It is hard to resist the obvious headline about Biblical soothsayer Harold Camping’s death, “The End Comes at Last for Harold Camping”
Indeed my friend Kathy Schiffer reports on his death here.
Harold Camping was the fundamentalist minister and radio broadcaster who first predicted that the world would end in 1994. Seventeen years later, he took to the airwaves on Camping’s own Family Life Radio to proclaim that the world would end on May 21, 2011. When that didn’t happen, he revised his math and changed the date to October 21. And when that date also passed without incident, Camping admitted he’d been wrong, attributed his error to sin, and went into seclusion.
I have to admit a soft spot for those old time Bible preachers. They got so much wrong, but they got so much right. What they got right was the simple gospel message–what I call the old, old story of lost humanity and the need to throw ourselves on the mercy of God. They understood that mankind’s greatest problem was the sin problem and that what was needed was repentance and the supernatural gifts of grace.
We used to have them come preach at the little independent Bible church where I was brought up. We’d hear all about the Rapture–where Jesus was going to come in the air and take all the true believers up to glory–after which the world would be plunged into seven years of the terrible tribulation under the rule of the anti Christ. Whew! that was some hot and juicy kind of religion!
Brother Camping was on the radio nationwide for many years and hosted a phone in and would argue with people about religion. That he went all haywire with kooky Biblical prophecies and outrageous individualistic Biblical interpretations and wild eyed anti-Catholicism was all part of the deal. He had little theological or Biblical education and was pretty much winging it.
May God have mercy on his soul and I hope Brother Camping doesn’t mind if I offer a Mass for him.