A friend of mine recently received a tract from Harold Camping’s group and immediately began pointing out some of the problems with it in describing it to me. I asked if he would be willing to write a short piece on his findings and he quickly did so! Hopefully many of the readers will find this piece particularly useful. Enjoy!
Are You Rapture-Ready for 1792 1844 1988 1993 1994 2011?
By Guest Blogger Jeff Park
One time-tested tactic to gain a sudden influx of “untaught and unstable” followers is to put together a semi-plausible argument that reveals that Christ will return (with whatever permutation of events may accompany that) at a specific date in the near future. The most ravenous wolves will combine this prediction with an assertion of their authority and the repudiation of the churches their followers may be familiar with. Harold Camping, of Family Radio, is not more scholarly, exhaustive in his approach, insightful, or anything resembling more charismatic than the charlatans past, but untaught and unstable men have short memories … as evidenced by Camping’s own 1994 prediction being unknown to many of his current followers.
Mr. Camping teaches that the Holy Spirit has left the church and that people should flee the churches and, apparently, look to his unique interpretations for their guidance. For this reason, it is important to confront his claims. The various godly men involved with Alpha and Omega Ministries have provided a helpful compendium of rebuttals to Mr. Camping here, but to the best of my knowledge that does not include a full rebuttal of this particular “tract” which has begun to circulate. Lord willing, this brief treatment of it will be edifying. I will summarize much of the tract because Mr. Camping writes much like he speaks – s…….l…….o…….w…….l…….y.
Camping begins the tract, “JUDGMENT DAY: THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE!
HOLY GOD WILL BRING JUDGMENT DAY ON MAY 21, 2011” [emphasis his], by establishing the authority and inspiration of Scripture without explicitly advocating his peculiar method of interpretation. Similarly benign comments are made about creation before Camping transitions to the oneness of God and says, “Because God is so great and glorious He calls Himself by many different names. Each name tells us something about the glorious character and nature of God. Thus in the Bible we find such names as God, Jehovah, Christ, Jesus, Lord, Allah, Holy Spirit, Savior, etc.” Camping is a modalist (documented in this debate with Dr. James White), so he is arguing that the One God simply used the names Jesus and Holy Spirit to highlight different elements of His “character and nature.” Interestingly, Camping includes in this list the name “Allah.” Is Harold Camping arguing that Allah as “revealed” in the Qur’an is simply another manifestation of the One True God along the same lines as Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Camping specifically denies that the Qur’an is written by God, but one must wonder why the only heading in this tract reads, “GOD’S SUBLIME MERCY AND COMPASSION” [emphasis his] which anyone familiar with the Qur’an would recognize as an allusion to it.
Camping continues, warning us of the necessity and sternness of the coming judgment, but reassures us:
|[God] has given us in advance of the destruction the exact time of the Day of Judgment. The Bible tells us in Amos 3:7:|
|Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto His servants the prophets.|
|Consequently we now can know from the Bible the exact time and many details of God’s destruction plan that is to come upon the whole world. [emphasis his]|
Since Camping has just argued that the canon is closed, he must certainly agree that the age of prophets is over. Moreover, God has made it clear through the prophets, apostles, and His own Son that judgment is coming upon the earth; this verse does not claim He has an obligation to tell us the day of its coming. Is Harold Camping arguing, by implication, that he is a prophet since he has had the secrets of God, which no one had previously uncovered in Scripture, revealed unto him? If so, a man who has studied God’s Word so thoroughly must know what should happen to a prophet who has given a false prophecy. Such prophets were not allowed to hedge and caveat as Mr. Camping did in 1994, will do later in this tract, and will be exclusively doing on May 22 should the Lord tarry.
Camping says that forgiveness “may be” available to those who ask for mercy and establishes that God is capable of destroying the whole world by mentioning the flood. Then comes this gem, “By careful study of the Bible we learn that in the year 4990 B.C. (Before Christ) God brought a flood of water and destroyed the entire earth except for eight people and the animals that were with them.” First, let me say that I find the implication that anybody who studies the Bible carefully will arrive at the conclusion that the flood occurred in 4990 B.C. offensive. I have done a fair amount of reading on the flood and Camping marks the first time I have seen that date arrived at. This claim is reliant on Camping’s 1970 article “The Biblical Calendar of History” in which he concludes that “begat” indicates that second person was born the same year the first person died, while “called his name” indicates an actual father-son relationship.
Camping goes on to extrapolate an entire calendar with the flood at 4990 B.C. The link provided includes rebuttals (though not by overly conservative Christians, it seems) which show that there is no indication that anyone actually used this system of dating and “called his name” can also describe grandsons, for instance. I would add that Genesis 5 does not give any indication that the very precise and formulaic way it chronicles the genealogy from Adam to Noah should be read one way from Adam to Enosh and a different way from Kenan to Lamech, only to return to the original reading where Lamech-Noah-Shem is concerned, as Camping would have it.
Camping then provides a pseudo-exegesis of II Peter 3:6-10 in which he claims that since “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” and God warned Noah seven days before he flooded the earth, then there will be 7,000 years between the flood and the final destruction.
|Seven thousand years after 4990 B.C. (the year of the Flood) is the year 2011 A.D. (our calendar).
4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7,000
|[One year must be subtracted in going from an Old Testament B.C. calendar date to a New Testament A.D. calendar date because the calendar does not have a year zero.]|
I originally thought this was a basic mathematical error, but I believe the argument is that from a particular date in 1 B.C. to the same date in A.D. 1 is only one year, rather than the two you would get by adding those dates together. Likewise, from a particular date in 4990 B.C. to a particular date in A.D. 2011 is only 7,000 years. So we would expect Camping to reveal the exact day on the Gregorian calendar that the flood occurred – namely May 21, 4990 B.C., right?
|Amazingly, May 21, 2011 is the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Biblical calendar day. Remember, the flood waters also began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the year 4990 B.C.|
If you’re confused over why we counted exactly 7,000 Gregorian calendar years to arrive at a Hebrew calendar day, join the club. If you’re confused as to why the seven days warning had to be figurative days, but why the 17 days get to be literal days and the 2nd month gets to be a literal month, then you must have a problem with Camping’s arbitrary interpretation method. At any rate, the chances of the 17th day of the 2nd month of whatever year that was on the Hebrew calendar being May 21 are pretty slim.
The old joke about certain dispensationalists who predicted when the rapture would happen is that they had a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Well, we keep hearing newspapers are dying so maybe Harold Camping is on the cutting edge of the “Bible in one hand, calculator in the other” trend. Regardless, you can put your calculator down now because Camping moves on to say that it’s possible to repent and stay God’s hand of destruction, giving the example of Nineveh.
|Sadly, the Holy Bible tells us that only a small percentage of today’s world will turn from their evil ways, and with great humility and fear will cry to God for mercy. Nevertheless, the Bible assures us that many of the people who do beg God for His mercy will not be destroyed. We learn from the Bible that Holy God plans to rescue about 200 million people (that is about 3% of today’s population). On the first day of the Day of Judgment (May 21, 2011) they will be caught up (raptured) into Heaven because God had great mercy for them.|
I said you could put down your calculators only because I’m unaware of any support for the 200 million number. Maybe someone could contact Choosing Hats with a link to Camping’s reasoning here. At any rate, Camping is using a passage in which judgment was promised upon all, all repented, and all were spared to show that repentance can save you from God’s judgment. Where did God promise that all the earth would face His final judgment? Where did He say that it was impossible that all would repent? Where did He say that only a small fraction (especially the specific number 200 million) would be spared? Were these things revealed only to Harold Camping?
|Sadly, you can’t turn to your religion or go to your priest or pastor or spiritual leader for help. They, too, should be begging God for mercy for themselves. This is a matter only between you and Holy God.|
Once again, Mr. Camping is encouraging people to abandon the Bride of Christ that He has promised to bring into His wedding feast. Harold Camping is calling people away from the body that God has provided to supply their spiritual needs and keep them balanced. It is no coincidence that Peter warns about untaught and unstable men who distort the Scriptures right after the section Camping cites. As Peter had recently said, “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” May we not “bring the way of truth” into disrepute on May 22nd. Warn people who have succumbed to Camping’s distortions until then and be ready on that day to bring them back into the true church of Christ and away from destructive heresies.