Here are a couple of responses to the Harold Camping rapture debacle from 2 people I highly respect. I share these sentiments …..
From Kim Riddlebarger:
“Frankly, this whole Harold Camping mess ticks me off. Since I write and teach in the field of eschatology, people expect me to say something. Yet, I’m not sure many of you will appreciate my take on this. I’m not a happy “camper.”
I see this tragic episode as one gigantic mess, which God’s people will be cleaning up for years. I, for one, am not very sympathetic to Mr. Camping, or to those who follow him. Here’s why:
1). He’s done this before. 1994? anyone??? If Camping lives much longer (he’s 89), he’ll likely do this again. As one of my favorite philosophers, Dirty Harry, once put it when his police superior questioned whether the serial killer (so wonderfully played by Andy Robinson) would continue to kill, Harry replied, “Of course he will. He likes it.” You cannot tell me that however Camping came to this particular date for the Lord’s return, and however sincere he might he be in his calculations, that the man does not love the media attention. Why else spend all that money on an “in your face” ad campaign with buses and billboards across the country? Camping likes the hubbub way too much. Since someone’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future behavior, if given the chance, Camping will do it again.
2). Camping was disciplined by his church, and never once demonstrated the slightest hint of repentance. When Camping was removed from his office for his unbiblical speculations, Camping’s response was to declare that the church age was over, and that people should leave their churches! (see Bob Godfrey’s account of this–Godfrey on Harold Camping). Harold Camping is not some grandfatherly old man who has weird views on things (every church has a few of these). This is a man, who, when he did not get his way, sought to create widescale schism and division in the church. How can we not conclude that many among his followers are schismatics who have followed their master in his sin?
3). Camping is not a theological conservative defending the faith, he’s a theological radical, and has a dangerous hermeneutic. Camping gained a following among Reformed cultural conservatives by defending the view that only men should hold the office of minister, elder and deacon, that evolutionary thought had no place in Christian colleges, and that the rampant immorality of our age cannot go unchallenged nor be accepted by Christians. Meanwhile, the “conservative” Camping was using some outlandish and distorted hermeneutical method to calculate the day of Christ’s return and telling everyone who would listen that he was right and that anyone who challenged him had no authority to do so. Since when did theological conservatives attack the perspicuity of Scripture? Or champion “private interpretation” while mocking the teaching office and disciplinary authority of the church?
4). Someone has to say it — the man is a false teacher and a kook. My sense is that Camping falls within the exhortation given by Paul in Romans 16:17 (and elsewhere) — such people are to be avoided. Camping is a false teacher, plain and simple. Anyone who repeatedly pulls the kinds of shenanigans he has should have no credibility. Non-Christians see him for what he is. Yet, Christians feel ashamed about calling him out on the same grounds–when Scripture requires that we do so! Yes, we need to pray for his repentance, and yes, we need to be merciful to those whom he has deceived. But given the way the man handles God’s word, he is self-edvidently a kook. He has no business being labeled a “teacher.” And it is tragic that he has used his vast radio empire to deceive so many.
5). The only prophecy which will be fulfilled in association with Harold Camping is 2 Peter 3:3! Scoffers will come, and sadly, Camping has given the scoffers a whole bunch of ammunition. This is why is is so vital that Christians be clear to everyone who will listen, that despite this man’s false prophecy, the blessed hope awaits all those who are Christ’s, and the day of judgment will come upon those who are not. This is a serious matter, and Christ will not be mocked.
This, then, is why it is so important to expose this man for who and what he is–a false prophet, a schismatic and a kook, lest anyone think that Jesus will not return when we least expect it, to judge the world, raise the dead, and make all things new.
And frankly, it is sad that so many Christians expect non-Christians to do our job for us.”
From Dr. James White:
On Open Letter to Harold Camping of Family Radio
Dear Mr. Camping:
In July of 2009 you and I engaged in a debate on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio program concerning your teaching that the church age had ended and that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. I trust you recall our exchange. I am also aware that you have at least seen my book, Dangerous Airwaves: Harold Camping Refuted and Christ’s Church Defended. I have been seeking to warn people about your teachings, sir, for about a decade. I know others have been warning the church about you longer than I.
Mr. Camping I am writing to seek your repentance and the most God-glorifying outcome of the debacle of your failed May 21, 2011 prophecy/teaching. I am not writing to engage in debate with you. The time for debate ended on May 22, 2011. It is now time for you to repent and seek to undo the massive damage you have done, first and foremost, to the cause of Christ.
Let me first list the items you need to repent of, openly and publicly (for you are a public person, and your teachings were disseminated all around the world).
You need to repent of your abuse of the Bible, based upon claims of latter-day opening of understandings no one else has, allegedly, ever had, based upon the horrific misreading of the books of Revelation and Daniel. The Bible is not a code book, Mr. Camping, and it never has been. You have attacked the grammatical/historical means of honoring the intention and meaning of the original authors, and in so doing, have turned the Bible into your own private playground where you, and you alone, set the rules. You decided that certain numbers have certain meanings, and you alone decided which numbers could be added to others. You told your audiences that you were simply teaching the Bible, when you were doing nothing of the sort. Unless you honor the intention of the original authors, which means doing difficult exegetical work, studying languages and backgrounds, you have no business saying you are representing the Bible. This has been your primary error for decades on end, and I know I am not the first minister of the gospel to seek to correct you about this. Your utterly fallacious means of interpretation of the Bible has led to the mockery of the Christian faith all around the world, and you alone must repent for your willful rejection of the correction offered by many to you over the years.
You need to repent of your repeated date-setting, and your twisting of those Scriptures that plainly state that we do not now know, and will never know, the date of the coming of Christ, until it happens. You have been proven wrong multiple times now, and it is time for you to admit that you have been in error every single time you have argued that we can, in fact, know.
You must repent of your many unbiblical teachings, teachings which have grown out of your rebellion against Christ’s Church. First and foremost, you must repent of your attack upon the church. You must return to the church (I would suggest the local Christian Reformed Church from which you made your original defection) in repentance and seek to place yourself under their care, repenting for your schism. You must openly and publicly abjure your teaching that Satan rules in the churches, and that all ministers of the gospel since 1988 are, in fact, servants of Satan. You must call all listeners of Family Radio to return to their churches with repentant hearts. You must instruct them to seek to learn to read the Bible aright, to seek to interpret the Bible in light of its original meanings and intention, not as a secret, gnostic code-book.
You must likewise abjure and repent of the other false teachings you have been promulgating, including, but not limited to, such teachings as Jesus having died twice, your new annihilationism teaching, etc. You once held to mainly orthodox views, but, when you refused godly counsel and went out on your own, you planted the seeds of your own destruction, which have now sprouted, over night it seems, into the crop of condemnation you now rightly face.
You must likewise repent of the perversion of the gospel you have been teaching, wherein you have not only removed repentance and faith under the guise of “works” (neither are works, both are the gifts of God to His elect by His Spirit, but remain part and parcel of the gospel call), but you clearly, in these last days, added belief in your own May 21, 2011 teaching to the gospel itself, saying that those who did not believe this teaching would experience eternal torment. You have been preaching a false gospel, Mr. Camping, and you must repent for this.
The time for haggling and debating has passed, Mr. Camping. Your teaching has been disproven, and your only hope is to be found in complete repentance from your false teachings. I fear if you seek to rescue your reputation, you will end your life under the wrath of God. Your unwillingness to listen to counsel has already caused great damage to the cause of Christ. You have one final chance for redemption, sir. Do not remain stiff-necked. Repent and turn from your ways.
Alpha and Omega Ministries