Harold Camping 2: Electric Bugaloo

Harold Camping 2: Electric Bugaloo December 10, 2012

Remember Hal Lindsay? Before Harold Camping made himself an international laughing stock with an inaccurate prediction of the end of the world, Lindsay was doing it. He once predicted that Jesus would return by 1988, and now another “scholar” has refined his prediction for another round of selling false promises to true believers.

Hal Lindsey, author of The Late Great Planet Earth, believed he had unlocked the secrets of this passage in Matthew 24:32-33, suggesting the generation that saw the 1948 rebirth of Israel as a nation—purportedly symbolized by the fig tree—would see the return of Jesus Christ. In what became the world’s best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970s, Lindsey wrote a biblical generation is “something like 40 years” and suggested that “within 40 years or so of 1948, all these things could take place.”

But when Jesus didn’t return in 1988, Lindsey’s interpretation of the passage came under heavy criticism and for many years the church largely shied away from teaching Bible prophecy. Now, World Bible Society President F. Kenton “Doc” Beshore argues Lindsey’s interpretation of the passage was correct, but he was wrong about the length of a biblical generation.

Instead of 40 years, Beshore says a biblical generation is actually 70-80 years, basing this on Psalm 90:10: “The days of our life are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years.” Based on this, the author of When?: When Will the Rapture Take Place? and The Millennium, the Apocalypse and Armageddon believes the Second Coming will occur sometime between 2018 and 2028, or 70 to 80 years after 1948. Taking into account the seven-year Tribulation period, Beshore expects the rapture to occur sometime between now and 2021.

“Jesus says in Matthew 24:34 that this ‘born one,’ or ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled,’” says Beshore, 86, who holds five doctoral degrees in theology. “He pictures Israel as a Jewish boy, born May 14, 1948, that would grow up and become an old man until He comes in glory to establish His millennial kingdom. Now, how long is this generation—this ‘born one’? The first meaning of ‘born one’ is in Psalm 90:10. If you extend that from 1948, the outside date for the millennium would be 2028. Take off seven years for the Tribulation and the outside date for the rapture would be 2021. The rapture could take place before that, but certainly by then.”

And when that turns out to be false, some other huckster will sell the same nonsense.

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  • unbound

    My father-in-law keeps getting sucked into this nonsense, but from a wide variety of priests. He ends up waiting for the rapture at least once a year.

    “There’s a sucker born every minute…”

  • kraut

    “who holds five doctoral degrees in theology”

    and what does that mean? Five degrees in fluff? In how many angels dance at the head of a pin? in how to interpret a human invention as an actual being?

    I rather have somebody with five degrees from Hogwarts. At least I know that they know it is fiction.

  • Five doctorates in theology? How many box tops did he have to send to get those.

  • slc1

    Actually, many born agains think that the Third Temple in Jerusalem must be built before the Second Coming. Currently, the Al Aksa Mosque sits on the Temple Mount which is supposed to be the location of the Third Temple.

  • Too bad the Bible doesn’t have a “Boy who cried wolf” type story in it.

  • lldayo

    the world’s best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970s

    Wow! It was listed as nonfiction? Shouldn’t it turn out to have some evidence for it before being considered nonfiction? Maybe we need another category for these types. Fiction, nonfiction and wantyourmoney.

  • matty1

    You might think with five degrees he could read the next line of his source “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

    There from JC himself confirmation that any Christian predicting the end of the world is full of it.

  • matty1

    @6 It’s going off topic but arguments about how books should be classified miss the point. When a bookstore puts a pseudoscience book in the science category they aren’t making some philosophical conclusion about where it belongs they are putting it where buyers are most likely to look based on past experience. If putting Harry Potter under cookery increased sales then that’s where those books would go.

  • lldayo

    @8 Hence the wantyourmoney type. 😉

  • I thought Lindsey predicted the world would end around 2000, not 1988.

    In any case, last I checked, he was writing for WingNutDaily — after being the only HUMAN to suffer from the Y2K bug. Either his audience never learns jack shit from his repeated failures, or the people who learn and go elsewhere are rapidly replaced by a new crop of suckers, every five years or so.

  • slc1

    Re Raging Bee @ #10

    PT Barnum said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

  • five doctoral degrees in theology

    They come in a roll that you hang on the wall of the smallest room in your house…..

    Srsly: that’s a big bogosity warning right there. Most people stop after one (well, among those who even get that far), and everything they do after that is just research and the publication thereof. A few polymaths might get a doctorate in a different field — but *five* in *the same field*? (Never mind that particular field is mostly just the analysis of navel lint).

  • Welp, I’m convinced. Where do I send my money?

  • Oh, and #10: I was reading Hal Lindsey around 1973 (ie: when I was young and stupid — though even then I thought he was stretching a point or three, particularly in skirting around the “no one knows when” bit), and yes, I recall the 1988 figure. Which at the time seemed an eternity away — I mean, I’d be *31* by then!!!

  • Doug Little

    slc @11,

    PT Barnum said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

    With pedant hat placed firmly on head…

    Actually whilst this quote is attributed to Barnum, his biographer never managed to track down if and when he said it according to this. Apparently his credo was “There’s a customer born every minute”.

  • The thing is that Revelations was not a prophesy, it was a first-hand account. The Rapture and the Second Coming happened almost 2000 years ago: we are the descendants of the folk left behind.

    It certainly would explain a lot.

  • lclane2

    Google has compiled end of the world predictions.

    Only a few years out of the last 20 have escaped apocalyptic predictions,

  • whheydt

    Re; lldayo @ #6…

    In my household we refer to that section of the library as “psychoceramics.”

  • Ichthyic

    PT Barnum said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

    FWIW Barnum didn’t actually say that; it was David Hannum:

    The Cardiff Giant was the most talked about exhibit in the nation. Barnum wanted the giant to display himself while the attraction was still a hot topic of the day. Rather than upping his offer, Barnum hired a crew of workers to carve a giant of his own. Within a short time, Barnum unveiled HIS giant and proclaimed that Hannum had sold Barnum the original giant and that Hannum was now displaying a fake! Thousands of people flocked to see Barnum’s giant. Many newspapers carried the version that Barnum had given them; that is, Hannum’s giant was a fake and Barnum’s was authentic. It is at this point that Hannum — NOT BARNUM — was quoted as saying “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Hannum, still under the impression that HIS giant was authentic, was referring to the thousands of “fools” that paid money to see Barnum’s fake and not his authentic one.


  • peterh

    Predictions of The End Of All Things has been a cottage industry for many, many centuries:


  • Ichthyic

    I thought Lindsey predicted the world would end around 2000, not 1988.

    could be there were different dates for “EOW” vs “Jesus returns”?

  • @21: In Lindsey’s eschatology, yes. Here’s more than you wanted to know about premillenial dispensationalism:

    1) Jesus half-returns and levitates his followers up to Heaven (a.k.a. “The Rapture”).

    2) Seven years of hell-on-earth (a.k.a. “The Tribulation”) follow as the Anti-Christ has his way with the world. Think Hitler+Stalin+Pol Pot, raised to the Nth power. Many people convert to Christianity and are severely persecuted.

    3) Jesus returns for real, slays the Anti-Christ, and sets up paradise-on-earth with the Christians, which lasts 1000 years (a.k.a. “The Millenium”).

    4) Satan rises again and leads astray many of humanity. The earth is destroyed in the final battle between God and Satan. Jesus wins of course, slays Satan for good this time, and creates the new heavens and the new earth.

    I’ve probably munged a few details, and there are variants on the above held by rival charlatans, but that’s the gist as I recall it. Aren’t you sorry you asked?

    Of course, no discussion of this subject would be complete without a plug for Slacktivist’s on-going MST3K treatment of the “Left Behind” series (which follows roughly the same chronology).

  • Brain Hertz

    PT Barnum said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

    Of course, due to the growth in world population since then, today there’s actually a sucker born every 40 seconds.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Beshore wrote:

    But when Jesus didn’t return in 1988, Lindsey’s interpretation of the passage came under heavy criticism and for many years the church largely shied away from teaching Bible prophecy.

    What a load of crap. I don’t think there’s ever been a single day when the church hasn’t made reference to bible prophecy.

  • slc1

    Re Ichthyic @ #19

    Apparently, it’s not clear who said it. Regardless, con artists like Lindsay certainly believe it.


  • Rodney Nelson

    No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matt 24:36 (NIV)

    These characters don’t know their own Bible.

  • “slc1

    Re Raging Bee @ #10

    PT Barnum said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute”.”

    I think that in the case of these clowns it’s more like,

    “There’s a sucker REBORN every minute.”.

  • dingojack

    whheydt (#13) – In my household we usually call that part of the library – 133.33 [/library geek]

    😀 Dingo

  • baal

    Ezekiel 4:9

    “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and finches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

    It’s well known that the coming of our Lord depends on the ‘pressage of the grain.’ A biblically made loaf of Ezekiel bread weighs about a pound and a half. If you convert that weight to moist avoirdupois grams (a unit close to what you’d find in the bible), the number is 2013331. The original Aramaic words for “shalt lie upon thy side” say that you read dates from the largest units to the smallest (this is the sideways date reading). That means the end of the world is slated for 2013 march (3) on the 31st (31) day. QED plan accordingly.

  • Stacy

    @Raging Bee, #10

    I thought Lindsey predicted the world would end around 2000, not 1988

    I think you’re right. Going by Wikipedia, both predictions were his:

    In a…book, entitled, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon,[19] he indicated that he believed it was possible that the battle of Armageddon could take place in the not too distant future, stating, “the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it.


    Planet Earth – 2000 A.D., published in the early 1990s, states that Christians should not plan to still be on earth by the year 2000.

    So, time for another go-round.

    Fool me once…