Mr. Camping, you have convinced many that the Bible indubitably reveals that Judgment Day begins in 3 days, on May 21, 2011. You say that “true” believers, those who have departed from the (apostate, Spirit-bereft-and-Satan-filled-since-1988) churches, have discovered this in the last 35 years. Everyone who does not believe the veracity of this date lives in spiritual darkness, and Judgment will come upon them like a thief in the night.
You know what’s ironic? You are the thief.
You stole my loved ones from me. I cannot have a conversation, not a single discussion with them without your voice droning in the background or your website branded on their email signatures and Facebook pages. I know that there are many families across the globe who share this bereavement. There are churches with members of their local bodies lopped off because of your teaching.
I believe you suffer from a broken heart. Your teachings seem disillusioned with the sins of the world and of people in church. I understand that disillusionment. However, instead of finding solace among the faithful, you decided to manufacture a counterfeit community. When you walked away from the Church, you presumed that God had, too. I know what it’s like to be brokenhearted; to bitterly part ways with someone, to feel abandoned and alone, and hope that God is on my side only. In reality, God loves both me and the other person in the midst of our brokenness. You want to believe the church is apostate and devil-filled because you’re disenchanted. But people were hurt and disenchanted with the same proofs you see as signs of The End, whether in the first-century church, or during the Crusades, or during slavery, or during both World Wars. These “signs” you point to are evidence of a fallen world.
If God wanted to abandon His church because of her misdeeds instead of according to His faithfulness, He would have been long gone. The gates of hell won’t prevail against God’s Church, and neither will you. Christ is protective of His Bride, and He will never forsake her.
I’m not going to argue about buildings-versus-people-as-the-Church, because we both know that the Church is not built with human hands. I also know this; you cannot celebrate the Lord’s Supper or baptism – clear sacraments of God’s community to be proclaimed until Jesus returns – via radio broadcast or the internet. You cannot exercise church discipline over those you don’t see or hear or know. The gifts of the Spirit are made manifest within the believing community; you can’t exercise gifts of teaching, helps, hospitality, or exhortation, alone. How do you account for filching people of the joy and honor of exercising their gifts to God’s glory within His community in order to sit idly by a radio?
Your theology victimizes people who may have been burned in their local believing communities. You provide no healing or reconciliation, but instead capitalize from isolating hurting people by attempting to make individualism holy. It’s not. If God valued individualism, he would have kept Adam alone in the garden. He wouldn’t reveal Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What you’re putting forth is not Christian.
According to your gnostic interpretation of the Bible, God purposely sets snares in His Word expressly to trap people. As Jesus spoke in parables so that people couldn’t understand them, so you assert that we today are regularly fooled because we fail God’s “tests.” There is secret knowledge for those who pass, and annihilation for those who fail. (You are confident that you have passed these tests. I wonder who’s grading?)
God has explained Himself through the Person of Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son so that we would be reconciled, not confounded. Jesus clarified the meaning of His parables to the disciples (and to us by extension) because they didn’t get the parables initially. Does that mean that they were not His “true” disciples? Of course not! Our understanding of the Bible is a gift of the Holy Spirit. You cheapen the Spirit’s ministry with your assertions of purposeful divine trickery.
You taught for decades that there is a hell. Now you say it doesn’t exist and condemn as false teachers those who proclaim otherwise. Yet the Bible has not changed.
You taught for years the simple and true gospel of John 3:16. Now, you say that people can only cry out to God for mercy that they might possibly be saved, because trust in Jesus holds no assurance for salvation. You (re)define “belief” and “love” and “trust” as “works of the law,” condemning the people who say they believe in Jesus as lost and arrogant. Your own followers cannot explain the gospel; they can only advertise your website and your teaching, even as they urge listeners to search the Scriptures for themselves. How could belief in a date be the definitive sign of salvation rather than belief in Jesus? How is that faithful to the Bible?
Mind you, the Bible has not changed. Not in 88, not in 1988, and not in 2011.
You wrote that Judgment may be in September 1994. Now you say that it is definitely May 21, 2011.
Your credibility is questionable because while the Bible has not changed, you have. A lot.
Fortunately, there are two truths buried in your teaching; Jesus will return and we should read the Bible with zeal and focus. Thank you for this reminder, though it comes at great cost. You are an example of why we need the believing community as we study the Word, to keep us from wandering out of orthodoxy.
May God have mercy on your soul for the lives you have damaged. May God have mercy on those who followed you and wasted away many years and resources because they earnestly desire to do God’s will and think this is the way. When May 22nd comes, God-willing, you will still be here. I hope that then you and my loved ones will be free of the fallacy of a date-based, counterfeit gospel, and open to rejoining the believing community which you stole away from. I pray that you will have the humility and courage to repent and admit that your predictions were false, instead of blaming bad math, or worse, saying that you were right, but God must have relented like He did with the people of Nineveh…because of Family Radio and its followers. Don’t smear God’s name with your sinful arrogance. And please don’t set another date. Repent and receive God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace.
May the Holy Spirit take a hold of you, so that you live out and understand the Gospel, and turn away from committing the adultery of worshiping dates and times over the King of Kings. May God redeem the time that you have stolen.
For a free iTunesU class on the end times (also called Eschatology) offered by Dallas Theological Seminary, click here.
For a brief description of Harold Camping’s conclusions on salvation, churches and the Judgment, click here.