Harold Camping–I was wrong but good came of it

By Rick Hiebert. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

The staff of Harold Camping’s old ministry, Family Radio, has issued a statement on his behalf.

Although the ministry does admit that the prediction was an “incorrect and sinful statement”, they seem oddly cheerful about what happened as a result. In the Charisma News report, the full statement, above the names of Camping and the ministry, is quoted.

They admit that those who cited “of that day and hour knoweth no man” were correct, and add later that they have no more possible dates to cite. But they also write this:

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.


We were even so bold as to insist that the Bible guaranteed that Christ would return on May 21 and that the true believers would be raptured. Yet this incorrect and sinful statement allowed God to get the attention of a great many people who otherwise would not have paid attention. Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible. However, even so, that does not excuse us. We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin..

This kind of strikes me as an odd stance to take. Those who remember the aftermath of all this might be inclined to be less charitable.

They’re apologizing. Technically. I guess.

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17 Responses to Harold Camping–I was wrong but good came of it

  1. AtheistAtBirth says:

    Hard to ascertain if any good came of this. A 14-year-old girl from Russia was so scared of the May 21 doomsday and rapture prediction made by Harold Camping that she committed suicide. Some dipped into their retirement funds, like Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent $140,000 to post billboards advertising for the Day across the nation.

    Let’s forget the humiliation and embarrassment the reasonable believers suffered, and the disrespect inflicted on the body in general .

    The rapture (an eschatological – end times event) is a little slippery escape clause from the imminent wrath of a pissed off deity who will throw a major hissy fit & annihilate most of the planet while kidnapping their souls, and tossing them in a BBQ.

    The elite will be “spared” in a manner of speaking for an eternity of servility, and some feel it is far preferable to going to hell with the majority – where the music and climate are better but the view is discouraging … These believers are the escapists, with the healthy outlook that if Jesus is coming there is nothing to be done but wait.

    Well, at least they get to know just how exclusive the choir really is. God’s elitism, and the most extreme global threats your imagination can conjure await anyone who does not bow the knee to these self-appointed masters of spin.

  2. Roger Armbruster says:

    AtheistAt Birth, I agree with you 100%. No good came of this. It is like saying that I scared some people to “get right with God,” even though I told a lie while supposedly speaking on behalf of a God who keeps His word. This misrepresents God, and it is the greatest evil.

    This is why, AtheistAtBirth, however much you have tried to categorize me with those who believe in a “pissed off deity,” I hope that you will soon come to understand that you have also to a certain extent distorted me and my belief in your misrepresentations, miscategorizations and mischaracterizations of what I believe.

    This is why I totally disagree with those on these threads who use fear tactics, intimidation tactics, threatening tactics, while claiming to represent a God whose love casts out fear. Instead, they use threats and fear as a weapon to motivate.

    Please do not stereotype those who use fear to motivate with other people that you do not even know, or you might be doing something similar yourself, that is, misrepresenting other persons with ignorance. Surely a love of the truth requires no less.

    I do believe that deep down, you are a man of integrity, and that some of your statements do not represent your true beliefs, so let’s really get to know one another better, as limited as that possibility is on the Internet. Smiles! :>)

  3. Bene D says:

    A teen I know with Aspergers saw Campings predictions, and he went into a downward spiral. Took a long time for his parents to get him back on track.

    The people who gave money, are never going to get it back, there is no way Family Radio can make restitution. Add in the other harms AaB outlines.

    It is an odd ‘apology’, Camping hedged his bets.

  4. Roger Armbruster says:

    AtheistAtBirth, what I was referring to specifically was when, in response to my views, that you compared them to the beliefs of those involved in the twin towers and to the Taliban. Does this mean that you can impose your filtered views on to what I actually believe?

    I may interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, while there is a possibility tha you may interpret even the New Testament in the light of the old, and that is why in the light of the new, the old is fading and passing away through the lens of a great light of the God who was always there. There are different degrees of revelation from the Old to the New, and that it why it surprized many people as to what God was like when Jesus came on the scene.

    Yet you can take a verse out of context from anywhere in the Bible, and use that, through your own filtered and colored lens, to prove whatever you want to prove. It is all a matter of interpretation. Does that mean that you can use your filter to give valid and reasonable evidence as to what I believe? Does Harold Camping represent all who believe in God? We may need to mature and to grow up in these areas of stereotypes.

  5. fjc says:

    He is a public menace. No excuse for his self serving prophesies.

    His efforts to gain publicity for himself and his organization have resulted in harm to others. Alas, there are charletons in all walks of life.

  6. Roger Armbruster says:

    So true, fjc, so true! The challenge is always to get to know people in ALL walks of life, even those who come from different family and denominational and cultural backgrounds than we have come from, and to get to know one another from the inside, rather than than to judge one another from the outside, or from the external label, or by unaided reason that by-passes relationship.

    The other thing to consider is that people’s beliefs and areas of revelation and i is constantly changing. Some are walking in greater and greater light and understanding, and others are walking in greater and greater darkness, and misunderstanding. It depends on the choices that we make in response to our past history, and that will determine whether we walk in grater light, or in greater darkness and ignorance. Our challenge is to really get to know one another for what we believe today, and that we do not throw out the “baby with the bathwater” from our past, while growing in true and personal knowledge of one another. It is easier to stereotype people than it is to get to know what is presently precious and valuable, and what is worthless from our past, so that we make wise decisions as to what to chuck out, and what to preserve and to build upon as we seek to grow in greater light which knows one another from the heart, from the inside, the interior world, rather than to judge from the exterior world, as we cannot really get to know people relationally if we do not go deeper than mere external impressions and opinions.

  7. Rick Hiebert says:

    As should have come across by my tone, I’m just really dismayed by their trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Not good in the least.

  8. Roger Armbruster says:

    So true, Rick. I am not impressed by the attempt to make it appear that some good came out of this, because it is doubtful if this group will be able to gets any crediility back for the foreseeable future, because this was such a a huge blunder of such mammoth proportions that has affected many people negatively.

    However, I will give them credit for concluding with the words that even the feigned “good” that they would like to say came out of this, they still acknowledge that this does not diminish, wipe out or elipse the magnitude of their error. They now say, “However, even so, that does not excuse us. We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin.”

    Well, if they have truly repented, and have seen the error of their ways, who am I to say that they should not be forgiven? Trust, and the restoring of trust, however, is another matter. They should not expect anybody to trust them for some time to come, but when it comes to forgiveness, I choose to forgive and not to hold this sin against them, because who is to say that my sin is not as great as theirs? And I, too, need to be forgiven. I am speaking only for myself here. I am not their final Judge either.

    However, I do not go for this end-time fear-mongering, trying to influence people out of fear and dread of some kind of “doomsday” cult. However, I also believe in a God of justice who will ultimately bring people to account. If that is not true, and when the secular courts of the land fail us, there certainly ought to be some kind of transcendent justice for these things that people seem to get away with in the short-term. The ultimate law of the universe is still that whatever one sows, they will reap.

    However, I am tired of these “false prophets” being given so much publicity and attention for their folly. In the early 1980′s, at the height of the cold war, many people feared that the end of the world was imminent. The great, so-called issue was over the relative merits of Pre, Mid and Post tribulation theories. This type of teaching, along with the Hal Lindsay Late Great Planet Earth debacle has been a disaster.

    Then, when the Berlin wall fell at the end of the decade, and the Communist threat abated, a new theory emerged, the “Pan-tribulation” theory. Exasperated by contradicting theories, and the alarmist pre-occupation by futurists, some Bible teachers tried to assure us not to worry over competing tribulation theories, because regardless of the potential future scenarios, “it will all pan out in the end.”

    The fact that we don’t know about some things is no reason to stick our head in the sands either about the times in which we live.

    The prognosticators in Jesus’ day dismissed His Messianic claim because they “knew” that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:4-6). Regarding Jesus of Nazareth, they scoffed, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” and “Will the Messiah come out of Galilee? Look and see, no prophet ever came out of Galilee” (John 7:41).

    Should it surprize us if the Second Coming will also be very different from what many people, particularly the religious elite, expect? I am convinced that most Christians will have to throw their prophetic charts and timetables completely out the window. Jesus told His disciples, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24;36).

    Yet believers from every generation have been tempted to see their forecast, or their prediction, as the exception to this rule, and end up making fools of themselves. It is my understanding that Harold Camping, after his May 21, 2011 prediction failed, that he changed the date to October 21st, and that he also made a similar prediction back in 1994. When will the pre-tribulation rapture theorists ever learn? It has never worked out according to their sensational “predictions” which (let’s call it what it is) were and are the height of folly and stupidity.

    Jesus reminds us that when we hear of wars and rumours of wars, DO NOT BE AFRAID. This is critical for those who use fear as a motivation for people to believe their message. It is the work of the very deceiver himself. It seems to me that the Scriptures are purposely and sufficiently vague on the details of the future in order to steer us towards watchfulness, prayer and trust. A watchful servant gathers all the knowledge he can, but he knows his trust must be in something greater than his storehouse of knowledge. There are some things that we just do not know for sure.

    As a committed Christian, it is my personal belief (a belief that I am not willing to impose upon anybody else) that our Heavenly Father has reserved the right to keep some things in His secret counsels. Yet He is not a God who desires to keep His children in the dark. Yet He will reveal Himself to those who seek Him for greater relational wisdom, understanding and knowledge, not those who seek a knowledge that makes them “eggspurts” on things that they know nothing about. No matter who we are, our knowledge is really puny.

    In the meantime, if there is something we need to know, He will reveal what we need to know when we need it. Until then, we watch, we pray, we stay alert, and we trust.

    Christian fundamentalists are not the only ones who have erected doomsday cults. Even the scientists tell us that one day the sun will get big, and it will be “kingdom come” for us all.

    Even the theory of relativity teaches us that time and space had a special beginning, and whatever has a beginning, will also come to an end, and so there are all kinds of “end of the world” scenarios out there, not only in the religious work, but in the world of science, or, at least, in science fiction.

    What Harold Camping has done is not even as frightening as what some of the environmentalists are telling us, who see doomsday approaching ever nearer if we do not spend more money to solve the environmental crisis very soon now. Again, there is some truth there, but it is mixed in with a lot of fearmongering, and ignorance, which is not helpful.

    Global warming futurists make predictions about the melting glaciers resulting in rising oceans, inundating the land masses of Mother Earth with water, and it will, again, be “kingdom come” for us all. What is being used to motivate our government leaders? Fear!

    Even Hollywood likes to put out movies like “The Omen,” and “The Exorcist” to scare people. They magnifiy the powers of evil and of anti-christ and of fear as greater than the power of love which casts out fear. It is good for revenue, because for some reason a lot of people out there seem to like to be entertained and to be motivated by a spirit of fear rather than by a spirit of love. The fear motive is to them exciting, and it seems to make big bucks for the movie industry, even though fear, tension and emotional stress is the major cause of heart disease, and of the hardening of the arteries. God isn’t in any of that.

  9. Roger Armbruster says:

    AtheistAtBirth, in going over your post, I realize you did say, “Let’s forget the humiliation and embarrassment the reasonable believers suffered, and the disrespect inflicted on the body in general .” So I realize you do make a distinction between people like Harold Camping and “reasonable believers.”

    Therefore, my question was already answered when I asked, “Does Harold Camping represent all who believe in God?” I can see, in retrospect and upon reflection, that you already answered that, so I apologize for any insinuation or suggestion that you might believe otherwise.

    That question was asked through the lens and the memory of our last exchange where I felt that there was not a distinction made between those who engineered the bringing down of the twin towers, the Taliban, and what can be called “reasonable believers.”

    You and I no doubt agree on many things. It is unfortunate that on these “comment section” exchanges, we tend to focus more on what we disagree on. I wish you well.

  10. Susan says:

    There has and still is a great silence, as far the end of the world, as we know it and deadlines. Maybe someone could offer some insight behind how and why Mr. Camping came to his conclusions. Those specific dates that he was fixated on with the dramatic interventions prior to those dates, about when the rapture would happen. I’m curious as to why he felt so strongly and even his staff backed him up, about such claims for this type of biblical prophecy.

    When I read about God’s prophetic interventions and timelines, they are not that specific. They are more in line with the provedential.

  11. AtheistAtBirth says:

    @Susan .. You can breath a sigh of relief my dear concerning the end of the world. A day is as a thousand years so according to your own claims a generation (40 earth years and using 365.25 days per year) amounts to 14,610,000 years and we have more than 14,600,000 to go. Relax. God’s prophetic interventions and timelines, are based on your imagination and tuned to suit the known outcome.

    Camping has a BS in civil engineering from UC Berkeley. He never attended seminary, but self describes as a bible scholar and not a pastor. His love of flipping through numbers arises from his analytical engineering background when he pinpointed the date of the flood at May 21, 4990 BC. He has been espousing this bullshit since 1994.

    He has used various methodology including one in which he multiples (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) to get 722,500, then notes that Christ died on April 1, 33 AD. Guess what date is exactly 722,500 days after that crucifixion date? That would be May 21, 2011.

    Reason can find no course in a the sea of illusion or answer the question of deaf ears. Even the early church twisted things to fit their facts. There is only one animal in Zechariah, but Matthew thinks he means there is a donkey and also a colt, so he wrote his story based upon this misunderstanding in order to fit prophecy! Matthew 21:2 has Jesus requesting both a donkey and also a colt. [Mark (11:1) and Luke (19:30) both say it was a “colt.” John (12:14-15) says it was a “donkey”, and then quoted Zechariah 9:9 as saying: “your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” One of a thousand little problems in a sea of improbability that Christians have it right. Eventually, even the most diehard apologists should just give up.

  12. brano says:

    The Apostle Paul would laugh at your comments

  13. Susan says:

    A calendar for such an event, would have changed , throughout history. That’s one reason I was curious. It’s not my main concern, when I read something like this. For those that did buy into this line of reason, makes me very sad. That’s all.

  14. AtheistAtBirth says:

    The Troll speaks! You should not defer to Susan in such ugly commentary, Brano.

  15. brano says:

    No Defer Priendo…

  16. Susan says:

    The significance of the donkey (Genesis 49:10-12), is more than a reference. It’s part of an image for the Scepter that will not depart from Judah. To tie his donkey to the vine (the vine branch is the donkey’s foal). This was perceived as a Triumphal Entry because the donkey was a sign of peace. The large crowd would have known the meaning of this entry and see Jesus as a sovereign ruler. It was a bold statement without uttering a word.

  17. Bene D says:

    Family Radio was financially not doing well – so the end of the world scenario should have helped bring in the dollars.

    It did, but not as much as selling off some of it’s assets.
    I don’t believe Camping was driven by money – but his executives had a business to run.

    More here on an industry site.


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