Harold Camping Strikes (Out) Again!
by Sandy Simpson, 12/4/10

Imagine my shock when I heard that Harold Camping was up to his former tricks in predicting, using some kind of fancy numerology, that Jesus Christ will return on May 21, 2011.  I quickly thought about how I would cancel my plane reservations to speak at a discernment conference.  I mean, if Jesus is coming back then there will no longer be a need to expose false teachers because they will have met their demise along with their leader.  But then I realized, Camping is himself a false teacher and so I thought I would write this article to use on my speaking trip since I will be talking about his second failed prediction then.  Camping has put up billboards all around Omaha, NE with the following information.

Eight billboards going up around Omaha (NE) say Jesus will return on May 21, 2011. The billboards depict three wise men riding on camels, led by the Star of Bethlehem, and include the words, "He is coming again" and the May 21 date. The "He" is Jesus Christ, whom Christians proclaim is the Son of God and Savior of the world. And although the signs don't explicitly say that believers will gather in the air to meet Christ in five-plus months, the groups spreading the May 21 message - Family Radio (www.familyradio.com) and We Can Know (www.WeCanKnow.com) - say so on their websites. We Can Know, a group supporting the work of Family Radio, paid for the Omaha billboards, which include four large signs and four smaller ones . The main idea is that the Rapture and the Day of Judgment  will occur on May 21. "This is not a joke. We take it very seriously," said Tom Evans, a spokesman for Family Radio. Harold Camping, Family Radio's founder, came up with the date based on calculations he made using information he gleaned from the Bible, Evans said. "I've never met anyone more diligent in studying the Bible" than Camping, Evans said. In 1992, Evans said, Camping published a book called "1994?" in which he laid out his belief that Jesus would return in September 1994. "That obviously was wrong," Evans said. "The real lesson of '94 was not so much that he was wrong, but 'What is truth? Where do you find truth?'" he said. "Study the Scriptures and the Spirit of God will guide you into the truth."After Jesus' return in May, Evans said, the people remaining on Earth will have only until Oct. 21, "when the entire universe will be rolled up like a scroll and completely destroyed." The Rev. Russ McDowell, associate pastor at Rejoice Lutheran Church in Omaha, said trying to determine a specific time for Jesus' return is "a real misreading of Scripture." "Scripture really communicates that God is in control," McDowell said. "It becomes irrelevant to be focused on the time and the place. Be ready all the time." The billboards are going up in cities that have no Family Radio station, Evans said. "It wasn't like we were targeting Omaha for any particular reason," he said. All the Omaha signs should be up by Friday, said Sheila Kuehn, an account executive for Lamar Outdoor Advertising in Omaha. They are scheduled for a four-week run. "We had legal look at it and make sure it's OK," Kuehn said of the signs' message, noting that the advertisers have freedom of speech. Evans said he knows many people won't take the billboards' message seriously. "I would hope," he said, "that people would look at that and say, 'I'm going to get my Bible out. I'm going to start reading my Bible.'" Kuehn said she wouldn't comment on the End of Days message but did offer this telling statement: "We have taken long-term contracts past May 2011."  (The Rapture is near, billboards say By Bob Glissmann WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER, http://m.omaha.com/om/db_/contentdetail.htm;jsessionid=2CA5B4524590DA45621D81064B08D2E3?contentguid=3Nm692aW&full=true#display)
Now before I get into the reasons why I am calling Camping a false teacher, apart from the fact that he has one failed prediction of Jesus' return to his credit already, let me say this:  it would not surprise me, if Camping actually turns out to be right with this newest prediction, that God will reschedule Christ's return by at least one day in order to point out that Camping is a false teacher himself.  :)  But let's look as Camping's previous failed attempt.
In 1992, Camping published a book titled 1994?, in which he proclaimed that Christ's return might be on September 6, 1994. In that publication, he also mentioned that 2011 could be the end. As a result, some individuals have criticized him for "date-setting."  Camping's latest publications, We are Almost There! and To God be The Glory, refer to additional Biblical evidence which, in his opinion and that of others mentioned by him, points to May 21, 2011 as the date for the Rapture and October 21, 2011 as the date for the end of the world.  Since leaving the Christian Reformed Church in 1988, Camping has taught doctrines that may conflict with doctrines of the Christian Reformed Church and other church denominations. Examples of how Camping's teachings vary from conventional Calvinist doctrines include:

    * Departing from Calvinist doctrine, Camping teaches a relative free will for humanity and that humans are not totally depraved.  However, he subscribes to the idea that salvation is unmerited, cannot be achieved by good works or prayer, and is a pure act of God's grace.
    * Departing from the doctrine of eternal torment for the unsaved in a place called Hell, Camping teaches annihilationism; that life will end and existence will cease for the unsaved soul.[10]
    * Departing from doctrines stating no one can know the time of Christ's second coming, he teaches that the exact times of the Rapture and the End of the World are to be revealed sometime towards the end of time (Daniel 12:9-13 prophecy).
    * Camping teaches that all churches have become apostate and thus must be abandoned. In the place of church he encourages personal Bible study and listening to his Family Radio broadcasts. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Camping)

So we see that he was part of the Christian Reformed Church which will give you a clue on his newest prediction.  Camping made a wise choice to get away from the hyper Calvinism of the Reformed ... only to end up teaching a false Arminianist concept that humans are not totally depraved.  Point 1 of the five points of Arminianism states: Arminius believed that the fall of man was not total, maintaining that there was enough good left in man for him to will to accept Jesus Christ unto salvation. What does Camping do with verses like:
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Ro 5:14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
Ro 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--
Ro 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Ro 3:10 As it is written: "There is no-one righteous, not even one;
False teaching #1 refuted.  #2 is just as bad.  The Bible is clear about the judgment on the AntiChrist, False Prophet, the devil, his demons and unbelievers.
Re 14:11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
Heb 6:2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Mt 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Mt 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
False teaching #2 ... oops.  #3 can be dispelled with one verse.  Speaking of the time of His return, Jesus said:
Mr 13:32  "No-one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
False teaching #4 can also be dispelled by understanding that though the time of the end will be characterized by apostasy, a falling away, it does not state that EVERY Christian or every church is in apostasy.
2Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Lu 18:8  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
The answer is yet to be seen.  It looks in Revelation like Jesus will always have his true followers all the way to the end, though a dwindling number and few who find the narrow gate and road.  It is certainly bad out there, but Camping is apparently actually trying to get followers to himself with this misinterpretation of Scripture.

But let's go on to deal with statements characterizing his current prediction.

"Jesus will return on May 21, 2011."  Again no man can know the day or hour.  We can know the signs of the times, the general time of His second coming, but we cannot know the exact day or hour.  Our business is to be ready for His return, not predict it.

"the Rapture and the Day of Judgment will occur on May 21." This reveals his Reformed upbringing.  He mixes the Rapture with the Great White Throne Judgment.  The Rapture occurs before, during or at the end of the Tribulation.  The Day of Judgment occurs after the Millennial reign of Christ on earth.  These events he sticks together are seperated by 1000 years.

Re 20:4  I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Re 20:6-13  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
How can a man who claims to be able to put an exact date on Christ's return also apparently spiritualize the exact number of 1000 in Scripture?

"I've never met anyone more diligent in studying the Bible" than Camping, Evans said."  He may be diligent in his study of the Bible, but he apparently has little capacity to understand it.

Camping published a book called "1994?" in which he laid out his belief that Jesus would return in September 1994.  He was wrong then and he will be wrong on this one as well.  Read Harold Camping: 1994? - A Summary Critique by Stephen C. Meyers, Christian Research Institute

"That obviously was wrong," Evans said. "The real lesson of '94 was not so much that he was wrong, but 'What is truth? Where do you find truth?'" he said. "Study the Scriptures and the Spirit of God will guide you into the truth."  What a lame excuse.  The real lesson from this failed prediction is this:

2Pe 2:1  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Ro 16:17  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
You cannot be guided into truth by Camping because he is so far from it.  It is true that the Spirit is our teacher, but if you allow Camping to teach you, you will be misled.

After Jesus' return in May, Evans said, the people remaining on Earth will have only until Oct. 21, "when the entire universe will be rolled up like a scroll and completely destroyed."  This shows that Camping and associates have to be Preterists, believing the events talked about in Revelation have already come been fulfilled in the past, because immediately upon Jesus' return he goes straight into the end of all things when God will create a new heaven and new earth.  This would also make Camping an Amillennialist, one who does not believe in a Millennial Reign of Christ. This is in blatans disregard of numerous Scriptures that talk about the 1000 year reign of Christ on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.  Here are just a few: Rev. 15:4; 20:4-6; Rom. 15:2; Isa. 1:27; 2:3; 4:1-6; Joel 3:16; Zech. 1:16-17, 8:3-8; Rom. 11:26.

Failed Predictions of the end of the world

Camping is not the only person to have failed at predicting the second coming of Christ or the end of the world.  This has been going on since the first century.  Following is a partial list of those who have failed in their predictions.

About 90 CE: Saint Clement 1 predicted that the world end would occur at any moment.

2nd Century CE: Prophets and Prophetesses of the Montanist movement predicted that Jesus would return sometime during their lifetime and establish the New Jerusalem in the city of Pepuza in Asia Minor.

365 CE: A man by the name of Hilary of Poitiers, announced that the end would happen that year. It didn't.

375 to 400 CE: Saint Martin of Tours, a student of Hilary, was convinced that the end would happen sometime before 400 CE.

500 CE: This was the first year-with-a-nice-round-number-panic.   The antipope Hippolytus and an earlier Christian academic Sextus Julius Africanus had predicted Armageddon at about this year.

968 CE: An eclipse was interpreted as a prelude to the end of the world by the army of the German emperor Otto III.

992: Good Friday coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation; this had long been believed to be the event that would bring forth the Antichrist, and thus the end-times events foretold in the book of Revelation. Records from Germany report that a new sun rose in the north and that as many as 3 suns and 3 moons were fighting. There does not appear to be independent verification of this remarkable event.

1000-JAN-1: Many Christians in Europe had predicted the end of the world on this date. As the date approached, Christian armies waged war against some of the Pagan countries in Northern Europe. The motivation was to convert them all to Christianity, by force if necessary, before Christ returned in the year 1000. Meanwhile, some Christians had given their possessions to the Church in anticipation of the end. Fortunately, the level of education was so low that many citizens were unaware of the year. They did not know enough to be afraid. Otherwise, the panic might have been far worse than it was. Unfortunately, when Jesus did not appear, the church did not return the gifts. Serious criticism of the Church followed. The Church reacted by exterminating some heretics. Agitation settled down quickly, as it later did in the year 2000.

1000-MAY: The body of Charlemagne was disinterred on Pentecost. A legend had arisen that an emperor would rise from his sleep to fight the Antichrist.

1005-1006: A terrible famine throughout Europe was seen as a sign of the nearness of the end.

1033: Some believed this to be the 1000th anniversary of the death and resurrection of Jesus. His second coming was anticipated. Jesus' actual date of execution is unknown, but is believed to be in the range of 27 to 33 CE.

1147: Gerard of Poehlde decided that the millennium had actually started in 306 CE during Constantine's reign. Thus, the world end was expected in 1306 CE.

1179: John of Toledo predicted the end of the world during 1186. This estimate was based on the alignment of many planets.

1205: Joachim of Fiore predicted in 1190 that the Antichrist was already in the world, and that King Richard of England would defeat him. The Millennium would then begin, sometime before 1205.

1284: Pope Innocent III computed this date by adding 666 years onto the date the Islam was founded.

1346 and later: The black plague spread across Europe, killing one third of the population. This was seen as the prelude to an immediate end of the world. Unfortunately, the Christians had previously killed a many of the cats, fearing that they might be familiars of Witches. The fewer the cats, the more the rats. It was the rat fleas that spread the black plague.

1496: This was approximately 1500 years after the birth of Jesus. Some mystics in the 15th century predicted that the millennium would begin during this year.

1524: Many astrologers predicted the imminent end of the world due to a world wide flood. They obviously had not read the Genesis story of the rainbow.

1533: Melchior Hoffman predicted that Jesus' return would happen a millennium and a half after the nominal date of his execution, in 1533. The New Jerusalem was expected to be established in Strasbourg, Germany. He was arrested and died in a Strasbourg jail.

1669: The Old Believers in Russia believed that the end of the world would occur in this year. 20 thousand burned themselves to death between 1669 and 1690 to protect themselves from the Antichrist.

1689: Benjamin Keach, a 17th century Baptist, predicted the end of the world for this year.

1736: British theologian and mathematician William Whitson predicted a great flood similar to Noah's for OCT-13 of this year.

1792: This was the date of the end of the world calculated by some believers in the Shaker movement.

1794: Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, thought Doomsday would be in this year.

1830: Margaret McDonald, a Christian prophetess, predicted that Robert Owen would be the Antichrist. Owen helped found New Harmony, IN.

1832?: Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was the founder of the Church of Christ, which became the Restorationist movement after many schisms. It now includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- a.k.a. the Mormons, and about a hundred other denominations and sects. He heard a voice while praying. He wrote, in Doctrines and Covenants section 130:

14: "I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:"
15: "Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter."
16: "I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face."
17: "I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time."

The year in which this event occurred is not recorded. However, one commentator suggested 1832 or earlier. Smith is later recorded as having said:  "I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written--the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old."

Smith would have reached the age of 85 during 1890. Unfortunately, by that year, Smith had been dead for almost a half century, having been assassinated by a mob. Note that his prophecy is ambiguous. It can be interpreted that: Jesus would return during 1890 (which did not materialize) or that 1890 would pass without Jesus' return (which did come to pass).

 Some anti-Mormon sources quote only verses 14 and 15, and draw the former conclusion -- that Smith's prophecy failed.

1843-MAR-21: William Miller, founder of the Millerite movement, predicted that Jesus would come on this date. A very large number of Christians accepted his prophecy.

1844-OCT-22: When Jesus did not return, Miller predicted this new date. In an event which is now called "The Great Disappointment," many Christians sold their property and possessions, quit their jobs and prepared themselves for the second coming. Nothing happened; the day came and went without incident.

1850: Ellen White, founder of the Seven Day Adventists movement, made many predictions of the timing of the end of the world. All failed. On 1850-JUN-27 she prophesied that only a few months remained before the end. She wrote: "My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.' ...now time is almost finished...and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months." 10

1856 or later: At Ellen White's last prediction, she said that she was shown in a vision the fate of believers who attended the 1856 SDA conference. She wrote "I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: 'Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus." 11 That is, some of the attendees would die of normal diseases; some would die from plagues at the last days, others would still be alive when Jesus came. "By the early 1900s all those who attended the conference had passed away, leaving the Church with the dilemma of trying to figure out how to explain away such a prominent prophetic failure." 12

1881: Mother Shipton, (1488 - 1561), a 16th century mystic predicted the end of the world: "...The world to an end shall come; in eighteen hundred and eighty-one."

1891 or before: On 1835-FEB-14, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, attended a meeting of church leaders. He said that the meeting had been called because God had commanded it. He announced that Jesus would return within 56 years -- i.e. before 1891-FEB-15. (History of the Church 2:182)

1914: This was one of the more important estimates of the start of the war of Armageddon by the Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society). They based their prophecy of 1914 from prophecy in the book of Daniel, Chapter 4. The writings referred to "seven times". The WTS interpreted each "time" as equal to 360 days, giving a total of 2520 days. This was further interpreted as representing 2520 years, measured from the starting date of 607 BCE. This gave 1914 as the target date. When 1914 passed, they changed their prediction; 1914 became the year that Jesus invisibly began his rule.

1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994, etc.:  These were other dates that the Watchtower Society (WTS) or its members predicted. Since late in the 19th century, they had taught that the "battle of the Great Day of God Almighty" (Armageddon) would happen in 1914 CE. It didn't. The next major estimate was 1925. Watchtower magazine predicted: "The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914; but it would be presumptuous on the part of any faithful follower of the Lord to assume just what the Lord is going to do during that year." The Watchtower Society selected 1975 as its next main prediction. This was based on the estimate "according to reliable Bible chronology Adam was created in the year 4026 BCE, likely in the autumn of the year, at the end of the sixth day of creation." They believed that the year 1975 a promising date for the end of the world, as it was the 6,000th anniversary of Adam's creation. Exactly 1,000 years was to pass for each day of the creation week. This prophecy also failed.
bullet The current estimate is that the end of the world as we know it will happen precisely 6000 years after the creation of Eve. There is no way of knowing when this happened.

1919: Meteorologist Albert Porta predicted that the conjunction of 6 planets would generate a magnetic current that would cause the sun to explode and engulf the earth on DEC-17. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/end_wrl2.htm)

January 11 – 21, 1973:  David Berg (Moses David of the Children of God)  Colossal doomsday event in USA heralded by Comet Kohoutek[43][44]

1975:  Herbert W. Armstrong: 1975 in Prophecy!  A number of predictions, most of them dire, such as drought causing population of America to fall by one-third.[45]

June 21, 1982:  The followers of the New Age Theosophical guru Benjamin Creme, like Alice A. Bailey, believe the Second Coming will occur when Maitreya (the being Theosophists identify as being Christ) makes his presence on Earth publicly known—Crème believes Maitreya has been on Earth since 1977, living in secret. Creme put advertisements in many of the world’s major newspapers in early 1982 stating that the Second Coming would occur on Monday, June 21, 1982 (summer solstice in the northern hemisphere), at which time Christ (Maitreya) would announce his Second Coming on worldwide television (this is called the Emergence or Day of Declaration ; this is when, Creme's followers believe, the Maitreya will telepathically overshadow all of humanity when he appears on worldwide television)[46]. When this event did not occur, Crème claimed that the “world is not yet ready to receive Maitreya"; his followers continue to believe it will happen “soon”.

September 11– 3, 1988:  Edgar C. Whisenant, in the book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988  Return of Christ.

1989:  Benny Hinn  A short man appears within a "few" years who will rule the world as the Antichrist.

1993:  David Berg — Children of God  Christ returns.

September 6, 1994:  Harold Camping, in the book 1994?  Second Coming of Christ may occur on September 6.. A question mark was placed at the end of 1994 to emphasize there was a strong likelihood. Harold Camping mentioned 13 times in the book "1994?" that the world could end in 2011 because it falls on the last day of the feast of tabernacles. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unfulfilled_religious_predictions)

Trust me on this ... you can add Harold Camping and his prediction of May 21, 2011 to this list!