Camping Christian broadcaster Harold Camping got far more attention than he deserved about his May 21 prophecy regarding the return of Jesus. Everywhere we turned, even on ESPN’s Sports Center last Friday night and Saturday, his prediction about the rapture on Saturday May 21 got huge attention. I wonder how much money was spent on ads, billboards and announcements? I wonder what this money could have done if it had been invested wisely in the kingdom of God? I wonder when Christians will honestly stop listening to this stuff? I wonder why we talked so much about these foolish prophecies?

Camping now offers a simple explanation for his failed prediction — he miscalculated the real date. We’ve been here before with this man and will be again if people keep talking about him and listening to him.

Instead of the world physically coming to an end on May 21 — with a great, cataclysmic earthquake – the 89 year-old Harold Camping said his forecast is now playing out "spiritually." The actual apocalypse is really set to occur five months later, on October 21. 130px-William_Miller If you know nineteenth century millennial fervor you already know that this kind of response has been tried before. Check out the Millerite Movement and all that followed this era of failed predictions about Christ’s return. This kind of stuff has always been closely linked with the fervor of revivalism and was so as well in the late 1960s during the Jesus Movement. I had several college students on a gospel team I led drop out of school and end their work with me because the coming of Christ was thought to be so near. 

Camping said on his Open Forum program last week that it "dawned" on him that a "merciful and compassionate God" would spare humanity from "hell on earth for five months" by compressing the physical apocalypse into a shorter time frame. How clever! But Camping insists that October 21 has always been the end-point of his own end times chronology. And who cares? Well, I am sure some do and some are ready to walk away from the faith altogether because of this false teaching. This is the greatest tragedy of all.

When Harold Camping was asked what advice he would give to followers who gave up much or all of their worldly possessions in the belief that his judgment day forecast would come true, Camping drew a comparison to the nation's recent economic slump. "We just had a great recession. There's lots of people who lost their jobs, lots of people who lost their houses … and somehow they all survived.”

Camping added, with a totally disingenuous statement:"People cope, he added. "We're not in the business of giving any financial advice. We're in the business of telling people maybe there is someone you can talk to, and that's God."

Why do I say Camping is disingenuous? Because he has been profoundly wrong before and he will be wrong again yet he is simply never willing to admit his mistakes in an honest and credible way. And he certainly has not stopped his appeal for people to leave all visible churches and send him their money. All the marks of false and debased teaching are clearly present in this con man.

I was asked last week if I would sit down and talk with Camping? I had to think about that one for a moment. I suppose I might, and suggested that I would, but then I thought about Jesus’ statement about “casting pearls before swine” and about the foolishness of prophets like Camping and had a second thought. What would I say? What would you say, if you could talk to Harold Camping? I think it would be an exercise in spiritual futility.

My prayer: “Lord have mercy on all those who were caught up in the Harold Camping deception and the attending media charade. Have mercy on those whose simple faith has been misled and whose lives are now profoundly harmed by these false predictions. Amen.”

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Comments

  1. Bob VonMoss June 2, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I live less than 1 km of a big bronze Buddha statue with blue hair. We’re competing for minds with the gospel. Satan comes masquerading and perhaps labelled as an angel of light. People are free to choose. God is testing people by sending out false prophets. There were many false prophets in the Old Testament. Over time the false prophets’ words were proved false. Some false prophets may have started with some sincere desire to be a true prophet of God, but were tempted in some way either to make more money or to get notoriety or whatever. Years ago the Russians killed off most of the Buddhist lamas in Mongolia and destroyed the big gold statue they had. What is moving peoples’ hearts is Jesus. Only more word of God and Jesus is going to move peoples’ hearts.
    Where is ecumenicalism heading? I think we can find bad points or even violations of Scripture in all kinds of Christian groups. I listened to Harold Camping 15-20 years ago. After a while I stopped listening to him. I felt just listening to the radio is a very passive style of Bible study. I felt his teachings were sometimes not well-rounded and the same minutia came up on the call in show almost everyday day year after year. I also noticed he was never raising up disciples or messengers to follow him. He sounded dour and not joyful. It seemed drastically different from my church.
    What is the point of ecumenicalism? Lots of other people consider themselves Christians and seem to be wrong on various Bible points. I want to have a spirit of unity with believers, but sometimes people have to learn something the hard way. I learn from Mongolians coming to Jesus all the time. They come with fresh joy and learning. They’re not supposed to be Jesus’ people, but I’m amidst very sincere people. If people are in my church and I’m a leader, then I’m obligated to correct people. If I’m not the leader, then I can pray for the leader to have open eyes. If they’re in another church, we can tell them by their fruits. There will always be a hedonistic ESPN and a legalistic wrong spiritual person, as Romans 2:24 says: As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
    Isn’t it Time to turn off Harold Camping?
    I’m not trying to defend Harold Camping, but we could say that about just about 99% of churches, because they do this and that, because people have lots of failings. What if I witnessed a failing and it’s not a rumor? If that is so then what’s the point of ecumenicalism? I don’t want to approve of sick fallen people, even if it has a “Bible” label on it. Some people could even be weak Christians. People also feel comfortable in tradition and rituals. One day they will discover these things are lifeless and distracting. There will always be false teachers and lies being circulating among us. It’s good to expose them. It’s also good to win the argument with more Jesus and more word of God.
    The bottom line is let God be God and keep preaching God’s word and imitating Jesus and don’t put too much hope in ordinary people.

  2. Chris Criminger June 2, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Hi John,
    To answer your above question, “I have never turned him on in the first place”

  3. Stephen June 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I wonder if Camping borrowed cheat notes from the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Honestly, I don’t think there is much you could say to Camping….he has too much invested in his failed prophecies and judging by his past predictions (1990s) and currently it appears he will keep on trying. I just hope his followers will disband and leave this nonsense behind.

  4. Dozie June 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Isn’t It Time to Turn Off Harold Camping?
    A very good question; but who in Protestantism has an idea what to do about Camping not to talk of the authority to do the what?

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