I grew up listening to Family Radio, but not by choice. My parents loved the music. Any time we were in the car, chances are that would be the station blaring through the back seat speakers. I suffered through till the invention of the Walkman, when teenage rebellion finally had a way to escape the soft sounds of Family Radio. My parents though were not Campingites. When Mr. Camping started speaking, my father would mutter something like “Oh, not this guy” and change the station.
Through the years I did meet Campingites. We had them in my church. They would be in a Bible study group and would occasionally begin a sentence with something like “Well, Brother Camping says….”. When I became a member of my church, another couple becoming members at the same time soon left when Mr. Camping announced his followers needed to flee the churches. My area is a strong Family Radio area. My cable television provider actually carries Family Radio’s TV channel as part of basic cable. That is, if you get the bare minimum cable channels, you will get the Family Radio channel.
Those of you keeping an eye on Mr. Camping’s latest apocalyptic predictions probably have wondered what will happen on May 22, 2011? No, I didn’t get Camping’s date wrong. The question many are asking is what will Mr. Camping, Family Radio, and his followers say the day after his dated judgment day and end of the world? For Camping and his followers, asking such a question is seen as blatant unbelief. This is entirely fallacious. I certainly look forward to the Lord’s return, complete redemption of creation, being completely freed from this body of death, and most of all seeing my savior.
Camping has repeatedly proven himself untrustworthy. Those of us asking what will happen on May 22, 2011 are often the same people who wondered what was going to happen on September 18, 1994. Mr. Camping had published 1994? in which he said the end of the world might be between September 15-17 (p. 531). The book now is but a curiosity, used copies selling for as little as one dollar.
Curious as to what Mr. Camping would say on September 18, 1994, I actually recorded about thirty minutes of Camping’s Open Forum from that day. You can listen to my old recording here. One thing you’ll notice, it’s business as usual. The first caller attacks Hank Hanegraaff, who was a strong voice against Mr. Camping during this time period. The second caller was some sort of dispensationalist challenging Camping, which he eventually refutes by pointing out how their predictions about the antichrist have not panned out over and over again, which is ironic considering Mr. Camping’s own personal interpretive prophetic record.
From the Family Radio website comes the following:
Caller: I find it very scary that, in your book 1994?, you wrote that you, with all your heart believed, sincerely believed that Christ would return, and you were sincerely wrong. And now you’re telling people to get out of the churches and you are sincerely wrong again. II Thessalonians 2 says that first there will be a great falling away, and I think you’re leading that falling away.
Mr. C: Well, I can understand why you say those things. Until we become better acquainted with the whole Bible, we obviously are going to be frightened at the idea of having to obey the command to leave the churches. And I can tell you, there is no pleasure on my part to teach this. It’s no pleasure at all. But I have to be faithful to what the Bible is teaching. Yes, I do find that ironic that after all these years, I’m listening to Family Radio.
Now, when I talked about 1994, I said, yes, there’s a very high probability that it could be the end. At that time, I said a lot of things that I was wrong about. For example, I was still teaching, like all the churches teach, that water baptism and the Lord’s table were part of the moral law. And yet, today, I know that’s not true. They are part of the ceremonial law. At that time, I was not teaching that there would be the latter rain, that is, that God still had another plan to continue the evangelization of the world. I did not know that at that time. At that time, I taught a number of things that subsequently, as God opened my spiritual eyes, as well as the eyes of a great many others, I now can teach more carefully. And tomorrow, God will open my spiritual eyes to something else. That’s the nature of the student of the Bible. We keep searching the Bible and learning.
Now, in the case of predicting a date, we always have to say we can’t say this absolutely. The Bible absolutely says, and I’ve always said this and never changed it, no man can know the day or the hour. The Bible is very clear about that. The Bible does not say no one can know the year or the month. That’s another matter. But no one can know the day or the hour. But the point is that as we look at the matter of the end of the church age, there is an enormous amount of information that we begin to learn about. And so, all I ask people to do is read the Bible, don’t trust me, read it in the Bible.
For those of you asking what Mr. Camping will say on May 22, weigh the above carefully. My standard response to those who ask me is that I’m hopeful Mr. Camping will repent. My gut tells me some sort of similar Camping-esque statements to the above will be forthcoming.
Besides multiple hours of Mr. Camping, Family Radio also runs various other things. I heard them giving tips on parenting and managing social security today. My basic question is… why? If it’s the end of the world, well, worrying about raising a family correctly or managing social security seems like a waste of time. That’s right, I’m now listening regularly to Family Radio, but when the music comes on, I change the station.