Impact

Harold Camping’s Scatological Eschatology

On Saturday, May 21st, 2011, Jesus did not return.

Harold Camping "flabbergasted" by non-Rapture” was the headline of one CBS/AP news story the following Monday.[1] But being flabbergasted did not stop the 89 year old Harold Camping who, only two days after his failed prediction, said, "[The] Bible clearly teaches that [on October 21st, 2011]  the world is going to be destroyed altogether."

As Ronald Reagan once said, "There you go again…"

Some have strayed… turned away to empty discussion. They want to be teachers…, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently” (1 Timothy 1:6-7).

On Saturday, May 21st, 2011, Jesus did not return.

Harold Camping "flabbergasted" by non-Rapture” was the headline of one CBS/AP news story the following Monday.[1] But being flabbergasted did not stop the 89 year old Harold Camping who, only two days after his failed prediction, said, "[The] Bible clearly teaches that [on October 21st, 2011]  the world is going to be destroyed altogether."

As Ronald Reagan once said, "There you go again…"

Some have strayed… turned away to empty discussion. They want to be teachers…, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently” (1 Timothy 1:6-7).

EXCLUSIVE: Harold Camping Will Speak Out About Failed End of the World Prediction.[2]

And so on Monday evening May 23rd, live on the air, Camping did not take callers on his Open Forum program, but instead held a press conference and fielded questions from the media. Everyone wanted to know, what would he say? Would he finally admit he was horribly wrong and that he’d led people astray? Doubtful he would admit to teaching false doctrine, but one could hope. Would he finally step down, stop teaching, and leave the airways? (Again, one could hope.)

What follows are some of the (edited) highlights of his press conference interspersed  with some of my own comments. (I also make comments in the footnotes):

Camping: “Now you know for many months we[3] have been teaching that May 21 is Judgment Day and of course this last weekend became a very interesting weekend because May 21 came and is gone and all the dire predictions that had been talked about[4] did not come to pass. And so the first question is ‘Camping, what about you, are you ready to shoot yourself or are you ready to go on a booze trip?’[5] or whatever. Well I can tell you very candidly that when May 21 came and went it was a very difficult time for me, a very difficult time. I was truly wondering, ‘What is going on?’ I went over in my mind… I went back through all the promises that God has made, all of the proofs, all of the signs, and everything was fitting perfectly. What in the world happened?”

Yes, what happened Mr. Camping?

But “Suddenly the light dawned,” he said at one point, “suddenly I felt way better…” And in order to explain what had (not) happened on May 21st, 2011, he needed to take us back to what had (not) happened with his previous predictions. To do this it is necessary to be reminded of his September 7th, 1994 end-of-the-world prediction. (At this news conference he admitted that he had once taught that “there was a high probability that that [date] might be the end of the world”. Though others will point out he was much more sure and adamant about that date than he now admits.[6]) Of course on September 8th, 1994 he had to begin working on some completely extra-biblical, eisegetic,  subjective, only-Harold-Camping-can-see-what-happened, explanation: According to Camping, Jesus did return on September 7th, 1994, “in a mystical way” i.e., nobody saw it, or knew about it, except for Harold Camping.

So he used the cockamamie explanation of the false 1994 prediction as the key to his understanding how the May 21 prediction had in fact come to pass, even though it did not come to pass.  

Camping again: “I thought, ‘Oh, there’s the answer. We[7] had been looking at all the information in the Bible too earthly, like it was actually physically going to happen.[8] Suddenly it dawned on me… Oh, I[9] see what happened, we were convinced[10] that on May 21 God would return here in a very physical way, by bringing a great earthquake, and by ushering in the final five months of the Day of Judgment, and [the] fact is, when we look at it all spiritually then we find He did come, He did come…”

So, according to Harold Camping, Jesus came on September 7th, 1994, and He came again on May 21st, 2011? Is it wrong to call this man a fool? “A fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

 “Actually there are four days that are very crucial,” Camping said. “We’ve talked about all four of these days in the past… and we’re not making any changes in the four days, except on the emphasis on a couple of the days, on one of the days. The first part of the end of the world began on May 21, 1988. It was at that time that God brought his judgment on all of the church congregations…. At that point Christ left the churches and installed Satan there, so it was a judgment., so it was a terrible time.”

Why does the term Cloud Cuckoo Land pop into my head?[11] You see, it appears that according to Camping, all the churches of the world had gone completely apostate by May 21st, 1988. All of them. I think some pretty stern criticisms of the churches in the West can sometimes be valid, but what of the church, even the persecuted churches  Africa, Asia, and the Middle East? All apostate? If by “churches” he meant collectively, the Church, which it appears he does mean, he contradicts Christ, who said the gates of Hades would never prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18).

So Camping believes Satan took the throne in the churches. How could he be “sure” of that? Well, by some kind of numerology he had come up with these dates and predictions; yet nothing was happening on these dates. Easy conclusion: The dates are wrong! Camping’s conclusion? Well, since my dates are correct, even though we are not seeing anything, something must have happened. Since whatever was happening was not visible to anyone; Camping concludes each time that whatever happened must be spiritual or “mystical.” It seems he never doubts his himself or his dates, but as Scripture says, “The one who trusts himself is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26, NIV).

But he continued: “Then the next thing that happened was in the year 1994. There again we had judgment and there was salvation. It was on September 7th, 1994, when I said it was a high likelihood it was Judgment Day. It is true; there was judgment in a terrible way and there was salvation in a wonderful way. The salvation came because in the previous 2300 days, from May 21, 1988 till September 7th, 1994, virtually no one could be saved in the entire world.[12] We didn’t even know how bad it was.[13] Family Radio was broadcasting in those days and we had no idea what was really going on until later on as we continued to study the Bible.”[14]

“But on September 7th [1994], God brought even more judgment on the churches because then, in the world, where God’s judgment had begun, God lifted that judgment and began to allow people to become saved [but] outside of the churches. [He left] the churches under judgment, so it was a horrible day for the churches….”

Finally he arrives at the present day:

“And the fact is that on May 21, 2011, this last weekend, at that time, again, judgment and salvation is in view. On May 21, this past weekend (and this is where the spiritual aspect of it comes through), God again brought judgment on the world.[15] From May 7, 1994 until May 21, 2011, the world was not under judgment; there was an opportunity to become saved out there, but on May 21, 2011, we didn’t feel any difference. We didn’t see any difference in the world,[16] but we know from the Bible that God brought Judgment Day to bear on the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day, and it will continue right up until October 21, 2011, and at that time the whole world will be destroyed and so this is why we don’t have to talk about this any more. The world is under judgment. We are not going to be passing out any more tracts. We’re not going to be talking about Judgment Day. We’re not going to be putting up any more billboards… We are not going to be talking in any way, anywhere, about Judgment Day. That’s all gone. The world has been warned. My, it has been warned. [He chuckles.] We did our little share and then the media picked it up, boy did they really pick it up, but now the world has been told….”

“[So] the next, the finish of that, is five months from now, October 21. We aren’t changing a date at all. We’re just learning that we have to be looking at all of this more spiritual, but it won’t be spiritual on October 21, because the Bible clearly teaches that then the world is going to be destroyed altogether. [He chuckles.] The fact is, when you study the Bible, you’re always learning, always learning. We had all of our dates correct. We had all of the proofs correct. They don’t change at all. The only thing is, God had not opened our eyes yet to the fact that May 21 was a spiritual coming, whereas we had thought that it was a physical coming, but He has come, He has come…”

We had all of our dates correct? We had all of our dates correct?! The whole thing would be really funny if it were not so serious, sick, and twisted. How can we not draw the conclusion that Harold Camping is either completely senile or a completely wicked false prophet? What other choices are there?

Then the Lord said to me, ‘Those prophets are prophesying lies while claiming my authority! I did not send them. I did not commission them. I did not speak to them. They are prophesying to these people false visions, worthless predictions, and the delusions of their own mind’” (Jeremiah 14:14).

Delusional.

 

 

For a good book on Harold Camping's delusional teachings find "Dangerous Airwaves" by James R. White.

See my other columns on Harold Camping and his false predictions:

Only Seven More Shopping Days Until the End of the World: http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-philadelphia/only-seven-more-shopping-days-until-the-end-of-the-world

Who Should We Trust? Camping or Christ? http://blogs.bible.org/impact/stephen_j._drain/who_should_we_trust_camping_or_christ_

To Err… is Harold Camping: http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-philadelphia/to-err-is-harold-camping-may-22nd-2011

May 21, 2011rapture? 5 questions for May 21sters… http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-philadelphia/may-21-2011-rapture-5-questions-for-may-21sters

May 2011: End of the world or the end of Harold Camping’s credibility (finally)? http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-philadelphia/may-2011-end-of-the-world-or-finally-the-end-of-harold-camping-s-credibility

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[1]
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/23/national/main20065398.shtml

[2] http://www.christianpost.com/news/exclusive-harold-camping-to-speak-on-failed-rapture-prediction-50427/?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150191699156724_17219264_10150191737941724#f28d2cbd0eac6aa

[3] Note his use of the pronoun “we”, as if this whole thing was some kind of corporate mistake and did not originate from him alone. This, to me, certainly seems to be a way of removing complete responsibility from himself/

[4] Note his wording: “all the dire predictions that had been talked about” as if it was not he who was talking about them!

[5] This was certainly not the first question for anyone. “Will you finally admit you were wrong (again)?” comes to mind.

[6] In a previous column, I quote Camping detractors who say, essentially, that Camping was not talking about high probability back then but that he was saying, “The time for debate is over.” See my column at http://www.examiner.com/christian-perspectives-in-philadelphia/may-2011-end-of-the-world-or-finally-the-end-of-harold-camping-s-credibility,

[7] “We” again. Obfuscating all the way.

[8] “Like it was actually physically going to happen.” Hmmm, I remember him being quoted as saying, “"Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he said.” (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110103/us-rel-apocalypse-soon/).NOTE there is absolutely no apology in what he is saying here. He admits being wrong, but completely sidesteps an apology or any admission of guilt.

[9] Note the pronoun “I’ being used here. Only he sees the explanations. No one else perceives them. And any people who believe this malarkey believe it because they are trusting in him, because he is the one who has seen it all along…

[10] Maybe he should have said, “We were convinced by me…”

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_cuckoo_land

[12] Do you know anyone who was saved during that period of time? I guess then, following from what Camping would be saying here, they would not actually be saved.

[13] He still doesn’t know how bad it is.

[14] It should say, “…as I continued to superimpose my ideas on the Bible.”

[15] Note he is now completely ignoring the fact that he told everyone the rapture would occur on May 21.

[16] I’ve got to quote it again: “"Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment," he said.” (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110103/us-rel-apocalypse-soon/).

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J Drain

"Rescued, ransomed, and saved because of the love of God the Father, through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, thanks to faithful preachers and teachers of the Word, attained by the perfect life and merit of Jesus the Messiah, His substitutionary death and physical resurrection from the dead. Completely undeserved and gifted to me." Steve would label himself an apprentice Christ follower, an Evangelical Christian with strong Reformed beliefs, a "Five Point Calvinist" (if you must). Steve loves discussing and debating the two "taboo" subjects: Politics and Religion. He tries to read and listen to a minimum of forty books a year and realizes that no matter what topic or genre, whether Bible, theology, Christianity, history, biography, philosophy, political, social commentary, pop-culture, or even fiction, they all tie together in the spider's web of worldview. His favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, James R. White, Gregory Koukl, R.C. Sproul, J. Gresham Machen, G.K. Chesterton, J. Budziszewski, and Peter Kreeft. He loves Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Voddie Baucham, and Dwight L. Moody. Steve's hobbies are generally reading and writing, music, hiking, and laughing. He has been writing songs/lyrics since the age of eight and has played in a few Christian Rock bands. He has written poetry, several biblical studies over the past decades, and has one finished book manuscript entitled, “Shaken Faith: When God Has Let You Down” (written with friend and co-author Al Rossi). He has also written for the now defunct Examiner website as the Philadelphia Christian Perspectives Examiner. He wishes he could write some fiction.