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The Aftermath of the Harold Camping Debacle

By David A. DePra

Harold Camping has picked his excuse for his failed prophecy. It is not a new one. The Jehovah’s Witness cult used it when their prediction of Christ’s return for 1914 failed. And many Christian people were anticipating that Camping would, in fact, resort to this excuse. Camping is now saying that Jesus Christ DID return on May 21, 2011 – but in a spiritual way. Sure. This allows Camping to be right – even though absolutely nothing happened that he predicted would happen on May 21. And it allows him to maintain October 21, 2011 as the end of the world.

I don’t suppose it would do any good to remind Harold Camping that Jesus already came spiritually – read Acts 2. Everything Jesus did, and everything he is, came back down through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He actually came to dwell in people. (Now we do await Christ’s physical return.) Thus, any suggestion of ANOTHER spiritual return by Christ is nothing more than a misrepresentation of the meaning of Christianity itself. But that would be nothing new for Harold Camping.

It is a sad commentary when a 90 year old professing Christian – and one who has set himself up as a leader with insight that no one else on earth has – it is a sad commentary when such a one not only makes such absurd predictions, but when he hasn’t the slightest conviction of the Holy Spirit, nor the humility, to simply say, "I was dead wrong." One must wonder what kind of relationship the man really has with God. I can only say that anyone who continues to follow him from this point is without excuse for the consequences.

Camping did concede that he, "did not calculate things as accurately as he should." Wow. Rather, he should be repenting of calculating at all. It is an appalling thing when a person thinks they can discover Truth from God – let alone Truth that we have been told is not revealed – it is an appalling thing when they think they can discover Truth through mathematical calculations. In all honesty, what Camping did is exactly what those folks did a few years ago with the supposed, "Bible codes." I would submit that if we ever got a glimpse of Jesus Christ we would stop occupying ourselves with these absurdities.

Perhaps in one sense of the word, the entire Body of Christ bears some blame for folks like Harold Camping being able to do such damage. Few are willing to openly speak out against such false teachers – to do so is considered judgmental or unkind. Perhaps we need to talk to some folks that have come under one of these deceptions. If we did, we might not take these things so lightly.

But having said that, there is an even greater problem than a hesitance to speak out against error in the Body of Christ. That greater problem is that the Truth of Jesus Christ is not generally being preached today. If the Truth got as much airtime as does error, I submit that error would be all the more obvious. But it does not get the airtime. Follow the money trial -- someone is paying for what is on Christian television today, and someone is paying to fund much of the false teaching that is going on in churches today. That, "someone," is professing Christian people. One wonders what it will take to wake us up and turn up back to God.

Regarding Harold Camping, the one thing I do believe is vital for Christians to see – especially his followers – is that Harold Camping is the very definition of a heretic -- according to the Bible. His May 21 prophecy debacle is actually not the worst of his errors. Indeed, almost NOTHING Camping teaches is the Truth – on ANY subject. You can start with his claim that Jesus died TWICE – once for real before the foundation of the world, and the second time, as a man, to simply demonstrate how He died the first time. I won’t go into how that alone is a flat out denial of the Redemption in every way. In listening to Camping teach on a variety of subjects I can only say that this is not only a man who is completely deceived, but that it is his own fault. His refusal to admit his error on this May 21 matter is merely an indication of what appears to be a hardness of heart, and an utter refusal to face the Truth.

Children of Light?

I want to address but one point of Camping’s May 21 reasoning. Most who have followed this absurdity know that Camping arrived at the May 21st date through mathematical calculations that were based on false assumptions of other dates. But he did have to find a way around Jesus’ statement that NO ONE could know the day of the return of Christ. A main scripture he used is found in I Thes. 5.

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (1 Thes. 5:1-5)

For Camping, this passage proves that if you are truly one of the, "children of light," you will know the day of Christ’s return – it cannot come upon you as a thief in the night – so you HAVE to know it. The children of light WILL know the day that the Lord returns. The children of darkness will not.

This was no small point with Camping. It was one of his, "proof texts," as to why he believed we could know the day of Jesus’ return – for Camping, it overrides Jesus’ statement that we cannot know. Camping claimed that Jesus spoke only to his disciples, but later, Paul would say otherwise – and this would mean that at some point in time that, "the children of light" – and ONLY the children of light – would be able to know the day of the second coming.

Now, right here it is important that we realize the significance of Camping’s claim that, "the children of light," would know the day and hour. For Camping went as far as to say that if you believed his prediction of May 21 that your ability to believe him proved you were a child of light; that you were really saved. If you did not believe his date, then it was evidence that you were not saved.

I’m not simply concluding this. Camping stated this over and over outright. I have the tapes. He stated with absolute dogmatic assertion that if you were a saved, child of light, it would be evidenced by your agreement with him about May 21st. If you were not saved, it would be evidenced by your blindness or refusal to agree with him. No wonder his followers stuck to their agreement with him! They did not want to risk being, "out of the loop!" They wanted to be a child of light. Notice how Satan controls people through fear!

Well, this absurd claim by Camping created an especially HUGE problem for him once May 21st came and went without the return of Christ. For once he said that a child of light would agree that May 21st was the date, and nothing happened on May 21st, Harold Camping, himself, by his own definition, could not be a child of light. He was proven to be a child of darkness because the definition of a child of light is that you KNOW THE DAY! But he didn’t know the day! He was wrong about it. Thus, rather than prove you were saved, your agreement with May 21st actually proved you were DECEIVED.

But worry not. It is always possible to resort to a spiritual fulfillment. As I noted earlier, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses said Jesus would return in 1914, and He was a no-show, they said He came spiritually. And when John Hinkle, on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, predicted that God would tear all evil out of the earth in June of 1994, and it didn’t happen, Paul Crouch announced that it happened spiritually. Does anyone actually believe that it happened AT ALL?

You see, there is nothing complicated about what is going on here. These are people who are NOT hearing from God. They are people who, once it is proven that they did NOT hear from God, refuse to admit their error. The most hardened unbeliever can see that this is what they are doing – that is what everyone knows now about Harold Camping. The man has no intention of even considering he was wrong.

As for I Thessalonians 5, it is simply repeating much of what Jesus said about the need to BE READY for His return. If you are a child of light it is because Christ Himself is in you, and you are growing to know Him. Thus, if Christ comes back, you will be ready – you already know Him. If you don’t know Him, His coming will take you by surprise because you are not in fellowship with Him. In effect, the passage is not talking about knowing the day, or the year, at all. It is talking about KNOWING CHRIST.

All through the Bible we are told, and warned, about the danger of seeing the Truth – especially about our own sin and errors – but turning away. There are consequences for that. But don’t think that the consequences are necessarily, in this age, some terrible immediate punishment from God. Nope. Actually, the penalty for refusing light is simple: Darkness. The penalty for refusing to turn your heart to God is a hardness of heart. In the end, this is all about what we are BECOMING unto God.

Harold Camping is a heretic – yes, an elderly 90-year-old heretic who is polite to people, and who is probably someone’s granddaddy. But God knows none of us after the flesh. Camping is shipwrecking the faith of many, and filling them with false teaching. I wish nothing bad upon him. I do not pass sentence upon him. But I do read the Bible. It doesn’t look good for those who teach terrible error and hurt people spiritually. May God have mercy. May Harold Camping, even now, turn to God and see the Truth.

The Faithfulness of God

There is good news in all of this – not because of the faithfulness of any person, but because of the faithfulness of God. The good news is that God has been faithful to expose Harold Camping. Surely this will set at least SOME people free of his deceptions. And despite everything, the Truth did come out, didn’t it? Camping and some of his followers may never accept it, but the Truth did come out. What Christian people need to understand is that when everything is said and done the Truth is ALL that is going to be there. Only that which is of Christ is going to pass through the fire into the next age. See I Cor. 3. ALL else is going to be shaken loose. See Heb. 12. I submit that, in a sense, that fire, and that shaking, is already happening. Judgment has already begun upon the household of God. But this is good news, not bad news. It is the faithfulness of the Lord. He WILL have His way and His kingdom established in Truth and righteousness.

I am reminded of what Paul wrote in I Cor. 11:19. He said, "There must be heresies among you in order that they who are genuine might be made manifest." During times like this, it is proven whether people really want God – want the Truth -- or whether they will instead hold to the error. Times like this expose the hearts of many. The good news is that when God judges it is ALWAYS redemptive in nature. It is ALWAYS to get people to turn away from error back to HIM.

So despite the fact that many people have wrongly believed the errors of Harold Camping, these are many people for whom Christ died.  God wants them set free from that error by the Truth of Christ.  Thus, rather than be met with scorn and ridicule from others, it is hoped that Christians who come into contact with them will offer them something of the Truth.  Lives have been ruined by these errors.  These folks need to be rebuilt in Christ.  They really DO need a personal revival.  

People cry out for REVIVAL. I suppose revival could be described as a season wherein Jesus shows up – in perhaps a special way. But Christian people need to realize that wherever Jesus shows up JUDGMENT shows up. That sounds negative, but it really is not. Judgment is LIGHT. Judgment is God exposing things for what they are so that He can set things right again – all centered back in His Son. This will cause initial upheavals. But this is why Jesus said He did not come to send peace on the earth, but a sword. In short, all unity that is NOT in Christ must fall, so that there can be unity solely in Christ. All error must be exposed and unlearned so that the Truth can prevail and we can learn Christ.  God wants this for ALL of His people, not just the devotees of Harold Camping.

I submit that REVIVAL is never necessary except where things have fallen from the Truth. But because revival is that, revival is never a new thing that God starts to do. No. There is no new thing. The ONE THING that God is doing started in Acts 2. What we call revival is nothing more than God getting Christian people BACK to that ONE move of God. There is no new, "thing." There is just, well, there is just Jesus Christ.

Harold Camping said that Jesus came back spiritually on May 21st. No, He did not. Jesus came back spiritually in about 33 AD, in that upper room, on the day of Pentecost. He came back through the Spirit of God. And since then, we have the reality of CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory. And with that, we come full circle – for it is our fellowship with, and our knowledge of, the Christ who is in us, that makes us READY for His coming, no matter when it is. Christ in us makes us a child of light, and when He is our light, there is no day that can overtake us as a thief in the night.

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