On September 10, 1992, as listeners gathered around their radios to hear the weeknight broadcast of Family Radio's program, Open Forum, a startling announcement was heard. Harold Camping, President of Family Stations, Inc. and host of Open Forum declared that the world would end in September 1994! This revelation supposedly came from his 20 years of cumulative research on Biblical prophecy.
The Open Forum program is translated into ten languages and rebroadcast around the world. Millions have heard Camping's prophetic message. Many have read the Camping book, 1994?, which provides the basis for this prophecy. Millions of brochures written by Camping have been distributed worldwide in numerous languages offering information about 1994 being the end of the world. The 600-page book 1994?, has been translated and published into Hindi, Russian, Spanish, and Korean.
What is Harold Camping saying that should concern all of us? The General Manager of Family Radio would have us believe that, at the same time in September 1994, (1) the end of the age will occur, (2) Jesus will come and (3) all Christians will be removed from earth just before it is destroyed.
There have been three public discussions with Camping. The first was on October 6, 1992 when Camping and I discussed 1994?, on the WMCA radio program, Let's Talk New York. Camping next appeared on Larry King Live, which gave his prediction, international television exposure over CNN. In January 1994, Camping debated Dr. John Walvoord of the Dallas Theological Seminary on a San Francisco radio station. According to Christian Research Institute, these were the only public opportunities to challenge Camping outside of Family Radio.
The first radio debate took place only three weeks after 1994?, was published. Through the help of Dr. David A. Lewis, a mathematical error in Camping's book was uncovered – an error which I brought to his attention. Andy Anderson, the host of Let's Talk New York, opened the debate and said, "We are on the line with Harold Camping of Family Radio and in the studio with us is Scott Temple, the pastor of a church in Englewood, New Jersey. Scott, you say you found an error in the book."
"Yes, I have," I said. "Mr. Camping, I would like to point out that the conclusions of your book are very carefully derived from mathematical calculations. And I would like to point you to page 484 of 1994?, because you used the number 3 to help prove the date of the coming of Christ."
I continued, "While I read from your book, Mr. Camping, I would like you to turn to Judges, Chapter 7, Verse 3. Quoting from the book, 1994?, 'God cut down Gideon's army of 30,000 men to a small band of 300 men', reference Judges 7."
"Mr. Camping, I turned to Judges 7, have you turned there?" I asked. Mr. Camping said, "Yes, it should have been 32,000." "All right," I said, "so there is a mathematical error, and I wanted to bring that to your attention." "I appreciate your sharing that error," Camping said. "We will immediately make correction on that."
Many other errors have been made by Camping; and they are far more serious than how many men started with Gideon. My prayer is that Camping would make correction on these, also. There are three outstanding errors with Camping's doctrine and prophecy. The first is the destruction of the end time church by Satan. The second is that churches and denominations kill the citizens of Christ's kingdom. Finally, Camping teaches that there is a discoverable timetable for the final tribulation and the end of the world.
Let us examine each of these errors in more detail.
1. Destruction of the End time Church
Camping says in 1994?, "In the Bible we can learn how God plans to destroy the church." He further states, "Satan uses his final opportunity to win a decisive victory over Christ by defeating the external church." Implicit in this prophecy is that Satan is going to destroy the church with God's blessing!
Camping teaches that God will have Satan destroy the church through false gospels. For instance, Camping writes that speaking in tongues are the equivalent of eating the forbidden fruit, in the Garden of Eden. He also teaches that just as God gave the tree of the knowledge of good and evil a place of prominence in the Garden, God also gives tongues a prominent place in the New Testament. Moreover, just as it was God's plan for Adam to partake of the fruit to bring sin into the world, it is also God's plan for many to partake of tongues, to destroy all churches and denominations. Rather than destroy, Jesus said, "I will build my church." Jesus promised to be with His Church to the end and that "the gates of hell" will never prevail against His Church.
"Dear friends," the letter of Jude cautions, "remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you in the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the Lord Jesus Christ."
The Bible teaches that God's plan is to pour out His Spirit upon the Church at the end of the age, and that Jesus is going to continue to build His Church until the end of the age. It also encourages Christians to build up themselves while waiting for the soon coming of Jesus.
Camping says that God's plan is to have Satan destroy "the eternal gospel." Nevertheless, the Word of God and the eternal Gospel, the everlasting good news, says, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Camping writes that Satan is winning a decisive victory over Christ. He states that the enemy is even now defeating the eternal Gospel, which is not true in the name of Christ. Moreover, it will never be true. It is a lie.
2. The Killing of Believers
The second major error Camping teaches is the spiritual killing of true believers at the end of the age. Camping believes the New Testament Church has come under God's irrevocable judgment. This is despite the presence of a Spirit filled body of Christ that exists today and the advancement of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He further tells us that congregations will increasingly teach a false gospel. Camping exhorts "true believers" to abandon their congregations, leaving behind those who think they are worshipping Christ but are in reality serving Satan.
Camping teaches the true believers will be "killed" in that they will be driven out of their churches either voluntarily or by force. He uses Revelation, Chapters 8 and 9, to support the final tribulation as a period when true believers, representing a one-third part of all Christians, will be so "killed."
In Revelation, God says there will be actual plagues and earthquakes. These will be real and terrible events happening as the whole of creation groans and awaits the coming of Jesus.
Camping says "not true" in that he spiritualizes the real events of Revelation. It is not actual killing but spiritual killing marked by true believers leaving their congregations. Therefore, after September 1994, Camping would have us believe it will be impossible to find a church preaching the true gospel.
Where should the one third of people in churches now go to hear the gospel? Camping encourages them to follow him and his teaching. Make Family Radio your church. Since you need to continue payment of tithes, Camping encourages listeners to send tithes to Family Radio!
This type of teaching can play havoc with people's lives. I heard a woman call in to Open Forum ask, "What about people planning for retirement?"
Camping encouraged the woman to consider a 2-year moratorium on putting money away for retirement. He then told her to make as much money available as possible for the Gospel to go out. He further counseled the woman she could resume putting money away for retirement if Christ does not come by October 1, 1994.
On October 1, 1992, another caller asked Camping, "What happens if you are wrong?"
"No real damage has been done," was his reply.
Camping has potentially convinced millions worldwide through Family Radio that the world will end in September 1994. He has publicly told his radio audience to stop saving money and give money to "a radio ministry." Real damage has been done, and the worst is yet to come.
Beyond 1994, lives will be damaged. People are being encouraged to leave now denominations that do not agree with Camping's view. Believers are being told to no longer trust their pastor or church. Beyond September 1994, multitudes will go into spiritual limbo because they believed Camping and are outside any church fellowship. People will be spiritually damaged. Camping' teaching has to be refuted publicly.
3. Discoverable Timetable
The third error of Camping's teaching is that there is a timetable that can be discovered for the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Camping acknowledges that the New Testament Church is part of the Lord's unfolding plan for salvation. This plan has been available to the whole human race through various denominations. However, as Camping sees it, final events of history bring this plan and the Lord's command to evangelize the world to an end.
Camping establishes 1988 as the thirteenth thousand anniversary of the world and the year of the beginning of the final tribulation as given in Matthew, Chapter 24. The Book of Daniel tells us the tribulation period will be 2,300 days, or about 6 years. Thus in 1994, 6 years later than 1988, Christ will return at the end of the world.
(NOTE: JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE 2300 DAYS FROM SEPTEMBER 13, 1993, WHEN A MIDDLE EAST PEACE TREATY WAS SIGNED, UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2000, DOES NOT MEAN A PROPHETIC CALENDAR HAS BEEN REVEALED. IT ONLY MEANS THAT WE SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED BY THIS COINCIDENCE OF PROVIDENCE TO KNOW THAT JESUS IS COMING SOON.)
Camping writes, "We therefore should be quite accurate in saying that the New Testament era of sending forth the Gospel officially came to an end on May 21, 1988." Camping does not say that no one could be saved after this date. Rather, he establishes May 21, 1988 as the starting point of Satan's final assault on the Church and the end of the Lord's great commission to preach the gospel to the end of the age.
Camping concludes that God would impart more knowledge about the timing and nature of Christ's return as we approach the end of the age. He indicates new revelations would be provided and that this information is to be shared so all believers will know the time of Christ's return.
The official end of churches sending forth the Gospel, according to Camping, came to an end on May 21, 1988. Continuing 2,300 days from that date brings us to September 6, 1994 when the end has come. Camping says the return of Christ cannot be earlier than the Day of Atonement, which occurs September 15, 1994. This statement is a rejection of Biblical truth.
Does anyone have the right to tell Jesus when He can come? The Church has always been taught to pray the Lord would come quickly, come soon, and come now. But Camping declares Jesus cannot come before September 15, 1994.
Jesus said, "It is the wicked and unprofitable servant who says the Lord delays his coming." Any date-setting plan is a wicked and unprofitable scheme because it declares the Lord will delay His coming until the time set by the misguided prophet.
According to Camping, the last date for the second coming of Christ is September 27, 1994, which is the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Camping attempts to reconcile Scripture by not indicating the day or the hour of Christ's return since the Lord says we cannot know that. Sometime during a two week period in September 1994, Christ will return, according to Camping.
While Camping claims to have reached this conclusion with great care, he entreats us to be cautious. While extremely unlikely, he indicates something could have been overlooked, which would make his conclusions incorrect.
Doubts aside, Camping does not expect to reach October 1, 1994, without the coming of Christ. Regardless of the final timing of the second coming, when September 6, 1994 arrives, Camping claims no one else can be saved.
Part of Camping's engineered timetable is built on the premise that the world was created 13,000 years ago. A February 1994 Open Forum broadcast gave further insight into Camping's perception of his and Family Radio's unique place in God's end-time program. Camping related how he went to a New York bank on February 4, 1959 and received funds to launch Family Radio. When 13,000 days are added to that date, you come to September 6, 1994.
Camping's chilling conclusion is clear. Just as God stopped making salvation available through churches after 13,000 years, so will God stop making salvation available through Family Radio after 13,000 days.
Not only is Camping caught up in his own unique revelation of prophetic truth, he also believes that he himself and Family Radio is a unique end time fulfillment of God's plan. It should be apparent to any Bible student that Camping's conjectures are built upon the sinking sands of time.
Are You Ready?
A follow up book to 1994? was recently published by Camping in which he reinforces his end time schedule. The new book, Are You Ready?, boldly asserts that any year other than 1994 must be rejected as having any possibility for being the end of the world. In this book, Camping declares there are "26 historical events that relate to the end of the world in 1994." The following is typical of the logic used by Camping.
According to Camping, adding 1994 to 7106 BC, the year Enoch was supposedly born, totals 9,100. Multiplying 7 x 13 x 100 also gives 9,100. You may ask, so what?
This is proof to Camping that the world will end in 1994 because of the definitions he attributes to certain numbers. The number 7 is the perfection of God's time. Believers are complete according to the number 100, and the acceptable year at the end of time is represented by 13. Therefore, 1994 is the year.
Also, by adding 1994 to 1407 BC, the year when Israel supposedly entered Canaan, gives 3,400 (as long as you deduct 1). Multiplying 2 x 10 x 10 x 17 results in 3,400. Again, so what?
Another positive proof of 1994 since, according to Camping, Canaan was a type of heaven. In the completeness of time (10), the complete number of believers (10) will enter heaven (17). This "proves" that the end of the world must be in 1994.
In his books, Camping gives extensive coverage to the numbers 17, representing heaven, and 23, representing judgment. Since the final judgment lasts only 6 years, God shortens the judgment by 17 years. In the concluding portion of this article, I will make my own conjecture as to the explanation Camping may have beyond 1994 in relation to the number 17.
What will Camping proclaim beyond 1994?
Unfortunately, beyond 1994 Camping is not likely to recant his prophecy or repent of his teaching. When September 6 arrives, then September 17, and when October 1, 1994 comes and goes, what can we expect to hear from Camping over the worldwide Family Radio network?
One possible scenario, among others, is that Camping may admit to a "slight error" in that God's family was not taken to a physical heaven but an invisible one. Yes, it may be said, the world has ended and no one else can be saved. One third of all attendees in churches and congregations throughout the world who are the "true believers" are now the final members of God's elect family. There's just one catch, they have been transferred into living in a spiritual state of heaven on earth.
Presumably, God would then have an exclusive 17-year purpose for Family Radio: (1) To minister to the elect living on earth, and (2) to declare to all others that no one else can be saved because the last day to be saved was September 6, 1994.
What is at stake is the name of Jesus Christ and the Church of God, which he bought with His own blood. For the integrity of Christianity has, in times past, been brought into dishonor by those who perpetuated the doctrines associated with their failed date setting scheme. More than once, false prophesy has been the genesis of cultic movements. May the influence of the Holy Spirit, effective through the prayer and action of Godly people, restrain such evil in the name of Jesus.
May we avoid the temptation to use prophetic signs to establish prophetic dates. Signs are for looking up, not for writing down. For as it becomes increasingly clear that Christ is coming soon, signs will increasingly amaze and astound us. But let us not corrupt the God ordained blessing of signs into the manmade cursing of schemes. God's ways are above man's ways. God's time is in His hands. Let's leave it safely there. Amen.
(Published with permission of the Author Rev. Scott Temple)
Santa Maria Times, CA 1//1/2011
Editorial Opinion. - Resolve not to be Shaken. Excerpt.
"Still, daunting statistical evidence doesn't seem to prevent folks from shouting that the end is near. Family Radio President Harold Camping says the end is coming this year, and pins down the exact date -- May 21. Camping made the same prediction for Sept. 6, 1994, and, well . . . every plan needs a backup, and Camping has issued a second prediction for the end of days, which is Sept. 29 of this year, in case that May 21 thing doesn't work out."