As of the time of the posting of this article, Harold Camping has been proven a false prophet (again). Why? Because it is now 7pm standard time (yes, I remembered to factor in the daylight savings thing) in Guam, one of the first places on earth to experience the time of the “rapture” that Camping has predicted as a guaranteed biblical truth for years now.* And, according to the US Geological Survey (the clearing house for earthquake information from all over the world), no earthquake 10 or above on the Richter scale has taken place in that time zone…anywhere. Camping said the earthquake would be greater than anything known before, so I figure that’s at least a 10, probably more (since he said it would open all the tombs and throw the bodies of the dead out of their graves to be “shamed in God’s sight”). So, we begin the documentation,** which will continue through the day, of what some of us have been saying for a very, very long time: Harold Camping is a cult leader, a false teacher, and it is high time his followers finally admit it.
I have thought of some time of writing a lengthy open letter to Camping’s followers. I may well do so after the dust has settled, it all depends. I was thinking today about the categories of Camping followers, and I think I would break it down into three groups: 1) the hard-core, unsaved cultists, who love novelty and gnosis, not truth, and if they don’t keep following Harold, they will find someone else to follow, but will never follow truth; 2) the unsaved, simple, ignorant who found something compelling in his teachings; and 3) the few Christians who will, we are assured, be restored to truth and abandon his falsehoods. I would have something different to say to each of those groups, to be sure. I would be brief with the first; the second would require a lot of discussion that would be best done in person; and the third simply need to repent and return to their first love.
In any case, I will be glad when this day is over, the case is settled, the controversy over. I do not think my time has been wasted in refuting Camping: the lessons to be learned are many. But there is much else to be doing, and we must get to it.
One of the things we need to be doing is confessing, unashamedly, that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and that He will, in fact, return someday. We just need to do it biblically, just the opposite of Harold Camping and his sign-toting followers.
*I thought about using Christmas Island as my example, but after reading the incredibly complex discussion of just what time it is on Christmas Island…I decided not even the Lord could make heads or tails out of that mess, so I stuck with something a bit more…mundane.
** Don’t forget to visit www.rapturefail.org to register your “Rapture Fail” as well!
Can you imagine what it will be like for Campingites around the world a week from today? Listening to the news, waiting to hear about earthquakes at 6pm all around the world? Maybe saying goodbye to loved ones? Giving away personal items, all the time, wondering….
I listened to two NPR reports on Camping’s prophecy today, and it was truly disheartening to listen to these folks. One lady had been about to enroll in medical college, but did not, so that she could warn people about “Judgment Day.” Another man had left wife and children behind, as they did not “believe.” A couple, the woman expecting their second child in June, were interviewed. They had given up everything, and had just enough money to make it till May 21. After that…well, they will be destitute. The New York Post just reported on a man who squandered his $140,000 life’s savings to buy advertisements in the New York area promoting the May 21 prophecy. Can you imagine the chuckles of all those going to work on Monday the 23rd as they pass those advertisements? Thanks, Mr. Camping.
Well, are you ready? Even those living in a pretty sheltered world are starting to hear about May 21 now. The date is met with chuckles and smiles by most. Another end times prophet, more reason to question those nutty Christians. Atheists are planning Rapture Parties. Documentaries will be made about what happens on May 22nd. Disappointed followers will be looked at closely. Concerns, quite valid concerns, exist about some choosing to depart this world forcibly should they live to see May 22nd. Some of Camping’s callers have been calling to ask about euthanizing their pets before May 21, and an atheist group has set up a pet rescue program where, for only $135, they will come get your dog or cat after you are raptured (the offer is good for ten years!).
I have thought a good deal about the whole thing lately, being one of those who have sought to expose Camping over the past decade. One thing is for sure, no one will be able to accuse me of having ignored the issue. It has never been a prime focus, it has never been a top priority, but there are few major ministries who have been “on target” with Camping’s false teachings any longer than we have. My debate with him left no questions in the minds of any who were willing to listen, but, of course, that’s the problem. Campingites are an odd bunch.
Now, I firmly believe Jesus is coming again. He could come today, He could even come on the 21st—no one on earth, even a false prophet, can keep Jesus from coming back for His bride. But He is not coming back only for Campingites (and they have surely added belief in May 21 as part of what one must believe to be saved). Every time some maverick like Camping decides to go off the reservation and promote a prophecy like this, scorn is brought on all of us who believe Jesus is coming again. The mockery factor will be quite high come Monday the 23rd.
I do not know what Camping is going to do on Monday the 23rd. He has closed every door on his options. He has said the Bible guarantees it. There is no plan B. This is it, plain and simple, no question marks after May 21, 2011? or the like to fall back on. I have thought he might spiritualize it, like Miller did back in 1844 or so, but he has really not left that option open either. He could always claim a blown calculation (we provided him with examples of errors in his numbers last year, in fact), but that would leave him without much credibility as a number-cruncher, and his system is nothing if it isn’t based on number-crunching. Will he even show up on Open Forum on Monday? I mean, at 89 years of age, you’d think retirement would all of a sudden become a very viable option.
I can’t imagine what a Monday, May 23rd, 2011 Open Forum broadcast would be like, however. Can you imagine the calls? Not only the mockery from unbelievers, but the anger from his own followers? It would probably be the highest rated program ever, to be sure. Their servers would melt down on the Internet side. But that would be temporary, and one can surely predict the collapse of Family Radio as a result of Camping’s second major prophetic failure. One would hope, at least, that finally he would be removed and taken off the air so as to deceive no more. But, you would have thought that would have happened back in 1994. It didn’t. There is always an audience for false prophets.
And of course there is the issue of what Campingites will do in the future. Let’s be brutally honest: Campingites are, in the main, very odd people. As a whole they reject authority. They tend to be loners who do not like being around others. That’s why they bought his attack on the church so easily. Many will not want to repent of their following a false prophet, embracing false doctrine, and attacking Christ’s church. And I should emphasize this, that is exactly what must be demanded of any and every follower of Harold Camping after the May 21 date passes—repentance. If they show up at your church, be warned! They have engaged in sinful slander of Christ’s church and the gospel, and they should be exhorted to repent and confess their errors before being given, over a period of time, access to the fellowship of believers once again. They should be watched carefully by elders to see if they have truly repented or whether they are just putting on a show so that they can once again bring their odd views and beliefs into the church.
At the same time, some of these folks will be absolutely positively devastated when their clock shows them it is May 22nd and the sun will rise in a matter of hours. They will have nothing left, and, given that Camping lied to them and said “the Bible guarantees it,” many, many will abandon all belief in the Bible as Scripture. Atheist groups will be touting former Campingites who “saw the light” in the coming months. Remember that in the years after the failed 1975 prophecy of Jehovah’s Witnesses, about a million people left the Watchtower. But, they did not join any other religious organization. They became the religiously abused, the burned out, the “don’t talk to me about that stuff” crowd. And while I doubt Camping has that many followers, there will still be a large number who will throw it all away, saying the Bible is not worthy to be believed, all because Camping twisted it and distorted it and lied to his followers. He will have much to answer for on the real judgment day, which, at age 89, is very close at hand for him.
So once again, many thanks, Harold Camping. You will once again make the Bible, the Gospel, and the cross, a mockery, all because of your insatiable pride and arrogance. This time, the Lord allowed you to fall into more rank heresy in the process, but still, you say enough “right things” to bring mockery and disrepute upon all who hold the Bible to be the Word of God. Your followers will stand to condemn you on judgment day, to be sure, but more importantly, God well knows how many of us have tried to reason with you, tried to show you the error of your ways. You refused, and now the time is coming for judgment indeed. May 21st is judgment day after all: for Harold Camping, for Family Radio, and for all who have followed Camping into heresy and error.