Who Should We Trust? Camping or Christ?

“A fool keeps on babbling. No one knows what will happen; who can tell him what will happen in the future?” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Recently someone left a tiny note/tract on my wife’s car in a parking lot: “Christian Bible Truth, world’s end! END = 10/21/11.”

“A fool keeps on babbling. No one knows what will happen; who can tell him what will happen in the future?” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Recently someone left a tiny note/tract on my wife’s car in a parking lot: “Christian Bible Truth, world’s end! END = 10/21/11.”

They left this tract on my car despite the fact that I’d previously written a column elsewhere entitled May 2011: End of the world or the end of Harold Camping’s credibility (finally)?[1] Okay, they probably haven’t been exposed to anything I’ve said or written, but I’ve been exposed to things their de facto “spiritual leader" has said and written. 

Now let me underscore one important point here at the beginning: The people passing out these notes and running these web-sites may legitimately be Christians. They may truly trust in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. I could never and would never dare to say they are not saved by the grace of God in Christ. Such a judgment on my part would put me in jeopardy of God’s judgment.

The little tract on my wife’s car listed two web-sites where one could go to read the group’s “argument” as to why 2011 is the year of Christ’s return and the end of the world. Of course, one of the web-sites was that of Camping’s Family Radio. The other web-site was where it reads (and I quote directly since the site, ironically, contains some copyrighted material, even though the world is about to end): “This web site serves as an introduction and portal to four faithful ministries which are teaching that WE CAN KNOW from the Bible alone that the date of the rapture of believers will take place on May 21, 2011 and that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011.” They assure the reader that “these dates are 100% accurate and beyond dispute.” (I need to remind myself to check and see if this article is still posted on May 22nd.)

On this site we read: “Some realize that God knows how and when the end of the world will come, so they wonder if He tells us. Rather than turning to the Bible as the source of all truth for these answers, they turn to the churches and religious leaders.” Ironically, again, after they tell us they know all the pertinent dates, they then write, “Please take your time and browse through the teachings of Harold Camping, President of Family Radio" and then they suggest we check out some other web-sites "to read and listen to many faithful teachers give scriptural insight on the doctrines that God is teaching His people.” Hmmmm, does it not appear that first they say one should turn to the Bible alone as the source of all truth, not to religious leaders, and then they tell us that if we have questions we can turn to their religious leaders?

Recently, Pastor Robert Tarnoviski, of Bethel… the Church @ Franklin Mills preached a sermon entitled What Does the Bible Say About the End of the World? in response to all the questions about this date, this group, and their billboards.[2] He pointed out the danger of any group where one person is the person who knows it all and all questions regarding Scripture should go to them. I think more than one group might pop into our minds when we hear that. When everyone is instructed or told to listen to what that one “godly” or “wise” or “gifted” or “anointed” or "holy" or elevated person has to say, then WATCH OUT and BEWARE. “But the man has studied the Bible his entire life,” they often say. “Everything he says can be found in Scripture.” And yet Christ, in speaking to a group of people who ardently studied the Scriptures their whole lives, even to the point of memorizing the entire Old Testament, condemned their understanding by saying, “You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:27).

I am reminded of the words of the book of Revelation that say, “Come out of her, my people, so you will not take part in her sins” (Revelation 18:4). Meanwhile, if I understand it correctly,[3] Harold Camping has said that the church age is dead and people should leave the churches. “Camping teaches that all churches have become apostate and thus must be abandoned. He encourages personal Bible study and listening to his Family Radio broadcasts.”[4] Now who should we trust, Camping, or Christ who said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18)?

And who should we trust on the end times? Camping who gives us a specific date on this year’s calendar or Jesus Christ who said, “But as for that day or hour no one knows it – neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son – except the Father” (Mark 13:32). But the authors of the above mentioned web-site go to great lengths to explain why what Jesus said is no longer the case. Yes, they say, the day will come like a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). But they then use 1 Thessalonians 5:4 to say that the day will not surprise everyone. They write, “Here we discover that there are some people who will not be caught off-guard by Christ's second coming.”[5] Yes, they are correct. But in context it is those who are in Christ who will not be surprised. As the NLT words 1 Thessalonians 5:4: “But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief.” This does not mean we will know the exact date of Jesus’ return; it means that we will have no “fearful expectation of judgment… that will consume God’s enemies” (Hebrews 10:27). We are ready for Christ’s return at any time because Christ has saved us and made us ready. “Those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). If John the Baptizer made ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17), how much more so has Jesus Christ made us ready?

My wife, mulling over the verse where Jesus says, “No one knows the day or the hour,” asked me, “How is that not clear to them?”

I told her, “They seem to be saying that there was a time when no one knew, but now God is revealing something new that He did not reveal before. It’s as though what Jesus said then is no longer applicable today.”

“But anyone can say that for almost anything, then,” she astutely replied.

And she’s absolutely right. Such statements reflect the same error/sin of a plethora of departures from the Bible, all of which essentially say, “But today we have a better understanding of things than they did back in Bible times.” It is an arrogance that says, “We are more enlightened than the Christians of the last two millennia. We are even more enlightened than Christ was on some things.” It is the fatal error of the liberal churches. This is why we have groups today allowing women to be pastors, or saying that homosexuality is not a sin, or claiming that Jesus Christ did not rise bodily from the dead.

And the “new revelation”? Is it not the same claim of Mohammed, Joseph Smith, and the so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses” made? “We’ve got a new book. A new revelation. This supercedes the previous. I know, because God has spoken to me and told me so.” Is this not, in a small way, the same error that many of the coiffed-haired TBN preachers purvey when they say, “God revealed to me… God spoke to me…”? Is it not, in a small way, the same thing the so-called “faith healers” do when they say, “God is telling me there’s a man on the other side of the TV screen who suffers from a goiter”? Beware! We see the same error repeated over and over and over again.

Every time I hear about the May 21st, 2011 prediction or the Harold Camping-ites, I find that one particular verse pops into my mind: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6, KJV). The date-namers have become sidetracked. They’ve been inundated with times, numbers, and interpretations. They’ve been snow blinded by slight of hand. They’ve become lost in a fog and are in danger of derailing… And while I end mixing metaphors, let the Bible speak out a few final warnings to all of us:

“It is dangerous to have zeal without knowledge” (Proverbs 19:2).

“…things in these letters are hard to understand, [and they are] things the ignorant and unstable twist” (2 Peter 3:16).

Perhaps Camping missed that last line…



[3] And it is possible I do not understand it correctly…


[5] Just to counter one of the arguments on their web-site:

On the web-site we read, “We can know something about how God will behave in the future by looking at how He has behaved in the past (Hebrews 13:8). Since He has given advance notice of the precise timing for judgment in the past we should not be surprised that He is revealing the timing of the end today.” They go on to say that in the Bible God told people exact times and dates of the destruction He was bringing. They give the example of the flood; that God gave an exact date. “In seven days…” (Genesis 7:4). I simply counter them by saying, “Yes, the believers were prepared, because God made them prepared. All those who believed were prepared by God and those who did not belong to God were not prepared.” In other words, there were no “sleeping” believers in that account. They also site God giving “advance notice” that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. But He did not give an exact date. He has already given us all notice that He will destroy the world as we know it (2 Peter 3:7, etc.). I would point out that Lot and his family were told, in essence, “Get out now…” So if they want to use that as an example, might we not say that, if the Camping-ites insist, that God might reveal to every believer his plan on the very day He is going to do it?

But why is the specific date necessary? Everyone knows death is coming. Does that spur them on to salvation? The Bible already cries out, “Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Would an exact date of death change people? By God’s grace it would change some, and others it would not change. The two dying thieves on the cross proved that to us.

They cite Jonah giving Nineveh a 40 day warning… But God did not destroy on that occasion. (Is this Camping’s next possible escape hatch? I can imagine it now: “God relented as He did with Nineveh.”) They cite a few examples of God giving exact days of the plagues coming on Egypt; yet God did not give the exact date on half of those occasions. They obviously are picking and choosing what they want to cite. Okay, so let me ask if God gave an exact date of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia coming and judging Israel? Did God give an exact date of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70? No, He didn’t. Christ told His disciples to watch for certain signs before the destruction of the temple (Mark 13:1-23,  Luke 21:5-24). What more can I say, the argumentation this group uses is simply bad. It is not based upon proper biblical exegesis. (The “critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible”— It is based on eisegesis or the superimposition of a theory upon the Bible. (Eisegesis is as “interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter's own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text”— There is just so much to be said. Please also see my other column:


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.


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    Gary Eugene Howell

    he’s never read the bible

    I believe people like this guy are just in it for the money.  Another similiar guy, (who's name escapes me at the moment) has been proven wrong again and again and yet he keeps extending the date of the world's end, and by so doing can write yet another book, which gets published and for some unknown reason, gullible people around the world buy up his latest book and totally believe it untill that date passes and then the cycle starts over with a new date and another book.  Anyone who's ever read Mark 13:32 knows that no one knows the end date.  So therefore when ever I hear of guys like this who claim to know the date of the end of the world, I immediatley know they've never read the bible.

    From Gary Eugene Howell

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    Read the bible please!

    As far as I know, May 21 2011 is not mentioned in the Holy Bible ! I will be lol at Camping and his followers on May 22

    My cousin is a pastor . I mentioned this to her last year and she basically told me to look up the passages that state that no man knows the hour or day.

    It seems Camping thinks he is the Father.

    And another thing, my father and step mother are right into numerology. It seems Camping is NOT a Christian but a true Numerolgist. This dude was part of the Jehova Witnesses apparently and they are famous to make up dates!! 

    Bec from Australia

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    Scott Ross

    Great Book on this Topic

    In 1994 there was a similar hysteria happening (I can't recall which "evangelist" was claiming the return of Christ that particular time) and Dr. B.J. Oropeza, Associate Professor in Biblical Studies in the School of Theology at Azuza Pacific University, wrote a terrific book called "99 Reasons No One Knows When Christ Will Return."  I don't know if it is still in print, but I just checked on and you can buy copies through their merchant program.  I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a grounded understanding of the nature of end-times prophecy and what Scripture says about our ability to predict the return of our King.

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    Stephen J. Drain

    1994 was Camping, too!

    Scott, that was Camping, too. Thanks for joining the discussion and making a recommendation. -Steve

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    I am just curious. . . why do you keep saying "so called Jehovah's witness" ??

    that is in fact what they are called is it not?

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    Stephen J. Drain

    So-Called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”

    Good question!

    It's not original with me to word it this way. Those who word it this way, including me, do so because this group has erred in many major doctrines found in the Bible, from the triuneness of God, to Jesus Christ being uncreated and eternal, to Christ's bodily resurrection, to the atonement, to a works-based salvation. Thus they become alse witnesses about Jehovah (or better yet: YHWH).

    Of course, many of them are wonderful and decent people. I pray especially for those I know and love who belong to this group.


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    I’ve been absent for a while,
    I’ve been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you.