Sunday, September 23, 2007

Harold Camping and the Two Tests of Deuteronomy

I thought that I had written about the two tests of Deuteronomy, but I guess I never did. Here they are, starting with Deuteronomy 18:

Deuteronomy 18:21-22 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

21 You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

And then there's Deuteronomy 13:

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

So let's take the next article:

Jesus said that, “men love darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). Never is it more clearly seen than in the undying propensity of people to run after psychics and psychic predictions. This is not limited to the occult and the tabloids, but is seen in increasing measure in Charismatic circles and, alarmingly, within some Evangelical circles as well.

The Apostle Peter said that we have a word more sure or a “prophetic word confirmed” (2 Peter 1:19). We have in the Word of God, all we need for salvation, all we need for sanctification (2 Timothy 3:15-17, John 17:17), and all we need for prophecy (Revelation 22). If God wanted us to know any more, He would have inspired more books to be added to the Bible. Still, lost people and some confused Christians do not think so and prefer the guesswork, failures and darkness of false prophets and tabloid prognosticators....

In 1994, Family Radio Network prognosticator Harold Camping told [Personal Freedom Outreach] that if his September 1994 date for Christ’s return failed, “All we’ll do is drop anymore reference to 1994. Somehow an error was made. Maybe by that time we’ll know what the error is” (see The Quarterly Journal, July-Sept. 1994, pp. 1, 12-14).

Camping’s error was quite easy to identify: He went outside the bounds of Scripture and set a date for our Lord’s Second Coming (Acts 1:7).

Let's take the next article:

In 1992, Harold Camping published the book 1994? Like [William] Miller, he rejected the historic understanding of Daniel 8. The prophecy clearly describes the rise of the kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great and the division of his empire among four successors. But instead of seeing the prophecy as fulfilled then, Camping transported its fulfillment to our own day. Like the Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses, he focused on the "hidden" meanings of texts, seeing pointers toward 1994 in the number of swine drowned in the Sea of Galilee and in the number of servants in Abraham's house. Camping introduced 1994? with the following statement: "No book ever written is as audacious or bold as one that claims to predict the timing of the end of the world, and that is precisely what this book presumes to do." No matter how audacious or bold, it was wrong. September 6, 1994, came and went.

Camping seemed to back away from his false prophecy, but he has now [in 2002] decided that he was right all along. It was too bitter a pill to swallow to be wrong. Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, he says that 1994 wasn't the wrong date. We just have to add seven years to it! Like Russell, he is now telling Christians to leave their churches. All the churches are apostate. You should no longer trust your pastors and elders. You should abandon them and turn to the true channel of God's Word, Family Radio....

In these new fellowships, there is to be no discipline, no baptism, no communion, and no authority apart from Family Radio's interpretation of the Bible. Mr. Camping rejects 1 Corinthians 11:26, which says that we are to proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. He rejects Christ's clear teaching that the gates of Hades will not prevail against his church (Matt. 16:18). With even greater certainty than he had in 1994, Mr. Camping now tells us to abandon the elders whom Christ has provided to watch over our souls (Heb. 13:17), to shepherd his flock (1 Peter 5:1-3), and to feed his sheep (Acts 20:28-31). Do we no longer need shepherds other than Mr. Camping? Do we no longer need men to watch over our souls? Do we no longer need to be reconciled to our brothers (Matt. 18:15-17)? If we do, which church is to do the judging? Is Mr. Camping our pope, who will judge for us?

Harold Camping may not be the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society, but he builds on the same wrongheaded interpretations of Scripture, the same date-setting, the same recalculations, the same accusations of universal apostasy, and the same claim to be the last true channel of God's Word. Despite the differences, both are heretical and schismatic, tearing apart Christ's church.

But not everyone agrees that Camping is a false prophet. Michael Grey gave Camping's book 1994 five stars on Amazon - in 2002. This is what he said:

This has got to be one of the best books on end time prophecies. Camping takes hundreds of pages not too preach personal ideas, but to show from the scriptures that 1994 is indeed a spiritually significant year. Those who read the whole book are likely to find themselves with a much better understanding of end-time events.

The book was written a few years before 1994. In it, Camping methodically analysis scripture to determine if 1994 is a possible year of Christ's return. But, as part of the title, he very carefully puts the question mark after the "1994". He does this to emphasis the fact which he reiterates in the book - that there could be something he missed.

So although he doesn't cover the "latter rain" (Revelation7:9, James5, Joel2, Duet32) - most of the information remains astonishingly accurate. From the "Great tribulation"(Matthew24, Rev7:9) to the "end of the church age" (1Peter4:17, 2Thess2, Rev13, Rev18, Daniel12) - many end-time subjects are covered. Other such books I recommend are "Adam When?" and "Mystery Babylon:The abomination of desolation?" written by Harold Camping and Dan Webster, respectively.

Mr. Camping is able to teach doctrine in a way that leaves very little room for doubt or misunderstanding. His method is simple. Every single verse which relates to the subject material must be carefully analyzed. For most of us - that's an overwhelming task, but it's been Camping's job for over four decades. (He quite engineering in his late 30's to pursue a career in Bible study, which he's done to the present day - 50 years later). Most of his "critics" are those who have been unable to prove their points on the live, radio call-in program which he hosts ("the Open Forum"). When they find they can't discredit what he say's on a Biblical level, many begin to engage in character assaasination.

One thing that marks Camping as different from most other teachers is that he encourages people NOT to trust him - but rather to trust the Bible alone. In other words - he's not seeking followers, he seeks truth. The fact that he shares it with many others is a true blessing.

Camping's studies are almost always of unsurpassed quality and "1994?" is no exception. Mr. Camping is a genuine child of God and is well established as an excellent Bible student and teacher.

I encourage each person reading this review to get a copy of "1994?".

This is the only book that Michael Grey ever reviewed on Amazon. But Reggie Wiggin's ex-wife had a review of her own.

The world didn't end on September 6, 1994.

But for the worshippers crowded into an Alameda veterans hall on the days prior, time was of the essence. Children in their Sunday best skittered in and out of the room while their parents silently prayed or read the Bible....

[W]hen Camping began predicting the end of the world, there were plenty of people listening. His most loyal followers prepared for the end in different ways, and though Camping had advised against it, there were reports of believers selling their homes, cashing out their pension plans, and running up credit cards with the understanding that none of it was to matter anymore.

The end-watchers paid little heed to the naysayers, and stood up for their shepherd. "There are people foaming at the mouth, waiting for October 1 so they can say 'I told you so,'" one female Pennsylvania believer told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's like being Noah. No one listened to him either. '"

Perhaps the most convinced was Reggie Wiggins, a warehouse worker from Pennsylvania where, next to California, Camping owns the largest number of stations. "I've been looking at this for ten years, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can change my mind," he told the Inquirer. For Wiggins, the world did end on September 6. He died that day after falling into a diabetic coma, the result, it is rumored, of his having halted his medications a couple months prior to the big day. "My deceased husband gave Harold Camping everything he had," said Wiggins' ex-wife in a recent telephone interview. "Every dime, everything. [Camping] needs to be exposed; he's a fraud."

When his doomsday prediction turned out to be false, Harold Camping, then 73, picked himself up, dusted himself off, and emphasized that he'd really had only been 99.9 percent certain. The remaining 0.1 percent had won out.

Unfortunately for Camping, 99.9% isn't good enough for God. So much for Deuteronomy 18.

So what happened after 1994? According to the 2003 article, much more:

The rise and fall of his doomsday prophecy cost the lifelong theologian a good chunk of his religious capital. He was compelled to leave his longtime Alameda church following a tiff with church elders over his doomsday teachings, and his dire predictions created a public rift between him and other prominent evangelicals.

None of this seemed to bother Camping. He still had hordes of listeners who swore by the unusual scripture readings propagated through his popular call-in and Bible study shows. But it was what he did next that really drove the Christian establishment into fits. In 2001, the powerful broadcaster turned against the church.

In one fell swoop, Harold Camping began urging his faithful listeners to turn on Family Radio, tune in to their local stations, and drop out of their congregations....

According to the broadcaster, all churches -- Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal, you name it -- have been taken over by Satan. "Certainly something strange is happening," begins Camping's manifesto, Has the Era of the Church Age Come to an End? "On the one hand we see churches everywhere becoming more and more apostate. Yet on the other hand we see a ministry like Family Radio becoming more and more useful to the Lord in sending the true Gospel into the world."

This latest crusade is in line with the broadcaster's doomsday obsession. His warning that today's congregations are veering astray signals his belief that the last days are approaching -- prior to Armageddon, the Bible says, there will be a "falling away" of the churches. And while Camping's 1994 prophecy fell flat, in his view one need only look around at the liberalization of Christian denominations to see that the churches have been defiled: women and gays in positions of authority, a departure from the conservative teachings he grew up with, a preponderance of bureaucratic or corporate churches, and "Christian" rock bands singing about Jesus -- and may God spare the poor souls who don't see the writing on the wall.

Does Camping urge his believers to follow other gods? It's uncertain, but he's clearly inaccurate. This statement sums it up:

Many predictions by Nostradamus, Jean Dixon, The Watchtower Society, Harold Camping, Pat Robertson, and others have either proven to be false or so vague as to be shoehorned into a variety of possible events. Bible predictions, however, are often very precise and so far removed from the time of fulfillment that they could not have been foreseen based on current events. The life of Christ alone fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies.

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Anonymous said...

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
Read My Inaugural Address
At =

Ontario Emperor said...

A secret rapture of billions? That's an interesting concept.

DAT said...

While Camping has many detractors, especially since 1994 was not the end of the world, he does use scripture as his only basis of interpretation, unlike many datesetters who use world events or claim to directly communicate with God. The question is, is his interpretation correct?
Here is a discussion site about Camping's teachings: