heard sermons, even evangelistic sermons, that left out Christ. I have heard expositions of the Bible that said nothing about Christ. I have heard personal testimonies and evangelistic witnesses that leave Jesus out of the picture. I have looked at lots of Sunday school curriculum and “Christian” children’s books that are pure moralism, without a shred of Jesus and His gospel. Since the root of “Christianity” is, you know, “Christ,” how is this possible? Don’t you have a different religion if you leave Jesus out of your Christianity?
P.S.: This is the reason to discuss Camping and not just to ignore him, as some of you were recommending: To discern how his particular spirit may be manifesting itself in other contexts closer to home. That’s the theme of this post and the one below.
Anthony Sacramone reflects on the Harold Camping non-rapture phenomenon, including some warnings about how Christians often get caught up in a cult of personality:
You might be saying to yourself, “Sure, a buncha fundy, dispensationalist cranks with clever marketing skills. Tough luck on their ignorant, desperate disciples.” But ask yourself something: If your pastor, preacher, teacher, elder, priest were to walk into an open manhole tomorrow, only to be replaced by some less-winsome personality, would you leave your church? If so, leave now.
Better yet: if your pastor, preacher, teacher, elder, priest were to be led out in handcuffs tomorrow, or discovered to have run off to Acapulco with the 16-year-old daughter of the youth minister, would you consider leaving the Church, full stop? If so, leave now.
Evangelical churches seem to be particularly susceptible to superstar preachers, because of the emphasis on preaching. We want to hear a new, fresh take on the old wooden Cross. We need some spiritual Red Bull to keep our enthusiasm up, but too often we wind up with just the bull. . . .
So the next time you hear that your guy (or, in some cases, gal) will not be leading worship on a particular Sunday, ask yourself if your heart sinks a little, and whether you even reconsider showing up for services until he/she makes his/her return. If so, ask yourself why — and in whom you have been putting your faith. May 21 may not have been the end, but of the making of many self-styled prophets there is definitely no end.
Harold Camping is taking nothing back, even though his prediction of the Rapture happening on May 21 fell flat. Rather, as some of you commenters predicted, he is simply reinterpreting his prediction and holding strong to his other one, that the world will come to an end on October 21.
Radio evangelist Harold Camping said in a special broadcast Monday night on his radio program Open Forum that his predicted May 21, 2011 Rapture was “an invisible judgment day“ that he has come to understand as a spiritual, rather than physical event.
“We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.
In an hour and a half broadcast, Camping walked listeners through his numerological timeline, insisting that his teaching has not changed and that the world will still end on October 21, 2011.
“It wont be spiritual on October 21st,” Camping said, adding, “the world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”
Camping had previously pointed to October 21 as the last day on earth for all humanity.
His former assertion was that a faithful three percent would be physically pulled into heaven by God through the Rapture on May 21, to be followed by a five month period of great suffering known as the Tribulation, ending, finally, on October 21. On Monday’s broadcast, Camping speculated that perhaps a merciful God decided to spare humanity five months of “hell on earth.”
Basically he said that on May 21 God determined who he would save. Now that this has been done, it won’t do any good for anyone to repent and try to turn to Christ, so he won’t be doing any more publicity about the world coming to an end. In other words, no one can become a Christian now anyway.
Friends, a false prediction of the end of the world is the least of the false teachings Mr. Camping will have to answer for. He teaches that people shouldn’t go to church; that they cannot have assurance of their salvation; and then now adds that no one can turn to Christ.
I ask you, who else wants people to stay away from church, sows doubt, and tries to keep people from Christ?
I’m writing this on Saturday morning, but I’ve set it up so that the post appears on Monday. So I MIGHT be raptured by the end of the day. I don’t know yet. Right now I’m either in Heaven or Texas.
So who is left? We need to hear from you. Are the Lutherans all gone? Where are the Calvinists? Did the Baptists get taken? Are the non-denominational Christians gone, or did they need to belong to a denomination after all?
We need to hear from the individuals who are always getting in theological arguments so that we can see if you have been right or not. Roll call: Grace? Porcell? Todd? DonS?
Does anyone know if Mr. Camping is still here? If so, what is he saying? Just because we might not have noticed large groups of people disappearing doesn’t mean the rapture didn’t happen. Maybe the gate is so narrow that only a handful of true Christians exist. Maybe some homeless people, some New Guinea tribesmen, and some persecuted Christian Arabs–individuals no one would notice–got raptured.
So now let’s get ready for the Tribulation! And the End of the World on October 21!
What do we learn from all of this?