Harold Camping has predicted that Christ will return on Saturday, May 21, 2011 and – because that’s just not BIG enough, I suppose – there will be massive earthquakes around the world! That’s right, he’s predicting a doubleheader: the Rapture and Judgment Day all rolled into one – a veritable Doomsday Extravaganza. Five months afterward [and 7000 years after Camping’s arbitrary 4990 BC Flood date], on October 21, 2011 the world will be destroyed by fire. No hell… just annihilation for the unrepentant.
Back in 1992, Harold Camping made a similar prediction, foretelling the Bible said that Jesus would return in 1994. It wasn’t one of those vague “88 Reasons Jesus will return in ’88” sort of predictions with a lot of room for error. No, Camping gave us the exact date of September 6, 1994.
Which came and went without incident. So why didn’t he get branded as a failed prophet and lose all credibility?
Well, it turns out he left himself an “out,” just in case. In a book he no longer offers for sale [for obvious reasons] called 1994? he admitted that he could be wrong about his previous date and suggested 2011 instead.
From Family Radio’s website:
“Mr. Camping wrote on pages 494 and 495 of the book 1994? he believed 2011 was the most probable year of Christ’s second coming. Given the fact 2011 is the 7000 year anniversary of the flood, but he misunderstood Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 verse 22 “except those days should be shortened.”
At the time Mr. Camping concluded the period of “great tribulation” would be shortened from twenty three years, as the Bible teaches, to 2300 evening mornings or six and one third years. .
Mr. Camping wrote in 1994?:
“God appears to be declaring that this final tribulation period should be a certain length of time. If it were that length of time, it seems it would fit perfectly with God’s plan of 7000 years. Judgment Day would be 2011 A.D.
But for the sake of the elect those day will be shortened.”
When Christ did not return, he decided that September 6, 1994 did not mark the year of Christ’s return, after all. Of course. Instead, it was the end of the first 2300 days of the tribulation. He declared the Church age was over [since 1988]. As a tract from eBibleFellowship explains:
“On May 21st, 1988, God finished using the churches and congregations of the world. The Spirit of God left all churches and Satan, the man of sin, entered into the churches to rule at that point in time. The Bible teaches us that this awful period of judgment upon the churches would last for 23 years. A full 23 years (8400 days exactly) would be from May 21st, 1988 until May 21st, 2011.”
Camping stated that the implication was that all local churches are now apostate and no one has truly been saved between the years 1988 through September 7, 1994. Yeah…
Furthermore, since the Church age was over and done, all bets were off for Jesus’ declaration that “No man knows the day nor the hour” and now he could really know the date of Jesus’ return fer shurr. Unfortunately, per Camping’s flawed hermeneutic, that would have been just as true in 1992 when he wrote his “post-Church age” book 1994? as it is now.
He based his previous date for Jesus’ return on a very inconsistent hermeneutic and a steadfast blindness to the implications of three passages [Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7] that specifically state that no man [including Mr. Camping] knows the day [not Sept 6, 1994 and certainly not May 21, 2011] nor the hour of Christ’s appearing.
He has taken great pains to construct a timeline of Earth’s history that similarly ignores the Bible where he finds it inconvenient. For example, he ignores the fact that the generations given in Genesis form a referential timeline. Assuming gaps in the genealogies, he assumes the Earth is much older than the Bible records. He also uses the typical “day is as a thousand years” Scriptorture of 2 Peter 3:8 that ignores the qualifying “and a thousand years is as a day” to back his calculations. Typical.
In answer to the question, What do you say to those who insist we cannot know the precise date of Judgment Day?, he tellingly replies: “For one to object to May 21st, 2011 one must have BIBLICAL AUTHORITY to do so. Objections cannot be based upon consensus, traditions or fear.” Unfortunately for Camping, we do rely upon Biblical authority when we object to Camping’s date-setting. We rely upon no less than the word of Jesus Christ Himself, whose authority Camping pridefully ignores.
He’s not the only one. One commentator notes this trend of cultic date-setting:
“The Millerites, followed by Charles Taze Russell and the Jehovah’s Witnesses all missed it again and again. In 1988, Edgar Whisenant gained worldwide attention, at least in Christian circles, distributing some 300,000 copies of his booklet, 88 REASONS Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988. When Whisenant’s predictions failed that year, the former NASA engineer immediately blamed his miscalculation of the so called “zero” year and published another book in 1989 claiming that the Rapture would occur during September of that year. Failing again, Whisenant continued to try and date the Lord’s coming for His Church again in 1993, 1994, and each year through 1997. Others however, left more than just egg on the face of those who purported their ideas. Doomsday cult leaders, such as Jim Jones (Peoples Temple, 1978), David Koresh (Branch Davidian’s, 1993), and Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate, or Hale-Bopp UFO Cult, 1997) led or caused their followers to pay for following their leader’s crazed ideologies with their lives.”
My only question is, What’s the fall-out gonna look like? Will anyone hold this false prophet accountable or will his followers celebrate him like the Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate their false prophets? Will this result in suicide[s]? A quiet retirement in Bora Bora? My prayer is that it leads to bancruptcy for Harold Camping, Family Radio and ultimately his voice. If you think that’s harsh, tell me why we ought to tolerate destructive deceptions and heresies in our midst?
Apparently some folks feel that heresy and cultic error are harmless. After the admin of the The Bible group on Facebook made a post urging folks to be tolerant and compassionate of persons who bought into Harold Camping’s May 21st Rapture hoax, I emailed them the following:
“I note that you’ve encouraged tolerance for the views of those who believe in a May 21st Rapture [nevermind that Christ Himself said that no one knows the day nor the hour…]. Do you not realize that you’re simply allowing folks to believe a proven false prophet, Harold Camping [who predicted an earlier Rapture date which was obviously NOT a prophecy from God], by telling folks to tolerate the view that the Rapture will occur on May 21st. The Bible warns us not to entertain false prophets; so why do you encourage tolerance of false prophecy?
Please do the followers on your page the courtesy of telling them that Camping has previously predicted the Rapture date and, having failed, is not a prophet of God. Three separate Scriptures, all uttered by Jesus Himself, warn us against date-setting of this sort: Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, and Acts 1:7. As a Christian believer, you have an obligation to tell folks the truth no matter how controversial it may be. As the admin for a group with well over 7 million members dedicated to The Bible, this obligation becomes critical to your integrity.
They have not yet answered my email but my comments on their Wall to this same effect [noting that tolerance still requires that one warn folks of error and compromise] have been removed. I do hope the admins of The Bible, which is the official page of the United Bible Societies, haven’t chosen not warn folks of false prophets just because “a number of of our members believe in a may 21st Rapture” and they might get offended. If this is the case, this new “evangelical tolerance,” where any error or compromise is tolerated save the “sin” of naming compromise and error, is reaching an all-new low.
Charles Spurgeon felt the sting of “evangelical tolerance” in his day. The Baptist Union, forgetting that we are to be “first pure, then peaceable,” tolerated any heresy to preserve the “unity of the Spirit.” But what hath Christ to do with Belial? When Spurgeon named those ministers and churches on the down-grade of compromise with novel doctrines, he was rewarded by being censured by the Baptist Union.
His warning to that century is just as applicable [if not more!] to ours:
“A little plain speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watchdogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of His glory, and man of his hope!”
Rev Tony Breeden – DefGen.org
Note: I apologize to Harold Coffin, who’s name was mistakenly inserted in several places in the orginal version of this post [including the tiltle!].